Monday, April 30, 2007

The great puzzle

Andrew McCarthy looks at Tenet's attempts at public rehabilitation.

He addresses the canard of the "16 words" and the State of the Union address and concludes.

Shame on the administration for not vigorously defending itself
But this raises a larger question: Why won't they fight?

There have to be at least a dozen cases where lies and half-truths have taken hold and the White House has done little or nothing to set the record straight. I find this puzzling.

This public lethargy as they lose credibility is one of the enigmas of the Bush years.
Hitch the cheap shot artist

Hitchens is usually an astute critic. Even his piece on George Tenet is mostly on the money. One point though, is beneath him:

His ridiculous agency, supposedly committed to "HUMINT" under his leadership, could not even do what John Walker Lindh had done—namely, infiltrate the Taliban and the Bin Laden circle.
The problem was never getting operatives into Afghanistan. I have no doubt that CIA could have positioned dozens of people inside the camps. The deal breaker was getting the information back to Langley and, eventually, getting our people back out.

HUMINT is always a tough nut versus closed societies. OSS and SOE had appalling loses in WWII. The same is true with CIA and MI6 in the Cold War in Eastern Europe. See more here and here and here.
Reade Seligmann writes to the blog hooligans

KC Johnson has it over at his place.

I think that Seligmann illustrates just how reckless and misleading the press coverage of this case was and is. Say what you want about the "lax culture" or the appropriateness of the party, the fact remains that he did not "fit the profile" they drew and in many ways he stands in opposition to it.

An underclassman, he had nothing to do with organizing the party.

Many lacrosse players had run-ins with the law. RS had none.

Many of the lax run-ins with the law occurred before Seligmann arrived at Duke.

He was a good student and good athlete.

He did charity work.

On the afternoon of the party, thousands of college students were getting drunk on Spring Break. Reade Seligmann played golf.

When the lax party started to turn sour, he bailed. He left long before Nikki and Precious. He was not there for the arguments and insults.

He called a cab and went for burgers. He even gave the cabbie a nice tip.

The only reason his name is discussed is because the DPD and DA gave a multiple choice test with no wrong answers.

There are those who still try to find a way to smear his name. It can't be the facts, so it must be the agenda.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Draft weekend

I love the NFL. I'm always interested in who the Steelers pick. But i just can't buy into all the hoopla around the draft itself. Days and weeks of speculation about players whose value in the NFL is still unknown. I just cannot get into it.

Football Outsiders takes a look back on one expert's hits and misses.

I've never understood why bad teams use the first overall pick. One single player is not going to help the Raiders or Texans. Why not trade the pick away and get two or three additional very good or great players.

My theory is that this week marks the point of maximum collective happiness for NFL fans. Right now, we can all dream that our teams will be much better in 2007.
I've never known what to make of Michael Scheuer

A few years ago the Right hated him because he criticized Bush. OTOH he never seemed to fit as a Democratic apologist given his willingness to criticize Clinton.

In the Washington Post he takes on George Tenet and his new memoir.
Tenet Tries to Shift the Blame. Don't Buy It

Bushies won't like it because he considers the Iraq War a terrible mistake. Anti-Bushites will not like it either because he still faults Clinton for failing to go after bin Laden. Tenet really won't like it because Scheuer believes the book is a transparent attempt to cover up his many failures as head of CIA.
Duke lacrosse: The Post grades itself

Not surprisingly, they give themselves a better grade than KC Johnson did. That is easy to do when you just ignore some of the most egregious items your paper cranked out.

Their ombudsman does hit on a key issue:
Overall, coverage of the Duke case suffered from a common journalistic malady: dependence on "the authorities"; in this case, prosecutor Michael B. Nifong, who now faces ethics charges. Journalists almost always depend first on the official explanation, whether of police, prosecutors, government spokesmen, the military or "experts." That is journalism's Achilles heel, whether it involves intelligence on Iraqi weapons or a rape charge in Durham.
That is true as far as it goes, but it ignores the fact that one of the Posts columnists went way beyond that. As recounted here Andrew Cohen forcefully attacked those who tried to challenge the official version and did it in a particularly nasty and dishonest fashion.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Duke lacrosse: Ten days in March

What we know as the Duke Lacrosse case began on on 24 March when the News and Observer ran a front page story on a DNA dragnet that a judge ordered for the lax team

DNA tests ordered for Duke athletes
In the thirteen months that followed that story the narrative has veered from one extreme to another. We went from privileged white males committing atrocities on a poor black student to the complete exoneration of the accused.

The story, however, does not begin with Mike Nifong. Nor does it start at 24 March. It begins in the early hours of 14 March when an uncooperative drunk was taken into custody by the Durham police. When she was hauled to Durham Access, she claimed that she had been raped.

The AG's report makes it clear that the charges were bogus and the accuser was never credible. Some officers in the DPD recognized that. Yet, somehow, the DPD pressed forward. They investigated for 10 days and determined that a crime had been committed. Further, they convinced Nifong's office that the DNA dragnet was necessary to solve this (non-existent) crime.

To date, we have very little information on why the DPD came to this conclusion. Nor do we know who the drivers were for the hoax. Nifong may have been at the controls later, but someone else set this train in motion.

Durham city manager Baker is promising a report on the handling of the case by the DPD.


I'm dubious on the value of that report. Baker, after all, is the man who assured us that the accuser never changed her story.

Duke released the March 14 campus police report Tuesday. That came a day after a study found that Duke administrators were slow to act because their initial internal police report indicated Durham officers had said only misdemeanor charges were likely.

Baker, who spoke with police officials Tuesday about the chain of events, bristled at the implication that city officers did not believe the accuser. He said that the incident was classified as a sexual assault about 30 minutes after the woman arrived at the hospital and that investigators were quickly put on the case.


"Any assertion that the Durham Police Department didn't take this case seriously or indicated that it would blow over is completely contradicted by the facts and our actions," Baker said.

Baker said he has never received any indication that the woman said she was raped by 20 men or that she changed her story.

"I have no idea where that came from," Baker said. "I've had a lot of conversations with the investigators in this case and with officials at Duke, and at no time did anyone indicate the accuser changed her story. If that were true, I'm sure someone would have mentioned it to me
."
Off the top of my head, i can think of a bunch of questions that need answers.

1. Why did the police lie about the Kroger's call? Why did they tell a judge in their applications for warrants that the accuser called 911 to report the rape?

2. Why did the police pretend that they did not know who made the first 911 call? (The one that claimed that a crowd was hurling racial slurs at passing motorists). Very early on DPD knew that the call was made by Kim. Yet they released it to the public and pretended that they did not know who made it.

3, Why did the police use list-servs and CrimeStoppers to solicit information from the public while they neglected to interview the neighbor, Bissey, until he contacted them? What kind of investigation were they running?

