Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
The hostess with the moosest
Over in the Frumistan province of the NR caliphate, our pal David is not happy about the Palin pick. I am - for several reasons.
First, Governor Palin is not merely, as Jay describes her, "all-American", but hyper-American. What other country in the developed world produces beauty queens who hunt caribou and serve up a terrific moose stew? As an immigrant, I'm not saying I came to the United States purely to meet chicks like that, but it was certainly high on my list of priorities. And for the gun-totin' Miss Wasilla then to go on to become Governor while having five kids makes it an even more uniquely American story. Next to her resume, a guy who's done nothing but serve in the phony-baloney job of "community organizer" and write multiple autobiographies looks like just another creepily self-absorbed lifelong member of the full-time political class that infests every advanced democracy.
As for Frum's hysterics--- that's a feature not a bug for this voter.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Obama over the top
Events may prove me wrong. But I believe that in hindsight — even, say, a year from now — the high point of the failed Barack Obama presidential candidacy will be recognized as having occurred a few seconds before he spoke these lines in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention tonight:You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell. But he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives.
What a nasty, vile statement. What a palpable, obvious, and deliberate lie. What a calculated insult, in a speech guaranteed to have been combed over in advance for anything that might generate misunderstandings, in a speech guaranteed to receive more national attention than anything Obama has said to date in his entire life. What a great insight into the shallow, immature thinking and overweening, craven opportunism of this man who's never done anything, never risked anything, never shown an ounce of even political courage (much less physical courage) — but yet would be the Commander in Chief of the United States of America.
Monday, August 25, 2008
How can society continue to receive the benefits of journalism, given the current media environment? Also, which players might provide those benefits, and how?
Probably that solution (or more likely, set of solutions) won't look or work like traditional journalism. It might not be done by "professional journalists" or "news organizations." It may have different values and standards. It might not even be "a business." And yes, the big risk is that society could experience harm during this transition. But society also can participate in finding new solutions.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Second, Dr. Moon provides a wonderful window into the leftist academy with this gem:
"Obviously it got out of control, but to be honest I thought I was in a safe house," Shanahan said. "I thought I was part of a community that handled its problems internally and that recognized the dangers of exposing ourselves - no pun intended - to the rest of the country. It is so difficult as a non-participant to understand what is going on in the debate round." .Translation: Tax-payers and parents are to be treated like mushrooms. They can foot the bills, but they are not supposed to know what happens on campus
We also see how stuck in the past our universities are:
A Fort Hays official described the pony-tailed, bearded Shanahan -- who routinely goes barefoot -- as a "nonconformist" and provocative teacher.Fifty years ago Shanahan would qualify as a nonconformist. Now he is just one of a vast, crude, shaggy herd.
The real mavericks on the contemporary campus are the ROTC students and officers.
Finally, it is worth noting that the good professor seems to have anger management issues that extend beyond his “safe house” of the debate room.
The gratingest generation
If our era could have its own coat of arms, it would be a yak against a background of mush. This must be the golden age of endless and pointless talk.
Every sports events seems to be preceded by all kinds of talk - whether by athletes repeating cliches we have heard a thousand times, announcers making pseudo-profound sociological observations, or fans rambling on incoherently.
Farewell to an American hero
For the better part of 60 years, two old Army pilots who loved each other argued over many a meal and drink as to which of them was the second best pilot in the world.
The two shared the cockpits of old Beaver prop planes and Huey helicopters; they shared rooms in military hooches all over the world; they shared a love of practical and impractical jokes and they shared an undying love of flying and soldiers and the Army.
They also shared membership in a very small and revered fraternity of fewer than 105 men who are entitled to wear around their necks the light blue ribbon and gold pointed star that is the Medal of Honor, America’s highest decoration for heroism above and beyond the call of duty.
since shortly after September 11, 2001, the television networks have refused to show footage of the terrorist attacks or the collapse of the twin towers. They have done this on the ground that the footage would be too upsetting to Americans; therefore they are sparing our sensibilities. What they really mean, I think, is that if Americans could see that footage their anger against the Islamic terrorists would be rekindled and they may be more likely to support aggressive actions to defeat them. They might conclude, for example, that two or three minutes of waterboarding is a small price to pay to avoid such attacks in the future.
