Dennis Prager and I on the Paula Zahn Show (CNN) Tonight:

Dennis Prager, another guest, and I are scheduled to be on CNN's Paula Zahn Show tonight some time starting around 8:20 Eastern, to talk about oaths of office and religion — or so I'm told; television appearances sometimes get canceled at the last moment.

mls (mail):
Oh, Lordy! Poor Mr. Prager. Does he know you're appearing, too? Because if not, I'd bet on cancellation by him, if no one else!
11.30.2006 5:13pm
asdfjkl; (mail):
I don't think the right should score cheap points by pointing out crazies on the left.

Vice versa.
11.30.2006 5:17pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
Apparently house members do not actually swear on bibles when they're sworn in:


Perhaps you can ask him about that.
11.30.2006 5:24pm
Nick W. (mail):
$50 says the mystery guest is Glen Beck.
11.30.2006 6:02pm
plunge (mail):
Make sure you treat his insistence that Jews must worship the Bible, that Muslims swearing on the Koran equals terrorism, and "would you let a Nazi like -insert leftist figure- swear on Mein Kampf?" with lavish respect, as if he was really just a sensible guy with a polite matter of difference with you on a legal question. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Prager is the same man, btw, who declared that it was completely and absolutely unforeseeable that the US would see or face any sort of guerrilla insurgency using terrorist bombs... because you know, Bush should never be faulted for anything, even lack of foresight.
11.30.2006 8:35pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Hah, I even saw this in time to change the channel and caught it.
11.30.2006 8:36pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Well, that was pretty useless. Good of you to try, Eugene, and what was that deal with cutting away saying they'd "lost you"?

Prager did show an admirable talent for asserting things and then dancing when you pointed out the flaws.
11.30.2006 8:44pm
liberty (mail) (www):
well done
11.30.2006 8:44pm
Karen (mail):
I just saw the segment; I wish Paula Zahn had controlled Prager better but thats par for the course. You made good points about President Hoover and Justice Goldberg and made a good point that whatever Prager is worried about has already been violated by people using different books. Congratulations on the appearance; hope do more.
11.30.2006 8:46pm
liberty (mail) (www):
I don't think it was useless, but yeah that was weird that she said that. Give her the benefit of the doubt I guess. Still it seemed like she favored the others and kept cutting Eugene off. CNN, you know.
11.30.2006 8:47pm
Doug Mataconis (mail) (www):
I guess I was asking too much to expect anything intellectual from Paula Zahn, especially when Dennis Prager is involved.

Did anyone else catch the part where she cut Eugene off mid-sentence with the line "We've lost Eugene", implying that his the sat feed went down. Meanwhile, Eugene was still talking and we could still hear him.

My guess is there was some CNN producer yelling in her ear "Get the camera back on the raving lunatic Prager, he's good for ratings."
11.30.2006 9:10pm
You're better looking than I thought. Maybe you knocked the Ukraine girls out and then left them behind for the West. (See Ukraine post.)
11.30.2006 9:40pm
John Jenkins (mail):
I didn't even watch this because it should have been such a one-sided ass-kicking.

It's possible that they had lost Prof. Volokh, since there is a time-delay issue. It's also possible they just lost the video and not the audio.

In any event, why does anyone take a buffoon like Prager seriously?
11.30.2006 10:04pm
Doug Mataconis (mail) (www):

That's just the point, they didn't lose the good Professor at all. Paula was so obviously cutting him off it wasn't funny.
11.30.2006 10:44pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Sorry, when I said "that was useless" I meant in the sense of getting any actual intellectual content to speak of. Eugene was clear and effective when they let him talk, Prager was an embarrassment --- to steal a Jason van Steenwyk line, "It makes it embarrassing to be a right wing whackjob" --- and Paula Zahn is sure a lot prettier than she is smart.
11.30.2006 11:11pm
TomHynes (mail):
Here is the video.

11.30.2006 11:37pm
TomHynes (mail):
Okay, so I can't figure out how to do links.

