SocraticGadfly: 7/3/05 - 7/10/05

July 09, 2005

Why Judith Miller deserves her prison cell

I post this as I see a number of liberal bloggers wring their hands over the precedent being set by New York Times reporter Judith Miller being hauled to jail for civil contempt in the Valerie Plame leak investigation.

These hand-wringers decry the lack of a federal shield law for journalists and generally want a maximalist version of such a law.

I respond:

1. An absolutist, or near-absolutist, shield law, especially at the federal level, is an invitation to game the systtem. That's why quasi-absolutists like Armando on Kos, and quasi-quasi-absolutists like Drum at Political Animal and Marshall at TPM are simply wrong.

Shield laws of the degree they want are simply an open invitation for suck-up journalists like Miller to play Fourth Estate in the sense of an unelected co-equal branch of The Establishment rather than a Fourth Estate for "afflicting the comforted."

And THAT, IMO, would be the fallout from a quasi-absolute shield law, thereby entrenching the MSM/Establishmentarian nature of current Beltway media types.

In other words, an absolutist or quasi-absolutist shield law would have the possibility of lessening the media's integrity, not boosting it.

2. No confidentiality privilege is even quasi-absolute. Ministers, counselors and lawyers are generally required by law to reveal confessional information when child sexual abuse information has been confessed.

Given that the client-patient professional counselor agreement is much more elevated than journalist-source confidentiality, your claims for its quasi-absolute status simply don't hold water.

Read this Kos diary for more insight and speculation as to whether or not Miller might be the modern, self-appointed, equivalent of a 1960s CIA operative acting under cover of being a journalist.

July 08, 2005

”Demons made me do it.” Please

First, the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) serial murder Dennis Rader in Kansas.

Then, serial sexual predator and likely child murderer Joseph Edward Duncan in Idaho.

Both are claiming “demons made me do it.”

In a word, “bullshit.”

Just as some evangelical Christians blame people like Alcoholics Anonymous and its labeling alcoholism as a disease as opening the floodgates to people dodging responsibility, so evangelical Christianity, to the degree it overtly or covertly promotes belief in literal demons as the counterpart to literal angels, should be held responsible for this promotion of irresponsibility.

I suspect that many serial criminals, with some degree of psychological problem, find it easy to “split” themselves and appear to take responsibility while actually denying it, by invoking the “demon” defense.

No, no, no. You did it, Rader and Duncan. You did it.

For more on Duncan’s claims, and other insight into his own views of himself, see his blog, apparently read by police for a week or so before he was found, in an attempt to track him down.

If mediocrity isn't good enough, then there's Renchburg

As Tricky Dick Nixon first called him.

Kevin Drum has picked up an Internet meme about famous American political quotes.

Apropos of the potential twin Supreme Court vacancies, here's Nebraska Sen. Roman Hruska, when Nixon nominated Harold Carswell to the Supreme Court vacancy, the one before the one for which Rehnquist eventually got the nod:
“Even if he was mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises and Cardozos and Frankfurters and stuff like that there.”
So, which mediocrity will Bush pull out of his hat, or his nether regions?

Rehnquist stepping down too?

That's the latest word from Bob Novak, who despite his possible part in possible criminal conspiracy re Valerie Plame, has great conservative sources and called the O'Connor resignation in advance.

How will this all play out, with Rehnquist throwing a second vacancy in the mix? Here's my punditry:

Scalia gets moved up to Chief Justice.

Alberto Gonzales (Bush's Abe Fortas) and filibuster-proof Janice Brown fill the two Associate gaps.

Brown gets spun as being the social conservative when, except on affirmative action, she's really not, except compared to Gonzales.

Both are young enough to serve 25 years and establish an imprimatur.

July 07, 2005

How many ways can Drum get source protection wrong?

Kevin Drum has offered up his latest pontification about Matt Cooper, Judith Miller and protection of anonymous sources.

He continues to come dangerously close to an absolutist interpretation of shield laws and related issues, and is simply wrong.

Of course, other name bloggers like Kos and Atrios have already pointed this out.

Now, he may claim he’s not making absolutist claims, but he’s getting much closer than either of the two above, or than many editors would — as special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald himself pointed out in court pleadings.

Oh, and a shield law is just a bit lower down the rung of principles than the First or Fifth amendments.

Kevin, if you were a reporter, with your quite high standards on this subject, Karl Rove would use you like a two-dollar whore, I believe.

The bottom line? Stop putting reporters on pedestals.

