Every week I read a few outstanding articles but I have little or nothing to add. So I don’t post on them. But occasionally–and this is the first time–I will link to a few of the articles, quote a few segments, and maybe add my few thoughts.

Here are two excellent articles that I read this week.

Jesse Walker, “The Battlefields of Cable,” Reason, August 15, 2023.


When C-SPAN’s cameras came to Congress in 1979, a wave of bloodless guerrilla maneuvers followed. Newt Gingrich, in those days a brash young Georgia congressman, led an insurgent cell of Republicans looking for ways to make the cameras work for them. One of their techniques was to deliver so-called “special order” speeches when the day’s business was over, which in addition to airing live on cable could be shared with local channels back home.

“These speeches frequently called out the Democratic opposition directly, daring them to respond,” the Purdue historian Kathryn Cramer Brownell writes in 24/7 Politics, a new history of cable news and the regulatory forces that shaped it. “But nobody did,” she adds, “because the legislative session had ended and everyone was gone.” Not that you could tell that by watching the show, since the camera’s eye stayed fixed on the person speaking.


C-SPAN was the brainchild of Brian Lamb, who had worked for Whitehead at the Office of Telecommunications Policy, and it was sponsored by the cable industry, which hoped the channel would prove the medium’s value. Between its noncommercial ethos, its commitment to shining a light on the government’s inner workings, and its Warholian willingness to let a motionless camera run while nothing appeared to be happening, C-SPAN was one of the few national cable channels of the 1980s that resembled those old hippie dreams of what TV could be. But it was also a creature of the milieu it covered, a place where Bob Walkers and Tip O’Neills could jockey for position. If this was guerrilla television, it wasn’t the sort the New Left had imagined a decade before. It was a landscape for folks like Gingrich to conduct guerrilla warfare.

I’ve long been a fan of Brian Lamb. He was one of C-SPAN’s best interviewers of authors. His questions were not “gotcha” questions but, instead, “information-seeking” questions. But along the way, he occasionally got incredible admissions from authors who, because of his format, relaxed.

David J. Bier, “The Government Cheats, Loses, and Cheats Again to Make Immigrating Illegal,” Cato at Liberty, August 16, 2023.


You traveled a thousand miles and spent thousands of dollars to reach the United States. The immigration rulebook (sometimes called “the law”) says that if you made it, you could apply for asylum and that officials “shall” process you. But guess what? In this game, the government cheats. It doesn’t want to process you. It wants you to go home. So when you reached the border in 2019, the officials at the legal crossing point wouldn’t process you. They stood in the middle of the bridge to block you.

You joined a lawsuit, and a court said, “Government, what you’re doing is illegal. Stop.” So in November 2021, the government issued a new policy that says, “You border guys, you can’t tell people to go away.” But it then promptly ignored that policy “because of COVID-19.” But that excuse ended in May 2023, so it reiterated the policy in a formal rulemaking. It couldn’t be clearer: “Our policy is to inspect and process all arriving noncitizens.” So you’d think you would get processed if you arrived at the border. But no, the government cheats.

Border officials are telling people that they must make appointments before they can request asylum, and they cap the number of appointments, even though the new rules make it perfectly clear an appointment will not be required. You can’t even schedule an appointment at all. Rather, you are put in a lottery to decide if you can even request an appointment. When Isabel “Doe” showed up unannounced at a legal crossing point with her bleeding husband whom a cartel shot, she was turned away. Her husband was then murdered in Mexico.

A number of my friends tell me that they are not against immigration but, rather, against illegal immigration. Here’s the test of their sincerity: Do they favor having the government obey its own law? If not, they are not in favor of legal immigration and are, in fact, in favor of government illegality.