So, if we're going to have a debate about when it is necessary to show graphic images of violence so that Americans can be better informed about the consequences of government policies, by all means let's go at it. But let's not pretend that the only time the issue arises is when a newspaper wants to publish photos of dead and dying soldiers for the purpose of turning public opinion against a military conflict.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Plus, he's versatile. You expect the ILB to lead the team in tackles, but last year he was second in sacks. He's also pretty good in coverage.
Now from Ace:
Actually, now that I think about it, it's a bit like a game of Dungeons & Dragons without dice or graph paper. Like a role-playing game, each participant agrees to indulge the others in their shared mutual fantasy; each player agrees "You are a mighty warrior, and I am a rogue, and this kid over here is a wizard." The "game" works to the extent that each participant buys into, and reinforces, the conventions and assumptions of the agreed-upon fantasy world.
The only difference, really, is that they're all playing the same character -- persecuted rebels for truth, hounded at every turn by an Evil Tyranny bent on killing them or shipping them off to the Salt Mines of Outer Tenubiah.
And they get very pissy when someone comes in and disturbs their communal fantasy "political" cosplay, by speaking to them "OOC" (out of character).
Previous post here.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The Caitlin Flanagan piece illustrates how political correctness squeezed out truth when progressives seized control of the education system:
As Avery Island is to Tabasco sauce, so were 1970s Berkeley and San Francisco to white liberal guilt. When I was a fifth-grader in the Berkeley public schools (the first school system in the nation to integrate without a court order), I was taught—as part of a two-year course in Black History—that the word picnic had derived from the days of lynching parties, that it stood for “pick a nigger” and for the basket lunches that white women would pack for their families to eat while they enjoyed the spectacle. I happened to mention this to one of my parents’ academic friends, who sputtered in outrage—the word had originated from the French verb piquer and had nothing to do with American lynching. But it would not have occurred to her, the mother of two children in the schools, to complain about it. Black History, as it was then taught, was perhaps not academically rigorous, but it was understood by those white parents who even knew about it (in those days, middle-class parents did not carefully track their schoolchildren’s education like a rising or falling stock) to be part of some larger enterprise, some settling of an old debt.
The latest Atlantic has an intriguing review essay by Caitlin Flanagan on Patty Hearst:
Maybe it was something in the air or in the water of San Francisco Bay. Plenty of people sympathized with the Symbionese Liberation Army, accepted its absurd intellectual pretensions, and justified its brutal and murderous actions. Flanagan is not one of them and her sharp mind slices through the BS:
The SLA was probably the first band of revolutionaries to marry a commitment to radical feminism with the use of systematic rape as a means of recruitment.That sort of cold-eyed realism was in short supply in 1976. Patricia Hearst had the bad luck to be kidnapped, rescued, and then tried when America was out-of-its-mind crazy.
Had the events happened a few years earlier, the residual common sense of the public would have cut through the illusions that surrounded the SLA. The reality of Hearst's ordeal-a naïve teen-ager kidnapped and brutalized by ex-cons, thugs, and fanatics-would have stopped the prosecution.
A few years after Hearst's conviction, the legal system and juries began to accept the 'battered woman" defense. If ever a woman could claim that she had been battered into submission it was Patty Hearst.
At her trial, the Republican prosecutor made common cause with New Left radicals. Both were intent on minimizing her physical and psychological ordeal. The US Attorney did so in order to undermine her defense. The radicals did so in order to obscure the guilt of their vicious friends.
Like politics, high profile trials make for strange bedfellows.
To give credit where it is due: Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence in 1979; Bill Clinton gave her a pardon when he left office in 2001.
