Posted at 01:17 PM ET, 03/24/2006
Ben Domenech Resigns
In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to washingtonpost.com contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.
An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately.
When we hired Domenech, we were not aware of any allegations that he had plagiarized any of his past writings. In any cases where allegations such as these are made, we will continue to investigate those charges thoroughly in order to maintain our journalistic integrity.
Plagiarism is perhaps the most serious offense that a writer can commit or be accused of. Washingtonpost.com will do everything in its power to verify that its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately at all times.
We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.
We also remain committed to representing a broad spectrum of ideas and ideologies in our Opinions area.
Executive Editor, washingtonpost.com
Posted at 02:10 PM ET, 03/23/2006
Two Quick Notes
Two clarifications for the many folks who have risen up in force to attack the existence of this blog (I appreciate the attention, by the way).
Some people have taken issue with an old two-line comment of mine on RedState.com where I referred to Coretta Scott King as a Communist on the day after her funeral. Coretta Scott King was many things, and her most significant contribution was the unflagging support of her husband in his own noble work to bring equality to all Americans.
She was also a liberal activist on a number of issues, including same-sex marriage and abortion. The thread where my comment appeared discussed President Bush's attendance at Mrs. King's funeral, which was criticized by some for its political nature. My comment questioned the president's decision to attend the funeral after he had phoned in a message to the March for Life, the largest pro-life rally and a significant annual event. Mrs. King participated in many different political causes, some of which involved associations with questionable people, but referring to her as a Communist was a mistake, hyperbole in the context of a larger debate about President Bush's political priorities. Mea Culpa.
In regards to another old post where I referenced something written by Father Richard John Neuhaus regarding the book "Freakonomics", I suggest that people actually take the time to read what is said. Neuhaus is setting up in blunt terms the logical consequences of the argument made in "Freakonomics" that hey, abortion may be icky, but at least it deters crime by eliminating people who may become criminals -- in this case, minority children in urban areas.
Neuhaus, one of the most outspoken, respected and influential pro-life intellectuals in America, finds this logic as morally disgusting as I do. He is putting this logic in its bluntest terms to show the full degree of its inhumanity. A few people have noticed this, but for those who are still having trouble, I highly recommend this.
Now, back to your regular dose of Red America.
Posted at 01:07 PM ET, 03/22/2006
Attempted Child Murder on our Side of the Pond
It's not just Washington bureaucrats like the folks at FEMA who won't take responsibility when something goes wrong: According to reports today out of Massachusetts, no one agency or group is going to take responsibility for the case of young Haleigh Poutre.
As you may recall, Haleigh is the young girl who was nearly put to death by a group of doctors who maintained she was "virtually brain dead" and in a "permanent vegetative state" (PVS) before, well, she wasn't. ProLifeBlogs describes the case in detail, as does Michelle Malkin.
The case creates a difficult situation for Massachusetts Governor (and 2008 hopeful) Mitt Romney in his efforts to reach out to pro-life conservatives and evangelicals.
And while the report of the panel he commissioned to study the issue tags the state and private health providers for "a systemic failure," it does nothing significant to alleviate the use of PVS and its use as a justification to euthanize a patient. You'd think you were reading a FEMA report for how much the panel glosses over individual responsibility.
This isn't an issue that can be smoothed over, and no one is served by giving bureaucrats and medical authorities a pass for such an egregious error. For the sake of future Haleighs, and for the sake of Romney's electoral future, it's worth the effort to make sure that a new system is adopted.
Posted at 11:07 AM ET, 03/22/2006
Sackcloth and Ashes: What's Wrong With Infanticide?
[Note: Sackcloth and ashes were a sign of deep mourning, among other things, in the Torah...nowadays, there are plenty of reasons to bring them back. When we run across those reasons, we'll feature them in a continuing series, of which this is the first installment.]
"You have to remember parents have a bond with their children that doctors and nurses cannot have. It is vital they feel they remain in control." That's a comment in the Coventry Evening Telegraph by one Anita Macaulay about the judge's decision in the controversial family law case that ought to serve as one of the ever-growing number of signs of the apocalypse (along with the popularity, of course, of Ryan Seacrest).
