Saturday, July 28, 2007

Phoenix News Helicopter Tragedy

There was a terrible accident in the skies over Phoenix yesterday. Two TV news helicopters collided while trying to keep up with a police pursuit of a car theft suspect on the ground. Walter Owens at Overlawyered picked up on the story , noting something I also heard yesterday. The county attorney, Andrew Thomas, is considering trying to hold the car chase suspect the helicopters were trying to follow respsonsible for the deaths of the two helicopter crews.

As tempting as it is to try to find some other party to blame for this tragedy, I agree with one of Walter's commenters that this is stretching the chain of culpability too far. The fact is that the pilots of those two helicopters failed in one of the most basic responsibilities they had under Visual Flight Rules, that is to see, be seen by and maintain safe separation from other aircraft. I hold a commercial pilot's license myself (fixed wing) and this fact as well as the fact that it is the Pilot-In-Command of the aircraft that is completely and solely responsible for the safe operation of the aircraft were drilled into me from the very outset of my training.

Here we had at least three helicopters (I've heard there may have been as many as five), the two accident aircraft from Chanels 15 and 3, and the Fox 10 helicopter all in close proximity to each other and all trying to simultaneously keep track not only of each other but of the random twists and turns of the car chase they were tracking on the ground. With attention divided like that it only takes a second or two to lose sight of each other and one wrong move can result in a tragedy like this.

This was an entirely preventable accident but these crews chose to put themselves at risk to capture a few more minutes of the kind of car chase footage that seems to be a staple of the 10:00 o'clock news nowadays. They took a gamble and lost. As irresponsible as that car thief was, I don't think he can be held responsible for what happened in the sky above him.

Update: There were six helos in total, five news, one police. I see that a lot around here when something is happening. It's a wonder something like this hasn't happened before. This one could have been much worse though. The helicopters came down in the only open space for a long way around and just a little west of the VA hospital.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Legacy of Tony Blair

I've been meaning to comment on a column this week by Theodore Dalrymple, the nom de plume of Anthony Daniels, a British psychiatrist who worked for a long time in the British prison system. He is highly critical, and I think rightly so, of Mr. Blair. It's a lengthy article but perhaps these two paragraphs best sum up the man:

Tony Blair was the perfect politician for an age of short attention spans. What he said on one day had no necessary connection with what he said on the following day: and if someone pointed out the contradiction, he would use his favorite phrase, "It's time to move on," as if detecting contradictions in what he said were some kind of curious psychological symptom in the person detecting them.

Many have surmised that there was an essential flaw in Mr. Blair's makeup that turned him gradually from the most popular to the most unpopular prime minister of recent history. The problem is to name that essential flaw. As a psychiatrist, I found this problem peculiarly irritating (bearing in mind that it is always highly speculative to make a diagnosis at a distance). But finally, a possible solution arrived in a flash of illumination. Mr. Blair suffered from a condition previously unknown to me: delusions of honesty.

I'll give Tony Blair credit for recognizing the threat of Islamist terror and on supporting the war in Iraq despite its unpopularity but on scores of other issues such as British civil liberties and what the Samizdatistas might call the panopticon state, the right of self defense (even in one's own home), growth of the nanny state, political correctness, etc., I have to give him failing marks. Dalrymple chronicles much of it. My only worry is whether the British people will wake up in time to save themselves. A disarmed populace with an increasingly militant Islamist population could very well find itself taken over from within. I hope it never comes to that. Anyway, read the whole thing.
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Monday, July 16, 2007

This book looks quite promising. I think I'll be pre-ordering a copy.

Creeping nanny-statism may slowly suffocate us all. I'm not planning on going without a fuss though.
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal

As the headline says: "Context Is Everything." Well at least they won't be able to accuse him of not seeing it coming.
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Friday, July 13, 2007

Who's A Hypocrite?

The outing of Rep. David Vitter as having availed himself of the services a practitioner of the oldest profession, apparently on more than one occasion, was the big scandal of the week. Of course this was followed by the usual charges of hypocrisy (h/t Instapundit). I'd never really thought much about the definition of hypocrisy but Best of the Web Today had an interesting take from a reader on Thursday (sorry, BOTW doesn't utilize permalinks for individual items, scroll a little more than half way down) which got me thinking about it. Reader Andy Ritter had the following to say:
“Hypocrisy does not mean saying one thing and doing the opposite. It means saying something that one does not believe. Let's take the example of getting drunk. Let's say that I believe that getting drunk is immoral. Does it make me a hypocrite if I get drunk? No, it makes me weak. I could believe that it is immoral but still not be able to resist the temptation to get drunk. It doesn't make my belief any less true or my actions any

Now let's say that Larry Flynt doesn't believe that getting drunk is immoral. What are his consequences of getting drunk? Your comment on his living up to his own low moral standards hits the nail on the head. Objectively, my getting drunk is no more or less immoral than Larry Flynt's.

