Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Knowability Paradox

First posted Wednesday, July 07, 2004

In the 6-21-04 Ad Age, Randall Rothenberg identified the Achilles heel of our large media companies:

Our entire media-spindustrial infrastructure is undergirded by what I called the "Knowability Paradox." The less we know about how advertising and the media works, the more advertising and media there are.

The closer we come to being able to measure not only the real size but the exact composition of the audience, the more we subvert mass media owners's ability to persuade marketers that black, if not white, is at least very gray.

The lack of good information, coupled with inertia, ensures that money keeps flowing to CNN, Newsweek, and the New York Times.

The media business model rests on the foundation of customer ignorance. It is dangerously unstable because it frequently places media companies at odds with their customers (the big advertisers). The customers want more and better information; media companies fear that better information will hurt advertising revenue.

Brave men indeed

Two of the most fearless men on the internet:

Steve Sailer on Ricci and its meaaning:

In practice, "Disparate Impact" turns out to be just a fancy name for the kind of 19th Century corruption that Civil Service testing was instituted to abolish in the first place.
R. S. McCain on role models:

That there are in contemporary America successful female "role models" who are single and childless (e.g., Oprah) is testimony to how far we are from being a traditional society. Yet it is still the fact that the overwhelming majority of young women, imagining their futures, do not dream of reaching midlife as barren spinsters.

Understanding Honduras

From Sense of Events:

The role of the Honduran military

A short note here about the role of Honduras' military in the removal from office and exile to Costa Rica of President Mel Zelaya. I am dismayed at the reaction of the White House and Foggy Bottom - that they would be so quick to condemn the defense of democracy in Honduras by its military and so slow to attack the destruction of democracy in Iran by its paramilitary can only be indicative of a shallowness of understanding of foreign affairs by the administration.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Justice is served

Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years for Ponzi Scheme

A federal judge sentenced Bernard L. Madoff to 150 years in prison on Monday for operating a huge Ponzi scheme that devastated thousands of people, calling his crimes “extraordinarily evil.”

How we live now

From Powerline:

[Andrew] Young's book contract exemplifies one of the basic rules of life in Washington, D.C., as in Hollywood and similar precincts. Young was absurdly loyal to [John] Edwards--even claiming, falsely, to have fathered [Rielle ] Hunter's baby--as long as he thought Edwards was in the big time and could do something for him. Once it all unraveled and Edwards' career crashed, everything was different. The formerly loyal Young now will write an expose about his relationship with Edwards. It is, I guess, the last service Edwards can do for him.

Sheila Bair: Our modern Cassandra

The New Yorker has an interesting article on the head of the FCIC.

Sheila Bair and the White House financial debate



It says something disturbing about the culture in Washington. Here we have a woman who tried to prevent the Enron disaster (in 1993!) and who raised red flags about the subprime market in March of 2007.

Yet, she now finds herself on the outside as we toy with regulatory reform in financial services.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ahh, what the heck

Might as well make it all McCain all the time.

Championship Season

When he was 16, Bill McCain told his mother, “You won’t ever have to worry about me again.” He left the family farm in rural Randolph County, Alabama, and moved 40 miles away to West Point, Georgia, where he went to work on the night shift in a cotton mill.

You’ve heard of people who worked their way through college? My father worked his way through high school
.


Fathers, football, winning and losing. Where else are you going to find that on a Friday afternoon?

Who is Eleanor Acheson?

On Monday, i did not even know that this was an important question.

Then R. S. McCain went to work. Now, i see that this is a question that every tax payer needs to ask.

IG-gate: Asking the right questions

Amtrak IG Probe: Who Is Eleanor Acheson?


McCain is turning into both the Woodstein and Ben Bradlee on this story. Not only is he doing the shoe leather digging, his website is the go to aggregator of all things IG-gate.

IG-Gate: It's not about Walpin

Is a delayed recovery a feature or a bug for the Obama administration?

As long as they can blame Bush and the Republicans for the bad times, they look better by comparison.

It is also easier to push forward an ambitious program when your opposition labors under the weight of causing a depression.

Not everyone lost money with Bernie Madoff

Madoff's Winners

Madoff’s amazing Ponzi scheme had winners as well as losers, as is now clear from recent court filings by the bankruptcy trustee, Irving Picard, and the SEC. While some 4,900 hapless investors, including retirees, family trusts, and charities lost their nest egg, a small group of a dozen or so financiers, all well versed in the arcana of investing other people’s money, made huge fortunes from Madoff’s notional book-keeping. The reason they could profit from this shell game, as the Trustee explains in documents filed in U.S. bankruptcy court, was that "The money received from investors was not set aside to buy securities as purported, but instead was primarily used to make the distributions to – or payments on behalf of – other investors." So people who redeemed the imaginary profits in their account got the actual funds put in by the new investors. According to a lawyer involved in the bankruptcy case, the redemptions in excess of investments, as calculated by the Trustee, amount to over $10 billion. If so, the major redeemers took home many billions of dollars. As it turns out, almost all of fortunate redeemers turn out to be close business associates of Madoff who had been involved in his money game for two decades.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Most dangerous neighborhoods in the country

Then list and story are here. The worst of the worst is not in LA, Chicago, or Newark. It is in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hmm. I wonder why Cincinnati, Ohio is plagued with crime ?.

Apparently that initiative did not work so well

Federal indictment targets MS-13, anti-gang activist

Those named in the indictment include Alex Sanchez, a nationally recognized anti-gang leader and executive director of Homies Unidos. Federal authorities accuse him of conspiring to commit murder in May 2006, during the time he was involved in anti-gang outreach efforts, although Flores was not the target. They did not provide details on the murder plot.


UPDATE: Check this post at Patterico's for background on Sanchez and his supporters.

Really bad advice

Ad Age thinks Jay Chiat is the man to emulate for the advertising industry:

It's a Crazy Time, so Let's Get Crazy
Taking Inspiration From Jay Chiat




I think a good case can be made that Jay Chiat is exactly the wrong model for advertising agencies.