In brief: A group of British doctors fought in court for the right to remove a fully-conscious little boy from a ventilator, over the objections of his parents, because they judged his quality of life to not be worth living. There's more here about the case.
The boy, referred to only as MB in court papers, is conscious and awake. His parents want his ventilation to be continued. But they had to fight to do so over the objections of the doctors, who argue that it would be in MB's "best interests" to be taken off of his ventilator.
(Please note: it is the official blog advice of Red America that if your own physician ever tells you that it's in your "best interest" to hurry up and die, you ought to at least get a second opinion.)...continue >>
Posted at 08:14 AM ET, 03/22/2006
Comments About Comments
A few notes are in order after the impressive reaction to the premiere of this blog.
First off, a note of thanks to the liberal side of washingtonpost.com's readership, which has weighed in on Red America in this comment thread. I'm happy that no one's engaged in any ridiculous hyperbole, unfounded accusations or unintentionally hilarious name-calling. We can all agree that such things lower the quality of debate on the Internet, play to the worst side of our knee-jerk partisan nature and have no place in the modern public square. I look forward to engaging you in a serious, respectful discussion on the issues that matter most to the future of our nation.
To that last point, we'll be rolling out comments here shortly. Because this is an opinion blog, and not a work of unbiased journalism, it is sure to spark responses from a few fringe members of this Internet political community, who might be motivated to deluge comment systems with offtopic concerns (or perhaps go after other members of the Washington Post family, who have nothing to do with this blog - silly, I know, but I'm told it happens). Comments will be coming after the initial launch is finished, when I've gotten used to the rhythm of posting and you, gracious readers, have gotten used to it, too.
In the meantime, I'll be posting worthwhile reader reactions from the comment thread mentioned above and from email. It's great to be part of the washingtonpost.com Opinions section, and I hope this column proves to be an interesting and worthwhile read for all of you.
Posted at 01:14 PM ET, 03/21/2006
Whiny? Crazy? You Just Might Be A Conservative
You know that one loud, whiny kid in the supermarket yesterday? He's probably the future George W. Bush, according to a Toronto Star article about a study from the Journal of Research Into Personality.
"Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative," says the article. "At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals."
This story goes on to mention another study by John T. Jost of Stanford, one in 2003 that was roundly mocked by conservatives for lumping the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, Reagan and Limbaugh together as socially warped right-wingers. (Much of the mocking turned to anger when it was discovered that $1.2 million in taxpayer dollars helped pay for the study.) Whiny, socially warped, borderline insane - if that's true of conservative kids, how do red states ever find good public school teachers?
Of course, we should never question social psychologists in their line of work. They are, after all, professionals. So the idea that perhaps a small number of kids from the Berkeley area may not be a truly representative slice of the American population is just silly. Professor Jack Block, the author of the study, defends his work by explaining to the Star that "within his sample....the results hold." Surely, his statistics professor is very proud.
Meanwhile, as the academy tells us that social ineptness, insanity, and insecurity can all be motivations for conservatism, the MSM doesn't want us to forget the other side of the scale: hence, Ruth Marcus's column in today's Washington Post. Marcus maintains that the real problem with George W. Bush is that he's too focused on being a manly man's man.
Apparently, this violent testosterone-fueled psychological imperitive - not a coherent and just strategy for defending America in response to the first major attack on our soil since Pearl Harbor - is the real reason for our war in Iraq. Oh, and Condi Rice? Don't worry, women can have manly envy, too. Clearly, Maggie Thatcher did.
If these columnists and scientists are to be believed, then President Bush is just a real-life version of Dr. Strangelove's General Jack D. Ripper - blustering, impotent and murmuring about conspiracies to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids, just another spineless conservative wussyboy who has to prove he's a big brave man in cowboy boots.
This is ridiculous and wrong. It's always better to just let kids be kids and keep the psychologists out of the way - to follow the dictum of an aging hippie couple I know who, despite their pacifist beliefs, still let their boys run around playing army with sticks made into guns. After all, someone has to defend America.
