Sunday, October 31, 2004

MSM pilot fish strike back

The October 27 Ad Age is particularly interesting in light of the Fraters Libertas post discussed below. For a trade paper, Ad Age has become stridently partisan during this election cycle. Earlier I noted how they pooh-poohed the Rather/forged documents fraud and engaged in a little fact-challenged Bush-bashing to boot.

This week they are at it again but with in a triple dose.

Their ad reviewer is apparently an acolyte of the Moore school of politics. Here is how he starts his critique of the Ashley advertisement:
This has been the most divisive, polarized and dishonest presidential campaign in recent memory. It has stunk of lies and sleaze and Swiftboat veterans who have long memories but no clue about what democracy is, much less patriotism.
My jaw dropped when I read that. I can understand questioning the conclusions of the Swift Boat veterans. I think an honest voter can disagree with them and believe that Kerry would make a better president than Bush. But to question the patriotism of highly decorated veterans-some of them wounded in action or tortured as POWs-is an egregious libel.

Later on he decides to make sure we all understand the reality that the Ashley spot obscures:
That may also be what voters want to see in the heart and soul of their president: a powerful but compassionate father figure, who can hug us all and tell us, don't worry, everything is going to be OK.

But everything's in shambles

Of course, everything isn't OK. Everything, from the economy to the bloody Iraq fiasco to our basic Americans freedoms, is in a shambles. But one thing the polls show is clear: In moments of crisis, the people have a deep-seated psychological need to trust Our Leader, no matter how manifestly untrustworthy he may be. This commercial has seized on that need like no other message in this long, ugly campaign
.
The main front page story starts with a big scary headline:
Christian group spooks advertisers
It discusses the efforts of the American Family Association to get advertisers to stop funding offensive programs. The story is filled with rhetoric designed to worry Ad Age's readers about those pushy, ignorant Christians.

enlisting marketers in its cause by tapping the fear of its virtual army of believers

FRIGHTENING FORCE

SOME RESISTANCE-- Not all marketers wilt under AFA pressure

While the AFA has sent some advertisers scurrying for cover

In their editorial, though, they call for courage:

Marketers must set own agendas

PRESSURE GROUPS ARE FREE to hammer marketers about where they advertise and how they act. It's incumbent on marketers to listen, but they must not let special interests set the agenda.

The big joke is that the advertising business is a special interest in its own right. They like edgy commercials and edgy programming. They like spending their client's money on commercials that their colleagues will see. They don't want to complicate things by having to listen to customers. They get offended when clients wonder if their money is really building the brand and increasing sales.

Ad Age doesn't really dig into the question of why AFA is now having success nor do they ask if there are forces at work that marketers should pay attention to.

The AFA, OTOH, has a good understanding of why they are effective:
While the AFA has been at this for a quarter century, its recent successes stem largely from the power of e-mail to reach supporters and advertisers, said Tim Wildmon, president of the group. "E-mail is instantaneous, and our numbers are growing rapidly," he said. "A lot of people are disgusted with the explicitness on television, and the advertisers I believe are having a hard time defending it. Couple that with the fact that it's a very competitive marketplace. You don't want to offend several hundred thousand people."

Consumers do not get their news just from Dan Rather; they do not form an opinion about Coke just from viewing commercials on their favorite programs. Now they know what other programs Coke supports. That, too, becomes part of the brand message. Formerly, a brand could send separate messages to different segments-be edgy with MTV, be apple pie on broadcast news shows. News, in turn, was perceived as nonpartisan, fair, and patriotic. All these elements have changed.

Marketers face a novel challenge with the rise of new media and the destruction of barriers that formally blocked the flow of information. They no longer can approach brand-building as a matter of one-way messages. They cannot be certain that their market segmentation won't have blow-back.

For marketers, this is a problem. Ford wants truck buyers to have one message "Ford Tough" in mind. They do not want to see "Ford funds Rather's partisan lies" take hold. An attention-grabbing ad on MTV may win an award and move some sales in that demographic. But what happens if millions of conservative customers find out about it and are offended? How does a marketer measure the net ROI on that?

But it is clear that the legacy media, the advertising industry, and the trade papers are determined to hide this danger. Or maybe they are oblivious. They are pretty insular in their deep-blue coastal enclaves.

In any case, for The Elder to see results from his suggestion, heartland consumers have to find a way to make their voices heard where it matters: in the offices of the big companies whose ad budgets keep the MSM fat and happy.

Poll games: one last card to play

Captain Ed looks at the latest polls. I think his assessment is dead-on:
The GOP has to be happy with these results, but it still will take all of their effort in the remaining 70 hours or so to make sure they get voters out to the polls.
They will have to do so against a MSM headwind right up until the polls close in their states. The GOTV efforts in the Midwest battleground states will hold the key in a close election.

Previously, I discussed how campaigns try to use early vote totals in the East to influence late voting in the Midwest and west. In 2000, the networks joined in to help Gore. Bill Sammons's analysis is damning:
The vice president's margin of victory in Michigan was a slim 4 points, the same spread by which Bush had won Ohio thirty minutes earlier. Yet the networks were still mum about the Bush win. The tiers of Democratic bias were now working unmistakably in Gore's favor.

"The fact that we projected Florida and Michigan before we projected Ohio for Bush is very telling;" Tim Russert told NEC viewers, hinting that Bush was lagging in states that should have been his and losing close states far too easily.

Michigan and Ohio were both important battleground states that held large numbers of electoral votes. Both were won by four percentage points. Although all polls closed in Ohio at 7:30 P.M., the networks waited an hour and forty-five minutes to declare Bush the winner. Yet they raced to call Michigan for Gore the instant the first polls there closed-even though voters west of the time line had another hour in which to cast their ballots

The lopsided calls in Gore's favor continued all night. The clarity of the double standard is downright jarring when one examines the calls made by CNN, which was typical of the networks:

Gore won Illinois by 12 points and CNN crowned him the winner in one minute. Bush won Georgia by 12 points and CNN waited thirty-three minutes.

Gore won New Jersey by 15 points and CNN announced it in one minute. Bush won Alabama by 15 points anci CNN waited twenty-six minutes.

Gore won Delaware by 13 points and CNN waited just three minutes. Bush won North Carolina by 13 points and CNN waited thirty-four minutes.

Gore won Minnesota by 2 points and CNN waited thirty-seven minutes. Bush won Tennessee by 3 points and CNN waited twice as long-an hour and sixteen minutes.

Withholding Tennessee from Bush was especially mendacious because news of the vice president's failure to carry his home state would have sent a powerful political message to the rest of the nation. If Gore couldn't carry Tennessee, how could he be expected to win the presidency? Even Walter Mondale managed to carry his home state of Minnesota in 1984, when Ronald Reagan won the other forty-nine states in a landslide.

Similarly, the networks were reluctant to call President Clinton's home state of Arkansas for Bush, which would have sent another potent message. Arkansas was one of the few states in which Gore had given Clinton permission to campaign for him. Timely news of Gore's failure to carry the state would have shocked Democrats and heartened Republicans nationwide. Instead, CNN waited three hours and thirty-three minutes before awarding Arkansas to Bush, who had won the state by six points. This inexplicable delay was even longer than the two hours and forty-one minutes CNN waited before giving Bush West Virginia, which he had also won by six points. By contrast, CNN waited only thirty-six minutes to give Maine to Gore, who had carried the state by only five points.

The pervasiveness of the double standard was shocking. Whenever Gore won a state by double-digit margin, the networks projected him the winner in three minutes or less. But in state after state, Bush posted double-digit victories that the networks refused to acknowledge for at least thirty minutes.

When Bush won Missouri by 4 points, CBS waited two hours and six minutes to hand it over. When Gore won Pennsylvania by the same margin, CBS shortened the lag time to forty-eight minutes. This was an enormously important call because it told America at 8:48 P.M. Eastern Time that Gore had already pulled off the trifecta, which was tantamount to winning the White House
.
I see no reason to think that 2004 will be different. Besides the speed with which they call states for Bush or Kerry, the Senate races will be a test of their objectivity. If Republicans gain seats, that makes Tom Daschle a weaker candidate in South Dakota. It also could affect turnout in the West, which will matter in states like Oregon, New Mexico, and Hawaii.


Everyone becomes their parents

Jack Sparks has a few words about Ashlee Simpson on Saturday Night Live. (Talk about a fat pitch thrown down the middle of the plate.)
The sad truth of the mainstream music business is that the talentless are rewarded for their good looks (natural and otherwise) and their willingness to whore themselves out to a particular style or schtick. The use of guide vocals, Pro Tools in the studio, and flat-out lip synching is the dirty little secret they don't want anyone to know
I wonder if Lorne Michaels still thinks his show is edgy and unpredictable? In terms of musical guests it has become about as edgy as American Bandstand circa 1974. And the "performances" are every bit as authentic.