The advertising business is buffeted by three forces that are destroying its business model. First, clients are spending less on traditional advertising. This is partly cyclical due to the recession. There is also a long-term trend at work, however, as advertisers evaluate their spending and calculate marketing ROI. In all too many cases, the ROI is small and advertising money is shifted to other purposes.

Second, advertisers are squeezing agencies on fees. Traditionally, Madison Avenue pocketed 15% of advertising spending as a commission. Big advertisers no longer blithely accept this pricing. They have reduced the percentage and, in some cases, gone to fee-for-service pricing.

Hence, agencies are capturing a smaller share of an already shrinking advertising pie.

Finally, there are fewer long-term relations between clients and agencies. The latter must invest more money in new business development in order to replace clients who drop them.

The net result is that the advertising industry faces rising expenses even as their revenues shrink.

In such an environment, almost all lessons drawn from Jay Chiat’s career are fatally flawed.

Chiat liked to say of his agency “we’re the pirates, not the navy.” That bold, swashbuckling attitude is great for producing buzzworthy television spots that garner industry awards.

It is precisely the wrong attitude if your goal is to build a long-term relationship with clients.

Chiat was almost proud of the clients he lost. It confirmed, in his mind, that Chiat/Day was edgy, revolutionary, not boring. Many agencies took his lesson to heart. Today, they reap the whirlwind as they scramble to replace lost clients and wonder why there is no loyalty like the old days.

Chiat and his acolytes loved to talk about “great creative”. Unfortunately, great creative usually means commercials that people talk about. Or, more accurately, commercials that other advertising people talk about.

What is rarely discussed is how well the commercials sold the product. Considerations of commerce are beneath the artistic geniuses who made the commercials. Do pirates fill out expense reports? Does Blackbeard follow a strategic plan?

This attitude (and Jay Chiat was all about attitude) constitutes unilateral disarmament in the face of corporate bean counters. When CFOs total up ad spending and demand to know the ROI, the agency can only answer with generalities about “buzz” and industry awards.

Ad Age is right that in these tough times the industry needs to learn from its past. But it needs to learn the right lessons from the right people. If the advertising business is ever going to thrive again, it first needs to recognize that the Jay Chiat path is a road to nowhere.

Getting crazy is not the answer. Getting smart and getting humble is the right place to start.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Man on fire

That's R. S. McCain in this post on the IG firings:

Obama's no Daley, but . .


He links to this piece by the incomperable John Kass who explains the impoartance of the Chicago Way to this White House:

Obama's political play should shock no one

The use of political muscle may be prohibited in the mythic transcendental fairyland where much of the Obama spin originates, sprouting green and lush, like the never-ending fields of primo Hopium.

But our president is from Chicago. Obama's Media Merlin David Axelrod and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel come right from Chicago Democratic machine boss Mayor Richard Daley. They don't believe in fairies
.

Izzy Redux

Klehr and Haynes take on the defenders of the indefensible:


In Denial: Round 11

Somewhat to our surprise, however, the defenses of Hiss and the Rosenbergs, while not disappearing, have taken a back seat to the protection of I. F. Stone....

Stone, however, is an icon in certain journalistic precincts, and to his devotees those six pages are the only ones in Spies that matter. Their responses match in distortion, whitewashing, spinning, and ad hominem viciousness any that we have received over the years and give us a better understanding of what Weinstein and Radosh had to put up with. The history of communism and Soviet espionage have never been fields for those seeking the scholarly quiet life, but the displays of rage (real and faux) in regard to Stone have been impressive
.


See also:


High praise indeed

Izzy Stone: Lying commie slime

A herd of independent minds





Saturday, June 20, 2009

Annals of the new age of civility

Ace has couple of great posts up on the latest outrage by Andrew Sullivan:

Andrew Sullivan and Khamanei Agree: Jew-Controlled Media Spreads Lies

Take Two: Let Me Explain What Sulivan Is Saying

The short and sweet take-away:
Mel Gibson was forced into retirement for saying one night while drunk what Andrew Sullivan writes every day while sober.

Rainy days and Mondays

For the first time in many weeks we have rain on Saturday. From the looks of the weather map, that's how the whole day is going to go.

But, thanks to the goodness of RS McCain and Smitty (or is it the goodness of Smitty and the click-greed of McCain?) the morning is not lost.

Pour yourself another cup of coffe and check out the latest FMJRA:

Fleeting Moments of Justice Require Admiration

Watchdogs? Who needs watchdogs?

Not Tucker Carlson has a tremendous roundup of the latest news on the IG firings and other iffy tricks coming out of Washington.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Barbara Boxer is Eric Cartman

Ever wonder what Eric Cartman might sound like if he was in Congress? Wonder no more…

California Senator Barbara Boxer is a Senator. And if you don’t acknowledge it, she’ll demand you acknowledge it. Even if you’re a General in the United States Army
.


More here.

Context from the LA Times:

Boxer was getting a little exasperated, head dramatically on hand and all. As the proper sign of military respect for a female, Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh was answering "Yes, ma'am" and "No, ma'am."

And finally, the ma'am had had enough. "Could you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am'? It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title." No, really. Watch for yourself. She actually said that. A different attitude than on Memorial Day.

Truth be told, even on Capitol Hill, Walsh has taken a few years of service to his country to earn those general stars too. But Boxer did not deign to call him general. Nor did she bother with a please. Of course, the general complied with the Democrat's wishes immediately without complaint
.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cuban spies

Two articles provide background information on accused spies Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers.

The Argus leader tells about the wife and the South Dakota background:
'Ordinary' life to accused spy

Gwendolyn Steingraber Trebilcock Gereaux Myers comes across as a Midwestern Forest Gump. She went to school with Tom Brokaw and worked for Sen. James Abourezk as both a campaign and senatorial aide. Her fellow staffers included future majority leader Tom Daschle and Laurie Felton. Felton is both the ex-Mrs. Daschle and Obama’s nominee to be Ambassador to Denmark.

