Prisoner 16670

Tuesday, January 27, AD 2015

(Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  I am taking this opportunity to rerun this post from All Saints Day 2009.)

Today we celebrate all the saints who now dwell in perfect bliss before the Beatific Vision, seeing God face to face.  All the saints love God and love their neighbor, but other than that they have little in common.  We have saints who lived lives of quiet meditation, and there are saints who were ever in the midst of human tumult.  Some saints have easy paths to God;  others have gained their crowns at the last moment, an act of supreme love redeeming a wasted life.  Many saints have been heroic, a few have been timid.  We number among the saints some of the greatest intellects of mankind, while we also venerate saints who never learned to read.  We have saints with sunny dispositions, and some who were usually grouchy.  Saints who attained great renown in their lives and saints who were obscure in life and remain obscure after death, except to God.  Among such a panoply of humanity we can draw endless inspiration for our own attempts to serve God and our neighbors.  For me, one saint has always stood out as a man with a deep meaning for this period of history we inhabit:  Saint Maximilian Kolbe.  Why?

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7 Responses to Prisoner 16670

Doing the Job Big Media Won’t Do

Friday, January 11, AD 2013

My friend Jay Anderson linked to this excellent piece from a Fox affiliate in Cincinnati addressing crime statistics in Great Britain and the United States.

As Jay remarked, it’s sad that it takes a small affiliate news station to do the sort of fact checking that major news networks are incapable of, 0r, more likely, unwilling to do.

As for Piers Morgan, watch what happens when he is forced to interview someone actually tethered to reality.

I think “your little book” is going to be an instant classic.

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22 Responses to Doing the Job Big Media Won’t Do

  • Shapiro does an admirable job of keeping his head against Morgan’s aggressive ranting.

    I just wish that he hadn’t stuck to only talking about guarding against potential tyranny as the reason for law abiding citizens to own guns like the AR-15 (now the number one selling type of rifle in America.) With more than three million Americans owning these types of rifles, and at most a couple hundred people being killed with them each year, it’s obvious that a lot of people do have perfectly law abiding uses for these guns. They’re one of the most popular types of rifle used in the National Match target shooting competitions run by the government sponsored Civilian Marksmanship Program. They’re used for home defense. And they’re getting to be one of the most common types of rifles you’ll see men and women shooting (quite peacefully) at gun ranges.

    The Fox report is also pretty great. There’s a great report put out by a British group that looks at crime stats by type in OECD countries, and that only serves to flesh out the point that while the US has a higher murder rate than many countries (5 per 100,000 in population as compared to 1 to 2 per 100,000 in many other wealthy nations) we have lower rates of many other forms of violent crime than those countries:

  • I agree that Shapiro should have gone further to defend assault weapons other than on defense against tyranny grounds. That said, Morgan’s incredulous reaction to the response is quite telling. You would think a person hailing from a country intimately familiar with what happens when surrounding democracies go bad might not treat such an idea as preposterous. I wonder if Morgan would have said that Plato was absurd on his book tour promoting The Republic.

  • *delighted laugh*
    He does look incredibly young!

    Heard about Shapiro’s interview on the morning talk news radio show– I thought his delivery of the line about “My grandparents didn’t believe they had anything to fear from the government. That is why they are ashes.” was perfect. Horrifying, of course, but that is what disarming people and putting them at the mercy of an organizational machine means.

  • Yeah, and I don’t want my one criticism to be taken wrong, I thought Shapiro did an outstanding job, and boy did Morgan come off sounding like an asshat.

  • I think Paul touched on a very important mis-speak..”your little book.”
    This is fact is the disregard and blatant disrespect the left has regarding the most important document, ( declaration of independence w/ it ) that it is undeniable!
    Great job Shapiro! The grandparents intro. was right on.

  • “Heard about Shapiro’s interview on the morning talk news radio show– I thought his delivery of the line about “My grandparents didn’t believe they had anything to fear from the government. That is why they are ashes.” was perfect. Horrifying, of course, but that is what disarming people and putting them at the mercy of an organizational machine means.”

    Agreed. Under the Irish penal laws, Catholic Irishmen could not possess firearms. This was not repealed until the Irish Militia Act of 1793.

  • What I don’t understand is why Shapiro went on that show (which I hear is starving for ratings) thinking he could have a civil discussion with a pompous jerk like Piers Morgan. Here’s how you debate Pers Morgan:

  • Folks,

    As I just stated when I shared Paul Zummo’s post on Facebook (thanks, Paul Z!), as a matter of discipline, I simply do not watch or listen to any news or commentary from ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, NBC, NPR or PBS. Since when has truth come from a liberal, progressive Democrat. Slavery in the 19th century? Yes! Abortion in the 20th and 21st centuries? Yes! Truth? Never! Good for Shapiro for facing down a pompous a$$ and having the decorum and self-control not to shoot him where he sat.

  • Glad that the comment from that troll “Salvage” was deleted. All he has time to do is go around the Catholic blogosphere spreading his odiferous trash about.

  • “What I don’t understand is why Shapiro went on that show”

    To show what an ignoramus and buffoon Morgan is, which Shapiro did in spades. It is easy to write Ted Nugent off as simply a right wing yahoo. It is impossible to do that with Shapiro.

  • Piers Morgan needs no help in demonstrating that he is a buffoon. He does a good enough job of that by himself. Notice Morgan did’t bully Nugent the way he did Shapiro. He kept talking over Shapiro. He knew better than to try that with Nugent. While Shapiro did a decent job of handling himself,Nugent did a much better job. The left effectovely treats. much more tame people than Shapiro as right wing yahoos all the time.

  • Completely disagree on all counts Greg. It is vitally important to show up people like Piers Morgan especially on his show. Nugent doesn’t have the intellectual wattage to hold his own in a debate even though I like his spirit and agree with him. Even the Washington Post admitted that Morgan got clobbered by Shapiro. Shapiro is an editor at large at at and his debating Morgan and besting him on his home turf is in the best spirit of Breitbart’s admonition that Conservatives must engage the culture. Nugent does this through his music but I do not think debate is his strong point.

  • I agree Donald.
    Having conviction is great however having conviction and hours of study is priceless.
    TAC assists me in my debates with Co-workers and acquaintances. The selection of clips and references is helpful to me personally so the future debates are grounded in fact, not in hyperbole.
    Thank all of you for helping a lower educated practicing Catholic in good standing.

  • @Paul

    Much of programming on NPR and PBS is worth your while. For instance, I watched a fascinating documentary on Iranian Americans on my local PBS affiliate just the other night. As a Minnesotan, I also am immensely proud of MPR, which was truly the pioneer of public radio. They spend time discussing issues and policies in a level of detail that cannot be found on cable news or talk radio, which dispense sound bytes and screeds instead of substance. I usually don’t agree with the conclusions of MPR and PBS correspondents, but I appreciate the serious manner in which they approach these topics. If you’re comfortable in your own convictions, there is a wealth of information that can be harvested from these sources.

    I also watch Al Jazeera when I can, and used to frequent their website with more regularity. Their coverage of the Middle East is far more in-depth than anything offered in the US, and the non-American-centered perspective is decidedly refreshing. They are state-owned, so do not mistakenly accuse me of arguing that all their coverage is completely balanced and fair, but there’s no denying that it provides another angle that is invaluable to those who seek to have a more complete understanding of that part of the world.

  • Try Memri for a contrast between what is said for English consumption and what is said for home consumption.

  • Thanks, JL!

    I do watch the science and history documentaries on PBS, as well as the BBC detective show re-runs that it routinely broadcasts. I just don’t pay any attention to PBS or NPR news. Nor do I pay much if any attention to Fox News.

  • Piers Morgan ought to be exiled as persona non grata for his demeaning “your little book” about our founding principles.

  • Donald:

    One need not a whole lot of intellectual heft to take on the likes of PIiers Morgan on this issue, as Nugent ably demonstrated. Me thinks you are giving Morgan far more respect than what he deserves.

    Unfortunately, Shapiro’s “intellectual wattage” didn’t completely convert into common sense. For instance, Shapiro said he favored a national data base, providing, of course, it not be made public. Now, anyone who has paid even a modicum of attention knows there is no way in the present climate such a data base will not be made public somehow, particularly in light of what happen with that paper in New York I think it was. All it would take is some Slick DIck Left Wing lawyer to find a judge who will grant a FOIA request. Or, if that proves too cumbersome, some bureaucrat will leak it to Media Blathers or the New York Slimes. I mean, the same New York Slimes can publish damaging classified information about CIA black sites with impunity. Shapiro walked right into Morgan’s trap on tht one. The New York case Shapiro himself cites made that much obvious. If that’s not an act of stupidy, what is?

    I don’t give a hootin hell what the Washington Compost (thank you Mark Levin) concedes or what some conservative blog may gush over, I will trust my instincts, especailly when it comes to the obvious,

  • “Piers Morgan ought to be exiled as persona non grata for his demeaning “your little book” about our founding principles.”

    You have to do the same almost the entire American left, because they have as little respect for the Constitution as he does.

  • Greg Mockeridge: “You have to do the same almost the entire American left, because they have as little respect for the Constitution as he does.”

    The sooner we start. the sooner we will have accomplished the deed.

  • Shapiro did a great job. Morgan is a pommie dickhead.
    I can’t belive he was quoting the UK as being better than the US in various statistics. You just need to look at was has happened to Britain over the last fifty odd years – it is the type of liberal garbage spouted by Morgan that has caused, to a large extent, the cesspit that the UK has become.
    I agree with a previous commenter – you should send him back home; he is only helping to make the US like where he came from.

  • It is easy to write Ted Nugent off as simply a right wing yahoo.

    I don’t know, maybe. But at least in that clip, he had Piers squarley in the cross-hairs and made a clean kill. Rattling off the recidivism stats was a perfect three shot burst.

Our Contemptible Media

Friday, December 21, AD 2012

One takeaway from the tragedy in Newtown is that if there’s an element in the Bill of Rights that needs revisiting, it’s the first and not the second amendment. The absolute gleeful joy that members of the media have taken in using the tragedy to advance an agenda is exemplified by the likes of Piers Morgan, who at least has the decency to admit as much:

Okay, Piers was being sarcastic, but this is a case where sarcasm revealed some truth. Morgan has been a leading crusader for gun reform in light of the shootings, and he has used his platform to bully gun rights proponents. Here is Morgan embarrassing himself on national television with Larry Pratt a few nights ago. And here he is with John Lott.

When a media personality causes you to yearn for the insight and wisdom of Larry King, you know you have reached the absolute bottom of the barrel.

Now Morgan’s rank opportunism in the wake a tragedy is not even the most disgusting aspect of media behavior in the past week.  Matt Lewis details some of the more egregious behavior.

The media originally reported the wrong name of the alleged shooter. (The suspected killer was Ryan Lanza, they breathlessly reported. Turns out it was actually Ryan’s brother, Adam.) Then, some in the media advertised Ryan’s Facebook and Twitter pages. (This, of course, brings to mind Brian Ross’ irresponsible and premature on-air suggestion over the summer that the Aurora shooter was a Tea Party member.)

As if those cases of egregiously mistaken identity weren’t enough, producers and reporters began trolling Twitter, seeking to proposition friends and relatives of the victims for an interview.

Meanwhile, others staked out the young survivors, and then proceeded to conduct on-air interviews with these young children. This was unseemly and superfluous. As TIME‘s James Poniewozik wrote, “There is no good journalistic reason to put a child at a mass-murder scene on live TV, permission of the parents or not.”

While the media preens about gun control, the fourth estate ignores its own role in potentially prompting these horrific events. A forensic psychologist named Park Dietz thinks the media has blood on their hands.

“Here’s my hypothesis,” he said. “Saturation-level news coverage of mass murder causes, on average, one more mass murder in the next two weeks.” The reason, he says, has something to do with the USA’s size. In a country so large the likelihood of one or two people snapping becomes quite high.