Last season the Packers were 13-4, and they came within an overtime of going to the Super Bowl. How many Green Bay players from that team can you name, other than Favre? His constant media antics had the effect of denying recognition to his teammates. In June, Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported, "There is a substantial faction of younger players who are eager to play with Aaron Rodgers. Favre is at least a decade older than all but six guys on the roster. He dressed in his own locker room. He had minimal social interaction with teammates. Rodgers is one of the guys, and plenty of them are pulling for him." He dressed in his own locker room? In the past few seasons, Favre has been all about Favre, as if his teammates didn't exist. A man who wanted to maximize his own celebrity and income, at the expense of his teammates, would behave in that manner.
Monday, August 18, 2008
So ESPN asks their viewers to pick the best player ever for all 32 NFL teams. Most are unobjectionable. Others are laughable and portray a profound ignorance on the part of the voters/drooling viewers.
For Pittsburgh, they picked Terry Bradshaw instead of Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, or Franco Harris. Probably because they see Bradshaw on TV each Sunday in football season.
Anyone who ever saw those Steelers teams play knows that the only choice is Greene. The Steel Curtain starts with Greene and his freakish talent. Jack Lambert could play middle linebacker as a 225 pound rookie (the first Superbowl year) because Greene played in front of him. Lambert sat out most of the second half of Superbowl IX, yet the Greene-led defense set records for dominance.
Bradshaw was a great big game QB, but he only got to the big games because the defense made the Steelers a perennial playoff contender. Moreover, Bradshaw made quite a few mistakes in those big games. The defense bailed him out many times.
The clincher, to my mind, is that Greene was the acknowledged leader on that team. As Rocky Blier puts it: "If Joe didn't like something, none of us liked it. If Joe says we should do this, we all did it." It was Greene who kept the Bradshaw/Gilliam controversy from becoming a black-white issue in the locker room. Greene's ferocious desire to win helped Chuck Noll change the culture of losing that surrounded the franchise. Joe's influence kept the team together when the WFL started raiding players.
The selection of Joe Greene in 1969 changed the fortunes of the franchise. Other great players followed, but Joe was first then, and he is first-among-almost-equals today.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
A post over at Ad Age sounds the familiar refrain: agencies want to be long-term partners with their clients, not just vendors who can be tossed aside easily:
Creative types love to be iconoclastic and independent. They subscribe to Jay Chiat's idea that they should be "pirates, not the navy." That impulse is antithetical partnering with a client. A marketer building a brand or growing market share wants to work with a disciplined naval squadron not an undependable, easily bored bunch of ragtag buccaneers.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Dimitri K. Simes in an article i noted over two years ago:
What if Russia takes the predictable position that what is good for Kosovo should be good for other unrecognized but de facto independent states such as Nagorno-Karabakh or the transdniester Republic? What of separatist regions like South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which share borders with Russia and where local populations overwhelmingly do not want to be a part of Georgia? In the latter case, the United States would face a series of unpleasant choices. Would the United States, in the name of principle, compel a pro-American Georgian regime to abandon its desire to restore the country's territorial integrity? Or would Washington side with Tbilisi, especially if it decides to use force to recapture these regions? If the latter, the United States could find itself embroiled in a major dispute with Russia that could effectively end cooperation on other matters of vital importance to the United States.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I've long thought that blogs and other web tools had real potenital for project management. This article has a lot of interesting details on how SAP put them to work:
How SAP Seeds Innovation
SAP's collaborative Web sites and discussion forums give its customers ways to learn from SAP business partners as well as from each other
Saturday, August 09, 2008
That's an idea that deserves some attention when we read about a SWAT raid gone bad like the one in Prince Georges county Maryland. According to Wikipedia steroid use is associated with "high levels of aggressiveness, hostility, anxiety and paranoid ideation".
Here's a couple of posts that discuss the use of steroids by police-- especially SWAT team members.
Congress had time to investigate Roger Clemens and the DOJ has spent years chasing Barry Bonds. I'm much more concerned about steroid use by the guys who kick in doors while toting automatic weapons.
The most interesting post i've seen is on Patterico:
DRJ lays out a textbook case of press bias.