The Miami Herald article answers few questions but it does provide a nice round-up of the reaction pf those who knew the Myers.
The curious case of alleged Cuban spy Kendall Myers

Even when read together the articles still leave many questions about the political evolution of both accused spies. Take the wife: She appears to have been a typical wife and mother (four kids) for nearly twenty years. Then in rapid succession she gets involved in the peace movement and Democratic party politics. She gets divorced (1973). Next she moves to Denver (1974), remarries, gets divorced, and goes to work for Abourezk in Washington (1976). In 1979 she moves back to South Dakota with Kendall Myers in tow. In the spring of that year the couple is recruited by Cuban intelligence.

What was it that alerted the Cubans to her ideological predilection for treason?

The details of Kendall Myers’s life are also lacking in the crucial years. In his case, we at least see a potential trigger for his treason. In 1975 he was the driver in a car crash that killed a 16 year old girl. In 1977, he divorces his first wife. He is underemployed as a contract instructor at the Foreign Services Institute. In December 1978 he goes to Cuba and returns an enthusiastic Fidelista.

Red flag?

Most of the information about Kendall Myers recruitment comes from a diary seized by the FBI. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa was a high-ranking Romanian intelligence officer when the KGB controlled that service. He notes that Soviet practice called for agents to use false diaries in order to remember the details of their cover story.

It is obviously vital to determine if the Myers diary is real or the written record of a legend.

UPDATE: The New York Times provides a little more biographical information.

Couple’s Capital Ties Said to Veil Spying for Cuba


Add another future mover and shaker who worked with Gwendolyn Myers in Abourezk's office:
On Capitol Hill, she held a low-level job — mostly involving outreach to constituents — in the shadows of rising political stars, including former Senator Tom Daschle and Pete Rouse who is a top adviser to President Obama.

When rape jokes weren't funny

In from the Cold has one example:

The Double Standard


Clayton Williams made the same joke and it killed him in the race for governor in Texas in 1990.

In both cases, the "bygones" brigade never appeared to defend Tex Antoine or Clayton Williams. As noted in the Wikipedia article, ABC News made the joke an issue in the 2008 presidential race when Williams hosted a fundraiser for John McCain.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why Letterman matters (Part Two)

The indispensable McCain:


You can't beat a man who refuses to admit defeat. You can kill a man like that, but you cannot defeat him otherwise, because he has gotten it in his mind to keep fighting, whatever happens.



Here's the other part of that equation:

You can't win a battle until you are willing to fight one.

That is why Lincoln fired McClellan and backed Grant to the hilt.

Of course, it is wise to choose the right battles. Often, though, the "right battle" is evident only in retrospect. Waterloo marks Napoleon's downfall only because Wellington won. Before he could win he first had to fight. Ditto Nimitz at Midway and Gualcanal.

Before you can win you have to fight. Rarely are opponents so accommodating that they give battle where their defeat is foreordained.

Although, come to think of it, a sixty-year old pervert making jokes about the rape of a fourteen year old girl comes pretty close.

John Keegan traces the rise of U. S. Grant and the Union victory to the night after the first day of Shiloh. Grant's forces had been defeated and many units were routed. That was nothing special; it was pretty much SOP for the Union in the first year of the war. What set Grant apart was what he did next.

Instead of accepting defeat and retreating, Grant resolved to stand and fight the next day. His "beaten" army won a smashing victory. Thanks to Grant, and Grant alone, Shiloh did not become another Confederate victory like Manassas, Chancellorsville , or the Seven Days.

Reagan's victory in 1980 was not inevitable. Without North Carolina and Texas in 1976, Reagan's career would have ended as a two-term governor of California and a defeated presidential candidate who never came close to the nomination.


ii


Why are so many right-wing pundits afraid of a good fight? McCain argues for an ambitious careerism and there is truth in that. I'd suggest that three other factors enter in as well: fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of boredom.

You can only fail if you first try. If you can dream up enough clever excuses, you can avoid trying to accomplish anything.

Defending Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh is dangerous. There is always the chance that the People Who Really Matter will turn their scorn on those who dare to defend the indefensible. What self-respecting pundit wants to be called a "ditto-head" or accused of being a humorless puritan?

Peter Drucker wrote in his memoirs that every time he saw something accomplished it was by "a monomaniac with a mission." Everything in my experience supports that observation. Only a monomaniac has the intestinal fortitude to persevere, Outside opposition is the smaller part of the problem. Much larger is the human desire to put aside hard, boring work and do something more fun, more interesting, easier, different.

Why Letterman matters (Part I)

It is not just about Sarah Palin. Think of Palin as the canary on the coal mine. This battle is part of the war between the Jacksonian strain of American politics and the "mediated democracy" that has evolved over the last couple of decades.

It is that Jacksonian strain that sets America apart. It has given us some of our greatest presidents-- Jackson himself, Lincoln, TR, Truman, and Reagan. It fuels our military strength. It is a vital component to our political economy.

Without it we might look a lot like Europe: sclerotic, corrupt, and military impotent.

With a mediated democracy, those with the right resume and right friends are never called to account for their mistakes and corruption. Jamie Gorelick, Barney Frank, Larry Summers, and Chris Dodd can create mess after mess and yet,, they remain members of the club.

Contrast the unrelenting stream of abuse hurled at Sarah Palin with the silence that surrounds the gaffes of crazy Joe Biden.

Palin was a dangerous outsider; Biden is a member of the club's DC branch. Plus Biden was selected by The One.

The Letterman attacks were just the latest demonstration that the club will sink to any level to repel outsiders. All that concern for civility? That only applies to those inside the charmed circle.

So the issue is not Sarah Palin. Any effective outsider will get the same treatment. (E.g. the Tea Parties, Joe the Plumber, Carrie Prejean).

There is a political calculus at work as well. America remains a nation where neither Left nor Right commands a majority. Surprisingly, the Right is still larger than the Left.

The natural equilibrium, therefore, is Center-Right.