4. Why did the DPD tell Baker that the accuser never changed her story?

5. Why does the DPD permit investigators to dispense with notes and rely on their memory alone?

6. Why was the DPD so uninterested in Precious's cell phone?

7. Why did the DPD disregard Sgt. Shelton's assessment of Precious? He was on the scene and events have shown that he was correct. Yet, the DPD ignored him and bought into the hoax.
Duke lacrosse and wrongful conviction

The smug losers in the MSM now chide the supporters of of the exonerated lax players with tales of innocent men who went to prison. Like ABC's moronic Terry Moran, they want to know why we don't discuss those cases.

A better question is why do they only bring up those other cases now that their auto-de-fe was interrupted. They, after all, get paid to cover courts and trials. They are pundits who can write about anything they want. Why didn't they write about the men who were wrongly convicted instead of trying to railroad three innocent college students?

Radley Balko is not of their ilk. He has credibility on this issue. When he calls on the anti-Nifong camp to look at other cases, he deserves a hearing. He is absolutely correct to point out that the actions of Nifong are not unique to Durham.

We need a debate on how we can improve the system. I offered a couple of ideas here. We also need to address the use of "forensic science" by police and prosecutors.

1. Fraud is all too common. No surprise since the people who usually fight fraud are the beneficiaries of this crime.

2. When prosecutors base their case on forensic experts, the defense has to be given the resources to confront them.

3. I'd like to see a blue ribbon panel of scientists examine "forensic science" and how it is used. I'd like to see them address the conceptual issues: what is real science and what is junk science, what should be the qualifications for scientific experts.

I'd also like to see them address procedures. A real scientist can do sloppy research which invalidates his findings. How, then, should a crime lab operate to ensure that their findings are reliable and valid?

By all means, though, let the discussion begin.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Duke lacrosse: "On your marks, get set..."

This should be interesting.

AG to release Duke lacrosse report Friday
Typically, this kind of Friday document dump is a great way to bury a story. In the lax case, however, the real action as been online. That means "Vinnie in the Bronx" is going to have all weekend to chew over everything that ends up on the web. For those who are interested, here's where the action will be:

KC Johnson owns this story like Redford and Hoffman owned Watergate.

LieStoppers will probably weigh in. More importantly, their sidebar is loaded with automatically updated links to other sites that have followed the case.

The LieStoppers forum is the best place to see how the "wisdom of crowds" and "emergent collaboration" work. The collective knowledge of the posters there dwarfs anything the MSM can bring to this case.

Talk Left Forum and Court TV will probably show us the limits of such collaboration. Watch a few trolls and sock puppets do their best to impede the dialogue.

I've been critical of the News and Observer through out this case. It will still be a must read, though, because Joseph Neff is a great reporter.
This does not make a strong case for the value of college degrees

MIT Dean Says She Lied on Resume, Quits

MIT Chancellor Phillip L. Clay said in a telephone interview that another MIT dean had received a phone call questioning Jones's credentials, prompting an inquiry that took several days. It found that Jones had claimed to have degrees from Union College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Albany Medical College, but she had no degrees from any of those schools.
I know lying is bad. So i wont't defend her on that score. But she worked for MIT for 28 years. If those degrees were so important, why did no one notice that she was not up to the job?

If she was up to the job, then don't we have to question the value of those credentials?
NFL: The three-four and moneyball

Nice write-up on the Steelers and their impending switch to the 4-3 defense

Not all linebackers and defensive ends are created equal
Dallas coach Wade Phillips makes an interesting point:

"It's harder to find defensive linemen to play a 4-3 and pay for all of them," new Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said at the NFL meetings last month. "In this day and age, where salary cap is so important, D-linemen are the highest-paid guys. And to get the guys we had in Philadelphia with Reggie White and Jerome Brown and Clyde Simmons, there's no way you could keep those guys [in this day and age]. They didn't keep Reggie anyway.

"I think linebackers, in reality, are a little bit cheaper, and you can find more of them. You can find more guys who are instinctive, who can run. Some in-between guys sometimes are good at outside backer. It seems to fit better as far as the personnel and really the money that you have to spend on guys on defense
."
Given the popularity of the book Moneyball, i'm surprised we don't see more of this type of analysis in the NFL.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

David Halberstam

I guess that speaking no ill of dead thing is out of fashion.

David Halberstam (1934-2007)

Portrait of the prize-winning reporter as an engorged ego.

Shafer thinks that Halberstam's enduring work is his journalism from Vietnam.

I'm not sure those stand up all that well. I posted on him and his compatriots in January. (Here and here and here)

OTOH, i really liked his books. He was a diligent reporter and he collected hundreds of great stories. When he drew a portrait it was painstakingly crafted with a host of little details and a dozen little vignettes. His big serious books were filled with these portraits. Agree or disagree with his conclusions, i found the books to be a joy to read.

I recently finished The Education of a Coach and can recommend it highly. I learned alot about the current NFL and even came to admire the Patriots's coach after reading it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I knew Hitchens would come through

He tackles the media and public reaction to Virginia Tech in Slate. Is there a more bracing writer alive today?

Warning: If you are the sort of person who watches Nancy Grace and fights back tears as she drones on about poor Laci and little Conner, DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK .First, it is a little above your reading level. (OK, a lot above your reading level.) Second, what parts you do understand will just make you mad.

Why do we have these TV-driven sob-fests? The networks put them on because they are easy. “Emotional vampires” some one called the reporters. That is right but only partly right. They feed on the sadness but they are also drawing out the raw emotions for an audience that sits happily transfixed as they wallow in their grief.

Who are these people? And why do they do this?


It was my friend Adolph Reed who first pointed out this tendency to what he called "vicarious identification." At the time of the murder of Lisa Steinberg in New York in 1987, he was struck by the tendency of crowds to show up for funerals of people they didn't know, often throwing teddy bears over the railings and in other ways showing that (as well as needing to get a life) they in some bizarre way seemed to need to get a death.


Let me float an idea here. What if the public grief is not an end, but a means? A cover charge, so to speak, to get in on the big media event. Cry, build an impromptu shrine, drop off a teddy bear, and suddenly you are in some twisted way, part of the story.

Maybe the grief junkies are bizarre little narcissists.

Just a thought. Not a comforting one.

Useful creativity

This book looks like a real winner.







The authors are consultants and their website offers a capsule case study that makes for interesting reading [Dead link; their home page is here.]

Going by my own experience, a great deal of wasted effort could be saved by their methods.

I once worked for a company that wasted nine months and big consultant fees brainstorming and refining new growth strategies. The “consensus” altenative was to enter a huge new (to us) market. The problem was that the market had entrenched competitors and slim margins. (But it was huge!)

A majority of the management team kept gravitating to that alternative as a solution for all our growth challenges. It took eight months to bring the real finance professionals into the loop. Once they crunched the numbers, the idea was dead.

The company wasted two strategic planning cycles because of their dilatory ways. In the first one, the mesmerizing idea of a huge new market kept them from dealing with the root problems in their core markets. The second cycle became a mad scramble to find a way to meet the profit shortfall created when the root problems worsened and the new growth failed to materialize.