If Larry Flynt attacked me for getting drunk, that would be hypocrisy, because he doesn't believe that getting drunk is immoral. It's hypocrisy for him to say that it's OK for him to get drunk but not OK for me to get drunk.

We saw the mainstream media's reaction to Rush Limbaugh's addiction to pain killers and Bill Bennett's gambling problem. These men were not hypocrites. I guarantee you that neither of these men wished for their own problems, and, after having gone through what they did, they most likely feel even more strongly about them than they did before. Again, weakness, not hypocrisy.”

So really, the definition of a hypocrite is not someone who fails to live up to the standards they espouse, there is nobody that can do that all the time and by that definition everyone is a hypocrite, but rather someone who holds others to a higher standard than he does for himself. Larry Flynt is projecting.

7/14 Update: More
evidence as to who the real hypocrites are (also via Instapundit).

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thin Skins and The Fairness Doctrine

Radly Balko has an article at Reason Online that pretty fairly sums up what's behind the call (in some quarters) to resurrect the old "Fairness" doctrine. (via Instapundit)
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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Mark Steyn Makes An Interesting Connection:

The Medical/Jihad link. Socialized medicine may be bad for your health in more ways than you thought.

"Does government health care inevitably lead to homicidal doctors who can't wait to leap into a flaming SUV and drive it through the check-in counter? No. But government health care does lead to a dependence on medical staff imported from other countries."

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Enviro-Hypocrisy - The Live Earth Concerts

Here's another one for the do as I say, not as I do files. Al Gore's famous Live Earth concert series will do plenty of damage to the environment.

At least some rock stars seem to have their heads screwed on straight (and they're from my Dad's hometown too! Sensible lads.) A quote:

"Rock group Arctic Monkeys have become the latest music industry stars to question whether the performers taking part in Live Earth on Saturday are suitable climate change activists.

"It's a bit patronising for us 21 year olds to try to start to change the world," said Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, explaining why the group is not on the bill at any of Al Gore's charity concerts.

"Especially when we're using enough power for 10 houses just for (stage) lighting. It'd be a bit hypocritical," he told AFP in an interview before a concert in Paris. Bass player Nick O'Malley chimes in:

"And we're always jetting off on aeroplanes!" "

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More On Reporting Versus Reality

Powerline has a post up that links to many of the same items I link to in the post below this. It's the update at the bottom of their post that is really telling though. They linked to the same Instapundit post I did and got an email from a journalist as a result. It's quite an admission.

"A journalist whose name you'd recognize emails:

Yon's story doesn't get attention because it is humiliating.

It is humiliating because it is obvious that we media – and our allies in the state department, the legal trade, the NGOs, the Democratic Party, the UN, etc., - can’t do squat about such determined use of force.

Our words, images, arguments and skills can’t stop the killing. Only the rough soldiers and their guns can solve the problem, and we won’t admit that fact because the admission would weaken our influence and our claim to social status.

So we pretend Yon’s massacre – and the North Korean killing fields, the Arab treatment of women, the Arab hatred of Israel, etc. - doesn’t exist, and instead focus our emotions and attention on the somewhat-bad domestic things that we can ‘fix’ with our DC-based allies. Things such as Abu Ghraib, wiretapping, etc. When we ‘fix’ them, then we get status, applause, power, new jobs, ego, etc.

Please don’t be surprised. We media are an interest group not much different from the automakers, the unions, and the farmers."

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Michael Yon and Michael Totten - The Anti Tokyo Rose.

In contrast to our own invested-in-defeat press, Michael Yon is a self-funded, independent reporter who gets out with the troops in the field and tells the story of what is going on in Iraq the way it really is. In other words, he gets out of the safety of the Green Zone and sees for himself whereas most of the western press, if they ever go to Iraq at all, report from the hotel and rely on stringers who may or may not be who they say they are and who frequently feed them false reports designed to undermine our cause and our will to see this through. In other words, they work for the enemy. Further, the press makes no effort to independently verify the claims they report, accepting them completely uncritically.

Like Michael Yon, Michael Totten is another independent and self-funded (read donor supported) reporter who covers Iraq and the Middle East and if you want a much better informed perspective on what is happening in Iraq and the wider Middle East, this is the go-to guy. You will not get this quality or depth of reporting from the New York Times, AP, Reuters, CNN or any of the mainstream press outlets that are more interested in the political damage they can inflict on George Bush than they are in the long-term survival of western civilization.

Update: Another example of AP and Reuters passing on unverified rumors as fact. [7/3]
Another update [7/3]: Michael Yon updates his Bless the Beasts and Children post, linked above.

"On this question of media selectivity, the blogosphere has become incensed that big media mostly ignored the murders, especially given that there are reporters currently in Baqubah. Newsbusters and countless others are on it. More disturbing to many bloggers is that major mainstream players were busted (again) by Pajamas Media
just days ago for reporting outright fabrications of a “massacre” that never

Why the failure? "Because that might help Bush."

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