The Left has only one effective tactic. They must demonize and marginalize the RIght. They must make the Right an anathema to moderates so that those in the center support the Left.

That's why resercons are so valuable to the members of the club. and liberals in general.

For resercons in waiting, bashing conservative outsiders is a sure way to get the attention of the membership committee of the Guild of People Who Really Matter. R. S. MacCain has discussed this repeatedly-- most recently here.

"Stand and never yield"

R. S. McCain introduces us to our own Iron Lady.

Cynthia Yockey is in no mood to let David Letterman off the hook. Her righteous determination is rare and wonderous.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A sensible and informed outsider on the problems in the credit card industry

In their own interest


The author points out that the beggar thy neighbor strategy of rate hikes has risks that card issuers are ignoring in their desperation to prop up quarterly earnings.

One reason that banks find themselves in this mess is that the "moralization of credit" i've discussed before. Banks are run by transactors (people who pay off their card every month). Their best customers are revolvers (people who carry a balance and pay interest.) Many (perhaps most) transactors view revolvers as stupid and/or immoral.

Thus, the people making the decisions at banks look at their best customers with an arrogant contempt.

That is a bad starting point for making decisions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A tale of two cities

8 LAPD officers injured in Lakers celebrations

Eight Los Angeles police offers suffered minor injuries and 21 people were arrested during Lakers victory celebrations that turned riotous outside the Staples Center, authorities said today.

Penguins fans cheer Stanley Cup champions

The crowd estimate of 375,000 bettered the 350,000 for the Steelers Super Bowl parade in February. Many children, finished with school for the summer, and the pleasant weather no doubt helped swell the crowd.

Police said there were only two arrests, one for disorderly conduct and one for sales of T-shirts without a license. Medics handled 23 calls, mostly for people who became dehydrated as the temperature reached 80 under cloudless skies
.

More on the Americorps firings

Byron York is still on the case and now gives us Inspector General Gerald Walpin's story.

Gerald Walpin speaks: The inside story of the AmeriCorps firing

We owe Cotton Mather an apology

We mock the old witch hunters for their absurd investigations and bizarre techniques. After all, how stupid were people who accepted spectral evidence in capital trials?

Well, what does it say about us that in the 20th century we sent men to Death Row based on the testimony of animals?


Last weekend, we looked at the case of Bill Dillon, the Brevard County resident imprisoned for 27 years before DNA tests set him free.

That, however, is only part of a bigger story of twisted justice in Central Florida — an unsolved mystery that begs for an ending.

Dillon, after all, was not alone in his wrongful imprisonment. At least two other men suffered the same fate — and another shared link: a dog.

Not just any dog. A wonder dog helped convict all three men: a German shepherd named Harass II, who wowed juries with his amazing ability to place suspects at the scenes of crimes.

Harass could supposedly do things no other dog could: tracking scents months later and even across water, according to his handler, John Preston.

If it sounds hard to believe, there's a good reason.

After providing prosecutors with testimony for years, Preston was finally discredited by a judge who had the sense to do what others had not: test the dog for himself.

But not until after Preston and his dog had appeared in dozens of cases
.

Lessons from Mumbai

Welcome Instapundit and Snowflakes in Hell readers. While you're here, why not check out the archives and blogroll? And maybe add this blog to your RSS reader (pretty please?)

This is a sobering assessment from Brian Michael Jenkins


Terrorists Can Think Strategically [.PDF]

Lessons Learned From the Mumbai Attacks
This point caught my eye:
Once again, terrorists have demonstrated that with simple tactics and low-tech weapons, they can produce vastly disproportionate results. The Mumbai attack was sequential, highly mobile, and a departure from the now common suicide bombings, but the tactics were simple— armed assaults, carjackings, drive-by shootings, building takeovers, barricade and hostage situations.


While these are new tactics for terrorists, they are commonplace crimes in America. Furthermore, armed citizens frequently stop these sorts of crimes long before the police respond.

More discussion and links can be found here:

Armed citizens and al Qaeda swarms

Knowledge transfer among terrorist groups

How Non-State Actors Learn and Teach


One can trace the evolution of these tactics to the cross training, both on the ground and in cyberspace, that the Taliban has shared with other militant groups, including al Qaeda and Hezbollah. The terrorist organizations have the express intent of sharing tactics, strategies and lessons with each other, and spend a great deal of time in doing that. They have money from poppies and private donors that allows them to dedicate time and resources studying, sharing and acquiring the best off the shelf products, with no need for competitive bid contracts and the like.


See also:
What is al Qaeda?

Are the Pirates worse than the Detroit Lions

On the eve of Superbowl XL, Detroit sportswriter Mitch Albom explained why Ford's field was going to seem like a home game for the Pittsburgh Steelers:


Did we mention ownership? The Steelers have the kind of ownership Detroit fans dream about. One family. One name. One old man passing it down to his kids.

That's the way we do it. Only when Pittsburgh does it, the name is Rooney, and it produces four Super Bowl championships. When Detroit does it, the name is Ford, and it produces squat.

We like Pittsburgh's ownership.

We want Pittsburgh's ownership
.



One imagines that Detroit fans are now even more envious of the Steelers and the Rooney family. In the same year that Pittsburgh added to their collection of Lombardi trophies the Lions broke the record for single season futility with their 0 and 16 record.

Detroit will never live that down.

I'm surprised that the Pirates get a pass when it comes to their record-breaking performance. They are on track to smash the professional sports record for consecutive losing seasons. For some reason, that garners less attention and far less media derision than the Lions received for their single abysmal season.

Bad management played a role in Detroit's woeful year. But, bad luck and injuries loom large in a single NFL season. Sixteen bad years in a row is something else entirely.

The old record for losing was held by the Phillies of the 30s and 40s. They, at least, had the excuse of the Great Depression and World War II. The Pirates did it by themselves.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

So much for avoiding the appearance of impropriety

On the surface, the firing of Americorps IG Gerald Walpin stinks.

As Powerline says; "The story is an interesting one that sheds light on the lawless, bullying nature of the Obama administration."