MacArthur said that “councils of war breed timidity”. In business, this timidity can hide behind a mask of bold future possibilities. Brainstorming becomes a means to avoid confronting the hard realities of the present.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Duke lacrosse: The News and Observer

Melanie Sill continues to defend the now discredited story that helped ignite the conflagration. (“Dancer gives details of ordeal”) Please understand, she tells us, it was written on deadline. It takes time for the whole truth to come out.

So true, and yet, so sad. It is one of those pointless little rules of the journalism game. Somehow, getting it first is more important than getting it right.

Oddly enough, just a few weeks ago she was defending the N&O by emphasizing how careful they were.

Often, when people thrash around making contradictory arguments they are trying to defend the indefensible.

I offered a partial defense of the N&O here. The initial coverage by the N&O was understandable if unfortunate. What was and is inexcusable is the slow, grudging way that the paper acknowledged the truth.

It took an almost unprecedented pronouncement by the AG--INNOCENT-- before the N&O saw fit to revise their portrait of a shy student who was new to dancing. They mostly ignored the evidence for a year and then weighed in when the issue was no longer in doubt. In the battle for the truth, they acted like REMFs.

They have never explained how their trained reporter and their editors got conned so easily.

This is not a case of all’s well that ends well. The lax team still lives under the suspicion that “something happened”. That suspicion was planted and bloomed because of the early reporting by the N&O.

Unlike Newsweek, the N&O has not tried to explain what happened that night. They are moving on.

Rather, they are moving on and covering up. Their reporting now is focused on DA Nifong. He is the fall guy. While the prosecutor richly deserves his fate, there are other parts of the frame-up that deserve examination.

Mike Nifong did not enter the case until 23 March. Between the party and his entrance, the DPD and DA’s office did a 180 degree turn. Initially, they believed they were dealing with an uncooperative drunk who told contradictory stories. For some reason they later reversed course and pressed forward. They became so convinced that she was telling the truth that they lied in official documents, lied to the public, ran bogus photo line-ups, and asked for DNA tests on all the white members of the team.

Why?

The N&O now tells us that the DPD is refusing to answer any questions about the case. Where is the outrage at this “blue wall of silence”? The N&O could not contain their anger when the lax players did not confess. Yet, now, they are willing to give the police a pass. It is a very odd sort of double-standard. Public servants with arrest power are accorded less scrutiny than college students accused of a crime.

In the early days of the hoax the Durham city manager weighed in and announced that the accuser had never changed her story:

Baker said he has never received any indication that the woman said she was raped by 20 men or that she changed her story.

"I have no idea where that came from," Baker said. "I've had a lot of conversations with the investigators in this case and with officials at Duke, and at no time did anyone indicate the accuser changed her story. If that were true, I'm sure someone would have mentioned it to me."
Now that we know that the accuser almost never told the same story twice, Baker’s comments are more than interesting.

There are only three possibilities:

Baker did not do much investigating.

Baker lied about what he learned

The DPD lied to Baker.

Funny thing. The N&O has been strangely silent on this matter. Why is the most influential newspaper in North Carolina such a lazy watch dog?

Editor Sill arrogantly tells her critics to read what her paper wrote about the lax case. She would be better off if she gave that advice to the people who work for her. The N&O’s reporting is filled with important facts and tantalizing clues that the paper has never pursued.

Furthermore, why isn’t the N&O interested in the actions inside of Nifong’s office? Joseph Neff has documented Nifong’s and Wilson’s attempts to shore up the frame job through witness intimidation, concealing evidence, and violating procedures. What were the assistant DAs doing while this was going on? Why have they been allowed to hide in Nifong’s shawdow?

The N&0 sent 9--NINE--reporters out to document the lax team’s misdemeanors but they watch an out of control DA for a year and only Neff and Jarvis are sent to chase the story?

The lacrosse players are roundly condemned for boorish behavior. The N&O used their pages to document their run-ins with the law, their reputation on campus, and their relations with their neighbors. They were happy to open their op-ed pages to those who loathed everything the team stood for. They are less interested in the seedy and exploitive world of strip clubs and escort services that thrive in and around Durham.

The lacrosse captains have apologized for throwing the party. Duke is actively working to curtail the drinking and partying of their students. What is Durham doing to clean up its seamy underbelly? What is the N&O doing to bring the problem into focus? Why is the N&O not concerned with all the other men who exploit Precious and other women like her?

The N&O will probably keep pretending that they covered themselves with honor on this story. There is as yet no 12 step program to overcome journalistic obtuseness.
Doing justice to the absurd

Andrew Ferguson takes on Katie Couric's double plagiarism.
Putting Words in Her Mouth
The end of the affair

For a long time, i thought The Atlantic was the best magazine in the country. But they keep making changes and few are for the better. Chapomatic is right on the money in his assessment.
Duke lacrosse: John Feinstein jumps on to the sinking ship

I thought that the New York Times had locked up the prize for the most ill-informed, stubbornly stupid, arrogant, and dishonest commentary on the Nifong hoax. John Feinstein, though, has put the Washington Post back into the race with what may be the greatest single performance of the year.

I hope KC Johnson or someone at LieStppers will tackle this stinking mess of lies and innuendo.

UPDATE: KC does discuss just that here. As does Bill Anderson here.
Hack work

In the media train wreck known as the Duke lacrosse case, the real damage was done by pundits who used the case to promote their pet causes. They grabbed a headline, a few unverifiable facts, and leaped upon their hobbyhorses.

This is not an ideological problem; it is a pundit problem. The American Thinker demonstrates this today with a nasty little piece that blames the VT murders on the prolongation of adolescence. See, Cho was not the problem; his behavior was somehow natural:

The astonishing thing is that, with all this barrage of instruction, titillation, and humiliation, only one middle-class boy misses the point, shorts out his social conditioning, and fires up his hard wiring. It's a testament to the effectiveness of our cultural conditioning system, or at least the tolerance of modern young people for rank, unapologetic oppression.
To my lights, this is as bad as anything the Gang of 88 wrote.
Worth remembering

This old article from Slate is interesting in itself. It is especially pertinent now because it underscores just how it wrong intitial reporting can be in complex, breaking stories like the Virginia Tech murders.
At last we know why the Columbine killers did it

Monday, April 23, 2007

Gee, ya' think?

Media Takes Hit in Duke Lacrosse Case, Too
I'm amazed that people get paid to write this drivel. Do journalists really pay good money to read it?

I think this is another example that bolsters AMac's point. This kind of thing makes the most sense if you view it as PR.
What is the true function of a public editor?

The New York Times says he is the "readers' representative". How can that be? Readers have no role in his selection; they have no voice in deciding what issues he tackles. These ombudsmen rarely press the paper hard on issues that inflame some segments of the readership.

They do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time justifying and explaining the newspaper's actions. Calame devotes nearly half of his latest column to the (weak) rationalizations offered by NYT editors for an article that should be an embarrassment to everyone associated with it.