If Michaels really wanted to rock his audience back on its heels, he'd listen to Jack and book the Drive-by Truckers.

Friday, October 29, 2004

"Kerry's Afghan Amnesia"

Charles Krauthammer:
This election comes down to a choice between one man's evolution and the other man's resolution. With his endlessly repeated Tora Bora charges, Kerry has made Afghanistan a major campaign issue. So be it. Whom do you want as president? The man who conceived the Afghan campaign, carried it through without flinching when it was being called a "quagmire" during its second week and has seen it through to Afghanistan's transition to democracy? Or the retroactive genius, who always knows what needs to be done after it has already happened -- who would have done "everything" differently in Iraq, yet in Afghanistan would have replicated Bush's every correct, courageous, radical and risky decision -- except one. Which, of course, he would have done differently. He says. Now.
As Beldar says:
John Kerry, neatly summed up in three words, nine letters, two punctuation marks: "He says. Now."
"Starve The Beast"

The Elder over at Fraters Libertas is totally out of patience with the legacy media and has some suggestions for a healthier lifestyle.

I would add one suggestions and one caveat. The suggestion is that blog readers help increase the readership of their favorite blogs by emailing posts/links to their friends and acquaintances. Only about 10% of the public read blogs. Increasing that figure undercuts the power of the legacy media.

The caveat is that the MSM and their advertising partners are in such deep denial that they will exlain away the lost viewers as trivial in number and unimportant in buying power. I've blogged on this point before. See:

MSM: Shrinking Audience, Leftward Drift

Agincourt and Bloggerdom

Denial can be a winning strategy

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Hersh

Bad Press

This side of Dan Rather, no one has more cause for concern about fallout from CBS's scandalous document hoax than Seymour Hersh. For no journalist has benefited more from the decades-old jerry-rigged system of American news reporting now being razed before our eyes.

Seymour Hersh Vs. Richard Perle

Anonymous sources that cannot be checked. Directly reversing what really happened. (One might think Hersh had factual dyslexia if the reversals were not so consistently in the service of his far left ideology.) Dark charges based on a crazy patchwork of suppositions. For anyone familiar with Hersh's earlier work, his article on the Bush administration's being taken in by false documents is especially outlandish because Hersh has repeatedly been taken in by con men peddling sensational phony stories.

Hersh, Hitchens, etc.
Jeff Goldstein has run out of patience with a certain so-called conservative blogger

Nothing more to say except indeed and rtwt.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Lite blogging ahead

Back on Thursday
"Postmodern War"

Victor Hanson Davis wrote this before the invasion of Iraq. It seems eerily prescient.

In hour one of the conflict, we are supposed to expect to see the deployment of weapons of mass destruction — which many in the world community still profess are not there. If the Iraqis use these agents of death, we are culpable for prompting such dangers; if they don't, then there was no real casus belli in the first place and the war will be deemed, post facto, as unnecessary. Americans must be swift, decisive, and victorious in their warmaking — but not to the extent that they should kill too many of the enemy. Our GPS bombs must not just be smart, but rather brilliant — and thus distinguish and target (wounding rather than killing) only 80,000 individual Baathists and Saddamites within a population of 26 million.

We should not lose American soldiers abroad; but, to be fair, we should at least suffer a few dead (preferably white, male, older, and officers) to avoid criticism about the "body bag" syndrome, in which, as in Kosovo and Afghanistan, Americans kill without being killed — and thus appear too much the overdog for the postcolonial guilt of Europeans or the tastes of the "Harper's Index." We expect that Saddam might well blow up oil wells, gas innocents, foul the seas, hit Israel, and worse; but the responsibility will be ours, not his, inasmuch as we expect mass killing from him but demand its instant prevention from us.

There is a Potemkin phoniness to this war to come. We live in a world of images broadcast immediately into our living rooms without commentary — or, indeed, any intellectual context at all. Thus, because a Tariq Aziz — a really murderous, awful man — can get on a plane to the Vatican without his holster, he looks to the ignorant as if he were a jet-setting, press-conference-convening statesman like Tony Blair. Dan Rather sits across from a mass murderer in a Western tie and suit and questions the tyrant as if he is interviewing the head of the local school board.

Text, image, and rhetoric — not the deeds themselves — become reality. Had Mr. Bush, Clinton-like, only bit his lip, apologized to various peoples, talked of "multilateralism," and spun his southern drawl to sound more like the Joads than Sam Houston, then he too might have bombed a thug (in Europe, no less) for two months without congressional, U.N., or Cameroon's approval. Even ANSWER and "Not in Our Name" would have felt his pain and thus stayed home.
Nazi Guerillas

Caught part of a show on the History Channel called "Nazi Guerillas" on Friday night. I was half asleep and fighting a cold so I did not take detailed notes. But a couple of points were directly applicable to the current situation in Iraq.

First, just because a bunch of psychopaths are willing to kill soldiers and civilians, that doesn't mean their cause has popular support. In the case of Germany, the werewolves were active in areas where the populace was eager to see an end to the war even if that meant American occupation.

Second, the U.S. Army put out the word that guerillas caught fighting out of uniform would be subject to summary execution. That threat was sometimes carried out.

Third, the U. S. Army censored all mention of guerilla attacks from press reports because they believed it encouraged the Nazi bitter-enders and provided useful intelligence to the guerilla cells.

War is messy business. It is never as clean as we might hope. Not even WWII ended as cleanly as the MSM thinks it should. This is from Murray and Millett's A War to be Won:
In the wake of liberation, French and Italian partisans-- both rich in dedicated Communists-- murdered as many as 8,000 suspected collaborators, often with Allied troops nearby
.

Monday, October 25, 2004

"The Daily Dodge"

James Bowman looks at John Stewart on Opinion Journal:

Mr. Stewart sounds in his book as he does on his TV show--not affectionate but arrogant, as if he were way too cool to bother finding out the facts of the real history, or news, that he's sending up. Who can take such stuff seriously?
See this from February:

Humor is over-rated

Much of the joking around is a weasel's game anyway. It lets the smug but superficial camouflage their ignorance while retaining center stage. They don't have to defend what they say-- they were just joking. But they still are smarter than you.
"John Kerry's real record as an antiwar activist"

Never Apologize, Never Explain

JOHN KERRY SAYS HE IS "PROUD" of his activities in opposition to the Vietnam War. Why, then, have he and his spokesmen consistently misrepresented them? Indeed the Kerry camp has been so effective in obscuring this history that both the New York Times and the Washington Post were forced to run corrections on the subject recently because their reporters relied on misinformation that the Kerry camp had succeeded in putting into wide circulation.
Now why did he go and let the secret out?

Why Men Don’t Ask For Directions
Surprisingly confident

Right Wing News polled 85 right-of-center bloggers about the election. They are overwhelmingly positive about the election.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Ace smacks down Kerry's favorite conservative blogger

Willpower
It now appears that many of the people who argued along with me for war were not so serious at all.
Since Mr. Sullivan is so big on demanding apologies, I will demand one in return: I demand your apology for exhorting this nation into a war about which you were never morally serious nor intellectually thorough
.
Bad week for Andrew. First he gets compared to wax fruit and then this:
Sullivan is not a warhawk. He's a bird of paradise. And that's far worse

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Wait 'til the people of Ohio hear about this

So first, The Guardian UK starts a letter-writing campaign to get Ohio voters to vote Kerry. It doesn't work out so well (no surprise to anyone who understands Jacksonian America). So now they are in favor of direct action.
On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?
The Guardian is considered a respectable paper. Just off hand, name a respectable conservative paper that ever said "Timothy McVeigh, where are you now that we need you?"

HT: A Small Victory. She goes into the fever swamps so the rest of us don't have to. She has a far stronger stomach than i do.

UPDATE: Come to think of it, maybe this is one of the reasons they like Kerry.
Roger L. Simon reviews Stolen Honor

The movie consists of interviews with now gray or graying men who were incarcerated and tortured in the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War. Their stories are juxtaposed with the testimony of John Kerry at the Winter Soldier hearings. Despite the quality of the filmmaking, and my poor viewing conditions, I was deeply disturbed while watching this. It is not a "filmic" experience in the traditional sense. While viewing this movie, I imagine most of my generation find themselves reviewing themselves and their actions at the time rather than the film. I am far from resolving my view of Vietnam, although I still tend to think it was the wrong war. But the behavior of some factions of the antiwar side, factions which I fully supported then, were clearly out of line and as reprehensible as the war they wished to protest

RTWT here.
That O'Donnell Meltdown on MSNBC

Michelle Malkin and Country Store have the run-down and a round-up of links.

