Thursday, January 31, 2013

Perspective is critical


This fact in particular just leaped off the page at me ("literally" as gun-grabbing Joe Biden might say):

Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate further harm to victims. Typically, active shooter situations are over within 10 to 15 minutes.

Let me rephrase that for you: "Typically, victims are sitting ducks for the 10-15 minutes it takes law enforcement to arrive."

Conservatives and messaging

An interesting and important essay by Bookworm:

Conservatives need to create powerful, “sticky” messages that lead the electorate to a tipping point

(HT: Neo-neocon)

It contains a lot of good sense and hard-headed analysis. OTOH, there are some glaring weaknesses in current conservative thought/messaging that Bookworm ignores or glosses over.

This is a point that the Obama administration hopes we will ignore:

What Obama did do successfully was vilify his opponent (“not one of us“) and make narrow, often fear-based appeals to particular interest groups. His campaign also demonstrated a mastery of technology for identifying voters and coaxing them to the polls….


The cultural bias the Democrats have created against conservativism reached its tipping point in November 2012 when a president with a disastrous economic record rather handily got reelected. Relying on decades of indoctrination and sophisticated modern social networking, Democrats spread a message that stuck: Republicans are evil. Everything else, whether from the Left or the Right, was just chatter that people ignored.
If President Obama won any mandate at all, it was a negative mandate: the voters rejected the Romney caricature that the Obama campaign created.

Another good point:

The Law of the Few says that studies show that there are specific people in society who are information, idea, and style vectors. Whether they have a vast network of contacts, a reputation for sharing useful wisdom, or the innate gift of salesmanship, these few people exercise a disproportionate effect when it comes to dispersing ideas. When they talk, other people lots of other people listen.

Do we have anybody like that articulating conservative ideas? I’m not so sure. Gladwell’s point is that these people spread their ideas because of their ability to connect directly with other people. All of our conservative talking heads are just that talking heads on TV or the radio. Conservatives, perhaps true to their commitment to individualism, do not have networks of people on the ground (i) who are themselves networkers, (ii) who are viewed as reliable information sources, or (iii) who can sell anything to anybody.
One of the big problems with conservative talking heads is that they make their money playing to the base. That is a great strategy for radio or cable news, but it does not do much to win over the low-information, swing voters. A few years ago I noted:

There is no doubt that a sizable minority of the population is opposed to bigger government. This minority is large enough to boost the ratings of talk radio. It drives readership for rightwing blogs and raises money for some candidates. But is it it enough to win election?

40% is an enormous share in radio ratings. It is also the bad end of a landslide election.
Still another good point:

In a way, the internet has made things even worse for conservatives. While it’s increased information dissemination, it’s also increased information ghettoization. We don’t talk to our neighbors about politics anymore. Instead, we go to a like-minded blog and enjoy the feeling that we’re not alone. But by doing so, we delude ourselves into believing that there are more like-minded people out there than a walk in the community and a talk in the park would reveal.
By definition, low-information voters aren’t reading Ace of Spades or Powerline. We can’t engage them if we don’t know them.

Plus, ghettoization isn’t healthy.

G.K. Chesterton:

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. [Heretics]
Now to my dissent.

I don’t think that the right has no “sticky” messages. Rather, part of the political problem is that a majority of the public views our sticky messages with suspicion.

For instance:

Key fact number one. As Obama moves toward "socialism", he does so at the behest of the "capitalists". It is not as if he is sending paramilitary gangs to take over successful, profitable businesses. Obama, like Bush before him, is compelled to act because the capitalists screwed the pooch, crapped the bed, and then muttered "maybe my bad" when their recklessness sent the financial system off a cliff.

The broad public knows this, and that makes it hard to win them over with cheap slogans about socialist bogeymen.
Let’s not forget the biggest, stickiest Republican/conservative message of all:

We {heart} W.
The 2012 campaign was not just Obama vs. catoon-Romney. It was also Obama vs. the ghost of George Bush.

Leaving ideology aside (as swing and low-information voters do), the Bush legacy is an anchor around the neck of the right. The short version goes something like this:

Tanked the economy (worse than LBJ)

Started two wars he could not win (worse than Carter)
Is that fair? Not entirely, but it is accurate.

Is the truth more complex than this stamp-sized report card? Sure, and there are plenty of right-wing pundits who are eager to explain why Bush deserves more credit than he gets.

Their explanations do more harm than good.

The first political professional I ever met had a ready answer when complex explanations were required:

If you’re explaining, you’re losing.
Or as Lee Atwater might say “if you can’t spin it, change the subject.”

