The Jury Talks Back

7/12/2009

Brown: Palin made a brilliant move

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 5:49 am

Sarah Palin received some unexpected support from a liberal California political leader for her decision to step down as governor of Alaska.  Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown said that Palin “has some of the best political instincts I have ever seen”, and called her decision “a brilliant move”.  According to Brown, as Alaska’s chief executive Palin would have remained isolated from the rest of the country.  Instead, now she is free to study up on issues, campaign for other Republican candidates, and do the radio and TV circuit.

7/10/2009

Mass Media is Dead. Long Live Mass Media

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 2:18 pm

I’m sure that wiser heads with more strokable chins will weigh in on Carl M. Cannon’s excellent “Sarah ‘Barracuda” Palin and the Piranhas of the Press”, especially with regard to the detailed analysis of the particular example in his piece, but I thought I could add something to the general discussion by pointing to the prescient analysis of William Powers in his 2005 The Atlantic piece, “The Massless Media”.

Powers prefigures Cannon by pointing out that the media of biased reporting and political agendas, let alone lies, exaggerations, and character assassination, is the older, time-honored formula.  Regarding the partisanship of the media, Powers writes,

This partisanship was not typically expressed in high-minded appeals to readers’ better instincts. As Tocqueville wrote, “The characteristics of the American journalist consist in an open and coarse appeal to the passions of his readers; he abandons principles to assail the characters of individuals, to track them into private life and disclose all their weaknesses and vices.” When Martin Chuzzlewit, the central character of the Dickens novel by the same name, arrives in the New York City of the early 1840s, he is greeted by newsboys hawking papers with names like the New York Stabber and the New York Keyhole Reporter. “Here’s the New York Sewer!,” one newsie shouts. “Here’s the Sewer‘s exposure of the Wall Street Gang, and the Sewer‘s exposure of the Washington Gang, and the Sewer‘s exclusive account of a flagrant act of dishonesty committed by the Secretary of State when he was eight years old.”

Where Powers differs from Cannon is in the notion that somehow the death of the media as we know it, and the rebirth of the intensely partisan, niche media, is a moment of loss.  Cannon seems to get the transition right, a move from papers that are little more than the voices of faction, to a kind of objectivity, more pose than reality, back to the avowed exercise of partisan politics, but he doesn’t see, as Powers does, that this is a return to something natural and necessary and the death of something artificial and accidental.

Powers is at his best when he notes,

Yet even though the media of this period were profuse, partisan, and scandalously downmarket, they were at the same time a powerful amalgamator that encouraged participatory democracy and forged a sense of national identity. Michael Schudson, a professor of communication and sociology at the University of California at San Diego and the author of The Sociology of News (2003), says that the rampant partisanship displayed by newspapers “encouraged people to be attentive to their common enterprise of electing representatives or presidents.” Commenting that “politics was the best entertainment in town in the middle of the 19th century,” Schudson compares its effect to that of sports today. “Professional baseball is an integrative mechanism even though it works by arousing very partisan loyalties,” he says. In other words, newspapers helped pull the country together not by playing down differences and pretending everyone agreed but by celebrating and exploiting the fact that people didn’t. It’s the oldest American paradox: nothing unifies like individualism. (emphasis added)

The mass, objective media is dead.  Cannon’s analysis of the destruction of Sarah Palin probably isn’t enough to plan the funeral around, but we have to stop pretending that the patient can be saved.  To give us a sense of this sentiment in operation, in The Federalist Papers #1 Publius writes,

In the course of the preceding observations, I have had an eye, my fellow-citizens, to putting you upon your guard against all attempts, from whatever quarter, to influence your decision in a matter of the utmost moment to your welfare, by any impressions other than those which may result from the evidence of truth. You will, no doubt, at the same time, have collected from the general scope of them, that they proceed from a source not unfriendly to the new Constitution. Yes, my countrymen, I own to you that, after having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion it is your interest to adopt it. I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. I affect not reserves which I do not feel. I will not amuse you with an appearance of deliberation when I have decided. I frankly acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded. The consciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity. I shall not, however, multiply professions on this head. My motives must remain in the depository of my own breast. My arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth.

7/4/2009

Am I the only one

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 5:10 pm

Is it only me who would, if he won the lottery for a ticket to the Micheal Jackson Memorial Service on Tuesday, wear a T-Shirt that said on the front “What’s black and white and fits in little cans?” on the front and “Micheal Jackson” on the back?

Or am I the only massive jerk with a deathwish?

“Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 7:52 am

“Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor” was written by Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr. and was published in the July 1996 edition of The Limbaugh Letter.  It is reproduced here in the hopes that he’s too busy to sue me.

It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining and the wind was from the southeast. Up especially early, a tall bony, redheaded young Virginian found time to buy a new thermometer, for which he paid three pounds, fifteen shillings. He also bought gloves for Martha, his wife, who has ill at home. Thomas Jefferson arrived early at the statehouse. The temperature was 72.5 degrees and the horseflies weren’t nearly so bad at that hour. It was a lovely room, very large, with gleaming white walls. The chairs were comfortable. Facing the single door were two brass fireplaces, but they would not be used today. The moment the door was shut, and it was always kept locked, the room became an oven. The tall windows were shut, so that loud quarreling voices could not be heard by passersby. Small openings atop the windows allowed a slight stir of air, and also a large number of horseflies. Jefferson records that “the horseflies were dexterous in finding necks, and the silk of stocking was nothing to them.” All discussion was punctuated by the slap of hands on necks. On the wall at the back, facing the President’s desk, was a panoply-consisting of a drum, swords, and banners seized from Fort Ticonderoga the previous year. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the place, shouting that they were taking it “in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!”