More here:

Byron York

Michelle Malkin

Patterico

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What is Obama's problem with Great Britain?

and why does he keep insulting them for no (apparent) reason?

Barack Obama ignores British over sending Guantanamo four to Bermuda

But the biggest beef of the Brits should be with the Americans. On a foreign policy matter of great importance that directly involved a British sovereign territory, the Obama admiistration decided that it wasn't even worth mentioning it to the British.

What does that say about the way Barack Obama and his team views the "special relationship
"?

The right kind of McCainiacs

Further Moronic Jackass Responses Anticipated

City of Champions: Part II

Pass the Cup

The young Penguins grew into champions Friday night.

Playing mostly without 21-year-old captain Sidney Crosby, they dethroned the veteran Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena with a 2-1 victory to claim the Stanley Cup
.


Penguins beat Red Wings, 2-1, in Stanley Cup thriller

It was said that the Detroit Red Wings could not lose Game 7 of a Stanley Cup final on home ice. They did.

That Marc-Andre Fleury could not be counted on to win big games. He has.

That these Penguins were not ready to be champions. They are.

They defeated the Red Wings, 2-1, in Game 7 at Joe Louis Arena last night to earn the third Stanley Cup in franchise history
.


What makes this year incredible is that neither team was a favorite to win at midseason. Heck, the Penquins were outside the playoff spots in mid-Frebruary. It made the playoff runs exciting and nerve-wracking; it made the winning especially satisfying.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Essential portrait: Contessa Brewer

Courtesy of this brilliant profile by Ace. I tell you, the man is a genius. It's equal to the best work produced by The New Yorker, but with 95% fewer words.

Hard truths

Sotomayor's club for women only

The Democrats' double standard on gender

Fox News blows it

Over the top coverage of the shooting in Washington yesterday. More details at Mudville Gazette and Black Five.

Something i wrote in a different context seems appropriate here:

Fox News has plenty of shows as bad as Nancy Grace which makes them worse than CNN. For some reason, FNC has escaped criticism from the press-bashing right blogosphere. If the New York Times or PBS ignores important stories from the War on Terror, that is really no surprise. But FNC's obsession with tabloid crime feels more like a betrayal.

Fox was supposed to be different. After 9/11 it wrapped itself in the flag and donned olive drab. Then it lost interest. It decided to chase stories about missing white girls. The MSM might be giving us an incomplete picture, but FNC is not trying very hard to correct it
.


Liberal bias is one thing, but Fox is guilty of breathtaking cynicism. FNC once positioned itself as the patriotic network. Now, it looks like that was just the a crass grab for ratings.

The problem with resercons

The Other McCain explains why Brooks, Frum, et. al. do more harm than good:

Some of my friends mistake my frequent criticism of "centrists" like Brooks et al. as a call to "purge the RINOs." I don't go in for that urge-to-purge stuff, and understand that ideological purity tests are a losing approach to pragmatic coalition politics.

The problem, rather, is when "centrists" (a word whose meaning is sufficiently nebulous as to require the scare-quotes) criticize conservatives in terms that undermine morale on the Right by suggesting that conservatism is not a viable alternative to liberalism
.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Imus apology watch

At the rate we are going, this could become a regular feature.

Now David Letterman gets laughs for a joke about statutory rape. Apparently, it's all good fun when the hypothetical victim is one of Sarah Palin's kids.

Hot Air
Lileks
Ace
Victor Davis Hanson


UPDATE: I've always liked Treacher and this is a classic:
David Letterman’s Stupid Blame-Dodging Tricks
David Frum had no comment

Michelle Malkin is out of patience with California's governor:

Arnold Schwarzenegger was so preoccupied with lecturing the national GOP about the need to “rebrand” itself and move left that he forgot to mind California’s own business.

Today, his desperate tax-and-spend ballot measures are expected to all go down in flames at the polls. Tea Party activists of all political stripes have lambasted the deceptive initiatives. The intellectually and financially bankrupt state GOP is in full meltdown, having poured $650,000 into Schwarzenegger’s coffers to promote the phony spending cap measure before the state party waffled, then turned around and voted to oppose it and the other tax hikes
.

California's budget mess casts an interesting light on the debate over the GOP. Ah-nuld was the epitome of the resercon ideal: a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Yet, once in office, he was not eager to battle for smaller government, less spending, or less regulation.

That seems to be true of many FC/SL Republicans. They are happy to bash the Religious Right or NRA; they bask in the MSM praise for their courage. In the end they never fight that hard for conservative economic ideas.

Oh, they might utter the occasional bromide about reducing taxes or shrinking government. Rarely do they lead the charge to roll back specific government programs.

That is why i suspect that the FC/SL position is just the coward's way-station on the road to surrender. It is a way to avoid the tough fights while claiming a conservatism they do not really possess.

Traitors among us

So we’ve caught another spy

Washington Post
Examiner
American Thinker


This one was at it for thirty years (or so he says). Under the best of circumstances, it is going to take a long time to do a thorough damage assessment.

Unfortunately, the US rarely does thorough, rigorous counter-intelligence investigation when these stories break. Part of the reason is that the DOJ and FBI are interested in winning a conviction at trial. Their investigations focus on building a case against the defendant. The are uninterested (or opposed) to the sort of wide-ranging intelligence analysis that might provide an opening for a clever defense attorney.

This law enforcement mindset is one of the reasons that US intelligence missed opportunities to disrupt al Qaeda before 9-11. After the murder of Meir Kahane, the FBI and DOJ did not mine the intelligence available to them. Instead, they worked to convict the shooter. Thanks to those investigative blinders they missed their chance to break-up the terror cell that bombed the Word Trade Center in 1993. The 1993 mastermind--Ramzi Yousef--was the nephew of 9-11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Peter Lance has done more work on this willful blindness that anyone else.


The State Department, like any bureaucracy, had a natural instinct to CYA. No one wants to dig too deep because it no one knows what else might turn up.