Between Matthews and O'Donnell, they are going to have to rename the network DSMBC.

UPDATE: O'Donnell doesn't want you to hear what John O'Neill has to say. Fortunately, he can't intimidate the guys of the Northern Alliance Radio Network. John O'Neill will be on their program TODAY (starts at 12.00pm CT). See Captain Ed for more details. I've listened in before via their webstream. It works pretty well even on a crappy dial-up connection.

It is probably worth noting that O'Donnell is "an Emmy-winning producer and writer of NBC?s 'The West Wing.'" You know, the show where it is the conservatives who rant and froth and the liberals who behave with courtesy and rely on sweet reason.

Friday, October 22, 2004

What we've lost

Outside the Beltway has a great round-up post on the pre-election maneuvering to declare any Bush victory illegitimate:
Both parties have a right--maybe even a duty--to take steps necessary to ensure that the votes of their supporters who are entitled to vote count. Monitoring ballots to ensure that they aren't confusing, printing voter guides to inform their supporters, stationing poll watchers to ensure fairness, and similar measures are healthy for our Republic and quite welcome. The scorched earth tactics adopted by Democrats in the aftermath of the 2000 race, however, threaten to undermine our system.

Post-Florida 2000, we have forgotten how we used to handle close elections. Here is Theodore White describing election night 1960 inThe Making of the President
There is nothing that can be done in these hours, for no one can any longer direct the great strike for America's power; the polls have closed. Good or bad, whatever the decision, America will accept the decision and cut down any man who goes against it, even though for millions the decision runs contrary to their own votes. The general vote is an expression of national will, the only substitute for violence and blood. Its verdict is to be defended as one defends civilization itself.
Good or bad, whatever the decision, America will accept the decision and cut down any man who goes against it.

Forty-four years ago that was probably true. But today we see that Gore is actually going to Florida to try to pull Kerry across the finish line.

Our memories are too short and we citizens have a naive confidence about the preservation of a healthy body politic. White covered China before Pearl Harbor and World War Two all over the globe. He traveled in Europe both before the war and during the reconstruction. He was not naive like us, nor did he share our cheap cynicism:
There is nothing like this American expression of will in England or France, India or Russia or China. Only one other major nation in modern history has ever tried to elect its leader directly by mass, free, popular vote. This was the Weimar Republic of Germany, which modeled its unitary vote for national leader on American practice. Out of its experiment with the system it got Hitler. Americans have had Lincoln, Wilson, two Roosevelts. Nothing can be done when the voting returns are flooding in; the White House and its power will move to one or another of the two candidates, and all will know about it in the morning. But for these hours history stops.
John Kerry: He even hunts like a European

Thursday morning, he happily emerged from the duck blind toting a Mossberg 835 Ulti Mag-pump action 12-gauge shotgun, but someone else was carrying his dead prey. "I'm too lazy," Kerry joked, adding that he was still "giddy" over the pennant victory Wednesday night of his beloved Boston Red Sox, catapulting the team into the World Series.

Read more here.

In Europe, hunting has been the preserve of the rich and the aristocracy. The peasants get to beat the bushes and carry the carcasses.

In America, everyone can hunt. But we carry our own birds.
Just a thought

Here's an old-school political tactic that works. And really, there is not a lot of other things we can do as individuals between now and election day.

Go to the post office and pick up 5 or 10 post cards. Send them to people you know but don't see every day. Tell them you are voting for George Bush, tell them the main reason why, and ask for their vote.

This is particularly effective when you write people who are not partisan and who may sit out the election. Works best of all when the recipient is a potential swing vote living in a deep-blue environment (got an aunt who retired to Florida? Or what about a friend's kid who is now away at college?)

People get bombarded with impersonal messages during the campaign, but a post card is personal and makes a connection no 30 second TV spot can match.

Plus, a hand-written note cuts through the clutter. The volume of email and junk mail is exploding, but traditional correspondence is shrinking. Your message will stand out. (This is especially true for older voters who spend less time online, are less likely to read blogs, and whose life rhythms are keyed to real mail, not their electronic in-box.
For those who still read Sullivan

Two good posts from Ace of Spades and Dawn Eden.
Sadly this is so true

It's time to bristle when yet another seemingly competent music writer wants to lump the parlor trick that is Big & Rich in with whatever "alt country" was and is. Nothing is ever completely pure and true, but alt country as it was and is comes from a struggle to blend the hard edges of club rock like grunge and punk into the traditional sounds of pedal steel driven country. Big & Rich is a marketing ploy designed to take advantage of and exploit some of the burgeoning aspects of hip hop and skate punk culture and try to capitalize on that by delivering a well-thought out product that gets these nouveau Frankie and Annettes to buy "Country" records, and thus listen to "Country" stations where they can get bombarded by all the advertising aimed at selling them complete and utter shit. They're about as musical as a military marching band. And, after listening to all the hard work that bands like the Gourds, Eleven Hundred Springs, the Two Dollar Pistols, and older bands like the 97's put in, seeing Big & Rich called "alt country" is like watching your buddy double down on 11, catching a 9, then seeing the dealer hit on 12 and catching a 9 himself.

Jack Sparks....who else could it be?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Ohio Blogging

Kevin Holtsberry looks at the race in Bush's keystone state:

Ohio: the battle of labels
Robert Hanssen: 9/11's Forgotten Man

I searched the 9/11 Commission's Report for any mention of FBI agent turned spy Robert Hanssen. None turned up. This is a serious oversight for two reasons. First, Hanssen's arrest and interrogation was a major event for the FBI in early 2001. Second, some of the secrets he betrayed ended up in Al Qaeda's hands.

Roberta Wohstetter introduced the concepts of signals and noise to the study of strategic surprise and intelligence analysis in her book Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decisions (1962). Generally, though, we think in those terms only as it applies to the stream of information pouring across analysts's desks or the intelligence reports that go to policy-makers. From this narrow perspective, the Hanssen case has little to do with counter-terrorism.

But, as anyone who has ever worked in a large organization knows, big crises impact everyone's performance even if they only directly involve a narrow segment of the workforce. Rumors circulate, water cooler gossip becomes a vital survival tool, managers get shifted and departments get reorganized. Perhaps most important is the fact that fear and uncertainty make everyone risk-averse and almost mandate plenty of CYA.

We could call these effects "white noise" to stay consistent with Wohlstetter's framework.

The Hanssen case created plenty of white noise-- both within the FBI and in the communications channels with CIA.

1. It was an embarrassment and public relations fiasco.

2. The FBI had to undertake the daunting task of assessing the damage Hanssen had inflicted on the Bureau and on the U.S. Everything he touched was potentially tainted and compromised. Hanssen had direct responsibility for counter-terrorist activities: he was the author of the doctrine that loosely organized terrorist and criminal networks were the chief threat to U.S. security.

3. At the time of Hanssen's arrest, the FBI was in the midst of a mole hunt inside of CIA. The revelation that the mole was in the FBI shocked the Bureau. The admission that Hanssen had never been polygraphed while hundreds of innocent CIA officers faced FBI lie detectors and hostile interrogators created a breach between the two agencies. In an environment devoid of trust and rich in recriminations, it is no surprise that cooperation and information sharing were in short supply in the summer of 2001.

So much for white noise, there is also a direct 9/11 connection. According to David Vise, who wrote a book on the case, Hanssen sold the Russians information on the technology we used to monitor spies and terrorists. Later, a rogue Russian sold this information to bin Laden. This allowed Al Qaeda to evade some of our monitoring and to send us disinformation.

This point is critical to understanding the 9/11 plot. If we see Al Qaeda as a just a bunch of 13th century thugs, then it is easy to think the FBI should have had no problem rounding them up before they caused any harm. OTOH, if they possess counter-espionage and counter-intelligence capabilities, then they are a much tougher target and the performance of the FBI, CIA et.al. should be evaluated accordingly. Vise's revelation suggests that AQ understands the value of denial and deception, knows that US technical means are a threat to their operations, and that they are willing to go to great lengths and expense to counter those methods.

The Hanssen-al Qaeda connection shows that we dare not compartmentalize when we think about state and non-state actors, or when we think about counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism, and domestic security operations. Hanssen spied for a state-Russia-yet, the fruits of his treachery ended up in the hands of al Qaeda. Rooting him out was a job for counter-intelligence. However, the CI failure also hindered our pre-9/11 counter-terror efforts and may have helped al Qaeda pull off the WTC/Pentagon attacks.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Not that i'm bitter or anything

One of the uber-big dogs says Kerry-Edwards brought up Mary Cheney in order to shore up part of their shaky base. Other big dogs join in.

