Patterico's Pontifications


Is Sam Sampson Really John Cornyn?

Filed under: General,Morons — Christopher Cross @ 3:44 pm

I said that no conservative would be as stupid as the mysterious Sam Sampson. Perhaps I was wrong.

WaPo–Senator Links Violence To ‘Political’ Decisions

“It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions,” he said. Sometimes, he said, “the Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policymaker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people.” Cornyn continued: “I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence. Certainly without any justification, but a concern that I have.”

If this is an accurate portrayal of what Cornyn said, this does not speak well of Cornyn to make such a mind-numbingly foolish statement. It does a disservice to legitimate criticisms of an unaccountable judiciary to suggest that courthouse shootings borne out of individual vileness are AT ALL related.

Cornyn’s a dick for even suggesting such.

UPDATE FROM PATTERICO: I agree with a commenter that Beldar has worthwhile thoughts on this subject. Personally, I wouldn’t call Sen. Cornyn a “dick” for these comments.

But, having read Cornyn’s speech, I have to say that I find silly (at least) his suggestion that any recent violence against judges is related to judicial activism. I think it’s related to, you know, criminal activity.

UPDATE FROM CHRIS: Having read Cornyn’s whole speech (linked from Beldar)–I stand by my original “dick” claim. Cornyn’s speech was fine as it was–but nothing in its fuller context changes the reading of his statement regarding the “correlation” of violence to perceived judicial activism. That’s what he was a dick for, and that’s why I’m calling him a dick. The other 95% of the speech, I like. I don’t think Beldar’s post (or the text of the speech itself) changed Cornyn’s fundamental point on that matter (I realize that wasn’t the fundamental point of his speech). I wasn’t accusing Cornyn of endorsing or even encouraging violence against judges (as Beldar seemed to be taking issue with others who had accused Cornyn of doing). I was taking issue with his attempts to draw a correlative relationship between judicial activism and recent courthouse violence.

Drivel, thy Name is Buchwald

Filed under: General,Morons — Christopher Cross @ 3:39 pm

Art Buchwald has…something…in today’s WaPo entitled “The Bench Press.” It’s not a news story, it’s not a news analysis, it’s….something. It’s presented in dialogue form as a conversation Buchwald had with “conservative friend of mine, Sam Sampson” about the issue of judges.

Apparently Sam Sampson is Dutch for “Strawman” as Sampson/Buchwald presents possibly the most idiotic explanation of the conservative position on the judiciary I’ve yet read.


“Judges are human like everybody else,” I said.

“Not necessarily. There are human judges and nonhuman judges.”

“How can you tell the difference?”

Sampson said, “All you have to do is read their decisions and watch their body language.”

“How would you know?”

“You may not know, but our people do.”

“Meaning those who believe in the right god?”

“I’m not going to name names.”

What special brand of moron argues (even in jest) that certain judges are “nonhuman”? Second, what kind of defense of that position is it to say that you can’t define what makes a judge nonhuman, but “our people” can recognize it? Third, Sampson/Buchwald won’t “name names” when it comes to people not believing in “the right god”? What does that even mean? On either side of the argument?

There’s no point excerpting the rest of the piece, it’s as incredible as it is moronic.

Dollars to donuts (Homer: “You’re on!”) says that Sam Sampson doesn’t exist and is merely a device used by Buchwald to defeat “arguments” that no conservative is making. If Sam Sampson does exist, he probably shouldn’t.

The Merits of Faction

Filed under: General — Christopher Cross @ 3:35 pm

David Brooks has an excellent response to the claim that conservatives are so powerful these days because of our supposed “machine.”

Conservatives have not triumphed because they have built a disciplined and efficient message machine. Conservatives have thrived because they are split into feuding factions that squabble incessantly. As these factions have multiplied, more people have come to call themselves conservatives because they’ve found one faction to agree with.

In the early days of National Review, many of the senior editors didn’t even speak to one another. Whittaker Chambers declared that the writings of Ayn Rand, a hero of the more libertarian right, reeked of fascism and the gas chambers. Rand called National Review ”the worst and most dangerous magazine in America.”

It’s been like that ever since — neocons arguing with theocons, the old right with the new right, internationalists versus isolationists, supply siders versus fiscal conservatives. The major conservative magazines — The Weekly Standard, National Review, Reason, The American Conservative, The National Interest, Commentary — agree on almost nothing.

This feuding has meant that the meaning of conservatism is always shifting. Once, Republicans were isolationists. Now most Republicans, according to a New York Times poll, believe the U.S. should try to change dictatorships into democracies when it can. Meanwhile, 78 percent of Democrats believe the U.S. should not try to democratize authoritarian regimes.

Moreover, it’s not only feuding that has been the key to conservative success — it’s also what the feuding’s about. When modern conservatism became aware of itself, conservatives were so far out of power it wasn’t even worth thinking about policy prescriptions. They argued about the order of the universe, and how the social order should reflect the moral order. Different factions looked back to different philosophers — Burke, Aquinas, Hayek, Hamilton, Jefferson — to define what a just society should look like.

Conservatives fell into the habit of being acutely conscious of their intellectual forebears and had big debates about public philosophy. That turned out to be important: nobody joins a movement because of admiration for its entitlement reform plan. People join up because they think that movement’s views about human nature and society are true.

Might liberalism be at a similar point? Unlikely. Democrats/Liberals aren’t far enough out of power to have to fundamentally reassess the philosophical underpinnings of their ideology. At the moment, they have just enough power to convince themselves that it’s all a matter of “branding” rather than substance. Look no further than attempts to couch traditional liberal policy goals in the language of Scripture in an attempt to woo Red-state voters. That’s not a substantive change–that’s a gloss. At best it’s a stop-gap solution that will not stem the tide unless modern liberalism decides what it seeks to be.

Al Gore, Al the Time

Filed under: General — Christopher Cross @ 3:26 pm

Gore Unveils Cable Channel

The channel will show professionally produced segments as well as viewer-produced videos mostly short in length.”We are about empowering this generation of young people in their 20s, the 18-to-34 population, to engage in a dialogue of democracy and to tell their stories about what’s going on in their lives in the dominant media of our time,” he said.

It’s like MTV with twice the self-righteousness and half the T&A. What’s not to like?

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