Recently, after watching Former FBI Director James Comey’s performance on Fox’s Special Edition with Brett Baier, I wrote (in part):
My impression of Comey, based on that interview, is he is liar, and not a very good one. Clearly, he understands the legal jeopardy in which he put himself, and is spinning furiously to give the appearance of honesty and integrity, while lying to avoid legal liability. He also appears to be very much a legend in his own mind. He, like Barack Obama, is terribly disappointed in us. We let him down, and it weighs heavily on such an honest and honorable soul.
Reader “Doug (FPS/Douglite.com)” in part replied:
Now.. here’s the thing… I was drawn to your blog because you have some basic credentials that suggest some level of credibility in your opinions rather than some guttural Neanderthal spouting that’s so common on conservative blogs. Absolutely we have different opinions (as you most certainly already know from having dashed in and out of my own blog and likely dismissing my opinions as the ramblings of some misguided lefturd) and since I am a bit of a humanist I tend to be curious in the how’s and why’s people think the way they do. I don’t tend to just ‘hang around’ blogs that simply agree with my politics just to have a place of warm fuzzy chest thumping.
As regular readers know, I welcome all polite comments, and encourage civil debate. I don’t, for a moment, think I am possessed of all knowledge or that I am incapable of error. Lord knows I pray about just that daily. I also don’t spend much screen time blathering on about my personal issues. I suspect readers have more than enough of their own with which to be occupied. However, just this once, I thought it useful to comment on my writing philosophy.
I’m committed to producing an article a day for this scruffy little blog, which I am able to do primarily because I write very quickly. I’m often amazed at how relatively few typographical errors I make, and of how few errors of fact I allow to slip through. This is partially because I write an article a day, I proofread my work at least three times before posting–I read very quickly too–and partially because I work very hard to eliminate mistakes of all kinds. Even so, it’s very difficult to accurately proofread and edit one’s own writing.
Some readers might categorize this as a conservative blog, and as I am generally philosophically aligned with conservative ideals, that’s not an unfair assumption. In fact, I’m a constitutionalist. Having studied the Constitution, and worked intimately with it for many years, I have a deep appreciation for the brilliance of the Founders–men for all time–and for the fact it is what makes America unique among the nations and in history. We lose our belief in the necessity of American constitutionalism, America is over, and so is the world. Because progressives tend to see the opposite and to see the Constitution as an inconvenient obstacle to the kind of “progress” they desire, I find little to appreciate in their philosophy, which is not to say I’m particularly enamored of what passes for conservatism these days.
I see little adherence to traditional conservative principles in the denizens of the Beltway, Republican and Democrat, and perhaps less adherence to the Constitution, though President Trump is laboring mightily to honor the Constitution and restore the rule of law. I’m sadly reduced to voting for candidates I believe will do the least damage to the Constitution, which made my vote against Hillary Clinton the easiest of my life. Thus far, Mr. Trump has been a pleasant surprise. Oh, he’s rough around the edges, which is precisely why he’s president following eight years of “no drama Obama,” the Marxist messiah.
As to Doug’s concerns, SMM is primarily an analysis/opinion blog. I have, on occasion, broken a bit of news because some of the people making news have trusted me enough to provide insight into significant cases. However, I work for a living, and don’t have nearly enough time, nor the inclination, to play full-time journalist.
Therefore, I rely on news accounts for much of my information, a fact about which I often remind readers in my articles. I trust the construction and tone of my prose clearly indicates when I am quoting sources, which I always endeavor to clearly identify, providing appropriate links, and when I am engaging in analysis/opinion. In fact, I often clearly label analysis as such. I try to find sources that have, over time, been reliable brokers of fact, but I am, as are we all, at the mercy of the sources I choose.
As regular readers know, when I make errors which they are kind enough–sometimes gleefully so–to bring to my attention, I correct them as quickly as possible. “As quickly as possible” usually means the next evening, particularly during the school year. I do not take such useful corrections personally. English teachers learn quickly how very human we all are. All make mistakes in writing and analysis. A measure of character is how rapidly and completely we correct those mistakes, and one’s response to being corrected.
I also do my best to do in-depth analysis only on matters with which I am familiar. I don’t have something to say about everything, and recognize others are very likely to do better at analyzing things with which I have only a passing familiarity. I also generally avoid writing about cases about which I can say little or nothing new. I always feel badly when readers suggest I write about items of interest to them, but I don’t feel I really have much to say about those things. It’s certainly not personal; I just don’t imagine everyone is hanging on my every word or that I know enough to comment intelligently. I will not, for example, be writing about complex issues in advanced mathematics.
I am occasionally frustrated by commenters—not regular readers—whose comments reveal they haven’t accurately read what I’ve written, or perhaps, in pursuit of a narrative, have ignored anything that doesn’t support that narrative. But what can one do about that sort of thing? They’re not my students. I can’t teach them reading comprehension, but can only point out, perhaps in different terms, what I said and its meaning and implications.
I do my best to be clear in analysis about my opinions and about the recitation of facts. Take the excerpt from the top of this article about former FBI Director James Comey and his interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier. I wrote: “my impression of Comey…” and “He also appears to be,” hopefully making clear to readers what followed is opinion only. However, those impressions were limited only to my viewing of his performance in that interview, and the conclusions I drew from his statements, body language, deception tells, and manner, all of which I used to do for a living. Readers can draw their own opinions of Comey’s character and veracity by relying on fact, by doing their own research–which I always practice and encourage–and to whatever degree they’ve found me convincing, my perceived reliability and character.
Some take me to task for leaving out this or that, but to whatever degree I do this in covering an issue or event, it’s a matter of space rather than a desire to conceal anything. In writing any article, I have a primary theme I’m pursuing. Supporting that theme requires choices: some things will be included, others won’t. I do not copy entire articles from other sources—that’s a fair use/copyright issue—but do provide links so readers can see the entire articles if they wish. I generally try to keep articles around 1500 words—this one is 1429–but because I try to be comprehensive and complete, don’t often manage that. Sticking to 1500 words or less might increase my readership, but in many instances, it would be a less informed readership. There are plenty of blogs that amount to little more than sound bites. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I choose to provide more comprehensive information.
It’s up to you, gentle readers, to decide if my fevered scribblings are worthy of your time. Thus far, and I’ve been blogging here since late 2011, my daily readership and following has steadily increased and continues to increase. I’m nowhere near Instapunditlevels, but I’m not doing badly for a scruffy little blog on the wrong side of the WWW tracks. In any case, please know I appreciate each and every one of you, and I’m having a blast! I hope you are too.