Of course, astute, discriminating readers of some tiny blogs were already clued in last week.

UPDATE: Baseball Crank, falsely accused of being one of the followers in the first post, actually was on this angle last Friday morning. My apologies.
Bill Richardson was everywhere

From Al Santoli's foreword to Dereliction of Duty:

The Clinton administration repeatedly rejected pleas by members of Congress to assist moderate Afghan groups resisting the extremist Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies. Instead, millions of dollars of U. S. humanitarian aid was sent into areas controlled by the Taliban, while the resistance communities-- who later became the backbone of the U. S. military campaign against the Taliban-- were ignored and their communities forced to accept Taliban control or perish.

Against all odds, in the spring of 1998, the Afghan Northern Alliance had gained the battlefield edge and the al-Qaeda /Taliban forces faced possible defeat. At that time, Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud offered to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden, who had headquarters near Massoud's territory. (Congressman Dana Rohrbacher of California and I discussed this issue with Commander Massoud and his deputies on a number of occasions between 1997 and 2001.) instead of responding affirmatively, the Clinton administration sent then- United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson to Afghanistan to ask the Northern Alliance leaders to conduct a cease-fire and to stop receiving new arms shipments (from friendly countries like India, Turkey, and Russia).

Tragically, the northern Alliance trusted Richardson. While the Northern Alliance waited for 'peace talks', offered by Richardson and Pakistan, the Pakistani government increased weapons shipments to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In the subsequent Taliban offensive, aided by Pakistani air strikes and soldiers, the Clinton administration sat idly by and watched as the Northern Alliance was routed. This gave the al-Qaeda/Taliban alliance new life, setting the stage for the 9/11 attack on the United States. [pp. 13-14
]

This isn't quite how the 9/11 Commission put it in their report:
"Though Secretary Albright made no secret of thinking the Taliban "despicable," the US ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, led a delegation to South Asia-- including Afghanistan-- in April 1998. No U.S. official of such rank had been to Kabul in decades. Ambassador Richardson went primarily to urge negotiations to end the civil war. In view of Bin Ladin's recent public call for all Muslims to kill Americans, Richardson asked the Taliban to expel Bin Ladin. They answered that they did not know his whereabouts. In any case, the Taliban said, Bin Ladin was not a threat to the United States." [111]
The difference in tone becomes clear when you read the relevant footnote:

Footnote 4.15 For a description of the Richardson mission, see Bill Richardson interview (Dec. 15, 2003);
What i find more intriguing is that Richardson ended up in the middle of all sorts of Clinton messes-- he offered Monica a job when the WH was eager to make her happy and he also was Sec. of Energy during the continuing mess with security at the Nuclear Labs and the transfer of restricted data to China. Yet, somehow, nothing sticks to Teflon Bill.
I'm not surprised

Nine of the ten top drivers in the chase to the championship this season have come out and endorsed the President. Nine out of ten.

Jeff Gordon is always the odd mad out in NASCAR.

RTWT here.
Round up

Thomas Sowell is incisive as ever:

Everything about the Nightline program reeked of contrived "ambush journalism," to ambush John O'Neill with the words of Vietnamese villagers who were put on the program before him, and thereby exonerate John Kerry from O'Neill's charges.

Beldar connects the dots:

The Vietnam War-era Kerry said American troops should only be deployed at UN direction. The 1994-era Kerry said whether American deaths are worthless depends on UN approval. The 2004-era Kerry said there's a "global test" and "we ought to pass a sort of truth standard." This seems pretty consistent to me.

Terrorism and the Mob:

Therein lies the real problem with Kerry's comments. Kerry thinks America's seventy-year-long battle against the Mafia was a success story. He is wrong. Tolerating Mob bosses (which is what we did for most of those seventy years) was very costly. Tolerating terrorism -- or leaving it to police and prosecutors, which amounts to the same thing -- would be a disaster.

Why we are winning the war on terror

James Dunnigan looks at the key victory in the war on terror.
Al Qaeda was always feared for the loose relationship the many small Islamic terrorist groups, spread all over the planet, had with each other. What made these many groups (mostly composed of eager amateurs) really dangerous was their access to professional terrorists via al Qaeda. The eager amateurs no longer have an easy to find base. In fact, since September 11, 2001, the police have been more successful at finding these terrorists, than the terrorists have been in finding the many bits of al Qaeda out there. The base is no longer the base.
See also:

What is al Qaeda?

By transferring its knowledge to sympathetic local groups, al Qaeda enabled them to increase their capabilities faster and let them avoid trial and error methods than can draw police attention. (See how Yousef helped the first WTC bomb group). Modern law enforcement pits the collective experience of the police department against the individual learning curve of the criminal. Usually, this makes for short criminal careers. Al Qaeda shifted this balance with systematic training and planning for terrorists.

Even if we capture or kill bin Laden, this new model will remain a danger. On the other hand, the model has vulnerabilities beyond those of conventional terrorists. They need safe harbors, bases to train, compliant or non-functioning states to hide in and travel from. All of these vulnerabilities can be exploited by our law enforcement and military forces
.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Poll-pourri

By now everyone has read BUSH FUTURES BEING MANIPULATED

It's all based on what Soros has often written about as his "theory of reflexivity." It's when financial markets affect the real world, and then the real world in turn affects financial markets. It's a vicious cycle set in motion on purpose. Here's a speculation of a different sort: could Soros be behind the manipulation of the Tradesports Bush futures? The amounts of money involved are pocket change to Soros. And it would fit his avowed intention to unseat the President. It would be a cheap way for Soros to damage Bush's credibility and panic his troops. I have no idea whether Soros is behind this or not. But it would fit.

Electoral reflexivity has been with us for some time. Here is Theodore White on how it worked in the 1960 election:

When it is eight in Connecticut, it is only five in the afternoon in California. If, as in 1956, the early returns from Connecticut show a Republican landslide, it makes the efforts of the Democratic poll workers in California seem hopeless, and they fade for their homes and their headquarters to nurse their wounds among friends. If, on the contrary, Connecticut shows a strong Democratic lead, it inspires the Democratic workers in California-or so the theory runs-to redouble their efforts to bring the last registrants, the laggard voters, to the polls before seven o'clock Pacific Time. The psychology of the bandwagon, of being with the victor, may affect ten, twenty or fifty thousand California votes; conversely, the psychology of emergency may, if there seems the slightest hope, rush sluggards out of their homes to vote their convictions. Both parties focus down tightly on Connecticut on election evening to transmit early results in order to influence the California vote. (The results, historically, in 1960 were open to two contradictory interpretations. California went for Nixon by 35,623 votes out of 6,507, 000, or one tenth of one per cent. It was won, one may argue, because Elsenhower took to the air waves at eight o'clock Eastern Standard Time-five o'clock Pacific Time-to counteract the Connecticut influence in California; or it was close, one may argue, because the Democrats had so effectively prepared to get the results there that fast.)

We saw a new wrinkle in the 2000 election. This is from Bill Sammon's At Any Cost:

The vice president's margin of victory in Michigan was a slim 4 points, the same spread by which Bush had won Ohio thirty minutes earlier. Yet the networks were still mum about the Bush win. The tiers of Democratic bias were now working unmistakably in Gore's favor.

"The fact that we projected Florida and Michigan before we projected Ohio for Bush is very telling;" Tim Russert told NEC viewers, hinting that Bush was lagging in states that should have been his and losing close states far too easily.

Michigan and Ohio were both important battleground states that held large numbers of electoral votes. Both were won by four percentage points. Although all polls closed in Ohio at 7:30 P.M., the networks waited an hour and forty-five minutes to declare Bush the winner. Yet they raced to call Michigan for Gore the instant the first polls there closed-even though voters west of the time line had another hour in which to cast their ballots

The lopsided calls in Gore's favor continued all night. The clarity of the double standard is downright jarring when one examines the calls made by CNN, which was typical of the networks:

Gore won Illinois by 12 points and CNN crowned him the winner in one minute. Bush won Georgia by 12 points and CNN waited thirty-three minutes.
Gore won New Jersey by 15 points and CNN announced it in one minute. Bush won Alabama by 15 points anci CNN waited twenty-six minutes.
Gore won Delaware by 13 points and CNN waited just three minutes. Bush won North Carolina by 13 points and CNN waited thirty-four minutes.
Gore won Minnesota by 2 points and CNN waited thirty-seven minutes. Bush won Tennessee by 3 points and CNN waited twice as long-an hour and sixteen minutes.