It is at
11.30.2006 11:39pm
Justin (mail):
No, its more fun to watch the right score points by pointing out the crazies on the right.
12.1.2006 12:27am
So, Eugene, who would you rather fool around with, Paula Zahn, or this?
12.1.2006 1:59am
First, did I hear correctly, and did Prager really say that the Constitution derives its legitimacy from the Bible? And here I thought that "We the People" had something to do with the Constitution's legitimacy.

Anyway, I appreciate Professor Volokh's efforts, but this is a fine example of how screwed up media dynamics are in this country. Prager is being a sensationalist, and not even a clever one. And yet CNN is piggybacking on Prager's efforts. Paula Zahn's obvious impatience with Volokh's contribution was likely produced by the fact that he was calmly exposing this as a non-issue (rather than yelling insults at Prager, which I am sure she would have preferred).

Oh well. I might as well be complaining about how deliberately controversial campaign ads ("Call me!") get free air time on "news" shows--the media is just so easy for the ruthless to exploit.
12.1.2006 3:59am
Porkchop (mail):
Nice try Eugene -- too bad you got shut out by bad journalism and even worse demogoguery. This, truly, is one of the stupidest "controversies" ever.
12.1.2006 8:05am
lucia (mail) (www):
You have to give Paula a break. She did cut off EV with a transparent ploy. Still, as host she has to interview all guests. She had to cut off EV to give Daisy Kahn time to speak!

EV said many correct things and said them as quickly as he possibly could. But he if he'd interrupted Ariel Huffington the way he interrupted Daisy we would have heard a smack down on camera. ( No offense intended to EV; I just want to point out that Paula's job isn't all that easy. )

The problem with the segment is there is simply not enough time provided for people to make their points. (Prager however, says so many ridiculous things I'm not sure rebuttal is required. Letting him say them may have been the best way to let the audience see how ridiculous his points are.)
12.1.2006 10:23am
JosephSlater (mail):
Chumund gets it exactly right.

The broader question is why the supposedly liberal "mainstream media" insists on treating extremist, practically crypto-fascist (and as a Jew, I don't use that term lightly) types such as Prager, Coulter, etc., as legitimate commentators.
12.1.2006 11:55am
Michael B (mail):
Listened to half-an-hour or more of Prager this morning and he mentioned he'd change one thing in his commentary: he'd attenuate it from a legal/practical proscription to a simpler advocacy or suasion. (Forget what he said in terms of an exact quote, but that was the gist of it.)

"Poor Mr. Prager. Does he know you're appearing, too? Because if not, I'd bet on cancellation by him, if no one else!" mls

The notion Dennis Prager would ever back down from an honest and forthright fight is positively risible. Prager, and arguably more consistently than any other commentator on the scene, argues his various positions thoughtfully and in a manner that is considerate of the other person and that person's avowed, contrary position.

"The broader question is why the supposedly liberal "mainstream media" insists on treating extremist, practically crypto-fascist (and as a Jew, I don't use that term lightly) types such as Prager ..." JosephSlater

Shameless, positively and absolutely shameless. Noam Chomsky's an ideological secularist/extremist and is Jewish. Lazar Kaganovich was an ideological secularist/extremist and was Jewish.

Dennis Prager takes positions and argues the issues, he argues the subject matter, he forwards a rational argument and does so transparently and without guile - and he decidedly resists using demonizing labels and other ad hominem devices. I disagreed with Prager as pertains to this issue, at least so prior to the point where he attenuated his argument as described above, but the notion Prager would shirk an honest and transparent argument is deserving of no respect whatsoever. Prager's a mench, and those using demonizing labels and similar devices are something else, entirely.
12.1.2006 4:27pm
Michael B (mail):
mensch, not mench
12.1.2006 4:32pm
Michael B (mail):
Btw, if I were Jewish: 1) I'd be exceedingly proud (in the healthy and positive sense of the term) to be so and 2) I'd want Dennis Prager, or someone like him, to be my rabbi.