Maybe an ombudsman is just a fig leaf? Maybe his role is to obscure journalistic failures in the hope that readers will not see their full enormity.

Maybe they are supposed to comfort the editors. A few words of soft criticism now and then and the paper never has to worry about what readers are really thinking and saying.

You have to wonder what utility a public editor provides to astute readers. It took Calame eight months to address the Duff Wilson article. More thorough and more accurate assessments of the piece were on the internet in a matter of days.

UPDATE: Commenter AMac nails it over at KC Johnson's blog:
I fail to see why a "Public Editor" should be seen as anything other than a Public Relations employee. They'll sometimes nip the hand that feeds them for a spelling error, but forthright prose about their employers' shortcomings would lead to cold shoulders at the Christmas party, and a career dead-end.
Duke lacrosse: Can the Times be any more fatuous?

The Public Editor of the New York Times examines the paper's coverage of the Duke lacrosse case. Not surprisingly, he manages to praise the Times with faint damns.

LieStoppers has a detailed and devastating analysis here.

Calame's column strikes me as deeply dishonest in many ways. Perhaps the most important one is the way he stacks the deck by evaluating only a single news story. Readers do not read stories in isolation and the Times did not write about Duke only once. By ignoring the totality of the coverage, Calame took away the context of Duff Wilson's embarrassing front page spin job.

David Warsh has written that newspapers compete in "explanations space": "the lofty region where short-term causal explanations of events are forged. " I've argued that in this competition columnists are big guns. Calame treats them as unimportant auxiliaries, which is convenient if your goal is to minimize the errors of the Times.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Rosenhan revisited, again

This news story shows how quickly the police at Virginia Tech shifted gears. Before the second shooting incidenct, they thought they were making progress with their first suspect:

Hilscher's roommate pointed them to the dead student's boyfriend, who had been firing guns at a shooting range recently.

When police caught up with him off campus, he fueled their suspicion by making inconsistent statements about the whereabouts of his guns
.
A perfect illustration of this problem:

According to Samuel Gross, a professor of criminal procedure at Michigan Law School, "there's a point at which an open investigation of who committed a crime becomes instead the prosecution of suspect X. If that happens early on in the case, the chances of making a mistake are very great." In the Atlanta bombing, the shift from an open investigation to the prosecution of a particular suspect does seem to have taken place very early, and the result was certainly a mistake.
See also:

Criminal justice and the Rosenhan Experiment
Could some one point out to Heather Macdonald

that the cops used profiling at Virginia Tech. It failed abysmally.

When the police arrived at the first shooting scene they asked some questions and then raced to an erroneous conclusion.

Did she have a boyfriend? She did? Well, as Nancy Grace will tell you, when a woman is killed it is usually the husband or boyfriend who did it.

Does he own any guns? He does? And a pick-up truck?? This is textbook (at least the Chief Moose textbook).

Off they go to capture the boyfriend.

All they knew for sure was that they had two people shot on campus. But for two hours their attention was focused off-campus.

The profile did that. Not the facts. Not a prudent regard for the safety of the students.

That is the problem with profiles: Even if they are usually right, they are often wrong. Put too much faith in them and you end up with catastrophic blindspots.

We do not know enough yet to determine if the wild goose chase helped the killer accomplish his mission. Maybe he still would have made it from the post office to the engineering building if the police had concentrated on campus. OTOH, we know the police actions did not help stop him at all.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

?? ?? ??

Palo Verde software is breached

Ex-employee used it during trip to Iran, officials say

Federal authorities are accusing a former engineer at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station of illegally taking software codes to Iran and downloading details of control rooms, reactors and designs of the nation's largest nuclear plant
.
Why i'm shocked, shocked to read this

Steelers Notebook: Big Ben, Cowher had problems

Friday, April 20, 2007

Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.

Tom Stoppard
Artist Descending a Staircase (1972)
VT media frenzy: Sowing the wind

Any terrorist pondering an American Beslan has learned two things this week:

1.It is a good way to get publicity.

2. American schools remain easy targets eight years after Columbine

Question for NBC:

If a jihadi sent you a press kit before he killed 30 kids, would you give him a platform and play his video?
Questions for everyone:

1. Is it time to rethink the criticism that the Russians received for their handling of Beslan?

2. Are we going to do anything serious about this vulnerability?
The incomparable Thomas Sowell

A gutless lynch mob

This year, after all the charges have collapsed like a house of cards, the campus lynch mob -- including Duke University president Richard H. Brodhead -- are backpedalling swiftly and washing their hands like Pontius Pilate.

They deny ever saying that the students were guilty. Of course not. They merely acted as if that was a foregone conclusion, while leaving themselves an escape hatch.

It is bad enough to be part of a lynch mob. It is worse to deny that you are part of a lynch mob, while standing there holding the rope in your hands
.
NBC and VT

John Ridley

Why, barely two days after the murders, why when bodies were not yet buried and while victims still fight for their lives, did news outlet after news outlet after news outlet feel it was appropriate to build a public dais from which this mad man could preach?

Jack Dunphy

None of them will ever admit this publicly, of course, but in the safety of their corner offices at Rockefeller Center sit men and women who are privately gleeful at the ratings boost they were given in the form of the box that landed in their mail room Wednesday morning. That the box was sent by a man who had just killed two people and would within the hour kill 30 more, well, that’s unfortunate, but business is business so let’s get this stuff on television.
NBC has provided a real service. They've brought the whole country together. Right and left, black and white, everyone thinks that they were wrong to promote those pictures and tapes.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lessons and preparations

I like this Mark Steyn article.

A culture of passivity
It's a delicate subject. No one wants to blame the victim but if we avoid the subject altogether, we will draw the wrong lessons.

Police trainers have a saying-- in a crisis you do not rise to the occasion, you default to your training.

Right now, we train for passivity. Steyn is right about that.

'Twas not always so.

When Whitman started shooting at U. of T., civilians from all over Austin headed to the campus. They brought their deer rifles and varmint rifles and mil-surplus rifles. They were the militia ready to fight.

They are remembered, now, as typical, gun-toting, Texas yahoos. They deserve better.

For one thing, they showed up. With bullets flying, they showed up.

More importantly, they were effective. Whitman spent 96 minutes shooting from that tower. Most of the casualties happened in the first 20 minutes. After that, he could no longer take careful aim because he was under heavy fire from those gun-toting yahoos. Their suppressive fire also allowed rescuers to recover the wounded and get them to the hospital.

The usual argument against civilian response is that they will inflict more casualties on the innocent due to their lack of training. That did not happen in Austin. There were no friendly fire casualties even though hundreds of rounds were fired at the tower which was occupied by dozens of innocent civilians.

Contrast that with the performance of the New Orleans Police Department when they confronted another sniper in 1972. The NOPD turned away civilian volunteers in their standoff with Mark James Essex. Nonetheless, over a dozen officers were wounded by friendly fire. All of it came from police officers.
The media's vile calculus: If it bleeds, it leads and leads to more blood

I agree with this post over at Ace's joint.

