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Dressed For Public Radio


Lest you think that National Public Radio is an oasis of high-minded civility and “broccoli broadasting” on a radio dial crammed with Howard Stern and his stable of crotch-chat imitators, NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin notes that Morning Edition is drawing raspberries for a feature story highlighting a 62-year-old male stripper. Must we visualize that, let alone pay for it?



Good news for Boston Archdiocese. If only we had about a hundred more of this dynamic duo, we could just dial “O” for O’Malley (and counsel). How come Bing Crosby never had a lawyer?


Tea Party


Kate–I bet there are afternoon siestas in the D.C. office now too (we only had one or two when I was there)! When I started at NR 100 years ago, I was in the D.C. office. My first week there, we were hold up in the office while a rainbow coalition of protesters ranted about our infamous Chinese cover. The only refreshment cart we had back in those days was when John O’Sullivan or another luminary would come visit us.

Of course, I suspect the refreshment-cart talk is really just a Jonah ploy to get Cosmo a raise. And I, actuallly, only brought any of this up to throw MRC another link-plug. It was going to be clever and funy when I started it, but, then, the lunch cart here in NR World Headquarters distracted me.

Web Briefing: August 22, 2014

Irish Slur. . .


When Jonah visited the DC office yesterday he must have
been distracted by the arrival of the tea cart that serves refreshments
in the late afternoon because I mentioned that older Irish Americans who
hang around Washington remain liberal. I would hate to slander the
great majority of my fellow Hiberians who have wised up.


In The Lion’s Den


Well, if Nixon can go to China, I suppose Derb can go to NPR.

Argh (Judicial Activism)


Jonah — good post on the “dead” constitution. One quick point: As Randy Barnett has pointed out, it is not “judicial activism” for a judge to faithfully apply the Constitution — even if this requires that a judge strike down an unconstitutional law. Rather, it is “activism” for a judge to supplant constitutional meaning with his or her political preferences. So, there is nothing “activist” about overturning bad precedents in order to restore the original meaning of the Constitution.

The Angry Party


Michael Tomasky has an interesting piece in the American Prospect with this subhed: “Liberal anger is justified, but it won’t win the election.” In making the case for the anger’s being justified, he gives a liberal version of the history of the last 11 years. He makes a good case for the understandability of liberal anger, at least. If both halves of his argument are true, I wonder whether some liberal will advance the theory that Karl Rove is deliberately driving Democrats so crazy that they will commit political suicide?



Since yesterday’s column (and last night’s panel) I’ve had 8 gazillion people (I’m exaggerating slightly) tell me that if the Constitution wasn’t a living, breathing document then women would still be second class citizens and blacks would still be living in segregation. There are four responses to this. First: Are you high? Second: Um, women got the vote through a constitutional amendment, last time I checked. And blacks were supposed to get equality under the 14th and 15th amendments. In other words much of the “progress” (and progress-without-quotation marks) we’ve seen regarding the Constitution came through adding new text to the dead Constitution rather than adding new meaning to the existing text. That is a huge difference. This leads to point three: A “dead” constitution doesn’t mean justices can’t change their minds or fix incorrect readings held over from the past. “Judicial activism” to restore the true intent of the Constitution is not the same thing as considering the Constitution to be a “living” text. And four: what the hell do you think laws are for? Readers who say that without the “living constitution” we wouldn’t have the Miranda rule and the like, might be right to a certain extent. But we might very well have a Miranda law. We pass all sorts of laws in this country without the benefit of the Court’s approval, why these people think we wouldn’t pass such “essential” laws if the Court went back to doing its job is beyond me.

Bias Unchecked


Robert Reich in The American Prospect: In 2000, “GOP oligarchs cracked the whip. They persuaded evangelical Christians to mute their anti-abortion, anti-gay positions. They got southern whites to keep their racial bigotry in check.” And we all know how much effort that takes.

Independence Day Not Today For Iran


Student leaders held a press conference cancelling demonstrations planned for today and were subsequently arrested by the mullah’s men. (I-Day is coming though, but, “faster, please.”)

Nr Gets You Noticed


A reader writes:

On July the 4th I wore my NR T-shirt to Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT. The
gates were closed to traffic, ’cause the park had become too crowded. I
asked a cop at the gate if I could just drive in and drop off some picnic
stuff and come right back out.
“Nice magazine,” he said.
What the hell was he talking about? He registered my blank stare, and said
“Nice magazine on your shirt.”
“Oh, thanks,” I said, hoping this might have given me an “in”. Sadly, no; he
still wouldn’t let me in the park.