“It’s not that the news coverage made the person paranoid, or armed, or suicidally depressed,” Dietz said. “But you’ve got to imagine this small number of people sitting at home, with guns on their lap and a hit list in their mind. They feel willing to die. When they watch the coverage of a school shooting or a workplace mass murder, it only takes one or two of them to say – ‘that guy is just like me, that’s the solution to my problem, that’s what I’ll do tomorrow’. The point is that the media coverage moves them a little closer to the action.

The 24/7 news cycle may not be the cause of these massacres, but the intense coverage . . . doesn’t help.

What the past few days have shown is that the media’s leftist tilt is not the primary problem. While there are some noble and decent reporters – Jake Tapper comes to mind – overall they are a wretched hive of scum and villainy. All right, maybe they’re not that bad, but one wonders what motivates certain members of the press. One relatively minor incident from the world of sports demonstrates what I mean.

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12 Responses to Our Contemptible Media

  • “. . . overall they are a wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

    Hear, hear!; Jacob Sullum re: CNN/Piers Morgan’s rationale for gun control: You’re stupid! You’re mass murder waiting to happen!! “The exchange, during which Pratt remains admirably calm, pretty accurately reflects the general tenor of the current gun control debate, with raw emotionalism and invective pitted against skepticism and an attempt at rational argument. I am not saying that every supporter of gun control is a raving bully on the order of Piers Morgan, . . . But proponents of new gun restrictions are counting on emotional appeals for victory, which is why they insist that action must be taken immediately, before the grief and outrage provoked by Adam Lanza’s crimes starts to fade.”

  • It gets (if you can imagine it) worse.

    Karl Denninger:

    “You see, our government has been running guns. Illegally running guns. Jaime Avila, in just one of many examples, purchased two rifles that were found at the scene of a federal agent shot near the Arizona-Mexico border. Our government knew Mr. Avila was illegally trafficking weapons to the Sinaloa drug cartel. Nonetheless, when his purchases were called into the BATFE for clearance, the government intentionally approved the transactions (a felony) despite knowing they were illegal.

    “Two of those hundreds of weapons came back over the border and were used to murder Brian Terry. Hundreds of Mexican citizens have been murdered with these guns in total — guns that our government illegally, intentionally and maliciously allowed to be delivered to this murderous cartel.

    “Mr. Avila’s sentence? 57 months in prison, or just under 6 years.


    “Two days before the Newtown, Connecticut shootings.”

    Media outrage? Zero

  • John Lott is the last person a gun grabber should ever try to take on in a debate. I mean that’s really asking for it.

  • Pingback: FRIDAY GOD & CAESAR EXTRA | Big Pulpit
  • Does anyone wonder if Satan contrived this tragedy to allow a Socialist President to disarm America? Does anyone remember what happened to Germany after it was disarmed? Gun control is the flagship of every socialist philosophy. Only criminals and tyrants would have weapons. What a mockery that would be.

  • The NRA is America’s first, and longest running, civil rights organization. I’m an Endowment NRA member for 40 years.

    I am proud of my friend and our EVP Wayne LaPierre’s for his lecture to that horde of lying, vile scum.

    You know he succceeded. They’ve really got their collectivist bloomers in a bunch: massive wedgie administered!

  • If there was any stupidity on Mr. Pratt’s part, it was thinking he could have a sensible discussion with someone like Piers Morgan on this subject.

  • Speaking of Jake Tapper, saw today that he’s moving to CNN. Looks like they could use him!

  • Watch what happens when Piers tries bullying the Motor City Madman Ted Nugent:

  • The name “Münchausen syndrome by proxy” is derived from Münchausen syndrome, but it is important to distinguish one from the other, as they describe very different (but related) conditions. People with Münchausen syndrome have a profound need to assume the sick role, and will exaggerate complaints, falsify tests, and/or self-inflict illnesses.[5] MSbP perpetrators, by contrast, are willing to fulfill their need for positive attention by hurting their own child, thereby assuming the sick role by proxy. At times, they are also able to assume the hero role and garner still more positive attention, by appearing to care for and ‘save’ their child.[6] from WIKIPEDIA

    “Piers Morgan: “Of course I am, you moron” > RT @coelkhntr I think you are somewhat gleeful that a tragedy happened to help you push your cause”

  • Any person who dismisses our founding principles, that is, our right to Life, Liberty and our pursuit of Happiness dismisses his own citizenship. This is why there is a Supreme Court to decide his innocence or guilt. A guilty person has incriminated his citizenship and may not be free to participate in the community.

  • How do the lying, vile scum get away with it?

    Answer: Public schools consign nearly all Americans to innumeracy: mathematical ignorance/illiteracy. Mass lunacy is a consequence. See John Allen Paulos’ book.

    Case in point: innumeracy/pseudoscience behind assault rifle bans.

    Without a familiarity with the workings of large numbers, people can irrationally react to terrifying incidents, especially when propagandized by evil men.

    An example: fear of flying and terrorism. Airline terrorism deaths have been a media theme. About 85,000,000 body cavity searches later . . .

    Here is the math: in 1985, 17 Americans died in air terror. In that year, 28,000,000 Americans traveled by air. Ergo the chances of being killed by air terror were 1:1,600,000. Compare 1:1,600,000 to 1:5,300 killed by car crashes.

    They cry, “You are all mass murderers waiting to massacre school children!”!

    In 2012, so far (what?) 50 were killed in assault rifle massacres. Your odds are: 50 in 310,000,000 or 1:6,200,000.

    “The NRA Kills School Children!”

    “But, but . . . if it happened to you that would be 1:1.” Here is another symptom of innumeracy: the tendency to personalize (hint: it’s irrational and wrong). The only instances wherein personalization works are death and taxes: you are 1:1 lilely to die, and you can’t avoid taxes, either.

    If I have to talk with such imbeciles, I usually say, “Sudden death is preferable to malignant melanoma. In the long run, we all die.” Then, I hope the headaches aren’t too harsh.

    Innumeracy also shows itself in pseudoscience which includes the gun control superstition.

    Isaac Asimov: “Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What have we to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!”

    And, liberty!

The Faux News Meme

Thursday, December 1, AD 2011

The last refuge of a leftist flailing away in an argument, be it in person, on the radio, or the internet, is to accuse his conservative opponent of getting all their information from Fox News.  Actually, they don’t say Fox News, they say Faux News because they have all the creativity of a discombobulated yak.  Be that as it may, this line of argument amuses me on several levels.  First of all, the left’s ire about Fox News is completely hysterical considering the left-leaning tilt of just about every other major news organization.  In fact it is a sign of the overall leftist tilt of the mainstream media that left-wingers are so obsessed with Fox News.  You see there are so many left-wing news stations and major news publications that skew left that conservatives can’t really focus their ire on any single one.  Meanwhile, the major right-leaning news organizations are pretty much Fox and perhaps the editorial section of the Wall Street Journal.

What’s more, from the sound of the complaints you would think that every conservative in America was tuned into Fox at all hours of the day, receiving our marching orders before heading out into pitched battle with the forces of the left.  Sure, Fox News does better ratings than all the other cable news stations combined.  But if you take a closer look at the numbers, Fox’s dominance has as much to do with the fact that nobody watches cable news.  Fox attracts a bit more than a million viewers a day on average for its programming.    That’s impressive . . . until you consider that the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (the show that is pretty much single-mindedly obsessed with attacking Fox News for its news coverage) gets more viewers than any show on Fox except Bill O’Reilly.  So the same people who mock conservatives for being Fox News drones are basically getting most of their news from a satirical show on Comedy Central.  Yeah.

Fox News is a killer whale in a local swimming pond.  So the idea that legions of conservatives are largely just aping Fox News is simply laughable.

Personally, the only time I watch Fox News is when I occasionally watch Special Report with Brett Baier (the guy who got Mr. Cool, Mitt Romney, completely off his game the other night), and then only to watch the final 20 minutes for the All-Star Panel.  So I basically watch Fox News once a week or so if that, and then only to watch pundits talk about the issues.  I also tend to watch Fox over the other networks on election nights, but that’s because I think it has better coverage – after all, they’re the network that has Michael Barone.  Based on conversations I’ve had with most of my conservative friends, I think my viewership is par for the course.

So, I’m curious, do any of you actually watch Fox with any regularity?

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29 Responses to The Faux News Meme

  • I watch Fox News once in a while. I NEVER watch “news” (that is to say, faux news because that’s all they provide) from:


    And I haven’t watched news from those networks in quite sometime.

    OK, I’ll admit to watching CNN when Robin Meade is on – but the volume is turned all the way down. 😉

  • I don’t have cable. I watch reruns of Red Eye on Hulu. I can’t unconditionally recommend that show on a Catholic website, though. It’s a humor show rather than a news show, and the humor can be very offensive.

    The few other times I’ve watched Fox News, I’ve noticed two distinct styles. There are the news format shows, and they seem solid. Then there are the opinion panel shows, and, well, they do typically have a spokesman from the left onboard, but the other people are spokesmen from the right. I wish they’d stuck with a really fair-and-balanced approach to news and left out the infotaining personalities.

  • Don’t have cable so don’t watch.

  • No cable, and our house was designed in a way that we can’t even pick up the local FOX affiliate.

    Listen to radio news– at the top of the hour– but only caught the Fox one once or twice.

    I do remember the last time I watched the Fox news channel a lot– back when I was in the Navy on shore duty, and they were covering the RNC. Mostly because their news coverage was the only one that didn’t have me wanting to bang my head against the wall due to the massive amounts of proud ignorance.

    I have left-wingers accuse me of watching it far more often than I watch ANY TV!

  • It’s not about Fox News.

    It’s about liberals. All they have are fantasies, lies and unicorn farts: not much help for the cretinous agenda.

    Facts and truth are . . . facts and truth. The truth is not susceptible to wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  • Aha! You have all clearly been brainwashed by Fox News to not watch Fox News just in order to make left-wingers look foolish. That rascally Rupert Murdoch. Such a manipulator.

  • “I have left-wingers accuse me of watching it far more often than I watch ANY TV!”

    Foxfier – I think if you get your news from anywhere outside that Washington Post / NBC / Huffington Post zone, liberals will recognize it as different, and since Fox News is the only news source outside the zone that they’ve heard of, they make the assumption that that’s where you got it. I’ve found that a lot of financial news media have very good international coverage, and certainly there are religious sites that I go to and get non-partisan news. I get some things from talk radio or right-wing blogs, but I double-check them depending on the source. So if only 20% of my news consumption comes from sources that liberals would go to, they assume that the rest must be from FNC.

    And to be honest, a lot of the things I get off National Review Online, for example, probably are identically-spun to what’s happening on FNC.

  • I can’t remember the last time I watched a news or pundit program. I get most of my news from the radio (KYW and NPR), on line, and in print. On line, I go to FoxNews, Drudge, and the BBC – in that order. In print, I go to the Economist and, about once a week, the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    I think Drudge is a bit of a game changer in that it acts as a clearinghouse rather than a news outlet.

  • I am new to your site- and as a Catholic, very happy to find you!
    My husband and I watch Fox regularly, especially Brett Baier, and O’Reilly. New favorite since Glenn Beck went away is The Five…
    But we do switch over to CNN and MSNBC for comparative study, and are ALWAYS amazed at the skew, the skewering, and the frequent vile behavior we catch there.
    Additionally, we try to catch – every once in a while – the local news on ABC and CBS. I won’t watch NBC anymore. It is absolutely amazing how little is reported on any of the channels. I don’t know what they find to fill the news half hours, since they never mention what is happening in the world, the nation and especially our government!!!!
    I bless the internet for Drudge, The Blaze, and my all time fav blogs for keeping me informed. I look up almost everything I read about, to verify. Have been doing that since Glenn demanded we not take HIS word for ANYthing. I sincerely doubt that any of the anchors from the “other” Cable outlets would recommend THAT!

  • I feel so honored to have sparked a post. Or rather that my caricature sparked a post. Back when I used to watch TV news I watched Fox News daily and BBC occasionally.

    However, I also watch the Daily Show and read countless online sources. BTW, if you want to read what’s getting the most hits Blogrunner is a great resource (

    For someone who gets information from a variety of sources, this post is so easily demolished.

