Thursday, July 12, 2007

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox scores points from both sides of his mouth

If you think the presidential campaign started early, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has already started campaigning for governor in 2010. He hopes democrats will reward him in three years for chastising President Bush for commuting Scooter's sentence for lying to federal investigators and a grand jury.

In a Detroit Free Press op-ed, Bush wrong to commute Libby's sentence, Mike Cox wrote that Bush has damaged the criminal justice system by letting a convicted lier escape jail time.

Cox knows as well as anyone that justice was served. No crime was committed regarding the release of Plame's identity (justice served: innocent) and Scooter was found guilty of lying to investigators and the grand jury (justice served: guilty).

The only thing that wasn't served was jail time, which is the president's constitutionally-guaranteed prerogative. It is not unlike the freedom prosecutors enjoy to prosecute whichever crimes they wish and make the deals they feel they must to get the convictions they want. It's called prosecutorial prerogative.

Surely, anyone that watches NBC's Law & Order or has spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express knows that.

In this instance, Cox's hypocrisy may go mostly unnoticed. Some Republicans will complain he's Bush-bashing for political gain, but will likely vote for him anyway. Some Democrats (there are more of those in Michigan than there are Republicans) will believe he's being honest and exercising his independence from Michigan's Republican machinery, and may even consider voting for him.

And who could blame Cox for distancing himself from the state Republican leadership? After recruiting billionaire Dick DeVos that machinery suffocated all other Republican candidates until they promised not to run or dropped out of the race. They then squandered the opportunity to beat a beauty queen presiding over one of our state's worst economies.

Cox isn't an idiot. He's a bright man, and I suspect his op-ed was more about politics than the risks of perjury. But some who can't detect his duplicity might be more disposed to vote for him as Michigan's governor with this superficial op-ed on-record than if it weren't.

I guess we'll have to wait three years to find out.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Al Gore III scores trifecta in latest publicity stunt

Much of the press is mis-reporting former vice-president Al Gore's son's run-in with the law yesterday. Most are reporting it as an arrest for drug possession. It was really a publicity stunt that failed only because a famous Hollywood celebrity wasn't involved.

This is how the facts were supposed to be reported had Darryl Hannah shown-up for their date:
  • Driving over 100 MPH in a Toyota Prius Hybrid: Few people are aware a hybrid can go that fast. That's important to know when merging with highway traffic. Obviously, most have underestimated the power under the hood of those electricity-and-gas-propelled green machines.
  • Possession of Marijuana: Marijuana has legitimate medical uses and Al Gore III was exercising civil disobedience in protesting its illegal possession as an impromptu spokesman for NORML.
  • Possession of prescription drugs Valium, Xanax, Vicodin, Adderall and Soma: Though Al Gore III is only 24-years old, he was demonstrating his empathy for senior citizens' having to cross the border to attain less-expensive prescription drugs in Canada than are available here in the states. His was an act of selflessness, willing to become prescription drug reform's new poster-boy (an opportunity wasted by Patrick Kennedy).
This unfortunate stunt-gone-wrong will be soon dismissed as a big misunderstanding. The former vice-president won't need to hire a criminal defense attorney for his son, but will instead replace the family's publicist with one of Paris Hilton's, Britney Spears', or Anna Nicole Smith's.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Fairness Doctrine my be doctrine, but it's not fair

Sunday's Oakland Press explored the now-much-discussed resurrection of "The Fairness Doctrine" between two opinion columns. Rich Lowry wrote against the mis-named rule's return by stating the obvious, that conservative talk shows are successful because people listen to them. If liberal talk was a profitable enterprise then perhaps Air America, the gravitational center of liberal talk, might be more profitable.

Arguing in favor of the doctrine's return was nationally syndicated radio host Bill Press. As he puts it, ".. for every one hour of liberal talk broadcast, there were eight hours of right-wing propaganda." Mr. Press, hardly a disinterested advocate for liberal talk radio, seems to believe the public would be best served if every "controversial" political topic received as much spin from the liberal perspective as they do from conservatives. Of course, his argument avoids the inconvenient truth that commercial radio operates inside the free market system, and more people simply choose to listen to conservative shows than choose to listen to liberal ones.

Regardless, liberals' idea of fairness has to do with force-feeding more liberal doctrine on radio audiences than listeners have otherwise tuned-in to. But if they really wanted to be fair, as the doctrine's name suggests, why wouldn't they insist on equal time for socialists and libertarians as they demand for Democrats? What about the Green Party, Communist Party, or Worker's Party?

Heck, Mitch Albom has a two-hour show every afternoon from 5-7PM. WJR cuts-short Sean Hannity's show to make room for him. I've often wished that instead of Mitch's regular side-kick, Ken Brown, that I could have a mic -- either to counter Mitch's naivety or to hit him upside the head. That would be equal time (for me), but I'm not who listeners want to hear (not yet, anyway).

Toyota outsells Volvo, Windows outsells Apple, and Amazon outsells King's Used and Rare Books. I expect Volvo, Apple, and King's would each like the government to require their products be purchased in equal quantities to the market leaders. If it did, then they'd be relieved the burden of making their products competitive-enough for the public to choose them willingly. With The Fairness Doctrine, they'd be compelled to make their purchases "fairly."

But that's not what the free market is about. Ideas, like cars, operating systems, and books, must succeed or fail by the rules of capitalism. Or at least that's how it's supposed to work in The United States of America. Rumor has it capitalism works that way in Canada, the UK, and many other places as well.

Of course, if Democrats are really committed to The Fairness Doctrine, I expect them to push for it in Venezuela and North Korea as passionately as they seem to be advocating for it here.

Democrats are not about leveling the playing field to make things fair for all political parties. They only want it made more fair for themselves--which is to say their commercial radio hosts can't compete without government intervention.

If nothing else Democrats are consistent. Having failed the equal-opportunity test they promote a "fairness doctrine" to guarantee equal-outcome. Equal-outcome doesn't require that the skills are possessed, the experience had, the work done, or the tests passed. Equal-outcome doesn't reward hard work or risk taking, it rewards failure. Equal outcome dilutes success by meting it out in equal proportions so that no one's success can be greater than any other's. When that's the case, what becomes the measure of success?

Personally, I wouldn't bother watching a sporting event if there wasn't going to be a winner.
I wouldn't listen to Rush Limbaugh if I didn't find him simultaneously interesting and entertaining. I don't like listening to Sean Hannity because his manor seems arrogant and his arguments shallow. However, I keep listening to Al Sharpton, Mitch Albom and reading Free Press editorials not because they're persuasive, but because I find their rationalizations fascinating, and when they do say or write something I agree with I savor both the sense of surprise and the pride for having been there when it happened.