When Charles Whitman went up the tower at the University of Texas., he carried more than just guns and ammunition. He also took along a radio. He listened to the news coverage of te carnage he created. That was important to him.

The latest misfit did not get to watch the media frenzy he triggered. No matter, in his mind he knew that his media kit would get air play. We've been down this road so many times that he knew what was going to happen.

Right now the next sick fuck is watching Brian Williams pimp this killer's press release. Watching and thinking.

As the Columbine killers planned their crimes they speculated about who would do the movie about it.

Notoriety matters to these creeps. Brian Williams just proved that anyone can get their message on TV if they are willing to write it in the blood of innocents.

How is that not more offensive than Imus?

UPDATE: Roger Kimball:
Whenever anything really bad happens, you can be sure that "the media" will instantly become more emetic than ever, bombarding you round-the-clock with pseudo stories that endlessly repeat the some two-and-one-half facts and skein of groundless conjecture they first broadcast 36 hours ago. The banner "New Developments" regularly flits across the bottom of the television screen, but there are almost never any new developments, only those nauseating talking heads emanating concern and sincerity while milking the story of every last drop of sentimental indulgence.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Duke lacrosse: Dogs that didn't bark and dogs that didn't hunt

The N&O is counting on Joseph Neff's reporting to restore their honor. Unfortunately, his great work just shows how bad most of the N&O's journalism was.

Neff's latest installment puts the spotlight on the DA's "investigator" Linwood Wilson. Throughout the hoax, Wilson worked hard to prop up a failing case by pressuring witnesses.

What was the N&O doing while this was going on?

Covering for Wilson and mocking those who called attention to his methods.

Here's another place where the N&O dropped the ball. The story on the DNA dragnet contained this line:

The victim went to the Kroger grocery store on Hillsborough Road and called police at 1:22 a.m. March 14, the warrant says.
Within a few weeks we knew that this was a lie. Yet, the N&O has been uninterested in this intriguing thread.

One thing is certain. This part of the frame-up cannot be laid at Nifong's door. He did not start commenting on the case until 27 March. According to Neff's reporting, he did not know about the warrant until it had been written. Others in the DPD and DA's office put the train in motion.

So far, the N&O has not told us anything about them.
Duke lacrosse: Melanie Sill's revisionist history

The News and Observer wants to be graded on a curve. Yeah, they say, we made out mistakes, but we did better than most media. There's a ringing vision statement to hang in the newsroom:
We don't suck as bad as the other guys.
There is no denying that Joseph Neff has done great reporting. His current series on the collapse of the case is just outstanding.

As Jon Ham points out, great reporting does not erase bad reporting, and the N&O did a lot of bad reporting early in the case.

In a recent blog post, Sill defends her paper by asserting that journalists have to verify while bloggers can traffic in rumors. She gives no examples of the rumors or the blogs that ran with them. That seems like a big omission when you are touting your love of facts and your distaste for the internet's culture of assertion and opinion.

An even bigger problem is that she mischaracterizes her paper's biggest mistakes. It is not that the N&O was slow to at reporting the truth; that is forgivable. Their key failure was that they obstinately defended and promoted falsehood.

This post is a summary of the N&O's performance. It is hard to square with Ms. Sill's rosy assessment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Point well made

Media rehab and the Duke lacrosse case

Just because the players were exonerated doesn't mean media did well

Much of the media are desperately trying to rehabilitate themselves in the wake of the Duke lacrosse exonerations. This is not unlike the firefighter arsonist who sets a blaze and then arrives on the scene later — after tremendous damage has been done — to fight the fire and gain praise for his bravery
.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Great article on KC Johnson

Midnight blogger exposes a scandal
KC's work on the Duke lacrosse case should end the "opinionated guys in pajamas" argument once and for all. He went head to head with the New York Times on the story. A lone blogger ran circles around our national paper of record. I wonder how many members of the MSM will take the lesson to heart.

OTOH, i doubt that the real dinosaurs knew what to make of it the first time a pack of small furry critters wiped out their nests.

UPDATE: This quote is important:
"It might be naive on my part, but I think that most professors choose this profession because they like students, and they like to teach students, and they like working with students," Prof. Johnson said.

"And what you saw from the group of 88 was basically a contempt for their own institution's students. If you feel that way about your students, why are you teaching
?"
This is one of the most interesting issues raised by the lacrosse case. The commentary early on revealed a deep divide on the Duke campus. There is a significant section of the faculty and student body that hate what Duke is and what it stands for. On the other side you have the majority of alums and students who love the school.

The administration is forced to placate both sides. That is a difficult task. How do you reconcile those who love Duke with those who seek to destroy it?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Howard Kurtz is a smug little weasel

UPDATES: See end of post

This week on Reliable Sources he devoted nearly the entire program to Don Imus and the fallout. Imagine, the most important media news of the week was a mean remark a DJ made about college athletes.

Since disparaging college athletes is the worst crime in the world, I wonder why Kurtz focused on Imus instead of Nancy Grace? What happened to the Rutgers team was a cake walk compared to what the Duke lacrosse team went through. Nancy Grace was a part of that (KC Johnson lays out her sorry record here.)

I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Grace works for Time Warner just like Kurtz? It must be much easier to attack someone who works for a competitor.

Kurtz actually interviewed Tony Kornheiser about Imus and radio culture. Somehow he forgot to bring up TK's mocking attacks on innocent twelve year olds.

Oh yeah, Kurtz writes for the Washington Post and Kornheiser once worked there as well.

My bad. I plead guilty to having high expectations for a critic who is just another whore. Maybe we need a word for that. How about this? “Precioused”. As in:

In Durham the lax team got Nifonged, but the media was precioused when they launched a jihad on the word of a lying stripper.


UPDATE: Yeah, he really is a weasel. He offers up this gem in the Washington Post:
The three players were not choir boys -- the team had, after all, invited a pair of strippers to a midnight party -- but they hardly deserved the national scorn of being loudly trumpeted as accused rapists.
Two of the player-- Seligmann and Finnerty had nothing to do with hiring the stripper. All they were guilty of was going to a spring break party. Further, both left early (long before the dancers did). Finally, Seligmann is pretty much a choirboy. He had no arrests, good grades, a solid history of charity work, and character witnesses by the truckload.

Howie Kurtz. Weasel. No doubt about it.

UPDATE 2: Jane Hall and Neal Gabler made the same loathsome argument on Fox News Watch this weekend. I thought the job of media critics was to criticize the media, not offer lame excuses for them.

It is telling that this sort of blame the victim spin was reserved for only the lax players. No one noted this Phil Mushnick observation (made before Imus's remarks) when slobbering over the Rutgers basketball team:


ITEM: The ugliest win in NCAA tournament history?

Among the big stories from the women's side was Rutgers' upset of Duke on Sunday. With a second left and Rutgers up one, Duke's Lindsey Harding missed two free throws.

