Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Brief Thought about the SCOTUS Nominee

While pundits everywhere are trying to learn to spell the name of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, a couple of thoughts might be kept in mind.

I suspect that there will be a great deal about Judge Sotomayor for conservative and Republican commentators to dislike. Of course, Barack Obama won the presidency and has the right to select, within certain parameters, whosoever he will. It is doubtful that Mr. Obama would be inclined to select anyone for this position that I would find ideal, or perhaps even favorable, but by virtue of his position he has the right to select a nominee as he sees fit, as long as said nominee meets basic requirements regarding qualifications and competency for the office.

With that in mind, conservatives would do well to remember that the kinds of underhanded and dishonest tactics at times employed by leftist groups opposing Republican nominations are still underhanded and dishonest if employed by the other side. There may be cause for principled and nuanced opposition to the candidacy of Judge Sotomayor, and her nomination, as would any nomination for such a position, certainly deserves careful scrutiny. However, conservatism encompasses means as well as ends. Smear tactics and innuendo should have no part in a conservative campaign against a judicial nomination. Those things should remain the weapons of the unprincipled left.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Consistent Cowboys

Reading the sports news this morning, one might note that Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones is about as effective at evaluating engineering talent as he is at finding football talent.

As a reminder, the Cowboys have not won a playoff game in a dozen years. Back then, the Cowboys were running off the fumes of the Jerry Johnson years. There was much to dislike about Mr. Johnson personally, but as an evaluator of talent, he had few peers. For better or worse, the egos of Messrs. Jones and Johnson were too big to co-exist in a state even the size of Texas.

Since Mr. Johnson's forced departure, Mr. Jones has run the show alone, with the result that both the team's playoff record and practice facility are currently in shambles.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Shoddy Sports Journalism

Based on a Dallas Morning News interview with Dallas Maverick's star Dirk Nowitzki's jailed estranged girlfriend, it is now being nationally reported that she is about one month pregnant with his child.

That may prove to be true, but this strikes me as irresponsible journalism. There is no corroboration that she is actually pregnant, much less pregnant with his child. The only "evidence" is a phone interview with the woman, who is alleged to have used several different aliases while committing various forms of fraud in two states. That background does not inspire much confidence in her reliability.

Again, the story may prove to be true. However, with no more than that, it should have never gone to press, either locally or nationally.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Too Much Attention to Detail

In a nation in which the public and private sectors have become increasingly and hopelessly blurred, it is perhaps not surprising that the President doesn't seem to understand the difference between a tax cut and money saved on a mortgage.

Leaving aside the matter of government intervention in corporate America, has anyone noted the amount of personal advice that Chairman Obama has been giving Americans? Since taking office, he has instructed American families that they should 1) purchase stock; 2) refinance their mortgages; and 3) buy an American car.

Has any American President ever arrogated himself to the point of offering this kind of instruction on personal financial and purchasing decisions?

Perhaps the President should commence news conferences by offering the disclaimer that he is not offering professional financial or legal advice.

Herding Masses Yearning to Breathe Easily

George Will channels Alexis de Toqueville in describing the direction of the United States in the 21st century:

In "Democracy in America," Alexis de Tocqueville anticipated people being governed by "an immense, tutelary power" determined to take "sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate." It would be a power "absolute, attentive to detail, regular, provident and gentle," aiming for our happiness but wanting "to be the only agent and the sole arbiter of that happiness." It would, Tocqueville said, provide people security, anticipate their needs, direct their industries and divide their inheritances. It would envelop society in "a network of petty regulations -- complicated, minute and uniform." But softly: "It does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them" until people resemble "a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Twilight Reflections on the World that Cried Swine

Now that it is more or less agreed by everyone that the swine flu panic was much ado about nothing, it is time to ask whether in a world of instant communications it is possible to experience any kind of unusual or newsworthy event in a measured manner. In a world that values rapidity more than reflection, it is increasingly doubtful.

The over reaction across the nation to this event had the feel of an early Twilight Zone episode -- we only lacked a shooting over a fight for a surgical mask to make it a complete Rod Serling moment. School systems closed, people changed travel habits, and the Vice-President of the United States came just short of advocating a self-imposed quarantine by the citizens of the nation. All of this over a flu strain that proved much less virulent than that which goes around in any given year.

What is worse is that this is merely a different variation of a common theme. In politics, economics, weather, and scandal mongering, nearly any kind of news can be sensationalized, throwing the nation into obsessive interest in the trivial or, worse, into a false sense of crisis. Frequently, the ultimate casualty is the truth, as news outlets, both old and new, engage in a race to be the first to push out news of questionable veracity.

It is a problem that lacks any easy solution, as the appetite for this is consumer driven, and we are long past the day when news organizations, not to mention bloggers, will restrain themselves out of a sense of responsibility. The age of instant communications promised to make us more informed. Unfortunately, it appears more likely to bring us to the brink of a world not of sight, nor of sound, but of the mind-less.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Portion of the U.S. population that has been diagnosed with the disease formerly known as the swine flu.

The name is being changed to the "mass hysteria flu."