The Elizabeth Lauten Nonsense

Dear Media: This is why everybody hates you:

There are many wonderful reporters. They work hard to get the story right and provide a valuable service to their readers and viewers. But we have a serious problem — and it’s a problem at the editor level at least as much as it’s a problem at the reporter level.

Republican media operative Rick Wilson went on a beautiful rant last night about this embarrassing Lauten debacle. You can read the whole thing here. This is edited down but he wrote, “Reporters and media folks wondering, ‘Why don’t people trust us?’… The last couple weeks should be clarifying for you… But the endless, agenda-driven games are repellent to readers/viewers. Your sins are of omission and commission both… You used to be able to claim news judgement and ignore stories you hated. You still do, but now people see it, and you loathe it… So you’ll do one piece on Gruber, then pretend you dug in hard. But god forbid a staffer dings the Obama kids. Then you flood the zone… You pick and choose when to provide context… I love pros in the business. Love them. And most of you ARE pros. Most of you DO work stories, look for interesting angles… But you tolerate (and your editors tolerate) a lot of outrageous, absurdly bad practices. Gruber? Unforgivable… the frustration Americans feel about media isn’t getting any less acute, and some introspection might go a long way…”

Indeed it would. There are some tenacious and wonderful reporters. But the overall picture in many newsrooms is getting worse. Under no circumstances should scarce newsroom resources be diverted from real stories onto fake ones that have already been covered more than a Beatles hit.

There is a huge liberal bias problem in the media (fun recent graph related to the problem here). Pretending it’s not there is not going to make it go away. But pointing out the problems year after year isn’t making things better. Some of the media behavior post-election seems more like a toddler temper tantrum than a dispassionate news judgment.

It’s ironic, when one recalls Peter Jennings (or Tom Brokaw, I forget exactly which) characterizing the 1994 vote that gave Republicans control of Congress for the first time in four decades as a “temper tantrum” on the part of the voters.

Obama’s Executive Amnesty

How to push back:

These two steps would have strong public backing. While a majority of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for those here illegally, 77 percent oppose making them “eligible for government benefits such as Social Security, food stamps and Medicaid before they become citizens.” And even those who believe illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay support the deportation of criminals such as child predators. Obama would have a very hard time explaining why he opposed the deportation of illegal immigrants convicted of, let’s say, a violent misdemeanor against a child or a misdemeanor involving child pornography.

Some will object that such a course rewards Obama’s lawless action. But it also has the benefit of affirming that those benefiting from Obama’s amnesty do not have the privileges of legal permanent residents or citizens. And it puts Obama on the defensive, while putting Republicans squarely on the side of the American people.

Which has always been the case.

Orion’s Mission

Paul Spudis deflates a lot of the hype about this week’s flight. The notion that this is a significant part of a Mars architecture is, and always has been, ludicrous.

[Update a while later]

Sorry, I’ve solved the problem of the missing link.

[Update a few minutes later]

More from Joel Achenbach:

You don’t need an advanced degree from MIT to grasp that this is a very stately, deliberate program, one free of the sin of haste and the vice of urgency.

Has there ever been a piece of human space hardware developed so slowly?

Or so expensively?

Serious question: Is it not a fact that Orion is the costliest capsule in human history?

Yes, it has lots of bells and whistles that the Apollo capsules lacked. This one has XM/Sirius radio built in, butt-warmers in the seats, four-way adjustable mirrors and Big-Gulp-sized cup-holders. It’s got a guest room, a fully stocked bar, a laundry room and 24-hour concierge service. It’s a really nice spaceship!

…Orion could, in theory, be used for such a mission, but it’s a single piece of what would be a complex array of technologies and hardware. Yes, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, but only if you keep walking, and are seriously committed to the journey — no pretending or arm-waving allowed.

(I drive to the store and buy an onion. I drive home and cut it up and put it in a big pot on the stove and then go watch television. Someone asks me, “What are you doing?” and I answer, “I’m making gumbo.” And the someone says, “What about the garlic, the peppers, the celery, the fresh okra, the andouille sausage, the grilled chicken, the fish, the shrimp, those special blended peppers you always use, and the roux, not to mention the fresh French bread on the side?” I answer, “I can’t afford that right now.”)

Heh.

That UVA Rape Story

Is it a gigantic hoax?

There seems to be some legitimate reason for skepticism. To me, it has the ring of a lot of the “satanic cult” stories, that the FBI never managed to actually confirm.

[Tuesday-morning update]

Jonah Goldberg is skeptical. And Megan McArdle says that if the story is true, the police should be involved.

Yes.

[Bumped]

[Update a while later]

Tom Maguire has more thoughts (and skepticism).

“Anti-Government” Militias

Why not?

In the United States, police forces exist as a public service, not as a replacement for civil society. As the Supreme Court has made clear, police are under no obligation to help or to protect you. They can choose to, certainly. But they do not have to. And, even if they did have to, it would still be the case that they could not possibly be everywhere at once.