    “In fact it is a sign of the overall leftist tilt of the mainstream media that left-wingers are so obsessed with Fox News. You see there are so many left-wing news stations and major news publications that skew left that conservatives can’t really focus their ire on any single one. Meanwhile, the major right-leaning news organizations are pretty much Fox and perhaps the editorial section of the Wall Street Journal.”

    Like how the right-wingers are so obsessed with NPR and the NY Times? You see, there are so many right-wing outlets: Fox News, WSJ, NY Post, talk radio, book publishing, and lots of websites. Complaints about the left-wing media sound exactly like the left’s whining about Fox News.

    And there is a false equivalence here. Yes, the mainstream media leans left. But not usually by conscious design (MSNBC excluded). It’s because most people in the business are liberal. On the other hand, the right-wing media is right-wing by conscious design. They are intentionally bias. This is where the left-wing criticism goes wrong. Fox News isn’t the BBC. Limbaugh isn’t 1010 WINS. Coulter doesn’t write almanacs. They are self-described conservative pundits. Complaining about their bias is like a right-winger complaining that Michael Moore has a liberal bias. That’s what they’re paid for!

    Now how about a post on how anyone critical of the not-Romney Republican candidate of the month is constantly branded a liberal even if the criticism has absolutely nothing to do with the candidate’s conservatism?

  • I feel so honored to have sparked a post.

    I had this post planned out last night. Your comment was fitting, but hardly the inspiration behind it.

  • Pinky, I always thought that the best way to debrainwash a liberal would be to sit them down to watch Red Eye for a week. What, conservatives don’t foam at the month? They actually act like me and my friends?

  • I feel so honored to have sparked a post. Or rather that my caricature sparked a post.

    Probably not you, unless you were posting as “Torch” over on the #OWS and Polish Politician post.

    It’s because most people in the business are liberal. On the other hand, the right-wing media is right-wing by conscious design. They are intentionally bias.

    Any attempt to correct for a known bias creates a bias– that is no reason to not attempt to correct for a known bias, especially when it makes good business sense to do so. “Bias” does not mean “incorrect” or “bad”– incidentally, I seem to remember that Fox’s staff are only slightly more to the right than any other media outlet’s folks when you look at their giving.
    If you remove the straight out opinion shows from accounting–since those are just the crafty, crafty sales technique of appealing to 50% of the national population– their actual reporting is middle-of-the-road. They error on the left and right for those issues where I have personal knowledge, as opposed to other outlets where an error to the right is incredibly surprising. It looks like it’s to the right because everything else is knee-jerk left. (I have some local friends who think that MSNBC is the only barely decent news source, other than the daily show, because the rest are just far too conservative. They also argue that Obama is too conservative– the most moderate says he’s dead center of the political spectrum, while his friends say Obama is too right-wing. Yay, Seattle.)

  • , unless you were posting as “Torch” over on the #OWS and Polish Politician post.

    Even that comment didn’t really spark this post as much as something that Lanny Davis said on the radio the other day. Honestly, it’s something that’s been peculating in my mind for a while – that just helped jog my desire to write about it.

  • Even that comment didn’t really spark this post as much as something that Lanny Davis said on the radio the other day.

    *funny voice* It’s everywhere! It’s everywhere!

  • The main reason why I began watching Fox News was because of the presence of Brit Hume, one of the best newsmen in the business. With his retirement my watching of Fox News has declined quite a bit. Of course most of my news I get from a wide range of sources on the internet, something probably true for almost all TAC contributors and commenters I would say.

  • I have many muses Foxfier. 🙂

    It’s funny, but sometimes my posts are a gut reaction to some news story or other blog post, but just as often it’s something that’s been stewing for a few days or even weeks. As evidenced by my most recent post, sometimes it’s a combination of everything.

  • Yay, Seattle.


  • I may be a little slow on the uptake, but I stopped watching mainstream news channels and websites after the lack of coverage of World Youth Day this past summer. If the young people would have been rioting or protesting, that would have been a big news story to be sure. A million or more people gathered for something wonderful was virtually ignored and that really opened my eyes. Not to mention the embarrassing trash in the comments on the mainstream media websites. There are much better sources of news and truth online, it just took a bit to find them. I will occasionally still check out a mainstream story if it is linked on the pages I follow or if there is a major, rapidly breaking news story, but not looking at them every day anymore, they seem to be getting exponentially worse at a rapid rate. Fox may not be as liberal, but they have the Catholics on ignore only slightly less than the rest.

  • Okay. The problem with the Obama-worshiping, enabling propaganda organs is not that they alibi and lie for the 0. It’s that the average journalist is ignorant of anything but is a glib ideologue.

  • It’s the little things about the liberal media that bug me. I listen to CBS radio news a lot, and invariably when either party moves to the center in a standoff, Democrats “offer compromise” while Republicans “change course”. It’s a little thing, but Democrats come off as selfless and moderate while Republicans look haphazard and erratic. When neither party moves to the center, Democrats are “fulfilling a campaign promise” while Republicans “take a hard line.” etc.

    I am not fan of Fox News, but I do check in because they cover stories that other networks won’t touch, and that is their most important contribution as far I am concerned. I check in with Al Jazeera English and other news sources big and small for the same reason. So liberals who ignore Fox are missing out — not just opinions, but facts and events — on things they should probably know about.

  • RR –

    “What, conservatives don’t foam at the month? They actually act like me and my friends?”

    On the one hand I agree with you. On the other, if someone can’t intuit that his opponents are human beings, he’s very immature, no matter what side he’s on of what issue.

  • I watch Fox News about one hour a day. I like O’Reilly, and enjoy the All Star Panel. Basically I read the Wall Street Journal. It is the only secular paper left that doesn’t tilt totally left. I watch local news for weather and traffic in the morning. I will admit that I am an EWTN addict. Just don’t take my books and DVDs away from me.

  • Never watch it. But that doesn’t stop the leftist drones from accusing me of getting my “talking points” from Faux News. Liberals are such unimaginative dumbasses.

  • WOW where to begin? Just surfin and bumped into this site. Is this the American Catholic or The Republican Catholic?……………..Univ. of Maryland study finds Fox News viewers to be misinformed on key issues.

    MSNBC and NPR audiences were found to be least misinformed on the basic questions of fact. The study points to Fox News as the chief misinformer among the three major cable news outlets.

  • Ah yes, the famed University of Maryland study that was shouted from the rooftops by liberal bloggers a year ago. From a look at the study at Patterico’s Pontifications:

    “It’s really kind of a tedious thing. Every week or so, liberals come up with another allegedly scientific study declaring that conservatives are stupid, misinformed, psychologically abnormal or something. Today, it comes from an organization I never heard of before, called World Public Opinion. This study is being touted by the spectacularly misinformed TPM as proof that Fox News leaves viewers misinformed.

    But the hilarious part is that the authors of the study themselves are misinformed. For instance, their first question is this “is it your impression that most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislation: A) created or saved several million jobs, B) saved or created a few jobs, or C) caused job losses.” The first option is marked as correct.

    Now first, that is an ambiguous question. Do they mean net or gross? In other words, do they mean the number of jobs “saved or created” numbered in the millions with or without it being offset by the number of jobs lost? Because it is self-evidently true we have lost more jobs than we have gained.

    But here’s the funny part. Scroll down to the part where they allegedly prove what is the correct answer and read closely. They offer two pieces of proof of their claim that the first answer is correct. First they say:

    “[The] CBO concluded that for the third quarter of 2010, ARRA had “increased the number of full time-equivalent jobs by 2.0 to 5.2 million compared to what those amounts would have been otherwise.”

    But there are two problems with that. First, um, we are going to trust the government to estimate the success of the government on this? Really?

    Second, that utterly fails to relate to the question, which is whether a majority of economists who studied the question believe this to be the case.

    They do a little better with their second piece of evidence:

    “Since 2003, the Wall Street Journal has maintained a panel of 55-60 economists which it questions regularly, in an effort to move beyond anecdotal reporting of expert opinion… In March 2010 the panel was asked more broadly about the effect of the ARRA on growth. Seventy-five percent said it was a net positive.”

    Which is better, but again doesn’t prove the assertion. First, once again, there is no evidence that this represents the majority of economists. Second, there is no evidence they studied the issue—they could just be shooting their mouths off, or maybe even just trusting the CBO. Third, growth is not the same as creating (or, barf, saving) jobs. And fourth even then all they said was it was a “net positive” which lines up with answer B, not answer A, which they marked as correct.

    They don’t fare any better with the next question: “Is it your impression that among economists who have estimated the effect of the health care reform law on the federal budget deficit over the next ten years: a) more think it will not increase the deficit, b) views are evenly divided, and c) more think it will increase the deficit.” Allegedly A is the correct answer.

    And once again, they go to the CBO, which everyone knows was manipulated by being required to make assumptions, like that Congress would not pass laws (like the Doc Fix) it ultimately did pass, stating that:

    In March 2010 CBO released an estimate of how the then-pending health care legislation would affect the deficit if passed. CBO calculated that the net effect through 2019 would be to reduce the deficit by $124 billion (this figure excludes the education provisions that were also part of the legislation). Beyond 2019, the CBO estimated that the Affordable Care Act would reduce the deficit by roughly 0.5% of GDP.

    But not only does that suffer from the same problem of having nothing to do with the opinion of economists who study it, but it’s also contradicted by later reports. For instance in August of this year, the Washington Times wrote:

    The [CBO’s] latest projections suggest that the net increase in the deficit attributable to the federal health care law will exceed a quarter-trillion dollars over the next decade.

    And meanwhile they don’t even bother to quote the WSJ (why not?), but instead quote from Medicare Trustees:

    Regarding Medicare’s contribution to the overall budget deficit, the 2010 annual report of the Boards of Trustees of the Medicare trust funds stated that “The financial status of the HI (Hospital Insurance) trust fund is substantially improved by the lower expenditures and additional tax revenues instituted by the Affordable Care Act. These changes are estimated to postpone the exhaustion of HI trust fund assets from 2017 under the prior law to 2029 under current law and to 2028 under the alternative scenario” (a model that made harsher assumptions). The trustees assessed that overall, “The Affordable Care Act improves the financial outlook for Medicare substantially,” although “the effects of some of the new law’s provisions on Medicare are not known at this time.”

    Which not only doesn’t support their assertion in any way, shape or form, but if anything tends to undercut their claims. If Medicare is in better financial shape does that suggest a reduction in spending? It seems to me that the more well-funded a federal program is, the less likely we are to see deficit reduction. Indeed an increase in spending necessarily results in an increase in the deficit unless it is offset by cuts somewhere else.

    What this study is, is really a political paper pretending to be a scientific paper. Which shouldn’t be surprising given the list of supporters they have. Its funny how the same people keep turning up.”

    The organization behind the study is World Public Opinion.Org, and here are the usual suspects funding them:

    Rockefeller Foundation
    Rockefeller Brothers Fund
    Tides Foundation
    Ford Foundation
    German Marshall Fund of the United States
    Compton Foundation
    Carnegie Corporation
    Benton Foundation
    Ben and Jerry’s Foundation
    University of Maryland Foundation
    Circle Foundation
    JEHT Foundation
    Stanley Foundation
    Ploughshares Fund
    Calvert Foundation
    Secure World Foundation
    Oak Foundation
    United States Institute of Peace

    Go to the link below and see some of their other polls, which appear from their titles to be agenda driven.

  • Are we sure David Green isn’t making a joke? I mean, reading a post that points out that very few of us here actually watch Fox News, and responding by acting like we called it the One True Source, then offering a debunked study as evidence….

    (Of course, the study is kind of amusing, too– it showed that those who watch Fox news were the least likely to share the glorified assumptions of those running the study.)

  • Liberalism would be a hilarious joke if it were not killing millions and not reducing the American people to a lowly state of collective impoverishment.