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 03/21/2006
Pachyderms in the Mist: Red America and the MSM
This is a blog for the majority of Americans.
Since the election of 1992, the extreme political left has fought a losing battle. Their views on the economy, marriage, abortion, guns, the death penalty, health care, welfare, taxes, and a dozen other major domestic policy issues have been exposed as unpopular, unmarketable and unquestioned losers at the ballot box.
Democrats who have won major elections since 1992 have, with very few exceptions, been the ones who distanced themselves from the shrieking denizens of their increasingly extreme base, soft-pedaled their positions on divisive issues and adopted the rhetoric and positions of the right -- pro-free market, pro-business, pro-faith, tough on crime and strongly in favor of family values.
Yet even in a climate where Republicans hold command of every branch of government, and advocate views shared by a majority of voters, the mainstream media continues to treat red state Americans as pachyderms in the mist - an alien and off-kilter group of suburbanite churchgoers about which little is known, and whose natural habitat is a discomforting place for even the most hardened reporter from the New York Times.
During the discussions about the launch of this new blog, the good folks at washingtonpost.com spent far too much time in sessions with markers and whiteboard, trying to settle on a name for the column. The suggestions were all over the map - but one suggestion provided a reminder of the sociopolitical divide in this country. "What about 'Red Dawn'?" said one helpful editor.
"Well, only if you want to make people think it was a gun blog," I said, to puzzled faces.
"Red Dawn? You must know it - the greatest pro-gun movie ever? I mean, they actually show the jackbooted communist thugs prying the guns from cold dead hands."
Any red-blooded American conservative, even those who hold a dim view of Patrick Swayze's acting "talent," knows a Red Dawn reference. For all the talk of left wing cultural political correctness, the right has such things, too (DO shop at Wal-Mart, DON'T buy gas from Citgo). But in the progressive halls of the mainstream media, such things prompt little or no recognition. For the MSM, Dan Rather is just another TV anchor, France is just another country and Red Dawn is just another cheesy throwaway Sunday afternoon movie.
While the mainstream media has been slow to recognize the growth in conservative America, smart Democrats have not. Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner and Hillary Clinton are not alone in recognizing that the unhinged elements of their base, motivated by partisan rage, Michael Moore conspiracies and a pronounced feeling of victimhood have dragged down the Democratic Party for far too long. It's a political anchor apotheosized by the founders of leftist websites Daily Kos and MyDD, whose recently published book on political strategy and the Internet (an odd publication when one considers that DKos endorsed candidates are 0-19 in elections) opens with the sentence "Five years ago, the Republicans took over the government through nondemocratic means." Smart Democrats read this kind of rhetoric and recognize that if they continue to be the party of Howard Dean, the floor may be nonexistent.
The reason there are political openings for these neo-triangulation strategies, however, is almost entirely the fault of Republican leadership. On issue after issue, Republicans have given in to the wisdom of the MSM and the beltway talking heads instead of listening to their constituents and the conservative political base. On the size of government, on immigration and on issues of federal power, Republicans have adopted the same Washington strategies that doomed the Democrats in the 1994 cycle, as this article yesterday illustrates. They've grown fat and happy on pork contracts, and forgotten why they were sent to this town in the first place.
Even President Bush is guilty of this - would a White House that put principle before patronization, listened to its base, and remained focused on election season ever make the gargantuan mistake of nominating Harriet Miers? Of course not - and smart Democrats are determined to use this split to their advantage.
Red America's citizens are the political majority. They're here to stay. It's time to start paying attention to what they believe and why.
Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 03/21/2006
Ben Domenech is a co-founder of RedState, the web's leading Republican community blog. He began his career as a political journalist covering Capitol Hill, writing for numerous publications and working as a contributing editor to National Review Online. After 9/11, he abandoned the journalism field for a taxpayer-funded life and was sworn in as the youngest political appointee of President George W. Bush. Following a year as a speechwriter for HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and two as the chief speechwriter for Texas Senator John Cornyn, Ben is now a book editor for Regnery Publishing, where he has edited multiple bestsellers and books by Michelle Malkin, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Hugh Hewitt.