But the bigger story, one left mostly closeted, was that RU players, lined up in rebounding position, shouted out to one another - but toward Harding - to try to distract Harding as she was shooting those FTs.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer afterwards said she didn't approve of such conduct. "It's not something I would encourage," she told the Star-Ledger of New Jersey.
Her players, however, perhaps because they were raised on TV and marketing strategies that promoted unsportsmanlike behavior, saw nothing wrong with it. One even called it "normal." Really? When's the next brawl?

But, hey, if fans try to distract the opponents at the foul line, why shouldn't the players, especially those just a few feet from the shooter? Regardless, RU's behavior, Sunday, is not likely to make one of those NCAA image ads.

Nor did anyone raises questions about the maturity of a player who thought she was "scarred for life" by Imus.

Are reporters noting that Gov. Corzine was injured only because he was racing to a photo op with the Rutgers team and Imus? Is he any less of a vicitm because he broke the law and refused to wear a seatbelt?

Of course not. Those points are irrelevant to the main stories. Just as the behavior of some lax players was irrelevant to the main story of a false and malicious persecution of these three players.

Why is that hard for media critics and other pundits to understand?
Is Brian Williams going nuts?

How else to explain this?

You’re going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe,” said Williams. “All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I’m up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years."

Williams compared this to a New Yorker cartoon featuring two dogs sitting in front of a computer and one says to the other: “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.”

"On the Internet, no one knows if you’ve been to Ramadi or you’ve just been to Brooklyn and just have an opinion about Ramadi," said Williams.

Can he really take himself that seriously? Is he really that pompous?

His credentials, after all, begin with looking good on camera, wearing a suit well, and reading off a teleprompter. The most of the rest of his career is just business travel.

Shorter Brian Williams:

I read words into a camera in Ramadi for a few days, RESPECT MY AUTHORITY.

In the wake of Imus, i have to note that 1. "Vinny in the Bronx" sounds like there could some ethnic humor violations going on here, and 2. Williams was a frequent Imus guest.

Finally, isn't the whole bloggers and bathrobes just so, 2004?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Duke lacrosse: Standing to criticize

Tery Moran is not along in his moronic attempt to trash the lax team for their “unsavory behavior”.

To my mind this is just CYA. The MSM was wrong and they just cannot admit their mistake. They were all set for an auto-de-fe and they still want to preach their sermons.

It is BS and it is shameful and it is pathetic.

I admit I may be wrong. Perhaps, some of these cranks and haters really are concerned about the exploitation of women. If so, show us the evidence of that concern. Point to the news story or article or op-ed that forthrightly condemned strip clubs and the men who go there. Show us the alarm over the excesses of Spring Break and the bad messages in music videos.

That should be easy enough.

The other lame excuse I’ve read is that the pendulum has swung too far, that the exonerated players are being praised too highly.

That’s possible. But that excuse is only credible if it comes from someone who wrote something favorable about the lax team last spring. Surely anyone who is actually concerned about “balance” had no problem condemning the rush to judgment when the players were being ripped to shreds on TV and in the NY Times. I’m positive they wrote something in defense of the kid who sent the email. Right?

They should also be on record opposing the Dianification of the Rutgers basketball team, too.

Anyone who was silent then, but is now worried about “perspective” has no standing to redress the balance. They are cruel, smug, stupid, and vile.

For my money, the press conference had one purpose: to help the falsely accused repair the damage to their reputations. Too much? Only when those reputations are restored. That will not happen until morons like Moran stop spreading lies.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Wolfowitz mess

Austin Bray has a perceptive post on the subject.

He makes a very good point about the broader issue of GWB and his administration:
Overweaning arrogance and lack of self reflection are weaknesses of the Wolfowitz-Hadley-Libby-Feith crew. As a group they were well-suited for Beltway political wars — the kind of Beltway congressional and executive agency infighting that Rumsfeld (and Cheney, Libby’s boss) thought they would face in their battle for Pentagon reform and reorganization. 9/11 changed the mission. Instead of a figurative battle in the Beltway’s arena, the civilized world faced a long war with barbarism, a long, bloody war that placed a preimum on strategic clarity, personal courage and perseverance, not the contacts on your Rolodex. After 9/11 the entire lot should have been eased out in favor of experienced, genuine war fighters — real war fighters instead of Beltway Clerks.
See also:
GWB and his MBA
I-gasm: MSM finds bliss in their darkest hour

Is it paranoid to think that the reason the media love the Imus story is that it is so much nicer (to them) than the denouement of the Duke lacrosse case?

Hmmm. Let’s see. One story allows talking heads parade their noble moral sensibility in front of the cameras. The other one highlights their intellectual shortcomings and moral corruption. Which one is filling the airwaves?

I’m disgusted at those people who demanded that Imus apologize and who still want him fired. I’m old school. You don’t demand an apology if you are unwilling to accept it.

I hope Imus gets another radio gig. I really want to hear what he has to say about all the erstwhile friends who threw him under the bus when he was no longer useful to them.

Cowardice and moral preening is such an ugly combination.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Duke lacrosse: Odious

Stuart Taylor:
Nobody but cranks and haters will ever be able to hurl those lies at them again.

Count ABC's Terry Moran as one of the cranks and haters.

Terry Moran's blog post is the most odious thing i've seen today. Sanctimonious, hypocritical and flat wrong.

While he whines that the press does not care about black victims in prison, he does not get to the reason: reporters depend on good relations with the cops and DA. The press does not ignore railroading; it is frequently complicit in it.

We saw it in the lacrosse case. It was true in ritual abuse witch trials. It shows up again and again in the literature of false convictions: lazy reporters let dishonest prosecutors get away with awful things.

And now this reporter wants to bash the lax players for what his professional brethren do?

Moreover, let's remember that the lax team was targeted because they were rich, white, Dukies. That is what gave the story its resonance with journalists. That is why it is was a windfall for Nifong.

Moran's bitterness has nothing to do with the injustice suffered by poor and minority defendants. If he cared about them, he could have used this as one of those "teachable moments" to point to problems and solutions.

No, his vomitous rant is just media CYA. The MSM looks bad. They got conned and they did a terrible job reporting this story. The world knows it. And he is embarrassed. So he takes it out on three young men who do not deserve it.

UPDATE: Ace agrees and he is just on fire.
Imus

I like this analysis. There are parallels with Trent Lott. Where the two affairs diverge is to Imus’s detriment. Lott was only trying to say nice things about an old man who was at death’s door. The slurs on the Rutgers players were mean-spirited and gratuitous.

This is not an isolated incident with Imus and Co. That raises the question of why the media and political elite were so eager to appear on his show for so many years.

Maybe some of them should be asked that question. It might make for interesting reading if their responses today are compared to their statements about Trent Lott.

One thing is for sure, the two controversies show that brazenness pays. Lott and Imus apologized which only increased the demand for more apologies. Al Sharpton never apologizes and now the media treats him as a moral arbiter.

Sharpton’s rise is a sign of our degraded public culture. I do not see the problem as only political; economics also plays a role. Conservative Sean Hannity promotes Sharpton as much as any liberal. Hannity may disagree with Sharpton but he is willing to give him a platform because it makes for “good television.”