Nor are they intended to be. For much of American history, there was no serious distinction drawn between the citizenry, the militia, the military, and the police. Instead, there were a few elected or appointed roles — watchmen, constables, sheriffs, etc. — and then there was the people at large. Those people were expected to bandy together and to help one another, to be responsible for their own protection, and to help to keep the peace — both under the control of authorities and of their own volition. When standing police forces came into being, Americans did not give up this system; they added to it.

Which is to say that there is no reason whatsoever for us to abandon either our penchant for self-reliance or our preference for volunteerism simply because we have a series of professional police forces running in parallel to civil society. Nor, for that matter, should our out-of-control licensing systems and incomplete self-defense protections be permitted to become an impediment to our security. I’m no great fan of Oathkeepers as an outfit. But if they wish to help out during a protest, so be it. If a collection of black Ferguson residents wishes to protect a white-owned gas station from looters, so be it. If the Huey P. Newton Gun Club wants to march around Dallas protecting black citizens, so be it. If a spontaneous, unlicensed group of Korean Los Angelenos wishes to take up arms and protect their property from rioters, so be it. The United States represents a collection of free people who elect to have police forces — not the other way around. So some of our actors don’t much like the government. Who cares?

People who think that the country is a government with people, instead of people with a government.

As Glenn notes, this seems ripe for a federal civil-rights law, if protecting yourself and your property is a civil right (as it always has been under English common law). It would be amusing to see if Obama would sign it.

[Afternoon update]

An update on the Oath Keepers in Ferguson, from Jesse Walker.

My Cell Phone

I have a Motorola Droid Global 2, almost four years old. I haven’t seen any reason to upgrade it, but it’s starting to flake out on me (sometimes won’t boot).

So I guess it’s off to the Verizon store to see if they have any new models with keyboards (they’ll take my keyboard away from my cold dead fingers).

[Update Tuesday morning, with much-needed rain in LA]

So I went to the store, and it turns out that no one puts keyboards on smart phones any more. The only way to get one is to buy a “basic” phone (that is, all it does is voice and text). So my options are to give up the keyboard with a new phone, or…go buy a replacement on Ebay, where they’re going for about $25. Or I could look for a more recent (but not current) phone with a keyboard, so I could at least get some improvement.

ClimateGate, Five Years Later

Thoughts from Judith Curry on the legacy:

By the time 2011 rolled around, my ostracization by the climate establishment was pretty complete, so I redefined (broadened) my academic peer group to include physicists, social scientists and philosophers (not to mention the extended peer community developed on my blog). I found this much more stimulating and interesting than circled wagons of the climate community.

To assess the personal impact of Climategate, I’m trying to figure out exactly where my head was at prior to Climategate in 2009. Wherever; I’m not sure it matters anymore. In 2014, I no longer feel the major ostracism by my peers in the climate establishment; after all, many of the issues I’ve been raising that seemed so controversial have no[w] become mainstream. And the hiatus has helped open some minds.

The net effect of all this is that my ‘academic career advancement’ in terms of professional recognition, climbing the administrative ladder, etc. has been pretty much halted. I’ve exchanged academic advancement that now seems to be of dubious advantage to me for a much more interesting and influential existence that that feels right in terms of my personal and scientific integrity.

Bottom line: Climategate was career changing for me; I’ll let history decide if this was for better or worse (if history even cares).

I think history will judge her well.

“Reality Has A Liberal Bias”

Yeah, right:

“If you look at the most credible evidence [of Michael Brown's death at the hands of a Ferguson, Mo., police officer], the lessons are really basic,” Lowry said during an appearance on Meet the Press. “Don’t rob a convenience store. Don’t fight with a policeman when he stops you and try to take his gun. And when he yells at you to stop, just stop.”

Those comments elicited gasp from a panel that included the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson and MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. Mitchell exclaimed “Whoa, whoa” during Lowry’s comments, while Robinson said his recitation of the known facts in the case was an attempt to “relitigate” Brown’s death.

Do they ever listen to themselves?

Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage Law

…is having exactly the effect that anyone who understands economics or how a business works would predict:

In Seattle, 42 percent of surveyed employers were “very likely” to reduce the number of employees per shift or overall staffing levels as a direct consequence of the law. Similarly, 44 percent reported that they were “very likely” to scale back on employees’ hours to help offset the increased cost of the law. That’s particularly bad news for the Seattle metro area, where the unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is already more than 30 percent — due in part to Washington state’s already-high minimum wage.

Perhaps most concerning about the $15 proposal is that some businesses anticipated going beyond an increase in prices or a reduction in staffing levels. More than 43 percent of respondents said it was “very likely” they would limit future expansion in Seattle in response to the law. One in seven respondents is even “very likely” to close a current location in the city limits.

You don’t say.

Do Black Lives Matter?

Yes, but you’d never know it from the behavior of the Democrats:

If you believe that black lives matter, then you should be working for school reform, economic growth, and — yes — more effective law-enforcement and crime-prevention measures to protect black communities, which suffer an enormously disproportionate share of crime and violence. Never mind the stagecraft: That’s what you actually do if you think black lives matter.