What He Said

Tuesday, August 2, AD 2011

Go read Jonah Goldberg’s NRO post on the disgusting media hypocrisy when it comes to cries of civility.  Like Jonah, I do tire of playing the media blame game, but today the media’s double standard was in full glare.  Gabby Giffords has made a remarkable recovery and is back in Congress, and the morning news show focused on this story.  That’s wonderful.  And of course they completely ignored the fact that Joe Biden called tea partiers terrorists (or nodded along when the terminology was applied), and also failed to discuss the columns written by guys like Tom Friedman and Joe Necera that also use the language of jihad and terrorism to describe the tea party.

But think about this for a second. The Giffords shooting sent the media elite in this country into a bout of St. Vitus’ dance that would have warranted an army of exorcists in previous ages. Sarah Palin’s Facebook map was an evil totem that forced some guy to go on a shooting spree. The New York Times, The Washington Post, all three broadcast networks, particularly NBC whose senior foreign affairs correspondent — Andrea Mitchell — devotes, by my rough reckoning, ten times as much air time to whining about Sarah Palin as she does about anything having to do with foreign affairs, flooded the zone with “Have you no shame finger wagging.” A memo went forth demanding that everyone at MSNBC get their dresses over their heads about the evil “tone” from the right. Media Matters went into overdrive working the interns 24/7 to “prove” that Republicans deliberately foment violence with their evil targets on their evil congressional maps.

. . .

So flashforward to this week. Tom Friedman — who knows a bit about Hezbollah — calls the tea partiers the “Hezbollah faction” of the GOP bent on taking the country on a “suicide mission.” All over the place, conservative Republicans are “hostage takers” and “terrorists,” “terrorists” and “traitors.” They want to “end life as we know it on this planet,” says Nancy Pelosi. They are betraying the founders, too. Chris Matthews all but signs up for the “Make an Ass of Yourself” contest at the State Fair.  Joe Nocera writes today that “the Tea Party Republicans can put aside their suicide vests.” Lord knows what Krugman and Olbermann have said.

Then last night. on the very day Gabby Giffords heroically returns to cast her first vote since that tragic attack seven months ago, the Vice President of the United States calls the Republican Party a bunch of terrorists.

No one cares. I hate the “if this were Bush” game so we’re in luck. Instead imagine if this wasDick Cheney calling the Progressive Caucus (or whatever they’re called) a “bunch of terrorists” on the day Giffords returned to the Congress. Would the mainstream media notice or care? Would Meet the Press debate whether this raises “troubling questions” about the White House’s sensitivity? Would Andrea Mitchell find some way to blame Sarah Palin for Dick Cheney’s viciousness? Would Keith Olberman explode like a mouse subjected to the Ramone’s music in “Rock and Roll High School?”  Something inside me hidden away shouts “Hell yes they would!”

The Today Show even had Debbie Wasserman Schultz on this morning for five minutes talking about Giffords. No one thought to ask her what she thought of Biden’s comments? It’s not like she’s the Democratic Party’s national spokesperson or anything. Oh, wait. She is!

I have to give a hearty “AMEN” to Jonah’s concluding sentences.

Well, go to Hell. All of you.

I find all of this particularly laughable considering that I spent time in the eye doctor’s office this morning straining to read Rolling Stone with my contacts out.  I’m not sure what was rougher on the eyes – the drops they put in them or reading that trash.  At any rate, there was a rather long feature story on, what else, but the evils of Fox News.  Yes, that bastion of journalistic integrity, Rolling Stone, is calling Fox News a propaganda arm of the GOP.  It was your typical hysterical screed about Fox’s bias, made all the more ironic considering the author’s failure to note the 2×4 stuck in his eye.

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2 Responses to What He Said

  • A hearty Amen to “go to hell”? Rather, a hearty Amen to, “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy.” I will take our Blessed Mother’s prayer over Goldberg’s curses, myself.

    Brother, if anything can be condemned rightly, it is not the sinners Christ came to save:

    “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”

  • “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”

    True enough. Unfortunately those principalities and powers are showing their influence among those in the media and political parties who abuse those who demonstrate a legitimate political difference from them.


Monday, June 6, AD 2011

Mitt Romney is far from being one of my favorite presidential hopefuls, but I agree with Jim Geraghty that this Newsweek cover, portraying Romney as a dancing lunatic, is fairly appalling.  Geraghty says that the article itself is very fair, but that doesn’t matter.   Roughly 99% of the people who see this cover will never read the article.  For better or worse – and almost certainly worse – our politics are dominated by optics.  The story is secondary to the substantive issues.

One of my grad school professors, Mark Rozell (now at George Mason) liked to talk about an evening news report done on Ronald Reagan’s economic policies during the 1984 campaign.  I don’t recall which network it was,  but the report just decimated Reagan on the economy.  It was a voice-over piece, and most of the images were of Reagan in various settings, mostly in places like Yellowstone or other grand settings.  After the network aired the report, the head of the news division was contacted by a member of Reagan’s staff, and was thanked for the report.  Why was this network being thanked for a hit piece?  The images.  The text of the story didn’t matter.  What would stick in viewer’s minds were the images, and these were images of the president in majestic settings, showing off the trappings of power.  Many viewers would tune out the content of the story and instead focus on images that were greatly favorable to Reagan.

It’s human nature to focus on imagery, and so I don’t necessarily fault those who ignore the broader context of such stories.  That being said, I’m sure Newsweek didn’t choose this particular photo by accident.

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8 Responses to Optics

  • The one good thing is that it was Newsweek, which is dropping below Utne Reader in subscription levels and news impact.

  • But, yeah, that’s pretty ridiculous. I’d be curious to see the last time NW put a Democratic presidential candidate in a ludicrous picture.

  • Yeah, that photo wasn’t chosen. It was shopped. It’s pretty obvious they cut and pasted Romney’s head onto the body in that ridiculous pose. I’m not what I would call a Romney fan, but what they’ve done in that picture is appalling.

  • Dale: true, although that kind of bolsters my point. No one reads the thing anymore, but plenty will see the pic while in line at the grocery store.

    Mandy, I believe it is a photo shop, and in fact it’s using a publicity shot from the Book of Mormon musical (or at least someone suggested that in the comments to Geraghty’s post).

  • It is in fact from “The Book of Mormon” musical.

  • The one good thing is that it was Newsweek, which is dropping below Utne Reader in subscription levels and news impact.

    The Utne Reader is the most engaging of leftoid publications. It is a pity it has not exceeded Newsweek in circulation.

  • Yea, all of the liberal media will be doing their best to discredit Republican candidates. Mitt should take the Palin approach and just ignore them and not go on their outlets.

    abc, nbc, cbs, cnn, msnbs, pbs, nytimes, nw, washington post

  • oh, btw, In Massachusetts, when the state tried to force Catholic Charaties to allow homosexual partners in their adoption program, Cardinal O’Malley objected and held a press conference. Who was standing next to the Cardinal at the press conference? Catholics Ted Kennedy and John Kerry? No, it was Mitt Romney.

On Media and Mosques at Ground Zero

Saturday, August 14, AD 2010

One of the interesting (by which I mean dull, predictable and repetitive) aspects of the 24 hour news cycle is that all forms of media have incentives to magnify and actively seek out controversy. Not only does this increase ratings/page views/newspaper sales, it provides media outlets with something – anything in a slow news month – to talk about. I can’t help but feel that the recent outburst of commentary about the construction of a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks is the type of story designed to increase media consumption and accomplish little else. The First Amendment is not in dispute here; freedom of religion is well established and protected by settled case law. Furthermore, the proposed mosque is to be constructed on private property, and there is no legal reason to challenge its construction. And so most of the discussion revolves (and frequently devolves) around taste and symbolism.

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44 Responses to On Media and Mosques at Ground Zero

  • I take your point about media generated controversies, but I’m not sure I’d place the mosque controversies at least entirely in that category. I find the following aspects of this controversy to be very remarkable and worthy of reflection:

    1. The legal right of Muslims to build houses of worship has been called into question.

    2. Islamic terrorists are being conflated with all Muslims.

    3. It’s being proposed that Islam really isn’t a religion.

    I really see our country at a crossroads right now. The increased presence of Muslims challenges our national narratives (e.g., we’re a Christian nation) and the extent to which we value are willing to extend religious liberty. This controversy is forcing us to ask ourselves who we are, and that question is as serious as anything.

  • I suppose, in turn, I take your point Kyle. There are important issues connected to the controversy (although points 1 and 3 strike me as rather fringish, self-marginalizing ideas). I think it is a matter for serious concern that so many voices on the right have picked this particular battle. At the same time, I do not see why it is a national, rather than a local, issue. There is no legal basis for challenging the mosque’s construction, and there is virtually no chance of that changing in the near future (barring a cataclysmic series of events). I am glad that liberals have stated these truths and criticized the over-heated rhetoric from the right, but I still see this more as a controversy-of-the-day, rather than a matter of significant national import.

  • John Henry,

    There are a lot of things I can say about your perspective, and few of them would be very flattering. I’ll limit myself to this: as a Catholic, you ought to have a better understanding and appreciation of the symbolic. To dismiss the importance of symbolism in the manner you have seems rather crudely materialistic to me. Symbols are generally representations of real things.

    “there is little reason for anyone else aside from the families of the victims of 9/11 or residents of that area of New York to comment”

    And yet here we are, in a free society, in which people don’t need reasons deemed acceptable by others to engage in public discourse. Don’t let it burn you up too much 🙂


    “1. The legal right of Muslims to build houses of worship has been called into question.”

    It has not. And someone ought to question the wisdom of the builders.

    Moreover, people have a right to make legal challenges if they like. It doesn’t mean they will succeed, and they may even be charged with the court cost if their case turns out to be frivolous.

    Finally, some suspect that the mosque is funded by a man with ties to terrorism.

    “2. Islamic terrorists are being conflated with all Muslims.”

    No, I think it is more accurate to say that Islamic terrorists are being portrayed as consistent Muslims, while the “moderate” Muslim is being portrayed as inconsistent, given the clear teachings of the Koran on the relations between Muslims and infidels. You won’t find anything like that in the New Testament.

    “3. It’s being proposed that Islam really isn’t a religion.”

    Yes, I don’t see the point in that. It isn’t a religion like others, to be sure, but in the West we tend to think of religion as something different (though not entirely unrelated) from politics, and from science, a legacy we can thank the Church for. These distinctions are what enabled Western society to advance far beyond others, I believe.

    Then again, I believe communism is a religion, just a secular one. Environmentalism is also fast becoming a religion, neo-pagan for some, secular for others.

    “challenges our national narratives (e.g., we’re a Christian nation)”

    We are a Christian nation, if for no other reason than that the majority of Americans are Christians. If you mean in the substance of our policies, well they rest upon a Christian legacy anyway.

    In Lebanon, Islam “challenged the national narrative” of a Christian nation by repeatedly attempting to slaughter all of the Christians. Only God and the impenetrability of the mountains of Northern Lebanon saved them from that fate.

    Now I’m not saying that the Muslims who live here now either desire such a thing for the United States, or that they could do it if they did. I do wonder however how the picture will change if/when they become 20% of the population or more. This isn’t an observation limited to Islam either: ANY group with ANY ideas will seek to impose them more and more as their numbers grow. That’s just rational human political behavior, it is universal.

    Perhaps looking at Europe’s experience we would be wise to take certain precautions sooner, rather than later.

  • To dismiss the importance of symbolism in the manner you have seems rather crudely materialistic to me. Symbols are generally representations of real things.

    Symbols can be important, but they can also be ambiguous or frivolous. I wasn’t categorically rejecting arguments about symbolism; just saying that this particular one wasn’t particularly fruitful given that there are very few repercussions for public policy.

    And yet here we are, in a free society, in which people don’t need reasons deemed acceptable by others to engage in public discourse. Don’t let it burn you up too much

    This is silly, Joe. Saying that I don’t think a particular controversy is very valuable is hardly the same as saying I am upset that people are free to have it. I’m consistently on the side of freedom here – whether it be of religion or speech.