Imus used to be edgy. Now he is a bigot. I think that it is easy enough to parse those definitions:
Edgy-- insults people I do not like
Bigot-- insults me or people I do like.

CNN, Fox, and ESPN have devoted truckloads of time to denouncing Imus. It is a two-fer for them. They get to flaunt their moral superiority and tear down a competitive network. Their hypocrisy is just more evidence that brazenness wins.

CNN provides a home for Nancy Grace while Fox is always willing to give Wendy Murphy camera time. In the Duke lacrosse case both women were happy to traffic in rumor, slander, and character assassination. ESPN is the TV home of Selena Roberts , John Saunders, Steven A. Smith, and William Rhoden whose comments on the case were venomous, obtuse, and nearly fact-free.

ESPN also has its own Imus in Tony Kornheiser. One of the running gags on PTI and his radio show is his disdain for the contestants in the National Spelling Bee. He refers to them as “twitching little freaks.” This is mean-spirited and gratuitous and every bit as bad as Imus’s crack about Rutgers. While it lacks the racial element that sends a frisson through the MSM, it has an extra loathsomeness because it is directed at kids who are twelve and thirteen years old.

Imus has been suspended and fired. ESPN is building its brand around Kornheiser. Maybe someone should ask the suits at Bristol about that.

I don’t expect that to happen. The “Imus Scandal” is just an opportunity for a bunch of hacks to preen in front of the cameras. It makes for cheap television and cheaper self-satisfaction.

Tom Wolfe, who really is a prophet for our age:

From the outset the eminence of this new creature, the intellectual, who was to play such a tremendous role in the history of the twentieth century, was inseperable from his necessary indignation. It was his indignation that elevated him to a plateau of moral superiority. Once up there, he was in a position to look down on the rest of humanity. And it did not cost him any effort, intellectual or otherwise. As Marshall McLuhan would put it years later: 'Moral indignation is a technique used to endow the idiot with dignity.
Duke lacrosse: Kurtz does not spare the media

Media Miscarriage

As long as we're talking about how the Rutgers women were unfairly disparaged as "ho's," consider the nightmare that the three Duke lacrosse players have lived through.

But in all the coverage you read and see about the clearing of these young men, very little of it will be devoted to the media's role in ruining their lives. I didn't hear a single television analyst mention it yesterday, even though two of the players' lawyers took shots at the press
.
He's right that the media will absolve itself. They've been using the Emily Litella defense for months.

Here's one thing the media should do. Through out this case some reporters were fed information by the DA's office and the police. It is time to reveal those sources and the lies they told.

This is not a case of anonymous whistle-blowers helping to uncover governmental wrong-doing. The secret leaks were part of a frame-up. By protecting them, the reporters are accessories in a miscarriage of justice.

Time to let the sunshine in. Tell us who lied. Show us how deep the corruption spread in Durham.

Kurtz makes another good point:

By the way, Drudge and other Web sites are running the accuser's name and picture. I'm not sure how I feel about this, since she is now a certified liar who put three innocent men and their families through hell, but it still feels cheesy.
I share his misgivings. I've never liked naming the accuser. Then again, i don't like televised perp walks either so i'm entering a plea of "i think i'm consistent." I don't think cable news can do the same. For months they have run the pictures of the lax players getting out of those police cars in handcuffs. They cannot plead that their delicate sensibilities are offended by the picture on Drudge.

One last thing. It is a good time to remember that Al Sharpton and his rent-a-mob had no problem harrassing the victim in the Central Park Jogger case:

Outside the courthouse, they chanted, “The boyfriend did it! The boyfriend did it!” They denounced the victim as “Whore!” They screamed her name, over and over (because most publications refused to print it, though several black-owned ones did). Sharpton brought Tawana Brawley to the trial one day, to show her, he said, the difference between white justice and black justice. He arranged for her to meet the jogger’s attackers, whom she greeted with comradely warmth. In another of his publicity stunts, he appealed for a psychiatrist to examine the victim. “It doesn’t even have to be a black psychiatrist,” he said, generously. He added: “We’re not endorsing the damage to the girl — if there was this damage.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Duke lacrosse: Vindication

Total and complete vindication. It took a year but the truth has finally caught up with the lies.

KC Johnson's book is going to make very interesting reading now that the charges have been dropped.

AG Cooper has restored a measure of honor to his state.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sports: Miscellaneous thoughts in search of a theme


Death came for Grambling’s Eddie Robinson right when the coaching carousel was in full swing for college basketball. Very few of those who praised him noted how different he was from the men they cover today.

It is easy to criticize modern players for their bad discipline and self-centeredness. (I know because I’ve done it on this blog.) Let’s recognize that their college coaches help teach those lessons.

The prevailing ethos among big-time college coaches is take the money and run. Most of those coaches still preach the value of discipline, team play, character, and self-sacrifice. As they do so, the larger message they send is “do as I say, not as I do.” All too many coaches who exhort young players to sacrifice for the team are willing to abandon those players and that team for a chance at a bigger payday.

Many of Robinson’s former players spoke about the big role he played in their lives. The sentiments were identical to those I heard after Woody Hayes passed. Both coaches kept a heavy hand on their players and the players came to love them for it.

A coach can only pull that off if their loyalty to the team and to school are absolute. In the case of Hayes and Robinson it was and it worked. When a modern coach applies the same tactics it is just exploitive and tyrannical.

Ricky Williams was roundly (and rightly) criticized for quitting on the Dolphins and letting down his teammates. Nick Saban quit on the Dolphins and did not receive the same level of criticism. It was, apparently, justified by the big pay check. How is it that we have adopted the ethics of whoredom“I did it for the money”?

In his masterful The Face of Battle, John Keegan reflects on the reasons for the British victory at Waterloo. The crux of the battle was simple enough. Napoleon had to break the British line somewhere and was unable to do so. As Keegan puts it:

The British still stood on the line Wellington had marked out for them, planted by the hold officers had over themselves and so over their men. Honour, in a very peculiar sense, had triumphed.
Eddie Robinson’s achievements had the same source as Wellington’s victory. At Grambling, as at Waterloo, honor and selflessness made everything else possible.
What's so bad about good manners?

Tim O'Reilly suggests a blogger code of conduct. Frankly, i think all of his suggestions make sense.