Withholding Tennessee from Bush was especially mendacious because news of the vice president's failure to carry his home state would have sent a powerful political message to the rest of the nation. If Gore couldn't carry Tennessee, how could he be expected to win the presidency? Even Walter Mondale managed to carry his home state of Minnesota in 1984, when Ronald Reagan won the other forty-nine states in a landslide.

Similarly, the networks were reluctant to call President Clinton's home state of Arkansas for Bush, which would have sent another potent message. Arkansas was one of the few states in which Gore had given Clinton permission to campaign for him. Timely news of Gore's failure to carry the state would have shocked Democrats and heartened Republicans nationwide. Instead, CNN waited three hours and thirty-three minutes before awarding Arkansas to Bush, who had won the state by six points. This inexplicable delay was even longer than the two hours and forty-one minutes CNN waited before giving Bush West Virginia, which he had also won by six points. By contrast, CNN waited only thirty-six minutes to give Maine to Gore, who had carried the state by only five points.

The pervasiveness of the double standard was shocking. Whenever Gore won a state by double-digit margin, the networks projected him the winner in three minutes or less. But in state after state, Bush posted double-digit victories that the networks refused to acknowledge for at least thirty minutes.
When Bush won Missouri by 4 points, CBS waited two hours and six minutes to hand it over. When Gore won Pennsylvania by the same margin, CBS shortened the lag time to forty-eight minutes. This was an enormously important call because it told America at 8:48 P.M. Eastern Time that Gore had already pulled off the trifecta, which was tantamount to winning the White House.


Today's must read

Drafting Lies: An Open Letter to Young Voters
What makes a partisan?

Instapundit:
Meanwhile, further down in the comments, Oliver Willis calls me "partisan." In the sense of supporting a candidate, sure, since I pretty much gave up on Kerry quite a while ago, but not in the sense of supporting a party regardless of candidate.
Since when did having an opinion make one a partisan hack? It seems to me to be an odd inversion. Generally, partisan hacks tailor their public opinions to suit the need of the campaign/candidate. Like a "family values" conservative defending Newt's adultery or an "I believe Anita" liberal trashing Paula Jones/Willey/Lewinski, etc. For the opposite of hackery, see Michelle Malkin's defense of John Edwards today.

I am always amused to see the people call Instapundit a rigid conservative or a Republican flack. I know conservatives. I grew up with rigid Republicans (my grandfather voted for Landon and my father went all out for Goldwater). Instapundit is neither a solid conservative (abortion, gay marriage, stem cells, immigration) nor a dependable Republican. (Where is that full-throated defense of Tom Delay and Alan Keyes?)
Michelle Malkin defends John Edwards

And is right about this:
And before Bush supporters get carried away with the Edwards video, remember that this is a cheap Michael Moore-ish tactic. He used the same kind of clandestine footage of President Bush preparing for a televised speech--as well as similar outtakes of Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz getting ready for TV interviews --to mock the Administration in his crockumentary, Fahrenheit 9/11.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Sinclair-another miner at the breakfast table*

Jay Rosen is working very hard to demonize Sinclair Broadcasting for daring to investigate the impact of Kerry's 1971 testimony on the POWs held in North Vietnam.

Rosen's larger argument rests on a couple of suspect pillars: 1) The POW story is propaganda, not news, and 2) Sinclair's decision to pursue the story is neither good journalism nor smart business and, therefore, must be seen as a species of conservative activism.

I don't understand how the MSM can call the POW testimony propaganda. Most of them are recounting their first hand experience in captivity. Rosen may think it is irrelevant to the presidential race, but millions disagree. In any case, a difference in news judgment is not the same thing as the difference between news and propaganda.

Similarly, there is a case to be made for the soundness of Sinclair's business decision. The story is controversial, but that means Sinclair will reap tons of free publicity for their program and attract viewers. Usually media mavens call that buzz and think it is a good thing.

The rise of Fox News illustrates that a more conservative tone can draw viewers in the current media environment. It makes perfectly good marketing sense for Sinclair apply this strategy to local news. Given the bland, liberal sameness of local TV news, Sinclair has a chance to draw viewers who are bored, alienated, and outraged by their current viewing choices.

*About that title, see here.
"Where is the Truth?...and Who's Responsible for It?"

i found this post via the Carnival of the Capitalists. Key point:

Media of all kinds are in business. There’s no escaping that fact. It’s also no secret that newspapers, TV and radio news departments are in trying times economically. So with budget cutbacks and other financial considerations, these media outlets are faced with being able to hire only those individuals who are willing to work for what they can pay. In some markets, this amount is at or very close to minimum wage for a number of positions that nonetheless require specialized skills.
See also this post: Journalism: Worst of all worlds
Carnival of the Capitalists

The latest edition is up at Accidental Verbosity

Sunday, October 17, 2004

What a great term

"Failure Laundering"
Why corporate change is hard and failure almost inevitable

David H. Maister's book, Managing the Professional Services Firm, focuses on consultancies, law firms, and accounting practices. However, it also has application to retailers, manufacturers, and other corporations.

Many of the critical questions companies face today deal with human capital, knowledge management, and proprietary expertise. The firms Maister studies are sophisticated managers of these new economy assets because these are the only assets the firms possess. Hence, Maister's subjects are pure-form exemplars and the lessons drawn from their experience have applicability across industry.

Maister's first signal contribution is an evocative typology of client work. He divides the work of PSFs into three categories: "brains", "gray hair", and "procedure". The respective client benefit for each is expertise, experience, and efficiency.

"Brains work" involves problems with a high novelty quotient. Risks are high and the key to success is intensive, accurate diagnosis of complex, ambiguous problems followed up with creative and innovative solutions. A procedures practice is dramatically different. The problems are not novel; they are well understood. Here the key to success is intense execution with an eye toward efficiency and standardization. "Gray hair" projects usually fall between "brains" and "procedure" on most critical dimensions.

Maister builds on this to show that the most successful firms concentrate on one type of work to the exclusion of the others. This is inevitable because the key success factors for each turn out to be mutually exclusive:
"We have found significant and incompatible differences between the three 'ideal' practice types in marketing, pricing, leverage structure, hiring needs, promotion structure, ownership structure, and leadership style." (p.27)
In addition, each firm type builds and leverages human capital differently. An expertise (brains) firm will have completely different approaches to professional development and employee retention than will a procedures PSF.

For example, PSFs which succeed in the procedures realm gain efficiency through repetition and the construction of templates. They achieve maximum leverage by training a body of junior professionals in the firm's methodologies and deploying them in a series of engagements that are nearly identical. There is room for average performers who can be billed out on such projects.

In contrast, "brains" firms must continuously develop new approaches and frontier expertise. They maintain their brand by hiring the most talented, ambitious professionals and subjecting them to a ruthless up or out promotion strategy. The professionals who join such firms expect challenge and variety. As Maister puts it,
"while they may be content to undertake a similar project for the second or third time, they will not be for the fourth or sixth or eighth." (p.19)
Most of us are comfortable accepting one side of his analysis. We understand how important recruitment and expertise are to the success of a creative advertising agency or an elite consultancy like McKinsey. We hesitate, though, to think through the implications for procedures firms.

But there is no avoiding the fact that most companies operate as "procedure practices" and that Maister's insights into them have the same validity as his conclusions about "expertise practices." Using those insights we can gain a better understanding into the reasons incumbent firms fail to adapt and why change programs are difficult to complete even when they are started.

Most companies are procedure practices. Routinized, programmatic solutions are their raison d'ĂȘtre and represent the essence of managerial work inside their walls. Such an approach works most of the time. It produces efficiencies and profits. If this structure did not usually produce competitive advantage, the work would be carried out by another form of enterprise.

If tomorrow's problems are much like yesterday's, a procedures mindset works best. Under those circumstances an expertise approach will sink into obsolesce and anomie; its expensive investment in intellectual capital will provide no advantage and will not generate good returns.

Inevitably, if unpredictably, every industry and every firm faces periods of change. The causes are well known: demographic shifts, new competitors, technological breakthroughs. At these times, the procedures-practice model proves a disadvantage.

First, because the implications and exact nature of a particular change-event are unclear at its onset, the premium (and competitive advantage) shift to diagnosis from execution.
"The real challenge in crafting strategy lies in detecting the subtle discontinuities that may undermine a business in the future. And for that there is no technique, no program, just a sharp mind in touch with the situation. Such discontinuities are unexpected and irregular, essentially unprecedented. They can be dealt with only by minds that are attuned to existing patterns yet able to perceive important breaks in them. Unfortunately, this form of strategic thinking tends to atrophy during the long periods of stability that most organizations experience." Henry Mintzberg, "Crafting Strategy", Harvard Business Review, (July -August, 1987)
Diagnosis is the forte of the expertise-practice model and a weakness for the procedures-practice model. The latter does not evaluate its professionals on their aptitude at diagnosis nor does it train those professionals to leverage their skills in that area. Not surprisingly, the requisite talent is in short supply.