I also agree with this one from Power Line:
My last word on the Edwards affair
Piling on public figures after they are brought low by their human frailties is unseemly whatever the political affilation of the offender and whatever the ideological affiliaton of the critic.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Occam's Butterknife always more popular
The unmasking of Bruce E. Ivins as a mad scientist who, with a high degree of likelihood, carried out the 2001 anthrax attacks, most likely singlehandedly, has not proven popular. People want to hear that Bush did it, Saddam Hussein did it, the cigarette-smoking man did it, whatever.
Maybe the FBI is right to conclude that Dr. Bruce Ivins mailed the anthrax letters. OTOH, after Hatfill, Jewel, and the Duke lacrosse team, a certain sketicims seems warranted when looking at law enforcement's claims.
This blog is interesting. It is written by a scientist who works in the field and knew Ivins professionally before he was named a suspect:
I've posted a lot on the Duke lacrosse fiasco. many of those posts have focused on the News and Observer whose reporting did much to launch and prolong the hoax.
One might expect the paper to learn their mistakes. They have not. The latest proof is this bizarre post on perp walks.*
Dan Barkin writes:
There is a good chance that the perp being walked today will never see the inside of a prison cell when all is said and done.
The feds know this, in the back of their minds, which may be one big reason for the handcuffs and the cameras. Because even if the accused win in court, they'll still have to live down the images of being perp walked being seen on CNN by everyone who went to high school with them.
The N&O still hates the presumption of innocence when it comes to politically correct defendants. Just like the "privileged white athletes" in the hoax frame, rich white businessmen can never be truly innocent to the N&O. That makes it OK to ruin their reputation before the trial and after an acquittal.
* I first wrote about perp walks long before the lacrosse case. See here.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
A federal judge denied the motions to dismiss the case against Nancy Grace in the lawsuit stemming from the suicide of Melinda Duckett.
Attorney Jay Paul Deratany Expects to Depose Nancy Grace in Wrongful Death Suit
As for Nancy Grace, she has said publicly that she does not believe the suit has any merit. She believes Melinda Duckett knew where the child was, and what caused her suicide, was guilt.
Although Grace and CNN asked the courts to dismiss the suit, a federal judge recently ruled that it can forward.
“The case is not really about the interview itself,” says Deratany. “It is about the deception used to get her on the show.”
“In the next six months,” Deratany says,”depositions with the show producers will demonstrate that.”
I wonder if CNN will settle now.
Discovery will lead to a host of embarrassing disclosures. Not to mention, there are more than a few ex-employees of the show who have no great love for the La Grace. I have to think that CNN will cough up some money to prevent the airing of all that dirty laundry. They don't want the public to see how Nancy concocts the rancid stew that CNN calls a news program.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
This thread over at Liestoppers is an informative analysis of what we really know. There are some sharp minds at work who honed their skills demolishing the Duke lacrosse hoax.
The lax case is a cautionary tale for journalists. It illustrates how not to cover a criminal investigation. Unfortunately, reporters and pundits are repeating those same errors with Dr. Bruce Ivins. (Hey, that might make a good post some time.
One big mistake the MSM made in Durham was to probe “deeper meanings” before they ascertained “what really happened”. Pundits are now doing this in the anthrax case.
The narrative taking shape runs something like this:
The Bush administration falsely pointed the finger at Iraq after the mailings as part of their irrational drive for war.
There are some big problems with that formulation. Perhaps the gravest error is the implication that the Bush administration ginned up the possible Iraq connection out of whole cloth. The fact is the Clinton administration was worried about Saddam’s anthrax which is why they ordered that all US troops be vaccinated against anthrax back in 1997. (See here.)
When the anthrax letters were sent in October 2001, they seemed to confirm the worst fears of the counter-terrorism community. Those fears were of pre-dated Bush. The Clinton administration had endorsed them and sounded very public warnings.
This article provides a picture of our pre-9/11 thinking:
The Phantom Menace
The anti-terrorism campaign has been led by President Clinton and Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, who warn that terrorists might unleash a doomsday weapon that could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Appearing on ABC's "This Week" in November 1997, Cohen plopped a five-pound bag of sugar on the table and claimed that an equivalent amount of anthrax could kill 300,000 people. Five months later, a team of four experts demonstrated in the Archives of Internal Medicine that it would take more than 100 pounds of anthrax to kill far fewer people.