Now Congress got to work, promptly taking up an emergency measure about which there was discussion but no dissention. “Resolved: That an application be made to the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York.” Then Congress transformed itself into a committee of the whole. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud once more, and debate resumed. Though Jefferson was the best writer of all of them, he had been somewhat verbose. Congress hacked the excess away. They did a good job, as a side-by-side comparison of the rough draft and the final text shows. They cut the phrase “by a self-assumed power.” “Climb” was replaced by “must read,” then “must” was eliminated, then the whole sentence, and soon the whole paragraph was cut. Jefferson groaned as they continued what he later called “their depredations.” “Inherent and inalienable rights” came out “certain unalienable rights,” and to this day no one knows who suggested the elegant change. A total of 86 alterations were made. Almost 500 words were eliminated, leaving 1,337. At last, after three days of wrangling, the document was put to a vote.

Here in this hall Patrick Henry had once thundered: “I am no longer a Virginian, Sir, but an American.” But today the loud, sometimes bitter argument stilled, and without fanfare the vote was taken from north to south by colonies, as was the custom. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted. There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.

Much To Lose
What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock, and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words. Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them?

I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere. Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half -24- were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, 9 were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians. With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th century. Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head.

He signed in enormous letters so “that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward.” Ben Franklin wryly noted: “Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately.” Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: “With me it will all be over in a minute, but you , you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone.” These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember: a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor. They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics, yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers (it was he, Francis Hopkinson – not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag). Richard Henry Lee, A delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: “Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost. If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens.”

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2, that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration. William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers’ faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, “but in no face was he able to discern real fear.” Stephan Hopkins, Ellery’s colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: “My hand trembles, but my heart does not.”

“Most glorious service”
Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.

*  Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered and his estates in what is now Harlem, completely destroyed by British soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners though the efforts of Congress she died from the effects of her abuse.

*  William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home they found a devastated ruin.

*  Philips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause.

*  Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.

*  John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

*  Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.

*  Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton’s parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

*  Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington’s appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry.

*  George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

*  Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.

*  John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: “Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country.”

*  William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.

*  Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

*  Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large landholdings and estates.

*  Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson’s palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, “Why do you spare my home?” They replied, “Sir, out of respect to you.” Nelson cried, “Give me the cannon!” and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson’s sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson’s property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.

    Lives, fortunes, honor
    Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

    And, finally, there is the New Jersey Signer, Abraham Clark. He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship “Jersey,” where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons’ lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man’s heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each and one of us down through 200 years with the answer: “No.”

    The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. “And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

    7/1/2009

    Holy crap, I think I figured it out

    Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 9:14 pm

    Ok, work with me here.  I am running without links, so while I might be off one minor details, it won’t change the overall scope of my epiphany.

    President Obama has held slightly opposing views on the situations in Iran and Honduras.  Regarding Iran, he mostly holds that it is an internal matter, and while he’s poopoo’d the violence against the protestors, he’s mostly said it is all internal and we should butt out and not say much.  Even the condemnation of the violence took a while.

    However, regarding Honduras, he was quick to come out condeming the “military coup”, claiming that the will of the people should be heard.

    Why the disparity?

    It’s simple, but to understand it, you have to know WHY the Honduran military booted Zelaya.

    See, the Honduran constitution says that a President serves one term.  One.  Uno.  Ein.  You shall serve one term, and the number of terms you shall serve is one. You will not serve two.  Three is right out.

    Zelaya didn’t like this, but instead of getting the Constitution amended, he decided to hold a refferendum, and thus could claim to have been “elected” when in fact no such thing had happened – you can not be elected to an office you are Constitutionally barred from holding.

    So, after he had ignored orders from the country’s highest court to get the eff out, they issued what amounts to a warrant, and the military (which is charged by the constitution to enforce the rulings of the country’s highest court) promptly arrested his sorry tail and sent him packing.

    “So?” I hear you say.  “So what.  That doesn’t explain why Obama would have a problem with it…”

    Sure it does.  Considering the absolute cult-following that President Obama has (I’ve been told by people that they support his policies – even the ones that have never worked anywhere in the world in the history of ever – because they “Believe in him”, as if by will alone he can alter reality), what do you think the odds are that enough people would want to see a third term for him to try it?

    I mean, the man is one of the most power-hungry politicians this country has known in decades, so why wouldn’t he want a third term, Constitutional Amendment regarding Presidential term limits be damned?

    Obama doesn’t like the events in Honduras because it reminds him that some countries actually hold their Constitutions in high regard, and actually enforce the darn things.

    It sets, essentially, the very dangerous precident of “ousting a man who’s time in office is offically over despite his very real desire to stay in power”.

    If you were Obama, wouldn’t that prospect terrify you?

    It doesn’t hurt Zelaya’s case (or his apparent support from the Administration or the UN – which has passed a resolution saying Zelaya should be returned to office) that Zelaya was essentially a Chavez puppet.  God knows those people have small side-alters to Hugo set up right next to the High Holy Alter set up for The One.

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