  • A commenter on a friend’s facebook page remarks that Muslims have the right to practice their religion in their own countries, but not in ours. I’d say that qualifies as denying the religious freedom of Muslims in the U.S. Teresamerica asserts that the sensitivity of the 9/11 families is grounds to refuse the building of the “ground zero” mosque. She’s not just questioning the wisdom of the building planners, but their legal right to build in that location. I can also point to the opposition the president has received in response to his statement that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as we all have. As for lawsuits: Exhibit A.

  • Cordova House: Why don’t we start a $100,000,000 fund to build a cathedral dedicated to St. Perfecto, a Spanish martyr murdered for the faith in Cordova during the 700 years the mass murderers held Spain?

    You geniuses will see how this plays out in November.

    Meanwhile, you will see a representative sample of 80% of US at 2PM on 11 September.

    You insensitive America-hating geniuses . . .

    Practicing their religion . . . flying large airplanes into tall buildings.

  • Regarding jihad, Adams states in his essay series,

    “…he [Muhammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.”

    Confirming Adams’ assessment, the late Muslim scholar, Professor Majid Khadduri, wrote the following in his authoritative 1955 treatise on jihad, War and Peace in the Law of Islam :

    “Thus the jihad may be regarded as Islam’s instrument for carrying out its ultimate objective by turning all people into believers, if not in the prophethood of Muhammad (as in the case of the dhimmis), at least in the belief of God. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have declared ‘some of my people will continue to fight victoriously for the sake of the truth until the last one of them will combat the anti-Christ’. Until that moment is reached the jihad, in one form or another will remain as a permanent obligation upon the entire Muslim community. It follows that the existence of a dar al-harb is ultimately outlawed under the Islamic jural order; that the dar al-Islam permanently under jihad obligation until the dar al-harb is reduced to non-existence; and that any community accepting certain disabilities- must submit to Islamic rule and reside in the dar al-Islam or be bound as clients to the Muslim community. The universality of Islam, in its all embracing creed, is imposed on the believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political if not strictly military.”3

  • Kyle,

    Well, frankly, the cited examples all strike me as fairly marginal views. Your Facebook friend isn’t in favor of the First Amendment (and likely hasn’t really thought much about the history of Catholics in the United States); Teresaamerica is proposing manipulation of a city zoning requirement protecting landmarks to prevent the construction of the mosque, which is a rather startling example of using a facially neutral requirement for discriminatory purposes. As to lawsuits, they are unlikely to make it past summary judgment, if they even make it that far. As I said, there are important questions connected with this controversy, but for the most part these conversations involve issues more significant than – and distinct from – whether or not New York has another mosque.

    I should add, though, that I appreciate you taking the time to provide examples. It may be that I’m wrong about the significance of this particular controversy, or have chosen a poor example to illustrate the point I was trying to make.

  • T. Shaw – the purpose of this thread is not to debate the place of jihad within Islam; please try to provide comments that relate more directly to the topic of the post.

  • Right.

    “Taste”: I would use “sensitivity” or “sensibilities.” I know where your “head” is on this.

    Of course, the media actively magnified the immaterial, tragic events of 11 September 2001 (the boring History Channel mini-series they air each September need to cease and desist, too), so widows and other survivors have their evil bowels in an uproar over the religion of peace building a pacifist training camp two blocks away from where their little eichmann’s got it for liberating Kuwait from Saudi Arabian bases and supporting Israel.

  • “Muslims have the right to practice their religion in their own countries, but not in ours. I’d say that qualifies as denying the religious freedom of Muslims in the U.S.”

    This is one of the most laughable statements posted here in quite some time.

    All over the Muslim world, Muslims are denied the right to practice as they see fit. No whirling Dervishes if you are in Saudi Arabia. Want to wear a burqa in Turkey? Have fun in jail. Surely the hundreds of thousands of Muslims arrested each year on charges of “crimes against Islam” reveal the claim as absurd?

    And, with regards to Muslims not being able to practice in the US, what could your Facebook friend POSSIBLY mean by THAT allegation? Is she suggesting that opposing the building of a mosque at Ground Zero represents an absolute bar to the practicing of Islam in New York City or the United States as a whole? If so, she has lost her furry little mind.

    Whether one agrees or disagrees with opposing the building of Cordoba House at Ground Zero, we shouldn’t jump on the victimized bandwagon just yet. Lets face it, Cordoba House isn’t the first mosque to be built to praise Allah for a great victory… The Blue Mosque in Constantinople is.

  • John,

    “I wasn’t categorically rejecting arguments about symbolism”

    That wasn’t very clear originally. I thank you for the clarification.


    Your link is just a link to people who want to stop the construction of one mosque. That is a far cry from arguing that “Muslims don’t have a right to practice their religion.”

    You know, we deny a lot of different religious groups the right to certain practices. We prosecute Christian “scientists” who refuse to give their children medicine when they are sick, for instance. So this idea of absolute religious freedom is as detached from history and reality as those who proclaim an absolute right to free speech. I don’t claim that there are grounds at the moment to deny certain aspects of Islam, but they could well arise at some point.

    My compromise would be this: today, right now, before 10% of our population is Muslim, we pass state or even federal constitutional amendments forever barring the implementation of Sharia law at any level. We make resolutions to avoid what has happened in Europe and some of the commonwealth countries, in which “culture” or “religion” has been used in courts of law to defend honor killers and rapists. We subject Islam to the same scrutiny that Christianity is subjected to in the public school system, and we stop these ridiculous charades in which children are forced to act like Muslims for a week as part of “cultural awareness.” It’s absurd.

  • G-Veg, I think your comment reflects a misunderstanding. Kyle’s FB friend was expressing their view of what should be rather than what is. Obviously, there are a lot of problems with his friend’s desired state of affairs and that (fortunately) is not currently the state of things in the U.S.

  • The constant invocation of Cordoba itself reeks of mealy-mouting of Catholics and the Christian faith in general. The legends of Al-Andalus and the alleged tolerance of Muslims for other religions have been amplified beyond caricature by Jews who couldn’t forgive Catholics for the expulsions and fabulists such as Borges and Fuentas who projected their fantasies onto a mideaval past. The strange thing is, Muslims themselves never cared for the comity of Cordoba, one can hardly find references to that aspect in their earlier writings; bin Laden wasn’t rueing for the Cordoba of fantastic memory. The remaking of Cordoba into some kind of wonderland was the work of (a few) Jews, thus it is no surprise that Bloomberg is taken in. I look forward to the day when the very same boosters, complain when some Sheikh or other compares Jews to monkeys at Cordoba House.

  • Pauli’s link makes my point in an indirect way. What was the need for that anti-Catholic bigot Foxman to invoke the Auschwitz nuns to frighten off CAIR, when the salient comparison to the destruction of the WTC is in fact Pearl Harbour? It seems as though he wants us to forget that Catholic Poles in their hundreds of thousands perished in that camp. Is McGurn a Catholic? If so, he needs to stop drinking the ADL Kool-Aid.

  • I agree that symbolism is important. That’s why I think the efforts to stop the building project are so awful.

  • I wouldn’t try to stop them through the courts, but I would impress upon them how much they will rightfully be resented for failing to respect the wishes of the people. To do something simply because one can is hardly a persuasive argument.

    There are a thousand and one good ways to foster better relations between Muslims who wish to disavow the violent teachings of the Koran, and Christians in the United States. This is not one of them.

  • Pingback: Religious Freedom vs. Theocratic Dictatorships « Vox Nova
  • I would impress upon them how much they will rightfully be resented for failing to respect the wishes of the people. To do something simply because one can is hardly a persuasive argument.

    I agree. Muslims don’t “do” persuasive argument. Never have. Why should they? They like their methods better. From passive aggressiveness all the way up to not-so-passive, that’s where they excel.

    In many ways I’m glad they are building this at ground zero to show their absolute smugness and insensitivity. It will further expose their nature.

  • Pauli,

    I think such generalizations are unfair, dangerous, and inaccurate when applied to a group of 1 billion people. A disturbing pattern is found in many long-running feuds/persecutions: 1) a group of individuals is lumped together on the basis of a distinguishing feature (whether it be race/religion/nationality/etc.) and identified as ‘the other’; 2) that group is then accused of having various negative characteristics to an unusual degree (e.g. greed, stupidity, or guilt for certain crimes); 3) these negative characteristics are then used as a pretext for denying rights to this group that other citizens enjoy. I am concerned about the implications of your comments.

  • I should have written “Muslim leaders” rather than merely “Muslims”. That’s my point. Islam doesn’t have one billion leaders. One billion people are not building a mosque. I can “generalize” about these leaders based on their past and present behavior. They don’t show the kind of sensitivity of the Holy Father in the link I posted.

    John Henry was wise to delete his former comment where he compared me to a Klan member and a jihadist.

  • John Henry was wise to delete his former comment where he compared me to a Klan member and a jihadist.

    My point was about language and the structure of your argument; to say language is similar is not to say the people are similar. Substitute Catholics/blacks/Israelis for Muslims in your comment above, and the similarities in language are quite striking. Btw, I frequently re-write my comments multiple times to try and make them clearer within the first few minutes after they post.

  • I frequently re-write my comments multiple times to try and make them clearer within the first few minutes after they post.

    Mmmmm, I see. That also provides a benefit that those subscribed to the comment thread get to see what you really think before your discretion kicks in and you self-censor. Maybe you should just write your comments down on scratch paper first and read them out loud to yourself. That’s what I do.

    Let me clarify my views further WRT the smugness and insensitivity of the Muslim leaders behind the building of the ground zero Mosque. I don’t think I would say the same about black leaders in general, Israeli leaders in general or Catholic leaders in general, and my proof for the third is in the link I provided earlier. This rules me out as a Klansman if there was any further question.

  • Pauli – you seem to be missing the point. I wasn’t saying that you feel similarly about Catholics/blacks/Israelis, etc. I was observing that your comment above about Muslims is very similar to the type of statements that the Klansmen of yore made about Catholics and Blacks, and radical Muslim groups today make about Israelis. You’ve said now that you were only speaking about ‘Muslim leaders,’ but I think, again, your statement still reflects a disturbing prejudice.

  • John Henry, here’s a question. Can you think of other comparable situations involving different religions other than Islam? Keep in mind that this project will be large costing millions of dollars. If I am prejudiced against Islam, then I have overlooked all the other times a different religion has done something comparable.

    Prejudice means to prejudge, to judge someone before you see any of there actions. For example, I see a black person and I think, “That person is probably a lazy bum, because blacks are lazy.” If I think this, then I am prejudiced. But what if I am able to observe a black person for several months and note many instances of laziness? Then I can state “He is lazy” without prejudice, can I not? This would only appear to be prejudice to a third person who didn’t know that I had many occasions to observe the laziness and who then made an assumption that the reason for my judgment was my own prejudice against blacks. This third person would himself be guilty of prejudging me.

    So give me some comparable situations throughout history to the ground zero mosque. Otherwise this word substitution exercise you are proposing smells like a red herring.

  • I really see our country at a crossroads right now. The increased presence of Muslims challenges our national narratives (e.g., we’re a Christian nation) and the extent to which we value are willing to extend religious liberty. This controversy is forcing us to ask ourselves who we are, and that question is as serious as anything.

    There are some disputes about the proportion of the population which is Muslim. (Robert Spencer offers that the most valid estimates appear to place that population at 3,000,000, or 1% of the whole). I do not think a minority that size ‘challenges national narratives’. (The appellate judiciary and the public interest bar have insisted on the adoption of enforced secularization, because that is the preferred policy in the social circles in which they run).

    Both you and John Henry might consider the possibility that past is not prologue, and that a muslim minority might eventually prove tragically incompatible with the general population, and that such an outcome is more likely if elite policy rewards rather than ignores (or penalizes) aggressive postures on the part of novel minorities.

  • The remaking of Cordoba into some kind of wonderland was the work of (a few) Jews

    “Owing to the peace which the Christians of Cordova then enjoyed, some knowledge of their condition has been preserved, among other things the name of their bishop, Joannes, also the fact that, at that period, the citizens of Cordova, Arabs, Christians, and Jews, enjoyed so high a degree of literary culture that the city was known as the New Athens. From all quarters came students eager to drink at its founts of knowledge. Among the men afterwards famous who studied at Cordova were the scholarly monk Gerbert, destined to sit on the Chair of Peter as Sylvester II (999-1003)”

    I suppose it’s possible Jews infiltrated the Catholic Encyclopedia’s editorial board.