Doomsday scenarios in the media have been equally sensational. Jessica Stern, a former staffer at the National Security Council, begins her book The Ultimate Terrorists by asking: "What if terrorists exploded a homemade nuclear bomb at the Empire State Building in New York City?" In graphic detail, she describes the devastation that would follow, leaving up to 200,000 people dead. Richard Falkenrath, a terrorism expert at Harvard University and co-author of America's Achilles' Heel, warns that "deadly chemical warfare agents can quite literally be manufactured in a kitchen or basement." Similar warnings have been issued in prestigious journals like Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy.
Suitcase bombs and anthrax-laced water supplies have become staple fare in Hollywood screenplays and best-selling fiction. A bioterrorist took center stage in Mission: Impossible 2, and fictional descriptions of chemical attacks on New York City in Richard Preston's The Cobra Event helped galvanize President Clinton into demanding action on terrorism. In an interview with the New York Times last year, Clinton called the novel "pretty credible to me," adding that he considered a terrorist attack using chemical or biological weapons "a near certainty" in the next few years.
There is an irony in the attacks on the FBI for speculating about an Iraq connection. On one hand, the Bureau was lambasted for “not connecting the dots” pre-9/11. Now they are castigated for investigating if there was a connection between Iraq and a terror attack.
Mark Felt’s conviction for authorizing illegal FBI break-ins is usually treated as an ironic footnote to his role in Watergate. It is glossed over and few reporter or historians are interested in using it to draw any inferences about the personality, character, or motives of the most famous secret source in history.
Amy Goodman did an interview with one of the targets of the FBI harassment who described what Felt’s men did to her:
JENNIFER DOHRN: I was aware of a lot of it. I was certainly aware of being followed a lot. I wasassumed that perhaps my phones were tapped, and I had no idea of the level of extent under which I was being surveilled. I had no idea that break-ins were repeatedly happening into my apartments. I remember when I was pregnant with my first born feeling extremely vulnerable because I was being followed a great deal of the time, and then it was revealed when I received my Freedom of Information Act papers, over 200,000 documents, that there actually had been developed by Felt a plan to kidnap my son after I birthed in hopes of getting my sister to surrender. So, my imagination
AMY GOODMAN: The F.B.I. plans?
JENNIFER DOHRN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: To kidnap your son?
JENNIFER DOHRN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: How did it say that in the documents?
JENNIFER DOHRN: It said that this was a plan that had been developed and ultimately was not implemented.
The operation went way beyond over-zealous police work. G. Gordon Liddy might have had second thoughts about some of Deep Throat’s tactics. Did the fevered, paranoid Nixon White House ever ponder kidnapping a new born infant? No wonder Bon Woodward skipped over the facts in The Secret Man.
That Deep Throat was presented with a pair of panties as a trophy from the illegal operation is another critical bit of information. It suggests that some parts of the Bureau thought and acted like a bunch of thuggish frat boys who reveled in their invulnerability.
If Dohrn is telling the truth, it is hard to picture Felt as a tortured patriot who only broke the rules when his sense of duty allowed him no other choice.
What we do see is the product of Hoover’s FBI: a man who answered to no authority beyond J.E. Hoover himself.
This Time magazine piece gives a good picture of how the FBI stonewalled the investigation into Felt’s operation. The Nixon White House never came close to pulling off this kind of determined and unified cover-up.
Monday, August 04, 2008
One of the great men of our time is dead.
From the Telegraph:
“Gulag Archipelago” was a three-volume denunciation of Stalin’s system and the ideology that powered it. It was a masterpiece of literary endeavour, language and polemic. Once read, it destroyed any argument for accommodation with the Soviet Union beyond that of realpolitik. That was all that remained until Mikhail Gorbachev ended the need for even that by presiding over the country’s collapse.
Achievements like this would be enough for most lives. (And Solzhenitsyn lived one of the greatest lives of the last century: war service, imprisonment and survival in the Gulag, literary renown, expulsion, exile and then an extraordinary return home to a totally different country.)