Oh, and speaking of that, as for the rest of your long post, Mr. Drum —

Matt Cooper ought to quit acting and get off his fricking pity pot. Oh, Matt, and while you're doing that, stop taking yourself so fricking serious.

That goes in spades for “Judy, Judy.” Seeing as how Miller was essentially a propagandist for the last two years, and may have back-fed information to Rove, both she and her source have damn good reason to keep her quiet. SHE might have a more serious criminal collar facing her for all we know, if what the Post reported Wednesday morning is true.

Follow-up note:

This AP story totally blows its coverage of the issues at stake, and assumes reporters, sources and the theoretically more educated part of the general public would be clueless to distinguish between good and bad sources, helpfulness and “using” somebody, etc. (the same things that Kevin seems clueless about and to imply others would be clueless).
Will the jailing of New York Times reporter Judy Miller scare people off from risking careers to tell reporters about government misdeeds? Or will Miller's willingness to sit behind bars rather than name a confidential source embolden such whistleblowers?
Can you misread the issue any worse without doing so deliberately, which I suspect Michael J. Sniffen did anyway?

July 06, 2005

Hey Kenny, Kenny Rogers, sing us a song

To the tune of “Piano Man”

It's five o'clock on a Wednesday
The Ra-anger crowd shuffles in
There's old Kenny walking on the field
Glarin’ mean to the camera men

He says, "Hey, will you get that camera moved
I'm sure it should not be turned on
Yeah it's bad and it's crap and you’re a big pain
Turn it off, make yourself long gone"

Pow pow pow, biff biff biff
Pow pow, biff biff boff boff push

Throw us a punch, at the cameraman
Throw us a punch tonight
Well, you’re now in the mood for some fisticuffs
And you've got us feelin' uptight

Now Dale at the TV is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke or to clear up some smoke
So there's no place that he'd rather be

He says, "Kenny, I believe you’re killing me."
As the smile ran away from his face
" I'm sure that I could be a media star
If you would get out of my face"

Oh, la la la, de de da
La la, de de da da dum

Now Buck is an old throwback manager
Who never had time for my life
And he's talkin' with Orel, his right-hand pitching coach
To break up pending strife

And owner Tom Hicks, practices politics
As GM John Hart slowly melts down
Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
Not much better than Kenny the clown

Throw us a punch, at the cameraman
Throw us a punch tonight
Well, you’re now in the mood for some fisticuffs
And you've got us feelin' uptight

It's a pretty good crowd for a Wednesday
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me Kenny’s comin' to whack
To forget about life for a while

And the stadium, it sounds like a carnival
And the camera, it sounds out of whack
Dead on the ground the bar, inoperable past repair
Just like this reporter’s bruised back

Oh, la la la, de de da
La la, de de da da dum

Throw us a punch, at the cameraman
Throw us a punch tonight
Well, you’re now in the mood for some fisticuffs
And you've got us feelin' uptight

July 04, 2005

Once again, the Morning Snooze is clueless on Iraq

Latest proof?

This ignorant editorial July 3.

Here’s the apex, the acme, of cluelessness:

The military is stretched thin, and, at current recruitment rates, no relief is in sight. It's time to lower enlistment standards and ratchet up coalition troops — unless someone wants to call for a draft.
Apparently the editorial page staff at the Snooze has forgotten, never was aware of, or decided to overlook the fact that coalition partners are independent countries. Unless the Snooze has some radical new extension of the Bush Doctrine’s pre-emptive action, we can’t ratchet up British or Italian coalition troops, whether in quantity, tour of duty, area patrolled or anything else.

And, to boot, the Snooze seems to have overlooked, ignored or swept under the rug the fact that Iraq is even less popular with the general public of our coalition partners than here. Britain or Italy aren’t going to be ratcheting up their own troops, either.

That’s The (don’t forget the capital letter of pretentiousness, please) Dallas Morning News for you — the “best” newspaper in north Texas.

July 03, 2005

And she claims to be a journalist

On why Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller should enjoy absolute privilege on shielding Karl Rove or whoever their secret source (no lettuce or pickles) was, Time’s Margaret Carlson has once again proved herself clueless about real journalism.
“Journalists must honor their promises which protect the bad along with the good,” said Margaret Carlson, a Time columnist and colleague of Cooper. “We can’t separate them like the darks and the whites in the laundry.”
No wonder people in the establishmentarian media like her got taken to the cleaners on Iraq, and many other issues, by Rove et al. Evaluating a source’s quality is a basic principle of good journalism.