A trapped spy is a mighty temptation for failure laundering. Take all the accumulated doubts about intelligence breaches and blame them on the guy in handcuffs. That way a bureaucracy can say “problem solved” at the same time the public first learns that there is a problem.


Old Angletonians will surely note some of the details in the story. Walter Kendall Myers was able to enter the State Department and begin his espionage career in 1978. That was the nadir of US counter-intelligence. DCI Colby had fired James J. Angleton in 1974, dismantled his staff, and destroyed most of the CI files. Stansfield Turner (DCI from 1977-81) was openly contemptuous of counter-intelligence, security requirements, and human intelligence. Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers are the bitter fruit of Colby and Turner’s regimes.

I suspect that Angleton himself would have a host of questions as he looked at the reports on this case. For one thing, he was deeply interested in the working relationships between the KGB and the intelligence services of satellites like Cuba. A Cuban spy who worked on European affairs at the State Department would certainly pique his interest.

Beyond that there are a few red flags with Myers story that raise further questions.

For one thing, was he really recruited by a Cuban diplomat in South Dakota? During the Cold War, Communist diplomats were under travel restrictions within the US and the FBI conducted surveillance against them as a routine matter. Sending a diplomat to sparsely populated South Dakota to recruit an American spy seems like a high risk move.

Did the Cubans just get lucky because US counter-intelligence was so bad?

Did the Cubans know (thanks to other spies) that their diplomat was not under surveillance on that trip?

Is this part of a cover story to hide the real place and time of Myers’s recruitment?

These are obviously important questions. Knowing when, where, and by whom Myers was recruited is critical to the investigation because it is the starting point for finding others who took the Cuban bait. (Think of Philby, Blunt, Straight, Maclean, and Burgess all recruited at Cambridge in the 1930s).

The current answer--by a diplomat in South Dakota in 1978--seems almost too convenient. It makes Myers a simple fluke.

Had the answer been “in Washington, by an illegal, in 1975,” the hunt would be on for other spies. (Just as the unmasking of Donald Maclean led to the other members of the Philby ring.)

As a former CI hand told Edward Jay Epstein: "moles, like mice, are not often found as singletons".

All of which makes this passage from the American Thinker important:

From 1971-1977 he was an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; later in his career at the Department of State he was a part-time Senior Adjunct Professor in Western European studies until arrest.

(This is the same school senior DIA spy for Cuba, Ana Montes, graduated from with a Masters degree in 1988. It would be interesting to know if Myers helped spot Montes for the Cubans, if they knew each other, if they had friends/Cuban contacts in common in the school at the time
.)

An Angletonian damage assessment would be suspicious of a convenient story that offers an easy out. But does US intelligence have the capability and willingness to do such a damage assessment?

Any one who has read Tennent Bagley’s Spy Wars must have grave doubts.

Spy Wars also offers up a tantalizing thread that screams for follow-up. From the WaPo story:
He got a taste of spying while serving in the U.S. Army from 1959 through 1962, according to friends. Fluent in Czech, he was stationed in Germany, where he monitored broadcasts from what was then known as Czechoslovakia, which was under communist rule.


As Bagley details in his book, the KGB at that time made special efforts to recruit or compromise military personnel engaged in intelligence work. Inquiring minds want to know: are we sure that Myers only turned traitor in 1978? Or was the 1978 actions a reenlistment into a new branch of the Communist cause?

Even if Myers is what he now says he is--a Cuban spy--that does not mean his information stayed in Havana. Intelligence agencies share and trade information all the time. Beyond that we have the example of Robert Hanssen who provided valuable information to al Qaeda via an entrepreneurial KGB agent.

There is no telling who is profiting from the fruits of Kendall Myers’s treachery.


UPDATE: From The Telegraph:

American intelligence officials believe that Cuba acts as a conduit for secrets, receiving them from its agents and selling or trading them with countries such as China, Russia and possibly even Iran and North Korea.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Fraudvets, milbloggers and the press

FraudVets

Let me fix that for them: "Hours after news of his forged identity broke several weeks ago, actual veterans collected virtually all the details we're about to report as if they were news, and posted them on milblogs."

Unlike "veterans advocates, Congressional aides and elected officials who thought they knew him well", milbloggers - you know, real vets of the war - tend to respond with something other than "shock" when these frauds (and the organizations that embrace them) try to set our agenda
.
It's an interesting case study of knowldegeable bloggers doing the work that journalists just won't (can't?)do.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The greatest of their generation

Last Friday I attended the graduation ceremony for a large suburban high school. Overall, it ran its course as these things usually do-teenage exuberance mixing with adult earnestness one last time with a special dash of triteness. There were two dramatic moments made more poignant by the calendar.

The first came as the principal recognized the various groups of seniors who had received academic honors and other distinctions. He concluded by asking those members of the class who were entering the military to stand. The applause started and then everyone-faculty, administrators, and the thousands in the audience-- rose to their feet in a sustained ovation.

Never was such an honor more richly deserved. America has been at war since those kids were ten years old. Yet, after all the headlines, the casualty reports, and the funerals (central Pennsylvania is well aware of the cost of Afghanistan and Iraq), these young men and women volunteered to wear the uniform and serve this country.

The second moment of clarity came soon after. The principal asked four seniors to stand and wave to their fathers. Those men were not in the audience; the students waved at the video camera recording the proceedings. The fathers were in Iraq and were watching the ceremony via Skype.

The next morning was, of course, the D-Day anniversary.

The Greatest Generation deserves all the praise and honors we can bestow on them. But we must also remember that not all the heroes are old men. The United States is still blessed with men and women who possess the same dedication, courage, and patriotism that was on display at Tarawa, Normandy, and Midway.

This from Ace of Spades gets to the heart of the matter:


Veterans of the Normandy landing are becoming scarce now that we're sixty-five years down the road from that horrible day, but if you know one of them, make sure to thank them on this day. And don't limit yourself to D-Day vets - whether it was Normandy, Okinawa, the Chosin Reservoir, the Tet Offensive, Grenada, Panama, Mogadishu, Fallujah, or just some godforsaken mountain road at the ass-end of Afghanistan, EVERYONE who served this country in uniform deserves a hearty handshake and our everlasting gratitude on this day.