Later that evening, the kids and I paid a buck to go in to the amusement
park midway. We left to go get mommy, and asked the ticket taker if we
needed a hand stamp to leave and return.
“No, I’ll remember you,” he replied “we don’t get many conservatives around

Good Lord


Derb- That post was the techie equivalent of pouring honey all over your body and then lying down in the midday sun in the Amazon. Every creature great and small is going to feed on you now and your email box will never be empty of what you consider computer pests (For the record: I consider such people to be the greatest, most handsome, noble, kind and intelligent human beings on this earth).

Techie Bleg


The continuing battle to get my DV-capture software working under Windows Me. First, a word to the 800 readers who emailed in telling me to get a Mac. The word is: FIDDLESTICKS. I am not going to get a Mac. Mac users, as everyone knows, drive Volvos, pronounce the name of that West African country as “Nee-ZHAIR,” and break wind when they laugh. Second, another word to the other 800 people who emailed in to tell me that Windows Me is a pile of dog poop. I know. (All right, 2 words.) Who doesn’t know? But I’m due for a new system next February & I’m not going to waste 2-3 days installing XP just for a few months use. Besides, I have always been able to get Me to do what I wanted it to–it’s not actually THAT bad. Now then: I have installed the 1394 card & got all the drivers. I have also got all the drivers for my camcorder, or at least Me thinks I have. Device Manager shows an entry for “PCI OHCI Compliant 1394 Host Controller” & seems happy with it (no yellow exclamation points). I have put “settings” to “Support Non-Compliant Devices.” My camcorder’s plugged in to one of the 1394 firewire ports on the card. When I switch it on, the system recognizes it: I have a new entry under “Sound, video & game controllers” for “1394 Camcorder.” Me seems happy with the drivers. And yet… my capture software can’t find the camcorder for DV input. I have actually tried a couple of different capture apps–neither can find the camcorder. Why not? A free signed copy of PRIME OBSESSION to anyone who knows.

I’m Back...


…and boy is it crowded with newbies in here. Maybe us old-timers should stand on the top tiers and yell “fresh fish!” over and over again — like the cons in Shawshank Redemption — as Peter Robinson, Terry Teachout, et al carry their clothes and toothbrushes to their cells? Or maybe we should just all clap and spit? (like in every other (male) prison movie)

Anyway, welcome aboard everybody. Yesterday, I visited the DC office of National Review for the first time in years. It hasn’t changed too much. Grandeur and opulence like that never fades. In the afternoon I spoke to the America’s Future Foundation “DC-7″ group (why they call it that I don’t know). It was mostly a bunch of interns from the Hill and various think tanks. Smart bunch. Then, later that evening, I spoke on a panel organized by Margaret Carlson. The audience were members and supporters of something called “Project Children” and the panel was part of a program which brings Protestant and Catholic Irish college students to DC for internships. Generally a very nice, earnest bunch of folks, but the most resolutely (and occasionally sanctimoniously) liberal and lefty bunch of people — the American Irish especially — I’ve spoken to off-campus in a very long time. Kate O’Beirne tells me that Irish Americans tend to be liberals. I never thought about it before, but golly it appears to be true.

Patriot Facts


Orin Kerr writes about the widespread misunderstandings of the Patriot Act–misunderstandings that he has done more than anyone to clear up. He also asks whether those misunderstandings are a good or a bad thing. The case that they are a good thing is that false fears will help avert real dangers of government overreach. I think that the most charitable (and accurate) interpretation of John Ashcroft’s famous “phantoms of lost liberty” testimony is that he was denying precisely that proposition. I also think Ashcroft is right.

Money Love


Derb: It’s not money that’s evil. The full Biblical quote is: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Seems to me it’s okay to like money, but a sin to love it.

Speaking of Star Trek


Check out this lawsuit by Activision(maker of Star Trek video games) against Viacom (maker of Star Trek movies and TV shows).

Question For Paul Johnson


Back in the 1960s, when Paul Johnson was editor of the London New
, I was a devoted reader of that journal. (It is now sadly
declined.) I recall that in one of his weekly diaries he passed an
observation to the effect that there were only two things he was sure of:
one, that money is the root of all evil, and two, that the only cure for
unhappiness is hard work. I should like to ask Mr. Johnson whether, in the
subsequent 37 years, he has revised his opinion on either of these points.

For Derb Watchers


For the month of July, Derb watchers please note the following. (1) I am
doing a one-hour talk (about the Riemann Hypothesis) on NPR July 30th–see
here (2) The cable/satellite TV
channel AMC is running a season of Bruce Lee movies. Way of the Dragon /
Enter the Dragon
is to be
shown July 26, I think.

Johnson Questions


Peter: I’d ask Paul Johnson about his astonishing level of productivity. How does he put out so much? What are his daily work habits? As a fellow writer, I’d like to know. There’s a darker follow-up topic, though: Johnson has a reputation for sloppiness–for getting little things wrong in what are otherwise magisterial histories. Why doesn’t he hire a grad student to proofread?


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