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Was Ivins the anthrax killer?
Every reporter who covered the US anthrax attacks of 2001 has been over the list of possible suspects in their heads hundreds of times. It would probably be an anthrax scientist who'd worked in US military labs, and before the attacks, there weren't that many. So it was probably someone we'd met.
But I don't know anyone who suspected Bruce Ivins of mailing anthrax spores to US media outlets and senators, killing five people. He committed suicide this week, apparently because he was about to be accused of precisely that.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008
On 1 August 1944 the Polish Home Army launched a uprising in Warsaw against the German occupiers. They had few weapons but possessed an abundance of courage. The time was right: the Red Army was at the gates of Warsaw and Allied armies were advancing against the Germans in France. Wehrmacht officers had nearly killed Hitler on 20 July. It seemed that end of the Nazi state was at hand,
Moscow radio had even broadcast a call to arms to the Poles on 29 July.
In the first days, the uprising had success. The Home Army gained control of central Warsaw. Then they were betrayed by their allies and their allies ally.
The Red Army took no steps to aid the Poles. They even refused to allow British and American planes to use Soviet airfields in airlift and bombing operations. Churchill and Roosevelt had no military options and only a few diplomatic ones. Churchill wanted to put pressure on Stalin but FDR refused. The Warsaw Uprising was a potential embarrassment to a man running for his fourth term. He had already acquiesced to Stalin’s plans for Poland but dared not admit it for fear of losing the votes of Polish-Americans and other Catholics. The Uprising threatened to make Poland an issue in his last campaign.
Many in the West believed the Uprising was hopeless and tragic from the very beginning. The Home Army disagreed. They sent this message to London on 24 August:
Hello.. here is the heart of Poland! Hear Warsaw speaking!
Throw the dirges out of your broadcasts;
Our spirit is strong it will support even you!
We don’t need your applause!
We demand ammunition!!!
They did not get their ammunition but still the Poles fought on. They held out for 63 days-- fighting house to house and hand to hand against tanks and professional soldiers while under continuous bombardment from artillery and the Luftwaffe. Over 200,000 Poles died. It was the equivalent of a 9/11 a day for over two months.
Just before the end, Warsaw radio broadcast a searing message:
This is the stark truth. We were treated worse than Hitler’s satellites, worse than Italy, Rumania, Finland. May God Who is just, pass judgment on the terrible injustice suffered by the Polish nation, and may He punish accordingly all those who are guilty.
Your heroes are the soldiers whose only weapons against tanks, planes, and guns were their revolvers and bottles filled with petrol. Your heroes are the women who tended the wounded and carried messages under fire, who cooked in bombed and ruined cellars to feed children and adults, and who soothed and comforted the dying. Your heroes are the children who went on quietly playing among the smoldering ruins. These are the people of Warsaw.
Immortal is the nation that can muster such universal heroism. For those who have died have conquered, and those who live on will fight on, will conquer and again bear witness that Poland lives when the Poles live.
It is a sad fact that the only party to behave honorably toward the Home Army was the Wehrmacht. After 63 days the Poles were still fighting though they had no hope of success. They agreed to surrender to the regular army on the condition that they be treated as POWs. Those terms were granted and, amazingly, the Germans upheld their end of the bargain.
Previous posts here.
UPDATE: Between naivete and conspiracy-mania lies skeptical realism. That's my mindset as i read this story. Maybe the evidence against Ivins is stronger than the case against Hatfill. But i am troubled by the fact that a dead man cannot mount a vigorous defense. Unless the FBI makes its evidence public, we cannot know if Ivins was the perpetrator or a convenient scapegoat.
The information cited in the news story is skimpy. I don't see the connection between his rule-breaking in the lab and the anthrax mailings. That he lived three and a half hours from the mailbox in Princeton is true of everyone at Fort Detrick (and tens of millions other people).
His suicide may be evidence of guilt. It could also be the act of an innocent man driven to despair by wrongful persecution.
But most of all, i hate it when the first rough draft of history is written by officials who are afraid to put their name behind it.
UPDATE 2: This American Thinker piece is very good on these issues.