And those veterans who never saw a shot fired in anger? Thank them too. As John Wayne once said in his last movie role, "It's not about being the fastest gun: Its about being WILLING." Everyone who wore the uniform was willing to "go see the elephant", and that willingness sets them apart from the rest of us
.



All across this country there are thousands of future veterans who are "willing". Whether they are enlisting, attending the service academies, or enrolling in ROTC, THEY CHOOSE TO SERVE well knowing the costs and the risks.

And we must remember and honor their service and patriotism
Catching up

Beldar discovers the new role Obama claimed on his Mideast trip.

POTUS as the Great Defender of the Faith

From Sister Toldjah, Harry Reid argues for the value of ignorance when it comes to Sotomayor:

Harry Reid’s support of Sotomayor not based on a single opinion she wrote


The ripples from the takeover of Chrysler and GM are starting:

Pushback on Chrysler
Dems express 'growing concern'


Probe clouds star turn for auto negotiator Rattner


Newsweek is intent on blowing all its credibility in June.


Newsweek’s Evan Thomas Says Obama Is god

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Read this

June 6, 1944

You know what I did this morning? Maybe it would be better if I told you what I didn't do this morning.

I didn't have to spend over 12 hours on a transport ship in choppy water, then clamber down a cargo net into a plywood landing craft, all while carrying up to 100 pounds of gear on my back. Then, I didn't ride through the rough surf in that little plywood target, only to have the steel ramp (the only part of the little plywood boat that was even remotely bullet-resistant) flop down and drop me into the cold ocean water in front of a beach filled with steel obstacles, mines, flying bullets & exploding artillery rounds
.


RTWT
It's back

The Other McCainiacs have their latest round-up of posts by fawning sycophants. ( I can say that since i'm linked this time.)


From My Jugular, Regrets Abound

Friday, June 05, 2009

How Washington journalism works

Marvin Kalb used to work for CBS news. Now he's at Harvard thinking deep thoughts and hectoring the public about the need for strong, independent, journalism. He still shows up on TV sometimes as a media wise man and moral lodestar.

That's what makes this Jack Shafer piece so delicious.

The Unbearable Closeness of Kalb and Kissinger

Why did Marvin Kalb ask Henry Kissinger's help in finding a new publisher for his Kissinger book?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

All your clicks are belong to us

In his relentless campaign to grab every reader in the blogosphere, RS McCain has started a news aggregator.

Not Tucker Carlson



It's a pretty good site, but i fear that McCain is poaching on my territory here. Busting Tucker Carlson is this blog's job.
The many lives of Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington

The Puffington Host
The annual Nutting money grab starts early this year

Pirates give up on present by trading McLouth


The message from the Pirates organization today to their dwindling fan base is this:

The present be damned.

By trading center fielder Nate McLouth, their best and most marketable player, to the Atlanta Braves for three minor leaguers, the Pirates have said they have no chance of winning this season, a stance that goes against what they had been saying.

It was a shocking and unexpected trade. McLouth, 27, was viewed as a cornerstone building block of the franchise. Not only does he lead the team in home runs and runs batted it, he led in both categories last season and won a Gold Glove for defensive excellence
.


I think commenter Steve at Mondesi's House really understands the Nutting business model:

As long as they can sell a few thousand tickets and string the cool aide drinkers along with promise of the future -- one that will never become present -- they with net a very nice profit and every season will be a relative success in their eyes.

That in a nutshell is the hard truth, and why losing while making money is much easier for the Nutting's to swallow than spending more money than their share of revenue sharing and the MLB telvision contact will afford them, by building a winning team and possibly losing money just to make a few thousand more Pirates fans happy
.


UPDATE: I cannot decide if Frank Coonelly is a clueless empty suit or an arrogant liar:

"It's not about money," Coonelly said
Has Coonelly never heard that when they say it is not about the money, it's about the money?

UPDATE 2: I like Baseball Crank's take:

Yes, the Bucs got three prospects back, but they have plenty of "prospects"; what the Pirates lack is baseball players. McLouth is 27 and, with the arguable exception of Freddy Sanchez, is the best player on the team. Maybe he'll be a little past his prime and at the end of his contract by the time Pittsburgh's younger players have come into their own, but if you keep dealing away guys like McLouth you never even get close enough to contending to make those kinds of decisions.


UPDATE 3: From SullyBaseball:
Hey Pirates... Why Even Bother?

And so it continues for the Pirates...

June has barely begun and the flag being raised isn't the Jolly Roger but the white flag of surrender.

Even though the Pirates are only 4 games under .500, the management has declared 1/3 of the season is enough... start dumping bodies.

And they did it the best way they know how:

Trade young players (like Nate McLouth) with affordable long term contracts for a bunch of young guys you've never heard of
.
Victor Davis Hanson is in fine form

America’s First Postmodern President, Supreme Court Justice, Treasury Secretary…

In postmodernism, facts as we know them mean little, given either that they are the domain of elites alone with the resources to pursue and master them, or, more fundamentally, are simply representations of knowledge used by the privileged for political purposes. That there are not 57 states, that the world did not save Berlin during the airlift, that Obama’s great-uncle did not help to liberate Auschwitz, that the United States is not one of the largest Muslim countries, again matter little.

Midway

Today marks the anniversary of the battle of Midway. I wrote about the battle here and here. As the Rev. Don Sensing wrote several years ago, we must remember the men who fought that battle because "they saved the world. Not all by themselves, but they did save it, and you should know that."

If you have not seen it, make sure you get a copy of Battle 360 and watch with amazement. The producers interviewed dozens of veterans of the USS Enterprise. They are old men now and there are fewer of them every day. You owe it to yourself to hear their stories.