In truth, the implications of Maister's research are quite pessimistic on this score. A corollary to the idea that professionals who excel within the expertise-practice model will not willingly engage in repetitive projects is this: Professionals who succeed in a procedures environment rarely have the aptitude and inclination required for diagnosis under ambiguity and the formulation of customized solutions. This helps explain why denial is so common a response to discontinuous change.

Second, even those professionals who attempt to address the challenge of understanding the change-event find that they must fight the inertia and active (though unpremeditated) opposition of most of the organization. In a procedures firm, whole departments exist solely to produce routinized, programmatic outputs and to ensure that the rest of the organization follows uniform procedural templates. (Think of purchasing, human resources, and financial reporting.) To deal with unstructured questions on the frontier of expertise while still satisfying the demands of the guardians of procedure requires a sort of blessed schizophrenia that is exceedingly rare.

Third, the firm's formal planning systems magnify this problem instead of alleviating it. As Henry Mintzberg notes in The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning,
"planning exhibits a bias toward a particular type of change in organizations-- not quantum change, with which its procedures have difficulty coping, but incremental." [p. 192]
Many, if not most managers can relate to Mintzberg's description of formal budgeting/planning environments where "
managers may be so busy discussing strategies and budgets on schedule year after year that when real change becomes necessary, they miss it." [p. 179.]
It is not surprising, then, that companies like General Motors fail spectacularly after decades of success. If this is not inevitable, it is certainly the norm. The failure of established firms to grasp the importance of technological breakthroughs is a recurrent theme in Utterbeck, Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation (1994) and Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma (1997). As both authors point out, focusing on operational excellence today easily leads to that tunnel vision which blinds executives to tomorrow. Maister's work helps explain why this should be so.






About those Yankees

Scott is, as always, a gentleman. Let me just say that I am rooting against the Redsox, not for the Yankees. Come the Series, I want an NL sweep.

About the other stuff, thanks but i can't hear you. The last time i posted about one of my home teams they went on a month-long losing streak. So nothing on the Steelers hopes until later. Right now we have an untested rookie QB, a suspect secondary, and are facing a run against quality play-off teams.....

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Like all the planets aligning

but in an oddly negative way.

I almost always agree with Scott Chaffin. He is blogrolled because he is one of my regular reads. But here we are this weekend and he is rooting for the effin Red Sox. Not to mention that little matter of a football game tomorrow.

But he is right that this is a great site.
Three from the vault

Lessons of this War

Andrew Sullivan wrote
Now I can see the army is pissed off that they haven't really been needed yet for the climactic battle against the Republican Guard (if it hasn't already happened). But remind me why the rest of us should be concerned? From my particular, reclining armchair, it looks as if this war will be won primarily by the amazing work of the special forces, and the airforce (with critical backup, of course, on the ground).

Can Someone Please Explain


Good Old Boys

Friday, October 15, 2004

Jeff makes a good point

I cannot stress enough how much I love dogs. Their unquestioning friendship and loyalty is never in dispute even by the most insane animal-hater. Their ability to protect and defend at sacrifice of their life is the stuff of folklore. Children who grow-up with a pet dog are happier, healthier, and likely to live longer, avoid substance abuse, and form relationships that are MUCH less likely to result in abuse.

God has given us many wonderful things and while medicine and technology are certainly helpful in prolonging our lives, I truly believe that dogs -- DOGS -- wonderful dogs are simply the best friends and companions that any human could ever form an alliance with.


Over at tarazet
What is Kerry/Edwards purpose

in going after the personal life of a political opponents child? Hugh Hewitt offers the usual explanation and in so doing gets caught up in background spin:
As most of the stories admit somewhere along the line, this was a malicious attempt to hurt Bush-Cheney with fundamentalist Christians.
The background spin is that "homophobia" is a problem only found among conservative white evangelicals. The democratic voter base suffers no such moral failing. If you believe that, check this out:
While both communities exist outside the mainstream of American society, relations between the two groups have often been chilly, adversarial, and sometimes hostile. Blacks often see the gay community as a group of privileged white men, immoral, sinful and racist. Gay people, on the other hand, say the black community can be intolerant, homophobic and demagogic. The Horizon Foundation, an organization dedicated to gay and lesbian advocacy, recently conducted a survey titled "Talking about Homosexuality," which found that among various racial and ethnic groups, blacks have the lowest level of tolerance and acceptance of gays and lesbians. When the survey asked if acceptance of gays and lesbians was a good thing, 36 percent of blacks said "yes," compared to 26 percent who said "no." Among Hispanics, 41 percent said "yes," while 14 percent said "no," and among whites the figures were 42 percent "yes" and 23 percent "no."

How low will they go

Anything to get elected

WASHINGTON -- After the second presidential debate, in which John Kerry used the word ``plan" 24 times, I said on television that Kerry has a plan for everything except curing psoriasis. I should have known there is no parodying Kerry's pandering. It turned out days later that the Kerry campaign has a plan -- nay, a promise -- to cure paralysis. What is the plan? Vote for Kerry.

I'm not making this up. I couldn't. This is John Edwards on Monday at a rally in Newton, Iowa: ``If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.''

In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery. Hope is good. False hope is bad. Deliberately raising for personal gain false hope in the catastrophically afflicted is despicable.

Charles Krauthammer-RTWT

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Today's must read

Tragically hip by Dawn Eden.
Protecting our rights or preserving their privileges?

Jeff Jarvis has a long, over-wrought piece trying to rally bloggers to the defense of The New York Times and Judith Miller. He is one hundred per cent behind the Times's logic that protecting sources is vital to the First Amendment

Quoth the Times as quoted by Jarvis:
The press simply cannot perform its intended role if its sources of information - particularly information about the government - are cut off. Yes, the press is far from perfect. We are human and make mistakes. But, the authors of our Constitution and its First Amendment understood all of that and for good reason prescribed that journalists should function as a "fourth estate." As Justice Potter Stewart put it, the primary purpose of the constitutional guarantee of a free press was "to create a fourth institution outside the government as an additional check on the three official branches."
I think that is flat wrong for reasons outlined in this post:

On leaks, bias and truth

As for our rights as citizens being protected by the press, that, too, is problematic. The Bill of Rights is more than just freedom of the press. When it comes to the right to a fair trial, the press often helps the government taint the jury pool and deny defendants the presumption of innocence. See this:

Perp Walk

That is true even in the case at hand. Joe Wilson's partisans (including people at the Times) have pointed the finger at Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and others in this administration. That taint clings to them. Judith Miller and other reporters have information that can identify the party responsible for the leak and can clarify the circumstances surrounding the release of the information. In so doing, they may also clear innocent parties who have been smeared.

Jarvis does not even mention this aspect of the case. As an old MSM guy, he sees only the interests of his buddies.

UPDATE: This post from last week by Beldar Blog is too good to miss:
The NYT's Judith Miller, Jack Shafer's "impossible mynx," is no true martyr

Off to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.
The Real Reagan Legacy

Paul Greenburg takes on Kerry's attempt to cloak himself in the mantle of Reagan:

But at the time, he was saying that the "biggest defense buildup since World War II has not given us a better defense," and arguing that Ronald Reagan "has mortgaged our future in order to pay for a bloated military budget."

That was just a few years before the military buildup he'd decried led to the implosion of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War -- and of the nuclear arms race with it. And now John Kerry presents himself as another Ronald Reagan
.
Sort of on topic:

The American Spectator (July/August 2004) had a column that reminded us that everything was not sweetness and light as RR set out to win the Cold War. This was the way the smart people reacted to his evil empire speech:

Back in D.C., Washington Post doyenne Mary McGrory called the performance "a marvelous parody of a revivalist minister, flaying those laggards who refuse to join his crusade against the nuclear freeze and the 'evil empire' of the Soviet Union." Post peacenik Colman McCarthy called it "a return to a 1981 outburst that the Soviets are liars and cheats. Both preachments lower [Reagan's] thinking to the level of Ayatollah Khomeini..." Historian Henry Steele Commager, already long in the tooth, declared that this was "the worst presidential speech in history, and I've read them all." A news story quoted former Carter speechwriter Hendrik Hertzberg as saying, "Something like the speech to the evangelicals is not presidential." Sister publication Newsweek joined the pile on, predicting that the speech would hobble the president's re-election chances.