I am unmoved by the argument that bloggers or message boards cannot control their commenters or should not be (morally) responsible for what the commenters say. The blogger provides the habitat and they can (should) control it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A selection of Chesterton

From Heretics:

The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us. Thus in all extensive and highly civilized societies groups come into existence founded upon what is called sympathy, and shut out the real world more sharply than the gates of a monastery. There is nothing really narrow about the clan; the thing that is really narrow is the clique....The men of the clique live together because they have the same kind of soul, and their narrowness is a narrowness of spiritual coherence and contentment like that which exists in hell.
=======
Modern man "says he is fleeing from his street because it is dull; he is lying. He is really fleeing from his street because it is a great deal too exciting. It is exciting because it is exacting; it is exacting because it is alive. He can visit Venice because to him the Venetians are only Venetians; the people in his own street are men. He can stare at the Chinese because for him the Chinese are a passive thing to be stared at; he he stares at the old lady in the next garden, she becomes active. he is forced to flee, in short, from the too stimulating society of his equals-- of free men, perverse, personal, deliberately different from himself.
=======
He has to soothe and quiet himself among tigers and vultures, camels and crocodiles. These creatures are indeed very different from himself. But they do not put their shape or colour or custom into a decisive competition with his own. They do not seek to destroy his principles and assert their own; the stranger monsters of the suburban street do seek to do this....The vulture will not roar with laughter because a man does not fly; but the major at No. 9 will roar with laughter because a man does not smoke.
===============
Of course, this shrinking from the brutal vivacity and brutal variety of common men is a perfectly reasonable thing as long as it does not pretend to any point of of superiority. It is when it calls itself aristocracy or aestheticism or a superiority to the bourgeoisie that its inherenct weakness has in justice to be pointed out. Fastidiousness is the most pardonable of of vices; but it is the most unpardonable of virtues. Nietzsche, who represents most prominently this pretentious claim of the fastidious, has a description somewhere-- a very powerful description in a purely literary sense-- of the disgust and disdain which consume him at the sight of the common people with their common faces, common voices, and their common minds. As I have said, this attitude is almost beautiful if we may regard it as pathetic. Nietzsche's aristocracy has about it all the sacredness that belongs to the weak. When he makes us feel that he cannot endure the innumerable faces, the incessant voices, the overpowering omnipresence which belongs to the mob, he will have the sympathy of anybody who has ever been sick on a steamer or tired in a crowded omnibus. Every man has hated mankind when he was less than a man. Every man has had humanity in his eyes like a blinding fog, humanity in his nostrils like a suffocating smell. But when Nietzsche has the incredible lack of humour and lack of imagination to ask us to believe that his aristocracy is an aristocracy of strong muscles or an aristocracy of strong wills, it is necessary to point out the truth. It is an aristocracy of weak nerves.
Crimsonism

Julie Neidlinger has a good analysis of the follies that blue-staters commit when the become sociological tourists out here in the hinterlands.

I've had misgivings about this sort of thing ever since David Brooks wrote his famous piece in the Atlantic. The "reporters" approach us as The Other. They spend only a little time here so their reporting is superficial and they never get beyond the shallow prejudices they brought with them.

In short, they do to their fellow citizens what Edward Said accused Western scholars of doing to Islamic cultures in Orientalism.

The funny thing is, i bet many of the editors who publish this kind of story accept Said's analysis.
In the MSM, this creates all sort of double standards. They will defend the right of Muslim women to wear a veil, but they are suspicious of Christian churches where the women always wear dresses. The Muslim woman chooses her veil, but the Christian woman is forbidden to wear pants.

A mass shooting by a Muslim immigrant is instantly portrayed as the isolated act of a disturbed individual. In no way can Muslim culture be blamed. On the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable to opine about the "gun culture" of a rural area where a white, non-Muslim shoots down innocent people.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I wish i had found this before

Here's an old article from Time that revisits the injustice done to Richard Jewell after the Atlanta Olympic bombing.

This quote does a better job than i did when i tried to bring the Rosenhan experiment into the discussion of criminal investigation:
According to Samuel Gross, a professor of criminal procedure at Michigan Law School, "there's a point at which an open investigation of who committed a crime becomes instead the prosecution of suspect X. If that happens early on in the case, the chances of making a mistake are very great." In the Atlanta bombing, the shift from an open investigation to the prosecution of a particular suspect does seem to have taken place very early, and the result was certainly a mistake.
Here we see the lack of ethics and self-awareness that plague big time reporters. They describe what Jewell went through and then make excuses:
If not despicable then perhaps excessive but also understandable. The Centennial Park bomb came only 10 days after the explosion of TWA Flight 800. Nobody knew whether it marked the beginning of a reign of domestic terror. The FBI was under tremendous pressure to solve the case almost instantaneously so that the Olympic Games' athletes and visitors would not be crippled by fear. But it is common knowledge in law enforcement that "the bigger the case, the lower the standard [of conduct]," says Tierney. "The pressure on the police, on prosecutors is overwhelming."
SO they make excuses for bad police work. The interesting thing (to me) is how they blame the media for it but do not accept or recognize their guilt.

If big stories cause bad police work, and the media makes a story big, then the media fosters bad police work. What are they doing to change this? I think that this question is especially relevant now because the media (especially cable TV) are on a constant search for crime stories that they can turn into programming extravaganzas.
Jack Shafer defends the indefensible

In Defense of the Anna Nicole Feeding Frenzy
i don't deny that there are newsworthy elements to the whole saga. But that is not what cable is doing. They are stretching out the small amount of news to fill hours of primetime. It is cheap filler that completely distorts what is happening in the world. ANS is hardly the most important story in the world, yet that is what cable covers.

See also:
Cable news, vox populi, and professional sleaze

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Balkan echoes in Salt Lake City

More Bosnian Lies from Utah

Utah Shootings: Yet Another Case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome, After All

I'm not sure why the authorities treat jihad and mental illness as mutually exclusive. Do they really believe that someone with mental illness would be rejected as a suicide bomber recruit? Seems to me, they would make the BEST recruit: they could be manipulated more easily and they have already crossed a long way to the idea of suicide
Ben Stein is a must read

Terror in Our Midst

On September 11, 2001, about 3,000 fine human beings were killed in New York City, Virginia, and Pennsylvania by Moslem fanatics. So far, there have been no other large-scale attacks by Moslem terrorists on American soil.

However, in the five and a half years since September 11, 2001, there have been roughly 40,000 killings by gangs and gang members in this United States of America, mostly in the African-American and Hispanic sections of large cities. Huge swaths of major American cities, especially my home city of Los Angeles, are "no-go" zones for law-abiding people from outside the neighborhoods and even police go into them reluctantly. The innocent women, children, old folks and non-gansgsta men in the communities are living in a nonstop reign of terror
.
I wish someone had the answer to his questions. Maybe if more people dared ask the questions, we could find a solution.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Heather MacDonald: Simply mistaken or just plain evil?

I used to lean toward mistaken. But after reading her latest article i can't rule out evil. It seems to me that she is playing with racism in order to justify police state tactics.

Busy now, but i will write more later.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Popular Mechanics and Rosie O’Donnell

It's sad that they have to rebut irresponsible charges made by an ignorant, unfunny comedienne.
Small movies

Thinking about the previous post. Would Hollywood dare make a movie like that today? Big name stars, no car chases or explosions. Most of the action inside a drab, small room?

OK, i don't see enough movies so i'm sure that there are three hundred indy films a year that are supposed to fill that niche. But how many are left if we exclude gay cowboys eating pudding?