As I alluded to Noam Chomsky and Lazar Kaganovich as ideological secularists/extremists, I'd like that clarified w/o any ambiguity whatsoever.
12.1.2006 5:44pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Michael, if yhou think an argument based on factual inaccuracies and as assertion that can't be historically supported --- even if it is popular with his radio audience --- constitutes a guileless and rational argument, your standards are much lower than mine.
12.1.2006 11:51pm
plunge (mail):
"The notion Dennis Prager would ever back down from an honest and forthright fight is positively risible. Prager, and arguably more consistently than any other commentator on the scene, argues his various positions thoughtfully and in a manner that is considerate of the other person and that person's avowed, contrary position. "

Give me a break. He invoked the NAZIS in trying to smear a Muslim (who he had no problem saying was emboldening terrorists: nice!), and said that anyone: even Jews, who don't bow down to the almighty Bible are UNDERMINING CIVILIZATION. That's calm, measured thoughtful rhetoric?

You really have no credibility.
12.2.2006 12:41am
Michael B (mail):

As pertains to your in-the-face contempt - I care little indeed about such sneering disdain and dismissiveness. Imo you don't understand the gist of the argument made in the first place, and likely don't care to make the attempt, which is a different set of topics than whether or not you agree or disagree. For example, when you assert "[h]e invoked the NAZIS in trying to smear a Muslim", you're simply wrong. What Prager said, vis-a-vis the Nazi allusion was "Would they allow him to choose Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible, for his oath? And if not, why not?" That was said not at all to "smear" a Muslim, it was a rhetorical question invoked to question, if one person is allowed to choose their own "favorite book," then why shouldn't another person, with a different set of interests, be allowed to choose their own favorite book, even if it is "Mein Kampf". If you fail to comprehend the difference, that's your problem and no one else's, and it further reflects your inability to comprehend, further still, the gist of the concern voiced in the larger sense. You fail to comprehend even one specific aspect of the general argument made, much less the gist of the broader argument made. Despite that, or perhaps even because of that, you don't hesitate to offer your sneering contempt.


That, or I believe the gist of the argument, the primary concern, to be different than you assume it to be. (I specifically noted I didn't agree with Prager prior to the point where he attenuated his argument, from one of forced proscription to suasion/advocacy. And yes, for me, this would also imply a difference in tone and altering other aspects of the language used; I would have written it up differently than Prager did.)

Too, I have little sense as to whether it's "popular" or not, whether with his audience or others (my impression is otherwise), but why would popularity per se have anything at all to do with whether or not guile is involved? Guile, or the lack thereof, involves a subjective judgement ultimately (even if some more objective facts will also be involved), since it involves an assessment of motives. What do you assume, or judge, Prager's motives to be? And why? (Also, when subjective assessments are involved, either in whole or in part, then I believe there is a tendency to project our own trust or mistrust upon what is being assessed, depending upon various subjective and objective factors which each person brings to bear on the person, the topic, etc.)

As for the factual inaccuracies, for that to represent any guile it would need to involve inaccuracies which were consciously known as such, when they were forwarded. Do you know it to be such? (Perhaps too, depending upon the intention of the argument, the inaccuracies would need to be more than outliers or anomolies and would need to be substantial and critical, though that admittedly is a more nuanced and debateable aspect, depending upon those specifics.)

Also, in making the (general) statement Prager forwards rational arguments, I'm not stating or taking the position he is infallible, it's a general statement, not a statement of belief in his omniscience, infallibility or any other type of perfection.
12.2.2006 2:03am
For those who want a better link:
Hot air archive page with video
Video player only
Direct link to FLV video file, if you have an FLV player in your computer software, and can spoof your referrer link.

As far as I can tell, this is really a tempest in a teapot. The only group who could even try to dis"allow" Ellison's use of a Qur'an for the ceremony is the House itself; short of expelling him (which would take a 2/3 majority), there's not much they could do to stop him. Given the current composition of the House (53% Democrat), there is no way that will happen, and given the Republicans current fragile position, there's no way they'd even try.
12.4.2006 11:47am