A Word About Presidential Debates

There is only one excuse for Trump to accept the challenge to two debates as he did:  to force Biden into a public forum requiring him to put his dubious conversational skills in the spotlight for an extended period of time. Only time will tell if White House handlers can get the tana leaves mixed right for Biden to appear at least halfway cogent. The downside is that the critical flaw in the debate format will remain yet unaddressed: allowing members of the press to act as moderators. That means that only those questions that matter to the press will get asked, while much of what matters to flyover country gets ignored. I would like to see a format in which questions are fielded by a panel of two or four moderators representing think tanks instead of press organizations. Imagine if a question like “What do you plan to do for small business?” had popped up during one of the 2020 Democrat primary debates. You think any of those candidates would know where to even begin to find an answer? Especially during THAT year when COVID policy herded small business to the sacrificial altar in the name of the precautionary principle? The press should be in the business of reporting the news rather than crafting policy, and taking away its role in shaping the debates is a step in the right direction.

Quote of the Day, Rathergate Edition

Comment from Tony_Petroski, in this PowerLine Blog post that revisits the Rathergate affair and thoroughly discredits the Killian documents:

The Mapes Miasma. My what a miserable, manipulative. maddening, malignant, malodorous, mangled, maniacal, menacingly meddlesome mockery of a mendacious mockery of a misanthropic mendacious mockery it is. Her miasma has all the earmarks of Moldavian hacking.

If anyone ever gets around to writing a history of the war between peer review and open source, I hope this episode is included and Mapes lives to see it. 

Where Went the Wind?

Honestly, I’ve always been considerably conflicted about Gone With the Wind – both the book and the movie. Yes, best-seller, and loved extravagantly by more readers and movie-goers than partisans of the antebellum South, a gripping tale of a time, a place and a people, in a war that stripped away every shred of that noble and deluded gentility and Southern cavalier-worshipping delusion… shades of Vanity Fair, with a spineless, guileless and gentle supposed-heroine whom we are supposed to sympathize with in the main, contrasted with a conniving, spiteful and yet … entrancing stubborn, gutsy and conniving anti-heroine. I was reminded of all this once again, on reading this recent essay – by another woman and writer, similarly conflicted.

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To the Great Surprise of Many…

… It turned out that there was one genuine, for real, professional old-line journalist still working at National Public Radio. Was being the operative word, as business reporter Uri Berliner quit, after spectacularly blowing up any lingering pretense of the publicly financed institution being an impartial and unbiased news-gathering organization, reporting on news without fear, favor or partisanship. Frankly, anyone claiming to be the teeniest bit rightish of center and believes that load of codswallop is likely too innocent to be let out in public without a dedicated keeper. They probably believe every word in the NY Times, as well – although as Agent K of Men in Black observed – that publication stumbles into the truth on rare occasions.

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“Comedian Jon Stewart says Apple asked him not to interview FTC Chair Lina Khan”


Stewart asked Khan why the company might be “afraid” to have certain conversations out in public. Khan said it “shows one of the dangers of what happens when you concentrate so much power and so much decision-making in a small number of companies.”

An alternative explanation might be that it shows what happens when you concentrate so much power and so much decision-making in a small number of government officials.