Posts Tagged ‘Roger Kimball’

Bulldozed: The book a Texas developer didn’t want you to read

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Roger Kimball is posting about Bulldozed: “Kelo,” Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land, the book his firm Encounter Books published,

which was the subject of a defamation suit brought by the wealthy Texas developer H. Walker Royall. Royall must have really disliked the book. He sued:

1. Encounter Books (of which I am the publisher);

2. The author, Carla Main;

3. The law professor Richard Epstein, whose tort was to have provided a blurb for the book (yes, you read that correctly: Epstein wrote a blurb: Royall sued him);

4. A Texas newspaper, whose sin was to have run a positive review of the book;

5. And the hapless author of that review.

It lead to A free speech fight as big as Texas, which has a happy ending as it also is a victory for free speech,

In ruling this way, the court preserved the right to criticize government without fear that persons who do business with municipalities will sue, saying they were personally defamed by mere association with government. One can easily imagine the chilling effect the absence of this protection would have on free speech in an age of public-private real estate partnerships, bank bailouts, the Solyndra loan and other government forays into the private sector.

Read the whole article.

And, remember,
You can buy Bulldozed’s Kindle version and read it right away.


Capitalist press, and Holder’s justice

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

Two must-reads for a Saturday afternoon:

As South American media faces a huge challenge over freedom of expression, Austin Bay explores Will the Next Press Be Capitalist?

China is spending $7.5 billion to turn its three main (government-owned) media giants, CCTV, Xinhua and the People’s Daily, into major international news outlets. There will be more English language print and broadcast news, as well as more uncensored news. Thus the recent censoring of the new American president’s inauguration speech (to delete critical comments about communism and countries that jail critics of the government) inside China, would not occur in overseas broadcasts, in order to give the impression that China does not censor domestic content. The expanded foreign news operation would employ more foreign correspondents, providing the intelligence services with operatives in more (more than a hundred) countries. The expanded news effort would make it easier for China to counter negative news stories about the Chinese government.

Do we invoke American exceptionalism and say “It can’t happen here?”

The answer to this question will most likely depend on the fate of what Bay refers to as a “micro-empire”:

Reliable delivery matters, but in the digital world points of sale proliferate. Running a microempire requires establishing new mutual support arrangements. The smart “micro-empire” will link with the best broadband service (converge with the infrastructure) and in ideal situations provide the “most local” user interface with the broadband service. This creates opportunities for delivering entertainment content and a news service that is elaborative while leveraging “social network” community input and feedback capability. Readers with picture- and video-capable cell phones are text, video, and audio resources. As gadfly bloggers, they are investigators. Read-view-listen provides multiple ways to advertise as well as deliver content. Mobile phones and PDAs are vehicles for delivering content. Shoot the paper horse, but maintaining a paper pony offers a bridge to digital devices. A weekly broadsheet headline summary of online stories inserted in the grocery store’s freebie ad supplement (available at the store or sent by snail mail) does more than pick up a niche market of shoppers. Put text or video download information by the headline so the shoppers—if they choose to do so—can retrieve the entire story on their phones or PDAs. That would carry a small download fee to non-subscribers, billed through the mobile phone company. An audio summary could play via the phone or PDA through a listener’s car speakers as he drives home from the store.

The “micro-empire” may also feed hourly updates to local radio and local TV—at least until the micro-empire becomes local television.

A convergence micro-empire:

This convergence micro-empire is a lean, fast, agile, risk-taking outfit. Convergence has very positive organizational effects, akin to what McLuhan meant by a “new” medium having unobserved effects (“changing the ground,” as he put it). Convergence shrinks the bureaucracy. Convergence doesn’t have time to wait for committees to reach a consensus. Editors and journalists must make decisions—but thanks to the technology, updates and corrections are easy.

The underlying issues on any of these are credibility and integrity. Go read the entire article for his answer to “Will the Next Press Be Capitalist?”


Speaking of integrity,
Roger Kimball takes a look at Eric Holder, he who was behind the Marc Rich pardon. I actually remember the day I read the news on the pardon, since The Husband – who almost never laughs about news – thought I had come up with a really good joke when I read him the news article.

Roger starts his article, Eric Holder Does Justice, with

Hilarious statement of the week:
I will work to restore the credibility of a department badly shaken by allegations of improper political interference. Law enforcement decisions and personnel actions must be untainted by partisanship.