  • Yeah, those silly martyrs didn’t know when they had it good!

  • restrainedcatholic, the article you linked to in its entirety, shows that Catholic scholars were not among those going gaga over Cordoba. The quote does not accurately convey the thrust of the article. By the sheer dance of things, there is bound to be a period when Christians and Jews enjoyed a measure of peace living among Muslims. This by itself is not sufficient to inspire the paens to Cordoba. Where for example is the equivalent Christian city? We know that there were Christian monarchs in the Iberian peninsula who were tolerant by the standards of that era. Yet no one is concerned to inflict their saga on us.

  • sorry I should have addressed the above to restrainedradical..

  • Donald, you should substitute the phrase “female African slaves” for “martyrs” in your sarcastic remark. How’s it sound then? Answer: very disturbing.

  • Let us assume that those financing Cordoba House are sincere in their desire to present the most tolerant face of Islam possible and that harkening back to an enlightened period of the Cordoban princes is meant to be a signal of the kind of tolerance they seek in America. Let us further accept the claim that the proximity to Ground Zero is meant to give voice to moderate and modern Islam – as an answer to the kind of religious extremism that brought the towers down and the world’s economic Goliath to his knees.

    It was surely possible to be a practicing Christian or Jew in Cordoba at various points. We have fairly modern examples to suggest that a calm, judicious application of the Koran and the Hadith to the interactions between religions leads to some degree of stability and freedom of worship. However, at its very best, this isn’t anything approximating Freedom of Religion. This is because Sharia law absolutely requires Theocracy. It presumes that Islam is right on a host of human interactions that allow for no deviation. However “tolerant” of other religious teachings an Islamic state seeks to be it cannot permit deviation on critical issues such as the nature of God, the duty of man to his family and to the community, and how work is organized. In even the most tolerant of Islamic states (indeed, I would argue that this is true of ALL theocratic states and that we are concentrating on Islamic states because they are the last of this old order), no Christian can be allowed to evangelize because, at its core, tolerant Islam nonetheless requires absolute adherence to basic Koranic doctrine as expressed through the Hadith. This is to say that the Spanish Caliphates may have been “tolerant” but only so long as the other faiths knew and stayed in their place. (This shouldn’t be surprising. There was a reason for the brutality and vindictiveness of the Spanish Inquisition and I doubt it was “payback” for six centuries of Islamic FAIR treatment.)

    Bringing my point back to Cordoba House: even IF those financing the project intend to signal the kind of “tolerance” that was supposedly exhibited under Muslim rule in Cordoba, that kind of “tolerance” is nothing akin to Freedom of Religion. Further, it “feels like” building a mosque so close to the place where the American economic model of a hundred years was destroyed is a sort of “victory dance” or, at least, a shrine to thank Allah for victory. My guess is that our ancestors felt the same way about the conversion of the Basilica at Constantinople into the Blue Mosque.

    If this is not what is intended… if the Cordoba House builders are honest in their desire to forge bonds and further understanding, they have picked a damn awful way to do it. Appearances DO matter.

    One final note: please do not interpret my writing to suggest that I believe that the engines of law ought to be brought to bear to prevent the building of the mosque. Indeed, even if it were called the “Usama Bin Laden Victory Mosque” and have individual shrines to the 911 “martyrs,” I would not want the state to act in an unconstitutional way. However, I take great exception to those who suggest that protesting the building of the mosque is un-American. Nothing is more democratic than to stand up for one’s views and to speak for oneself – not expecting the government to intervene

  • G-Veg: If this is not what is intended… if the Cordoba House builders are honest in their desire to forge bonds and further understanding, they have picked a damn awful way to do it. Appearances DO matter.

    Yeah, this is pretty much how Michael Medved phrased it today on his show. Either it’s a victory dance which means it’s horrible, or it’s an extremely poor and insensitive attempt at reconciliation.

  • Should you be glad that it’s named after a place that became exclusively Catholic?

  • Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Cordoba as a backhand compliment to Ferdinand and Isabelle; tell the hardhats its alright, they must get to work. Expedite the construction.

  • Good Morning restrainedradical,

    I’m not sure I follow you because I didn’t think we were talking about what I would do if I were going to sponsor a religious community in a place that would deeply offend. For this conversation, it is enough to articulate why I am offended and how the decision to build this mosque in a place where it appears to glory in misery is inappropriate.

    I’ll range farther though to say that I understand the impulse of the victor to raise monuments – to celebrate victory in a way that visits new injury on the defeated every time they are forced to accept and contemplate their impotency. It is a basic and base impulse. I mentioned the Blue Mosque as an example but there are many others such as the obelisk at the Vatican (doubly so if Wiki is right in noting that the obelisk was the center-point of the Circus Maximus).

    Monuments are built to channel human vision such as the Smithsonian and to inspire the way the Statue of Liberty does. They are built to control the divine (Stonehenge) or to refocus culture such as St. Petersburg. Sometimes they are merely the extension of man’s feeble attempt to control what happens after death (Pyramids at Giza). Often they are build to “immortalize” conquest such as Trafalgar Square and to put a face on a particular victory such as Admiral Nelson’s monument at Trafalgar. There are a lot of reasons to put mortar to stone and not all of them are base and mean.

    It is a fair question as to why those who seek to build Cordoba House at Ground Zero choose that location. The explanation given – that they seek to put a moderate face on Islam and to answer the extremism of September 11th with the understanding and tolerance of a thoroughly modern and moderate Islam – is difficult for many people to accept. I am one of them.

    I look at the speeches of its lead spokesman, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and wonder how a man who believes that America invited the 911 attacks through its policies over the previous century can simultaneously believe that the building of a mosque on the site of those attacks would be perceived as other than a victory monument by extremists. The questions about funding further alarm me since our culture is accustomed to look with skepticism upon projects whose funding is hidden. I admit to looking with jaded eye on attempts to present the Koran and Hadith as purely religious – i.e. having no pre-requisite political, legal, and economic structure – strictures.

    Cast against this backdrop, calling the project “Cordoba House” and then withdrawing that name when confronted about its implications appears to me to be revealing. It suggests that the name choice was more illuminating about the hidden agenda of those building the center than they wished it to be.

    In many ways, the rise of Islam in the Americas presents a unique challenge to both Muslims and the broader society. Primary in the challenges is recasting the political, social, and economic structures inherent in the Koran and, particularly, in the Hadith as idealized analogies rather than divine order. Stated more simply, the Koran and the Hadith are incredibly specific as to how society as a whole, family life in particular, and the daily lives of individuals are to be organized. While it is true that the burqa and other such trappings of modern Islam are not ordained in the written word, it is fair to note that the vast majority of religious, economic, and political obligations are spelled out.

    In a modern, constitutionalist state such as the United States, there is an assumption that the duties of man to man and man to the broader society are limited by law maintained by virtually universal suffrage. The framework is set by the democratic institutions. The individual actions inside of that framework are set by our personal codes. Religion, in one sense, must accept the overall legal framework in order to be practiced freely. Stated differently, lest I be misunderstood to be saying that religion is subordinate to the State, the modern, diverse culture, the State guarantees a field of contest on which the worldviews can compete without being oppressed by organs of government. So long as those worldviews accept the framework, virtually any can operate freely (Scientology for example) without damaging the State.

    It remains to be seen whether Islam can exist within a constitutional state.

  • G-Veg, similar things can be said of Judaism yet they developed doctrines that allow them to integrate into a pluralistic society. Christianity went through a similar transformation. Even if the Bible doesn’t command certain public policies, it became conventional wisdom that, for example, heresy should be a capital offense. Freedom of conscience didn’t hold as high a place as it does today.

    I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibilities that Islam can develop doctrines that can allow them to deemphasize teachings that prevent them from integrating. There will still be fundamentalists but they may become a tiny fringe minority with no mainstream support.

    We can aid in this process by supporting the moderates within Islam who are willing to abandon the more radical teachings.

  • It remains to be seen whether Islam can exist within a constitutional state.

    Constitutional monarchy has functioned in Morocco for most the the last 50-odd years. Malaysia has always been a parliamentary state, if an illiberal one. There are several West African countries which have had elected governments for the last 20 to 35 years. The Arab world is peculiarly resistant to electoral and deliberative institutions; outside of that, it is doubtful that muslim societies are more prone to tyranny than other societies at similar levels of economic development.

    A better statement of the question is whether a muslim minority can be amicably incorporated in a society where the judiciary, the social services apparat, the educational apparat, and much of the political class considers the vernacular society of the natives something which needs to be contained and leavened, and makes use of (often rude) immigrant populations in its battles with that vernacular society.

  • Bernard Lewis in his book The Jews in Islam writes,

    “The claim to tolerance, now much heard from Muslim apologists and more especially from apologists for Islam, is also new and of alien origin. It is only very recently that some defenders of Islam have begun to assert that their society in the past accorded equal status to non-Muslims. No such claim is made by spokesmen for resurgent Islam, and historically there is no doubt that they are right. Traditional Islamic societies neither accorded such equality nor pretended that they were so doing. Indeed, in the old order, this would have been regarded not as a merit but as a dereliction of duty. How could one accord the same treatment to those who follow the true faith and those who willfully reject it? This would be a theological as well as a logical absurdity.”

  • Art Deco,

    The Arab world is peculiarly resistant to electoral and deliberative institutions.

    Isn’t there a whole history of colonial (mis)administration here that is being calmly passed over–as though we can leap from the time of the caliphate to contemporary world politics without addressing the serious harms imposed upon the middle east and northern africa by various european powers.

    Even the case of Iran (not Arab, but Muslim country) complicates the situation. We did depose their legitimately elected government and instituted a dictator in his place, as we’ve done several other times in various places.

    My point is that an awful lot of this analysis passes over modern history as though it didn’t have any effect on how Islam first encountered representative systems of government.

  • Most of the Arab world was under colonial rule by Europe for a very brief period from shortly after World War I to shortly after World War II. The pathologies that afflict the Arab world are homegrown. It is representative institutions and the Western concept of human rights which are the legacy from Europe.

    In regard to Iran it is more accurate to say that we deposed a dictator, Mossadegh, and restored the Shah. The Shah was a squalid tyrant, but he gleams as positively enlightened compared to the rulers thrown up by the Shia Revolution.

  • Isn’t there a whole history of colonial (mis)administration here that is being calmly passed over–as though we can leap from the time of the caliphate to contemporary world politics without addressing the serious harms imposed upon the middle east and northern africa by various european powers.

    Even the case of Iran (not Arab, but Muslim country) complicates the situation. We did depose their legitimately elected government and instituted a dictator in his place, as we’ve done several other times in various places.

    I keep having this argument with Maclin Horton’s troublesome blogging partner. I offer you the following inventory.

    European colonization in the Near East, North Africa, and Central Asia was limited to the Maghreb and to a small knock of Levantine territory (the Valley of Jezreel and a portion of the coastal plain running between Gaza and Haifa) difficult to see in an atlas of ordinary scale. In Morocco (and I believe in Tunisia as well), the French agricultural colonies were small (the total number of households being under 10,000), although a good deal of common land was enclosed and delivered to them. Demographically obtrusive colonization was found in Algeria (state supported and enforced) and in the Levant (as private and voluntary immigration financed by the Jewish National Fund, etc). I have seen some figures I do not quite trust that there was quite a bit of settlement in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica as well.

    Egypt, the Sudan, Aden, the south Arabian sheikhdoms, the Trucial sheikhdoms, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Transjordan, and Iraq were all dependencies of Britain or France for periods ranging from 14 years to 72 years. Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Syria were dependencies of France for periods ranging from 26 years to 75 years. You had a rotating population of civil servants and soldiers and a foreign resident population there for business or missionary work (e.g. the founders of the American University of Beirut). There were, however, no colonists other than the aforementioned population of farmers. Morocco’s agricultural colonies were founded around 1928 and fully liquidated by about 1971.