And the drama that’s going on in Ferguson right now? That’s what you do if you think black lives are merely useful to you — and, in the end, expendable.

Yup.

Orthorexia

When “healthy” eating becomes unhealthy.

There may be reasons to be a vegan, but health is not among them.

[Update late morning]

Both Anne Hathaway and Bill Clinton have given up on their vegan diets:

Hathaway recently confessed that eating endless meals of tofu and garbanzo beans seemed to be sapping her energy. She told the Insider that when she was filming Interstellar, the action-packed scenes overwhelmed her.

Seeking a solution, Hathaway decided to try feasting on fish and shifting to a low-carb diet. The decision to push away those plant-based platters and experiment with an animal protein-powered plan came in the middle of filming a water scene, which required that she suit up in a heavy garment.

“I fell off so hard…. So you imagine what that’s like — what it’s like running through water and then you wear a 40-pound suit on top of it, so for me it was intense. I was facing my life, I don’t know how many days in a row of, like, garbanzo beans on a plate.”

And with an apology to PETA, Hathaway says that she doesn’t plan to return to her vegan lifestyle. She even dug into a plate of eggs and sausage during a recent Harper’s Bazaar interview. Anne noted that the difference between eating a vegan diet and consuming animal protein was notable overnight.

“I just didn’t feel good or healthy,” Hathaway recalled of her vegan days.

You don’t say.

The Ferguson “Protests”

They’re not protests, they’re pogroms aimed at the middle class:

Backed by looters and violent people, liberals are telling the American middle class they do not want you. They want an America where you are either a billionaire knocking down tax subsidies, or jobless and on federal assistance. . . . The looters won, thanks to President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Governor Jay Nixon — Democrats all — who ignored the truth and the facts of the case to fan the flames of violence, across the country. People have begun calling these the Obama Riots. Expect more.

Sadly, yes.

[Update a few minutes later]

Back to blood.

[Update a few more minutes later]

Middle-class Americans are hardest hit by ObamaCare. As by all of the Democrats’ policies. And as Glenn notes, the Republicans are fools to try to go after tech money. They should be advocating populist policies that go instead after Hollywood and the Silicon Valley oligarchs.

[Update a while later]

Speaking of the Silicon Valley oligarchs, how they created huge homeless camps.

Orion

Eric Berger has the latest installment of his series on NASA’s drift (which is likely to become a book, I think):

NASA’s rank-and-file believe America wants a space program pushing outward, and upward.

“We don’t think of our jobs here as white-collar welfare,” Kramer said. “We have a real passion for what we do.”

Of course you don’t. You have to motivate yourself to go to work. But that doesn’t make it untrue.

I weep to think what that billion dollars per year could be doing if applied to something useful.

[Update a while later]

I should note that I have worked on many projects that I considered a pointless waste of money, because it was my job assignment. While I’m probably more cynical than most, I did eventually tire of helping Congress waste the taxpayers’ money, which is why I quit the mainstream industry two decades ago.

Interstellar

Just got back from a week in Missouri visiting family, and still haven’t seen the movie. But I see that (miracle of miracles) it’s still playing in IMAX at one theater in LA, just a few minutes away, so going to finally check it out at a matinee today.

[Monday update]

A lot to comment on, but many reviewers have already digested it pretty thoroughly. One comment I haven’t seen is the problem of the psychodynamics of such a long mission with several men and one woman (a problem shared by the original Planet of the Apes movie, though she died en route).

The Oral Arguments In The Mann Suit

On this day of Thanksgiving I am thankful for my excellent legal counsel:

The “question for the court,” Judge Ruiz summed up toward the end of arguments, is: “Could a jury look at this and determine that this is verifiable fraud?” Hopefully, the court will answer no, holding instead that such subjective and political questions are best arbitrated by the public and not by the legal system. If it does, Mann’s options will narrow dramatically. In the case of a dismissal, Mann would still technically be able to apply for en banc review, or even to petition the Supreme Court directly. The chances of either court’s electing to take up an appeal from him, however, seem slim. And rightly so. Mann is indulging here in a dangerous game — in a petty and quixotic attempt to recruit the nation’s courts to his side and to forestall any criticism of himself and his work. If the First Amendment is to be worth the paper it is written on, those courts should refuse to be co-opted. Rather, they should dismiss the case as soon as is possible, reminding us as they do that, in America, robust public debate is not actionable, but worthy of celebration instead.

Yes.

And a very Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.

Facebook

Seven reasons why I made a Thanksgiving resolution to leave it.”

Most of this crap doesn’t bother me, because I don’t really “use” Facebook much. My blog posts get auto-posted there, but I could count the number of times I’ve manually updated my timeline (if indeed I can recall them, which I can’t) on one hand. I guess that for many less tech literate, Facebook became a substitute for a blog, but I’ve never needed one. And I find Twitter much more useful as a link mine.