In Congress, the halls reverberated with Democratic mockery. From the House floor, Rep. Ed Markey summarized Reagan's position thus: "The force of evil is the Soviet Union and they are Darth Vader. We are Luke Skywalker and we are the force of good." Rep. Tom Downey said, "Mr. Speaker, the only thing the President didn't tell us last night was that the evil empire was about to launch the death star against the United States."

And the Speaker, Tip O'Neill, nowadays touted as Reagan's good bipartisan buddy, had his own theological axe to grind. 'The evil," he retorted, "is in the White House at the present time, and that evil is a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations of America, and who likes to ride a horse. He's cold. He's mean. He's got ice water for blood
."

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Sentiment and Cynicism

I have never scoffed at sentiment. Cynicism is ever the outward face of emptiness.

What, after all, is romance? It is the music of those who make the world turn, the people who make things happen. Romance is the story of dreams that could come true and so often do.

Why do men ride the range? Go to sea? Explore the polar icecaps? Why do they ride rockets to unknown worlds? It is because of romance, because of the stories they have read and the stories they have dreamed.

Some have said this is the age of the nonhero, that the day of the hero is gone. That's nonsense. When the hero is gone, man himself will be gone, for the hero is our future, our destiny.



Louis L'Amour, Introduction to Yonderings, 1980
McClellan '64

We are entering the final days of one of the most important national elections in modern American history. Thinking about the significance of this campaign has led me to wonder what political disputes might have been like in the past. I’m wondering if the election of 1864 might have gone something like this:

RTWT at Evangelical Outpost

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Fixing the FBI

The latest Commentary has a review by James Q. Wilson that is packed with good sense on what ails the FBI and why the problem is larger than shuffling boxing on a bureaucratic org chart.
Powers summarizes the lesson of his history: "Any revelation that the Bureau kept any eye on anyone who had not yet committed a crime would be used against it." I would amend this slightly: any revelation that the Bureau was keeping an eye on left-wing groups would be used against it. Very few complaints were to be heard about the FBI’s having thoroughly infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan (at one time, about a fifth of the Klan’s members were Bureau informants), and a major movie was made about the success of an FBI agent in becoming a member of a Mafia organization. But if it penetrated the Weather Underground, or Citizens in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), or the Black Panthers, the Bureau was in trouble.


On that score this old article from NRO is enlightening. Post-9/11 our political leadership is desperately eager to avoid "profiling" Muslims and is watchful of any "violation" of the privacy of the mosques-- even those led by virulent anti-American clerics. Yet, there was an uncanny silence when Clinton, Reno, and their Justice department investigated anti-abortion groups including the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
The FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies have long engaged in a massive surveillance operation of pro-life groups, including the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Christian Coalition, and Concerned Women for America. When FBI officials objected to the use of "intrusive investigative activity" in the "Full Investigation" of these non-violent organizations, higher-ups in the Justice Department overruled them. The data-collection operation, in which four federal agencies participated, is called VAAPCON: Violence Against Abortion Providers Conspiracy. In effect, Reno directed her minions to spend their time writing the unauthorized biography of Cardinal John O'Connor and the Reverend Jerry Falwell — all in the hopes of defusing the violent conspiracy of which they are the masterminds. Judicial Watch, which obtained the VAAPCON files through the freedom of information act, is still waiting on tens of thousands of documents, yet to be released.
This is not the only example of their willingness to investigate religious terrorists in the 1990's. In 1999 the FBI warned police chiefs to be aware of "the potential increase in the number of extremists willing to become martyrs." The extremists they had in mind were not al Qaeda-- but Christians who thought that Y2K would mark the start of the Apocalypse and the coming battle of Armageddon

Wilson also writes:
To all the current talk about changing the culture of the FBI, Powers has a withering reply: "The FBI can no more create its own culture independent of the rest of government and the rest of society than Rhode Island can create its own climate independent of Massachusetts." Whom will agents believe today, an FBI director who tells them what they may investigate, or their memory of senior officials facing jail time for having investigated too aggressively?
This problem goes beyond the FBI and it is not just Monday morning quarterbacking. In 1998 the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence ran an article by Patrick R. Riley titled "The CIA and Its Discontents," (Fall, 1998 issue). In it Riley asked a pregnant question:

Can the CIA have clarity about what it should be doing when the official foreign policy establishment is confused about what it wants?

I wish they had said more

From the 9-11 Commission Report:

Footnote 3.8

These prosecutions also had the unintended consequence of alerting some al Qaeda members to the U.S government’s interest in them. In February 1995, the government filed a confidential court document listing Usama Bin Ladin and scores of other people as possible co-conspirators in the New York City landmarks plot. Ali Mohamed, who was on the list, obtained a copy and faxed it to a close Bin Ladin aide for distribution. Statement of Ali Mohamed in support of change of plea, United States v.Ali Mohamed, No. S(7) 98 Cr. 1023 (S.D. N.Y.), Oct. 20, 2000 (transcript p. 29); Statements of Prosecutor and Judge, United States v. Bin Laden, No. S(7) 98 Cr. 1023 (S.D. N.Y.), Mar. 26, 2001 (transcript pp. 3338–3339); Patrick Fitzgerald interview (Jan. 28, 2004).


Exactly how did an AQ operative get a copy of a "confidential court document"?

Monday, October 11, 2004

A picture is worth a thousand words

A picture and caption is worth 67 hours of yammering on MSNBC/CNN/FNC.
A war to be won

It has been nearly sixty years since the Axis surrendered, yet we are still learning about World War Two. As specialists unearth new documents and offer new interpretations, the existing general histories become inadequate. Still, writing a new one-volume account of the largest war in history must be the most daunting task in the historical profession.

Williamson Murray and Allan Millett did make the attempt and their book is the best general history of WWII we have to date.

The authors incorporate the new scholarship in three critical areas. First, earlier histories did not know the extent of American and British code-breaking operations and their role in the conduct and outcome of the war. Second, Murray and Millet understand the importance of the interaction of doctrine, technology, and innovation that drive the various Revolutions in Military Affairs that now lie at the heart of military policy and history. Finally, they restore the battlefield to the center of military history.

For a couple of decades the 60s generation of historians and their acolytes have treated the war as an "event" that served as the background and "hook" for their trendy examinations and revisionist agitprop. Classes on WWII often spent more time on the Port Chicago incident and the zoot suit riot than on the battle of Midway. Popular accounts, although less critical of the US, tended to celebrate the righteousness of the cause-beating Hitler-and skimmed over the tough decisions and hard fighting that led to the noble victory.

In their introduction Murray and Millett dismiss the Saturday serial thinking that believes right must inevitably overcome might because the righteous must prevail.

"Moral righteousness alone does not win battles. Evil causes do not necessarily carry the seeds of their own destruction. Once engaged, even just wars have to be won-- or lost-- on the battlefield."


The authors, although academics, write with a sharp pen. Not only is the book highly readable, they are not shy about making pointed, critical judgments. MacArthur is paranoid with a "lust for personal publicity" and his "emotional balance was precarious." Adm. Ernest King "made life miserable for everyone around him." They are hard on Omar Bradley and surprisingly positive on Montgomery.

In these latter two cases, their assessments are explicitly tied to the new perspectives of recent scholarship. Bradley's caution in the summer of 1944 has to be seen as the failure of a timid and hide-bound officer now that we know about the tremendous intelligence advantage ULTRA gave the allies. Furthermore, his refusal to incorporate the lessons learned from Pacific operations into Normandy planning cost lives on Omaha Beach, as did his parochial rejection of assistance from the British (especially General Hobart). Conversely, Montgomery was the perfect general for a British army saddled with poor doctrine, poor training, and obsolete equipment.

Murray and Millett also make it clear that the rosy image of the "Good War" as a clean war is not an accurate picture. Toppling the Axis regimes was obviously a good thing. Nevertheless, the allies found themselves working with groups that were unsavory and worse.

There was Stalin, of course: a butcher who dwarfed even Hitler and sent 2 million Soviet citizens to the Gulag in 1941 as the Germans raced to the gates of Moscow. But there were also "resistance leaders" like Lai Tek in Malaysia who betrayed his fighters to the Japanese as he consolidated Communist power with an eye toward the post-war settlement. Nor was liberation entirely a matter of tossed flowers and candy for kids:

"In the wake of liberation, French and Italian partisans-- both rich in dedicated Communists-- murdered as many as 8,000 suspected collaborators, often with Allied troops nearby."


A War to Be Won really belongs in the library of everyone who is interested in military history.

Carnival of the Capitalsts

The CotC starts its second year of rounding up the best of econ and business blogging. Check it out here.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Dismissed, not debated

The curse of ignorant knowingness seeps into the New York Times Book Review. Beldar Blog looks at the review that dismisses Unfit for Command without coming to grips without he facts O'Neill and Co. present.