Holder is now working to transform the Department of Justice from the rule of law into the pursuit of “social justice,” which means no justice at all: Nominees for the tax division with no experience at all in the field, prosecutors with no prosecutorial background, and on and on.

We have seen what deleterious effects the “social justice” agendas have had in Latin America. Now we’re about to experience it here.

Let’s hope the bloggers and journalists Austin Bay refers to are up to the task of reporting about it.

To “The Obama Brand”, let’s add a court jester

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal inaugurated their glossy magazine, which is all you can expect and more (including that ad with the ever-sexy septuagenarian), and their cover story was resident White House publicist – official title “social secretary” – Desirée Rogers.

Rogers sees her job as selling brand Obama:

“We have the best brand on earth: the Obama brand,” Rogers says. “Our possibilities are endless.” Like all brands, the Obama brand has a “crown jewel,” she explains, and that crown jewel is the White House. Think of it like Unilever’s Dove, a consumer brand Rogers says she admires. Having started with a simple bar of soap, the utilitarian Dove brand now boasts such grooming products as shampoo, body wash and deodorant. In 2004, its “Campaign for Real Beauty” featuring plus-size and older models generated a flood of publicity, boosted sales and made the brand seem approachable and public-service-oriented. “You basically need to understand what your customers want and need,” Rogers says.

Brand Obama is a marketer’s dream, says Michael Sitrick, chairman of Sitrick and Company, a public-relations firm that specializes in handling sensitive situations and has worked with billionaire Ron Burkle and socialite Paris Hilton. Rogers and the rest of the Obama team have an idyllic American family to work with “straight out of a 1950s sitcom,” Sitrick says. They “really get it from a public-relations perspective.” Not since Jacqueline Kennedy redecorated the White House and used it as a showcase for arts and culture, which helped create the Camelot mystique, has a first family so captured popular fascination, first-lady historian Myra Gutin says.

Whether this approach has much to do with the dignity of the office remains in question, but clearly it has to do with unmitigated propaganda, and will have a heck of a lot to do with the buckets of money to be made by the Obamas after Pres. Obama leaves office, and by his staff members after they leave their jobs in this administration.

Not that there aren’t jobs available as it is. As you all know, the Treasury and Health Departments are still trying to fill dozens of vacancies, a curious state of things considering the real economic crisis, and the pseudo-crisis with swine flu.

But the focus is on the Obama brand. Priorities. After all, when you know that you are above the prosaic rules of etiquette and protocol and that you are the one who will set the tone, the trend and the form of all events that you grace by your exalted presence, you got to have someone to bring across that message.

Rogers is doing a heckuva job. Reuters says that Barack Obama is revelling in presidential power and influence unseen in Washington for decades.

All the more timely to take up Roger Kimball’s proposal for a new position at the White House:

Since we’re rolling back the clock on quaint traditions like democracy and free speech, I’d like to suggest we consider resuscitating an office that flourished in the age of monarchs. I mean the office of court jester.


Why a court jester, pray tell? Haven’t we got enough clowns in Washington as it is?

Ah, but it’s not how many, it’s what kind of clown:

In the age of monarchy, indulging in free speech, especially on matters political, was a dangerous pastime. Kings, emperors, and others who proclaim that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” who actually believe that, with their ascension “the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal” — such folks have a serious problem with hubris, not to say narcissism.

As anyone who can pronounce “Aeschylus” knows, hubris is followed regularly by nemesis, and it was to forestall that eventuality that monarchs of yore instituted the office of the court jester or fool. Here was one person allowed to speak his mind, to impart unpalatable truths to the sovereign. Queen Elizabeth (the first, not the one hugged by Michelle Obama) even rebuked her fool for not being sufficiently candid. (It was a narrow path, though, that the fool had to walk: Lear threatened to whip his fool for speaking free.)

The White House has not yet gotten around to announcing the position. That’s hardly surprising. They’ve been awfully busy these last 100 days and more, what with all that “spreading the wealth around,” taking over the auto industry, demonizing conservatives, setting terrorists free, plotting to nationalize health care, conspiring to impoverish us all not just by raising taxes but also through the ruinous cap-and-trade proposal that will cost the average household about $3,100 a year.

Roger has an excellent idea; just imagine the “endless possibilities” for that brand.

The Husband, upon reading this post,
“When you said you posted on a Court Jester for the Obama administration, I thought the post was on Joe Biden.”