    You may have noticed that Indonesia has had an elected government for the last 11 years, that elected administration has been modal in South Asia since 1947, and that elected governments are (at this point in time) rather more prevalent in Tropical and Southern Africa than they have been in the Arab world at any time in the last 50 years. The encounter between Europeans and natives was a good deal more durable, intrusive, and coercive in these loci than it ever was with regard to the Arab world.

    You may have noticed the United States had scant involvement in this enterprise of collecting overseas dependencies, and none at all in the Muslim world.

    You may also have noticed that the 9/11 crew were recruited not from Algeria (which did feel the French boot rather severely), but from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Egypt was a dependency of Britain in a juridically odd arrangement from 1881 to 1922; any complaints about this are not exactly topical. Neither the Hijaz nor the Nejd (united now as ‘Saudi Arabia’) was ever a dependency of any European power. Britain and Russia established some concessionary arrangements with Persia for a period of time (1907-25) in the early 20th century, but it was never a dependency of any European power.

    The four Arab countries which have had the most extensive experience with constitutional government (Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, and Kuwait) are all over the map as regards the duration and features of their encounter with Europe.

    As for the ‘legitimately elected government’ of Iran, parliamentary executives are generally dependent on the pleasure of the head of state, most especially when they have arbitrarily prorogued the country’s legislature (as Iran’s had been in 1953). Mohammed Mossadegh was no more entitled to rule by decree and disestablish the Persian monarchy (his ambitions) than was the Shah to run a royal dictatorship, but you win some and you lose some. Now, run down the list of states in the Near East, North Africa, and Central Asia which were sovereign for some time during the period running from 1953 to 1978 and identify those which had some measure of competitive electoral politics and public deliberation more often than not. That is a low bar that about 2/3 of the Latin American states could have met. The list will read as follows: Morocco, Kuwait, Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Pakistan, Libya (perhaps), and Jordan (perhaps). That would be 6 or 8 of the 25 states of the region. It is just not fertile ground for parliamentary government, and a multi-ethnic state with a literacy rate of 8% is not promising material for a durable constitutional order in any case.

    I do not care what bilge Noam Chomsky or John Prados are pushing. The machinations of the CIA are not the reason competitive electoral politics has often been a transient state of affairs here there and the next place in this world (as it was prior to the CIA’s formation in 1947). The only good example of something resembling a democratic political order iced by the CIA would be Jacobo Arbenz’ government in Guatemala in 1954. Personally, I think Arbenz bears more resemblance to Juan Domingo Peron and Salvador Allende than he does to Latin America’s authentic constitutionalists, but it is difficult to find trustworthy histories of his life and times.

  • Muslims don’t “do” persuasive argument. Never have.

    Clarification. I would like to take my second phrase back: “Never have,” which I wrote in ignorance. (Never say never, right?) It turns out that for a time, Muslim thinkers were at one time more reasonable and more at home with the use of reason. I learned that from this excellent piece interviewing Robert Reilly on his new book, the title of which is “Closing of the Muslim Mind”. It’s particularly germane to this discussion and sheds quite a bit of light on the B16/Regensberg thing as well.

    I believe my larger point stands, i.e., currently Muslims do not so much engage in apologetics as they do in a certain type of assertiveness about their beliefs, which is possibly a more useful word than aggressiveness for describing the particular tendency I wish to describe for purposes of this discussion.

The Romance of the Press

Thursday, July 1, AD 2010

It’s been interesting, though a bit odd, for me, watching the hand-wringing over the “death of the press” as some of the major newspapers struggle to figure out how to make their budgets work in a world in which fewer people read “dead tree” editions and advertisers can take advantage of more targeted advertising online and in specialty publications. There is, it seems, a level of reverence which many people seem to attach to “the press”, which does not seem well born out what it actually is.

Looked at historically and economically — newspapers exist as a delivery system for ads. They seek to provide stories that people want to read (whether “news”, human interest, comics, crosswords or recipes) in order to persuade people it’s worth parting with the artificially low newsstand or subscription price.

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16 Responses to The Romance of the Press

  • Looked at historically and economically — newspapers exist as a delivery system for ads.

    Historically? No. Modern economics? Yes. And this is probably one of the reasons why there is a problem.

  • Historically, yes. If you look at the rise of the major newspapers in the 19th century, they were very explicitly a way to sell ads (and subscription bases in order to gain ad revenue.) Much good and bad (the rise of comics as an art form, the rise of ‘yellow journalism’) can be traced to the race for circulation (and thus profit).

  • Looked at historically and economically — newspapers exist as a delivery system for ads.

    Not really. That was more a product of corporatization of newspapers. Newspapers have historically been low budget affairs sponsered by some ideologue. You can see this in the newspaper names themselves.

    Marketing itself starts in about 1900s. Mass marketing got going in the 1920s.

  • If you doubt that the big, profitable newspapers of the 19th and early 20th century (they became less profitable with the rise of weekly magazines in the 20s and 30s) were not vehicles for partisanship and advertising (even ahead of news gathering), you simply haven’t spent much, if any, time in an archive. Start with Horace Greeley’s Tribune, which ruled some big roosts for nearly forty years.

    We also see this sort of thing when folks want to claim our current political claimate is oh so heated and dangerous. Not by historical standards it ain’t. Start with….well, any presidential election in the 1800s.

    Darwin’s point that newspapers existed in no small part as a delivery system for ads is pretty easy to verify, particularly if you look at the papers that mattered before 1900, shortly before the LA Times got really into crime reporting (Chicago, New York, Boston, Baltimore).

  • There is a difference between a discussion of “big, profitable newspapers” and “newspapers.” The second is a larger group.

  • Newspapers have historically been low budget affairs sponsered by some ideologue.

    You could say that pamplets were low budget affairs sponsored by some ideologue, and that the readings of governor’s declarations and the like were newspapers, but I think the definition of newspaper would have to be stretched too far. (And Franklin, our greatest genius after Washington, had his traveling printing shows…)

    The rise of what we would recognize as a newspaper coincided with advertising and partisanship. Newspapers of importance were by definition big budget and big ads. In the 19th Century, in fact, newspapers not only launched presidential campaigns, they were probably the most necessary form of campaigning.

  • Not really. That was more a product of corporatization of newspapers. Newspapers have historically been low budget affairs sponsered by some ideologue. You can see this in the newspaper names themselves.

    I get that there were newspapers of a sort prior to the rise of the large circulation, advertising-driven newspapers, but I don’t think they adhere very much to what those worried about the death of The Press are worried about.

    After all, the small and plentiful micro newspapers of the 1700s and early 1800s are arguably much more akin to today’s blogs than today’s newspapers. If that sort of small, often one-man press with a lot of opinion and local color, and a little bit of news gleaned from travelers or (later) the telegraph news services, were considered an acceptable manifestation of The Press, people wouldn’t be ringing their hands about the prospect of the big city dailies going out of business.

    Actually, I’d argue that in many ways we’re going back to a more distributed, reader-driven form of “press” such as what we had from the 1700s through the early 1800s, with less (though certainly not an extinction) of the respectable, big city paper ethic while is familiar to us from the 50s through the present.

  • I’m not quite sure where we are going. With bifurcation in this country, I think it is going to increasingly be difficult to fund popular venues through advertising. The products the poor buy increasingly don’t have enough margin in them to try and influence market behavior through advertising. Real news information is increasingly going to be subscriber funded, like international news is with Jane’s and Stratfor.

  • I think this recent post by Matt Yglesias is a propos:

    “[J]ournalistic objectivity” as traditionally practiced by reporters at American newspapers and television stations is a business strategy as well as an ethos. The way it works is that when a market has only a small number of competitors (one or two daily newspapers in a given city, three television networks) the economic incentive is to try to be generic and inoffensive. Attracting passionate fans doesn’t really help you—even if you love the Indianapolis Star you’re not going to buy two copies a day.

    In a more competitive marketplace like the one highbrow magazines and UK newspapers have always operated in things look different. You need to differentiate your product, and it pays to develop an audience of passionate fans.

  • Marketing itself starts in about 1900s. Mass marketing got going in the 1920s.

    The earliest newspaper in my home town was founded in 1818, I believe. The second was founded in 1826. It was called, in the first instance, the Rochester Daily Advertiser. Every iteration of the title from 1826 to 1918 had the word ‘advertiser’ in it. I have examined in microtext issues from the 1860s. If I recall correctly, the front pages were filled not with articles or editorials (though there were plenty throughout the paper, in tiny print), but with ads.

  • Having ads is different from existing for the sake of delivering ads.

  • Anyway, when the progressive, humanist propaganda organs go bankrupt . . . Either, the Obaminstration regime will prop them up like it did GM and Chrysler . . .

    Or, you won’t read errata and fabrications supporting abortion, idiot supreme court nominees, gay marriage, hatred for tea party people, hatred for pro-lifers, America is evil, it’s Bush’s fault, etc.

    How will Big Brother brainwash the masses?

    Public schools!


  • Having ads is different from existing for the sake of delivering ads.

    This is a fair point, and perhaps this is where a difference in approach is putting as at odds more than a disagreement over the facts.

    Newspapers have generally achieved their income from two sources: subscription fees and ads. In their modern incarnation, daily papers have derived most of their income from ads — thus allowing them to maintain numbers or reporters and lengths of physical product which would not otherwise be affordable to most people.

    So when I say they exist as an ad delivery medium, I mean that were it not for advertising revenue, newspapers would find it very difficult to operate as they do while putting their product at a price that people could afford. Take the advertising away, and the newspaper medium becomes totally unsustainable in its current form. Readers may not buy it for the ads, and writers may not be interested in the ads, but the desires of the readers and writers wouldn’t be fullfillable if newspapers did not deliver ads.

  • That strikes me as pretty dead-on, BA.

  • Funny DC and BA. Chesterton made a similar observation about the character of journalism between the US and UK. He was surprised that all the competing papers in the US wanted to interview him and they all reported on the same stories. In the UK, exclusivity reigned supreme and if one paper landed an interview with someone, nobody else wanted anything to do with person.

  • A lot of newspapers have, or used to have, the words “Democrat”, “Republican”, “Independent”, and “Whig” in their names for a reason. When they were founded in the 19th century their political party affiliations were obvious and they made no pretense of objectivity. These affiliations or leanings often changed over time mainly due to the views of the publisher or family which owned the paper.

    Also, up until the last 20 or 30 years many newspapers were family owned (Hearst and Pulitzer were probably the most famous “press dynasties”). A newspaper’s character often depended on the character of the family or individual who published it. If he or she was conscientious and community-minded, you got a quality paper; if he or she was a rabid political partisan or only interested in sucking up to the powers that be in town, you got a rag. Now most papers belong to giant corporate conglomerates interested only in maximizing profits by (usually) cutting staff as much as possible.

USA Today Reports on Catholic Blogosphere

Tuesday, November 3, AD 2009

Last Friday on October 30 the mainstream media here in America reported inaccurately that the Vatican was warning parents that Halloween is ‘anti-Christian’.  Of course no such thing occurred.  The Vatican did not say that Halloween is ‘anti-Christian’, in fact they didn’t say anything at all.

On that same day, Jack Smith of The Catholic Key Blog debunked the story with yeoman’s work finding the source of the “alleged” Vatican Halloween Warning to a priest of the Spanish Bishop’s Conference by the name of Fr. Joan Maria Canals, CMF, a liturgy expert.  I followed up with a posting on this website early the next day supplementing Jack Smith’s findings with common mistakes made in reporting what is and isn’t official.

I then submitted my article to several news organizations, including the Drudge Report and the USA Today.  Additionally I left comments and sent emails explaining why their reporting was inaccurate.  To their credit, both the Drudge Report and the USA Today, rectified the situation some extent.

Drudge Report Catholic Church Halloween Evil 2

The Drudge Report removed the link to the Daily Mail late Saturday morning.  Then early Monday afternoon on November 2, Doug Stanglin, who wrote the piece that inaccurately attributed the Vatican warning parents of the anti-Christian nature of Halloween, followed up with our side of the story.