So quick, what’s the spin on that Bush record? Remember, it has to be sound-bite length and fit on a bumper sticker?

Even worse is all the talk about the “47%” and “makers and takers”. It reflects a vicious and simplistic worldview that equates income with virtue and reduces the value of a citizen to his effective tax rate. It is a worldview that elevates the hedge fund manager over a retired fireman or Mayor Mike Bloomberg over a disabled combat veteran.

No wonder it is not an electoral winner. Especially when the wealthy vote liberal despite their high taxes. It's hard to build a majority when you exclude nearly half the electorate out of "principle."

Something Piers Morgan won't tell you

Clayton Cramer notes that women have double the risk of rape in the gun-free United Kingdom than in the US with its "violent gun culture."

Somewhat related:

Convicted rapist organizes gun control demonstration at Dayton gun show; Media fails to note his sex offender status

In short, "Anti-Gun-Protestor Jerome McCorry" and "Rapist-and-Convicted-Felon Jerome McCorry" are one and the same person, and WHIO-TV and The Dayton Daily News have been treating this man as a legitimate voice of reason that should be considered in the debate over whether or not rape and other crime victims should be able to buy firearms in order to protect themselves from attack.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ace spanks Dave Weigel

He cruelly uses facts and logic.

Shorter Weigel: NRA Responsible For Media's Shoddy Sandy Hook Reporting

Journolist punk Dave Weigel has a ridiculous hit piece on the NRA in amateur webzine Slate….

His purpose, apparently, was to blame the NRA for pushing the conspiracy theory. Which is odd, since the NRA didn't have anything to do with it.

I’m glad Ace mentioned Weigel’s involvement with the Journolist cabal. Such things deserve to be remembered.

For one thing, it is a small but important step that can negate the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

Moreover, it makes sense to give the MSM a healthy dose of their own medicine. Big media loves to use these kinds of thumbnail signifiers. To this day they can’t mention Andrew Breitbart without recalling Shirley Sherrod and the edited video.

The MSM is quite selective in their use of negative reminders. What is sauce for a Breitbart is not sauce for a Sharpton. The reader must always remember the great harm done to Shirley Sherrod but Steve Pagones and Yankel Rosenbaum and the victims at Freddy’s Fashion Mart can be tossed down the memory hole.

So why not redress the balance? The public deserves to know that Piers Morgan published fake pictures of non-existent war crimes and edited newspapers that relied on phone hacking. It is highly relevant that a reporter or pundit sees no problem with libeling dissenters as racists. People should know that NPR’s “high standards” allow journalists to entertain “masturbatory fantasies about Rush Limbaugh's death” but Juan Williams isn’t fit to work at NPR because he also appeared on Fox news.

The book that made paradigms cool

Paradigms, after Fifty Years

Peter King gets a clue

I think America is getting tired of Ray Lewis.

What went wrong with the Dreamliner?

Bean-counters and outsourcing make an appearance.
Requiem for a Dreamliner?

The more complex a supply chain, the more chances there are for something to go wrong, and Boeing had far less control than it would have if more of the operation had been in-house. Delays became endemic, and, instead of costing less, the project went billions over budget. In 2011, Jim Albaugh, who took over the program in 2009, said, “We spent a lot more money in trying to recover than we ever would have spent if we’d tried to keep the key technologies closer to home.” And the missed deadlines created other issues. Determined to get the Dreamliners to customers quickly, Boeing built many of them while still waiting for the F.A.A. to certify the plane to fly; then it had to go back and retrofit the planes in line with the F.A.A.’s requirements. “If the saying is check twice and build once, this was more like build twice and check once,” Aboulafia said to me. “With all the time and cost pressures, it was an alchemist’s recipe for trouble.”

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Cam Edwards

The AR was designed in 1957 and sold to the public beginning in 1964. Perhaps we should go ahead and ban that newfangled rock and roll too.

HT: Shall not be questioned

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Remembering a great conservative

A new biography of National Review's long-time publisher, conservative advocate, and key organizer.
The Great Bill Rusher

Gentleman Bruiser

Here is a talk by the author on CSPAN

Rusher's The Rise of the Right may be the best first person account of the conservative march from the wilderness to the Reagan landslide of 1980.