UPDATE: I think Michelle Malkin gets it right when she says "Honor is a concept that Meadows fails to grasp." That seems to be common failure of journalists covering the SBVT. They are so used to dealing with partisan hacks and professional spinners, they forget that there are other kinds of people outside of Washington.

Friday, October 08, 2004

I'm with Lileks (sort of)

On A. J. Liebling:
I suppose I should blush for not reading him sooner, since he's one of those names journalists throw around to prove that the scribbler's craft can produce true artists. He wrote for the New Yorker in the 30s, 40s and 50s, and was one of those chroniclers of the demi-monde of gyms and bars. Or so the reputation has it. Well, I've been dipping through "Just Enough Liebling," and I don't get it. I just don't.

Terry Teachout says he's riding to AJ's rescue:
Not so, not so! But I can see how he was led astray: Just Enough Liebling, the just-published anthology of Liebling's essays, leaves out much of his best work and includes too much of the other kind. I filed a review for next week's Weekly Standard a couple of days ago, so I don't want to jump the gun on myself, but to Lileks and any other skeptics out there I say: wait until my piece comes out, then make up your minds.

I'll post a link if there's a free one. Otherwise, I'll tell you what I said when the time comes. In the meantime, keep your Lugers holstered.

I really like AJL's writing on boxing. Admittedly, some of their appeal is that they call up a lost world -a world of boxing clubs and boxing bars and a time when championship fights were held in stadiums and arenas. But Liebling knew boxing and his columns have insight as well as atmosphere.

But The Wayward Press just left me cold and the food writing was worse.

This article from Slate gets at the heart of the problem with the press criticisim.
Liebling, of course, made no effort to hide his liberal politics, as biographer Raymond Sokolov writes in Wayward Reporter: The Life of A.J. Liebling, taking reliably liberal positions on unions, capitalism, the press barons, the Red Scare, and defending underdogs and proletarians. Far from daring, he was a conformist, reinforcing the majority culture views of New Yorker readers.

And this

By letting his politics determine his views of the press, he missed the biggest story of his time-the Cold War-and allowed himself to get too close to Alger Hiss to see his deceit.

It seems to me that a press critic who "misses" the biggest story of his time is a terribly flawed critic. He is more like an ankle-biting nit-picker. Instead of improving journalism, he leads it down blind alleys.

Lileks quotes David Remnick in the introduction and in so doing illustrates another red/blue divide:

The introduction, by David Remnick, may have spoiled me for good. "From the start of the American republic," Remnick writes, "the most tantalizing means of indulging a youthful desire for escape and recreation has been the sojourn in Paris."

Maybe, for some. For millions of others, the dream went West-to light out for the territories, to cross the next mountain, to ride a trail behind a herd of longhorns, to find gold in lonely hills, to homestead.

As a fantasy, playing chef and food critic seems an acquired taste. Same thing with sitting with Sartre and de Beauvoir as they scribble and debate at the café table.

See also:
Maybe the Frontier Did Matter

Thursday, October 07, 2004

If you read nothing else today

read this editorial on intelligence reform. It is hard to overstate how important battlefield intelligence dominance is to the American Revolution in Military Affairs now underway. Some of the 9-11 commission proposals could undercut that critical force multiplier.

If you subscribe to the WSJ, Duncan Hunter has an op-ed on the subject.

At stake is more than just a bureaucratic reshuffling exercise inside Washington. The reforms Capitol Hill ultimately endorses could impact how the Department of Defense provides critical, up-to-the-minute intelligence to our troops -- America's sons and daughters -- who are fighting insurgents and terrorists world-wide. Before leaping, Congress must be certain that any bill it passes does not endanger their lives and missions.
Legacy media

Two good posts up at Old Patriot's Pen and JunkYard Blog. Both take a look at Jay Rosen's essay "Political Jihad and the American Blog."

I do have one bone to pick with Rosen. In sucking up to bloggers, he goes to great pains to slap down those conservative who criticize the liberal bias of the MSM.

They want to achieve an historic victory in a very long war between conservatives and the likes of CBS, going back to 1969 and Spiro Agnew, or even further to 1964, when Barry Goldwater met the hostility of Northeastern journalists. (For this background go here.) They want to inflict as much damage as possible on an institution they treat as hostile to Republican Truth, and to the message of the cultural right.

And accuses them of being Orwellian propagandists:
Bloggers "who care about facts and ideas," and there are many of those, should be wary of the Orwellians on their own side, who are themselves engaged in propaganda-- the charge they are most likely to hurl at others.

Way back when the war on bias started (even before 1964) Wm. F. Buckley remarked that when liberals write about conservatives they don't debate them, they diagnose them. Conservatism (as opposed to a love of Stalin or Mao) was a mental illness, not a legitimate set of political/cultural beliefs. That attitude is still far too common although it has been supplemented by the "conservatives are greedy/corrupt" formulation (mental illness having become somewhat trendy, the first charge had lost some of its sting.) Yet Rosen and Satullo want us to ignore this bias as though it is trivial.

They also illustrate how denial fits into the legacy media's survival strategy. If they remain biased long enough they eventually get to throw up their hands and declare "The bias discourse has descended into meaninglessness."

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Aaron Brown and Ambien

CNN struck a deal with Sanofi-Synthelabo to feature the pharmaceutical company's Ambien sleep aid in broadcast and online sponsorships. Ambien will sponsor the 'Morning Papers' segment on "NewsNight with Aaron Brown," and on some nights will be featured in a 10 p.m. to midnight roadblock on CNN.com's homepage.

"This multi-platform integrated sponsorship alliance exemplifies the kind of custom designed initiatives we can develop for smart advertisers like Sanofi-Synthelabo, relying on the breadth of assets across the CNN brand," said Greg D'Alba, chief operating officer of CNN Ad Sales.


I guess there should be high-minded concerns about a news outfit working so closely with an advertiser. Especially a pharmaceutical company that is sure to be in the news in the future.

But thing i'm asking is Why Ambien on Aaron Brown? His audience doesn't need the product.... he puts them to sleep already.
Nothing to see, just move along

The 9/27 Ad Age was the first issue to weigh in on the Rather/forgery scandal. It decided to dismiss the whole matter in a snide little column on page 75:

UNDERSTAND THIS: If the CBS News Bush-National Guard piece was factually inaccurate, there would be screaming from Bush-Cheney '04 on that point out the ying-yanq. It's not. And there isn't. As it stands, we're now-finally!-past marveling about how we're debating electric typewriter functions from 35 years ago. Credit the bloggers for uncovering the screw-up.

We'd whack CBS for not reading the fine print finely enough, but it's so busy fending off the frothing hordes, we will likely not be heard. Now, perhaps, our "friends" at the likes of FreeRepublic.com can get off the off-with-his-head stuff and get back on the important stuff, like cleaning spittle off their computer screens.

Does Rather go? The Buzz is a terrible predictor, and for all we know Rather will have fled to Guam by the time you read this. And we can extrapolate nada in terms of future response from an institution that seems stuck in 1974, judging from CBS's slow, grudgeful trudge of a walk-back, or the now-famous comparison of its' 'layers of checks and balances'' with' 'a guy sitting in his living room in pajamas" courtesy of former CBS exec Jonathan Klein

But forget this docu-drama for a moment and consider, instead, the bigger issue fa the network news-what The Buzz likes to call the France Problem Despite overweening self-regard, no one notices 'em until they infuriate the Western world-or at least the right-wing blogosphere
.
It is hard to come up with a better example of ignorant knowingness. The factual accuracy of the story has been disputed from beginning to end-by TANG officers, by Killian's family, and by bloggers and journalists. All CBS had was the word of a Kerry fundraiser and some forged documents.

It is easy to make fun of the debate around fonts and typewriters. But the real story remains the fact that CBS News put its credibility behind a source and some documents that could not withstand twelve hours of public scrutiny.

One would think that advertisers should worry that the tarnish on CBS might rub off on their commercial messages that appear on the network. Given the high cost of brand building, even a small amount of blowback would be enough to make shifting to other networks and other media prudent.

Ad Age is wholly uninterested in that question. It prefers to slap at conservatives who are outraged at a blatant political dirty-trick masquerading as news. This bears out the point made here that the insular media/advertising world will ignore the crumbling foundations of their revenue model and the problem posed by the rise of new media. The ratings drop will be explained away-the lost viewers are not all that attractive, Republican truck-buyers don't care that Ford funds Mary Mapes's liberal adventures, bloggers don't have influence.

They are determined to test the viability of denial as a survival strategy.