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Movie About Saint Josemaria Escriva

Sunday, November 1, AD 2009

There Be Dragons

A new movie about Saint Josemaria Escriva’s early years placed during the Spanish Civil War has been produced and will be released in 2010 A.D. titled, There Be Dragons.

Saint Josemaria Escriva was born in 1902 A.D. in Barbastro, Spain.  Later at the age of 26 in Madrid Saint Josemaria started the apostolate that would eventually be called the Work of God, or simply Opus Dei, in pre-Civil War Spain in October of 1928 A.D.  Opus Dei would experience delays in progress with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 A.D.  This is the period that the setting of the movie is placed in.

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4 Responses to Movie About Saint Josemaria Escriva

  • Josemaria Escriva

    self proclaimed saint, by an opus dei pope.

    he is the guy responsible for the murder of pope Jean Paul I.

    i cant even believe this is on a religious website..
    tho im not surprised, catholic religion was infiltrated by opus dei or he same pagan opus dai.. do research ppl dont watch this.

  • Alik,

    You’re not familiar with the Church God established on earth.

    Once it is bound on earth, it is bound in Heaven.

  • are you a priest? im wondering if your associated with church in a way that i am not. i believe in Allah.

    i researched : Once it is bound on earth, it is bound in Heaven.

    i do not understand how that is relevant. are you referring to the church?

    The concept of “binding and loosing” is taught in Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In this verse, Jesus is speaking directly to the Apostle Peter, and indirectly to the other apostles. Jesus’ words meant that Peter would have the right to enter the kingdom himself, would have general authority therein symbolized by the possession of the keys, and preaching the gospel would be the means of opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers and shutting it against unbelievers. The book of Acts shows us this process at work. By his sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40), Peter opened the door of the kingdom for the first time. The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common to Jewish legal phraseology meaning to declare forbidden or to declare allowed.

    i was wondering if you could explain more about church that God established.

  • Pingback: Sneak Peak At There Be Dragons Movie Trailer « The American Catholic

Archbishop Chaput on the News Media

Sunday, July 12, AD 2009

Here is Archbishop Chaput with a worthwhile reflection on how Catholics should think about the media. A few excerpts:

Most of what we know about the world comes from people we’ll never meet and don’t really understand.  We don’t even think of them as individuals.  Instead we usually talk about them in the collective – as “the media” or “the press.”  Yet behind every Los Angeles Times editorial or Fox News broadcast are human beings with personal opinions and prejudices.  These people select and frame the news.  And when we read their newspaper articles or tune in their TV shows, we engage them in a kind of intellectual intimacy in the same way you’re listening to me right now….

…The media’s power to shape public thought is why it’s so vital for the rest of us to understand their human element.  When we don’t recognize the personal chemistry of the men and women who bring us our news – their cultural and political views, their economic pressures, their social ambitions – then we fail the media by holding them to too low a standard.  We also – and much more importantly — fail ourselves by neglecting to think and act as intelligent citizens…

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3 Responses to Archbishop Chaput on the News Media

  • Excellent letter! Thanks for posting it.

  • I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I used to be a “media person” 🙂

  • Yet again Grace Archbishop Chaput hits the nail on the head here -he makes such good points here re the book/ print vs the internet age
    Now there are pluses and minuses in this high tech internet age as with the book / print/age too.
    BUT the human dimension should never ever be discounted
    it is such an intrinsic element!
    The discipline demanded in previos eras eg that of the book was a good thing it would be good if we could somehow revive some of these practices to get optimum results for the high tech age!

Diagnosing contemporary conservatism's ills.

Monday, June 22, AD 2009

Apropos of DarwinCatholic’s post on the meaning of conservatism, the following comment from Francis Beckwith (What’s Wrong With The World) struck a chord:

“Conservatism–as a philosophical, cultural, and political project–does in fact have boundaries, and those have been set by the cluster of ideas offered by such giants as Burke, Lincoln, Chesterton, Lewis, Hayek, Chambers, Friedman, Kirk, Weaver, Gilder, Buckley, and Reagan. There are, of course, disagreements among these thinkers and their followers, but there is an identifiable stream of thought. It informs our understanding of human nature, families, civil society, just government, and markets.

“What contemporary conservatism has lost–especially in its Hannitized and Coulterized manifestations of superficial ranting–is the connection to a paternity that is necessary so that its intellectual DNA may be passed on to its progeny.

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16 Responses to Diagnosing contemporary conservatism's ills.


    Christopher, this is one of those moments when someone puts fragmented thoughts into coherent words.

  • This also reminds me to write that letter to FOX as to why I think Sean Hannity should just be taken off the air.

  • I confess I don’t see much of a identifiable stream of thought among the figures mentioned. Some of them, no doubt, would have been horrified at being identified with others in the group, or explicitly disclaimed any conservativism.

    The intellectual foundations of conservativism have always been something of a post hoc affair (I’m not saying this is unique to conservativism). The way people talk, you’d think the average Goldwater voter could have quoted you chapter and verse from Russell Kirk. I doubt it.

  • Perhaps our writer would like all conservatives to be nice and polite and drink tea with pinkies upended. When the world of ideas is a moshpit where knees and elbows are needed. He forgets that William F. Buckley Jr. of blessed memory, an elite by birth, used very sharp elbows and knees in public debate. Firing Line was the model for many of the Fox News programs- Buckley would invite liberal guests, only to undress them clothing article by clothing article. In the Media World, conservatives operate at a disadvantage of numbers and resources. Hannity, Coulter, et al, even with the ratings dominance of Fox, must compensate with honking rhetoric at times. Meanwhile, El Rushbo gets bigger numbers than anybody anywhere. Mostly on the strength of his ideas.

  • Blackadder — true, it’s not that cut and dry. On that note, I had recommended this introductory essay on the other thread — on the disparate influences and intellectual threads of “American conservatism” and their points of agreement.

    I found George Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 is also a good read.

    Regarding Beckwith’s criticism, while before my time, I’m disappointed that we don’t have a television show of the calibre of, say, Buckley’s Firing Line.

    The wasteland of Fox News’ “pseudo-conservative” television has to some degree been replaced by blogs and online interactions. Websites like “First Principles” and the various journals (First Things, Weekly Standard, etc.) which might encourage such a return to and examination of conservatism’s intellectual sources.

    Due credit to Ann Coulter, however — apparently she did recommend Chambers’ Witness in one of her books and prompted a number of them to take it up.

  • *laughs* Of course the TV guys aren’t known for their great philosophical arguments!

    They’re not dealing with highly philosophical folks who want to listen and reason– they’re dealing with folks who either already agree, or who are disposed *not* to agree and will only consider their words if they’re sufficiently startled.

    Sweet Mother, most of the folks watching will be results of the public school system– the same one that has more years of sex ed than history ed?

    Would we also be surprised at sidewalk preachers who appeal less with sweet reason than with ways to get your attention, then direct you to places you can get more information?

    Sure, they’re shallow– but they get the ideas out.

    I’d argue that right thought is less suited to this style of being spread, which is why left thought is so much more common in the area.

  • There has to be some kind of middle ground where we are able to firmly articulate our beliefs backed by a fairly in depth understanding of our historical roots. I’d agree with Frank and with Chris on the boorishness of Fox News and most of its talking heads, though I think he’s underestimating Laura Ingraham and, to a lesser extent, Coulter.

    What we’re seeing time and again in these blog debates are two groups kind of talking past one another. There are a group of conservatives that are tired of taking what seems to be the Marquess of Queensberry approach to political debate, and another concerned about the crassness of some of the political commentary. While I can understand the hesitation on the part of the latter group, it does seem that there’s a subtext to this debate as often the people who cry the loudest for a more temperate tone also want a more temperate kind of conservatism, one that abandons some of the core principles and policy positions of modern conservatism. This only angers the other side even more, and so the rhetoric becomes even more intemperate.

    And as much as it pains me to say this, perhaps we should stop being overly academic. There’s absolutely nothing wrong – and it’s in part necessary to understand the philosophic roots of conservatism. But we’re not going to make that many advances with master’s theses and doctoral dissertations (that was a very painful sentence to write). We should be able to convey the eternal principles of conservatism without boring the masses to sleep, but without the gutteral thoughtlessness of people like Hannity.

  • It strikes me that part of the thing here is that if one has a political movement which a larger percentage of its voters are actually interested in, it will have a fairly loud/populist tone to many of its spokespeople. One can only get away with having a calm, elite, academic tone to all debate if one’s actual voters are such absolute sheep that they don’t bother following any of the movement discussion.

    The solution is simply to have layered communication vehicles, some of which are okay with remaining small because of the limits of their appeal. Fox News and talk radio by their nature need to appeal to tens of millions of people. Magazines like National Review, American Spectator or First Things necessarily take a higher brow approach, and have a smaller appeal.

  • “Sure, they’re shallow– but they get the ideas out.”

    Well said Foxfier. People like Rush, Hannity, Levin, Ingraham and Coulter have to entertain in order to stay on the air. They also carry the conservative message to a mass audience, something that National Review and blogs simply can’t do. I would also note that when WFB started National Review it was attacked as sensationalist and boorish. I recall one initial review stating that the country needed an intelligent conservative journal but National Review clearly did not meet the bill!

    There is more than enough room in the conservative movement for both conservatives of the head and of the heart.

  • To the extent that Rush Limbaugh can communicate the core convictions and ideas of conservatives and/or the Republican Party in a popular medium, he has my wholehearted support.

    Where I get off the Limbaugh train is, say, his off-the-cuff loose cannon remarks — for example, on the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib:

    “This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation, and we’re going to ruin people’s lives over it, and we’re going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I’m talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You [ever] heard of need to blow some steam off?”

    and taking a cavalier “it’s not torture if you can survive it” approach to waterboarding.

    To the extent that these kind of remarks become — given his popularity (and Hannity’s, and Coulter’s, et al.) — the public face of American conservatism for the masses and the media alike, I see that as an impediment.

    And I don’t think even William Buckley himself, despite his penchant for “sharp elbows and knees”, would have approved.

  • I believe it was William F. Buckley, he of the upended pinky and refined manners, who referred to Gore Vidal as a “fa___t.”

    So, as long as we’re talking about superficial ranting, which Buckley did plenty of times, I don’t really see the difference between him and Hannity, except that Beckwith uses him to make his alleged point.

    By the way, Beckwith compares favorably with Hannity, Coulter, et al., in his own ignorance of his tradition when he speaks of Catholicism.

  • Nemo,

    On Beckwith and his comprehension of Catholicism (as a convert to such): irrelevant and stick to the topic.


    Completely agree w/ your comments @ 11:03 am.

    I admit these days much of what I see — from the pundits at Fox News to the recent RNC resolution to call on the Democratic Party to rename itself “Democrat Socialist Party” to Michael Steele’s “the GOP needs a Hip Hop makeover!” and rationally-challenged articulation of pro-life principles — makes me wince.

  • I believe it was William F. Buckley, he of the upended pinky and refined manners, who referred to Gore Vidal as a “fa___t.”

    Buckley once called Vidal a queer during a heated exchange in which Vidal had referred to him as a crypto-Nazi. I doubt it was an exchange he wished others to emulate.

  • In regard to Michael Steele Christopher, we are in complete agreement. The man can’t seem to make up his own mind as to what he believes, let alone lead the RNC!

  • It’s on youtube if you’d like to see it in context, too.

    Frankly, I can’t say an accurate sexual slur rises to the level of offense of “you are a wanna-be mass murdering, eugenically-minded quasi-pagan trying to take over the world.” Not very productive, but I’d have offered to clobber the tootaloo too.

  • “I believe it was William F. Buckley, he of the upended pinky and refined manners, who referred to Gore Vidal as a “fa___t.” ”

    Buckley said it on nation-wide television, although he used the term “queer”.

    Here is a link to the video and the transcript:

    As far as I know Buckley never expressed any regret for what he said, and considering it was said to Gore Vidal, good novelist but rancid human being, leaving completely aside his sexual preference, I can understand why.