UPDATE:In From the Cold has a great post:
A Dawn Like Thunder
Smitty has a round-up and a report from the Navy Memorial.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Andrew Ferguson: The smiling surgeon

The man wields a mean scalpel as he slices and dices the pretensions of the MSM.


Some Industries Deserve Bankruptcy
'Newsweek' and Katie and Maureen--oh my!


I fear that poor John Meacham will never be the same after he reads this:

Everybody is crazy about Jon or at least is hoping not to get fired by him. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that everybody has his favorite Meachamism, a word I just made up to describe a statement so comically banal or transparently untrue that only a man whom everybody is crazy about or hopes not to get fired by would try to put it into print. My own favorite Meachamism is rather obscure. It pops up in a book that nobody has read, even though it's about a president, George H.W. Bush, that everybody pretended to kind of admire once we got a good look at his son. The book is called My Father, My President, by Doro Bush. On page 218, Doro prints this quotation from Jon: "An important thing to remember about the press is there is no ideological bias."


How about this two-fer on Maureen Dowd and Howard Kurtz>?

Her explanation was implausible in every particular, compounding her original offense. Normally everybody loves it when this happens, because everybody gets to say to one another, "In Washington the cover up is often worse than the crime!" But this was Maureen. The unthinkable began to emerge as the implausibility sunk in. Everybody's favorite was not only lazy and unimaginative but dishonest too--a bit of a fraud. Just in time the "media critic" for the Washington Post stepped in to deliver summary judgment. Maureen, he announced, had made an "inadvertent mistake." Relieved, everybody went back to loving Maureen and wanting to be loved by her.


There is much, much more-- RTWT.
Spot on


Newsweek: Now With More Truthiness

For those who lament the state of American journalism as having become increasingly unserious, tendentious, and willing to blur important lines, this will become one more data point for them to cite. It is the journalist equivalent of the publicity stunt by St. Louis Browns’s owner Bill Veeck, who made Eddie Gaedel, who popped out of a cake between a double-header, the first midget to participate in a Major League Baseball game.

Turning to Stephen Colbert to be Newsweek’s guest editor is a very unwise decision, and one, I suspect, both Meacham and Newsweek will come to regret
.
Policing after Mumbai

Interesting article on law enforcement and anti-terrorism in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

The Evolution of Terrorist Tactics
Hit and Run to Sustained Conflict


A slightly different take here. Conner is less impressed by the professionalism of the terrorists.

UPDATE: Apparently, the mayor of Boston would rather be politically correct than take a lesson from Mumbai.

Mayor says no to police rifle patrols


See also:
Armed citizens and al Qaeda swarms
Is it possible that David Brooks was wrong?

Back during the campaign, not even Brooks could hide the fact that Obama had a thin resume. He assured any one who would listen that executive experience was not necessary because Obama was surrounded by experts.


Brooks predicted an Obama victory by nine points, and said that although he found Obama to be "a very mediocre senator," he was is surrounded by what Brooks called "by far the most impressive people in the Democratic party."

"He's phenomenally good at surrounding himself with a team," Brooks said. "I disagree with them on most issues, but I am given a lot of comfort by the fact that the people he's chosen are exactly the people I think most of us would want to choose if we were in his shoes. So again, I have doubts about him just because he was such a mediocre senator, but his capacity to pick staff is impressive
."


I wonder what Brooks thinks about this representative of Obama's best and brightest?



The 31-Year-Old in Charge of Dismantling G.M.

WASHINGTON — It is not every 31-year-old who, in a first government job, finds himself dismantling General Motors and rewriting the rules of American capitalism.

But that, in short, is the job description for Brian Deese, a not-quite graduate of Yale Law School who had never set foot in an automotive assembly plant until he took on his nearly unseen role in remaking the American automotive industry.


Nor, for that matter, had he given much thought to what ailed an industry that had been in decline ever since he was born. A bit laconic and looking every bit the just-out-of-graduate-school student adjusting to life in the West Wing — “he’s got this beard that appears and disappears,” says Steven Rattner , one of the leaders of President Obama automotive task force — Mr. Deese was thrown into the auto industry’s maelstrom as soon the election-night parties ended.

“There was a time between Nov. 4 and mid-February when I was the only full-time member of the auto task force,” Mr. Deese, a special assistant to the president for economic policy, acknowledged recently as he hurried between his desk at the White House and the Treasury building next door. “It was a little scary.”


***

Mr. Deese’s role is unusual for someone who is neither a formally trained economist nor a business school graduate, and who never spent much time flipping through the endless studies about the future of the American and Japanese auto industries
.
R. S. McCain explains it all to you

He really out did himself with this penetrating analysis of Washington sociology and the problematic value of conservative intellectuals.

Hayekian, Reaganite or Texan?Essay on the Arrogance of the Elite
Some one owes Don Imus and Nancy Reagan an apology

Two recent stories that echo two earlier scandals. And the press reactions that mimic Sherlock Holmes's dog that did not bark.

Early in the Reagan administration, Nancy Reagan wanted new White House china. No government money was involved, but good china is expensive (as any Bridezilla victim can tell you). The purchase, made in the midst of a recession, provided ample fodder for extended posturing by the MSM (the only M we had in those days). It was unseemly, you see, to spend so much money when people were suffering.

Fast forward, now, to the Obama's date night in New York. The Daily Mail reports that it cost the taxpayers more than $70,000. That's public money at a time when people are losing jobs, retirement accounts have been hammered, and the budget deficit is at a staggering level.

Our betters in the dinosaur media treat it as a cute human interest story.

After Imus attacked the Rutgers basketball team, the media moralists did not rest until he was driven from the radio airwaves and cable TV. So how did said moralists react to the obscene attack on conservative women in Playboy?

Mostly crickets but some of them thought it was clever until they heard from their readers.

UPDATE:Great stuff from Patterico:

L.A. Times Gushes Over Obama Date Night


Also, some one was fired for over the Playboy article.... a writer for AOL who criticized the article:
AOL Playboy Controversy Deepens

Monday, June 01, 2009

"I believe you but that won't save you"

Best action movie in years.