Rusher's conservatism had a streak of hard anti-communism. He was unapologetically pro-McCarthy and pro-HUAC. (He served for a time on the staff of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee.) He lived long enough to see both the fall of Soviet communism and the release of the documents that proved the Red hunters had it mostly right. This piece he wrote in 2004 is probably the last expression of the anti-communism which animated NR at its founding.
A Closer Look Under The Bed

What Rand got right

Roger Kimball:
Ayn Rand and the criminalization of everyday life

I’ve found that as I get older I become more and more libertarian, which I suppose means in part that I am more and more sympathetic to John Galt. Why? I’m sure there are several reasons. One is the increasing bureaucratization of life in this country, the progress of what Tocqueville called “Democratic Despotism,” i.e., the insidious proliferation of rules and regulations (and their concomitant rulers and regulators) that we’re told are being put in place for the commonweal but in fact are really put in place to squelch individual liberty and solidify state control over our lives.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thinking clearly about mass shootings and self-defense

We Know How to Stop School Shootings

If what we care about is saving the lives of innocent human beings by reducing the number of mass public shootings and the deaths they cause, only one policy has ever been shown to work: concealed-carry laws. On the other hand, if what we care about is self-indulgent grandstanding, and to hell with dozens of innocent children being murdered in cold blood, try the other policies.


The reasoning is strikingly clear. The cops are the experts on the current criminal trends. If they have determined that a “high capacity” semiautomatic pistol and a .223 semiautomatic rifle with 30-round magazines are the best firearms for them to use to protect people like me and my family, they are obviously the best things for us to use to protect ourselves and our families .

Our debased press

Democrat Hurricanes Versus Republican Hurricanes

Sandy would not be Obama’s Katrina, because the press is on his side. President Obama parachuted into New Jersey after the storm and declared that he would not tolerate “red tape” or “bureaucracy” by the government. He then hopped back aboard Air Force One and resumed his campaign schedule. His admirers, including, alas, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and the besotted Krugman, swooned.

Six days after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, President Bush’s presidency had been declared a failure and a disgrace. It was all FEMA’s fault, we were given to understand, and, by extension, Bush’s fault. It wasn’t the incompetence of local and state officials, or the levee collapse (a failure, by the way, that impartial observers lay at the feet of another government agency going back years, the Army Corps of Engineers). No, within a few days of the storm’s impact, Bush was an enemy of the people.

Six days after Sandy hit the East Coast, most of the press had utterly lost interest in the human toll, though thousands of people went without food, water, gasoline, or electricity for the better part of two weeks. The Washington Times reported two weeks after Sandy, “Bodies are still being recovered in Staten Island. Chaos reigns in the streets of the outer boroughs. Residents have taken up arms — baseball bats, machetes, shotguns — as crime and looting soar.”

Remembering a hero

The Man Who Stopped a School Shooting

Until the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, the deadliest school shooting in American history occurred at the University of Texas in 1966. Charles Whitman, an architecture student at the university (and a Marine Corps veteran) climbed the landmark, 28-story clock tower on the UT campus with a high-powered rifle, then opened fire. Sixteen people died before a small group of Austin police officers, accompanied by armed citizens put an end to the rampage.

Now, one of the heroes of that deadly day has died.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Way-points on the path to irrelevance and oblivion

The Harrisburg Patriot-News is no longer a daily newspaper.
New year starts change for The Patriot-News and its readers

They are trying to put a brave face on it and sound positive. The focus is on the opportunity, not the problems.

Behind the scenes, the entire newsroom will also be focused on delivering news at the speed of the Web while making the best use of all the digital tools at our disposal. Over the last few months, we’ve supplied our reporters and photographers with the technology and training they need to be mobile, digital journalists. At the same time, we’ve rolled out a redesigned to provide the best reader experience across our desktop, tablet and mobile sites.


The landscape is littered with failed companies that allowed pride and tradition to get in the way of adapting to the needs of the audience. We didn’t want that to be our fate. That is why we are letting vision, not history, be our guide.

For those of you who are on the fence about our changes and for whom the daily paper means so much, I ask that you give us a try for a few weeks. I believe you will find that The Patriot-News is still the great newspaper our community depends on.

When the changes were first announced, the editor was more open about the economic realities that drove the decision.
Boring and biased is no way to go through life
I would also take issue with the claim that the P-N is a great newspaper.
Why some newspapers deserve to die

In its dotage, the P-N suffers from many of the problems that plague the dinosaur media.

Re-virgining and guild thinking

Kirkpatrick: “What we do is important.”

Krebs: “Journalism is much more a calling than it is a job..”
Like most of the MSM, the Patriot-News skips the whole “journalism of verification” when it comes to journalists and journalism. When they turn their gaze inward, they leave their cynicism behind. Journalists are special people “called” to do important work.

So pay up, chumps.

This is true even when said journalists stop being journalists.

Jeanette Krebs:

It's been a privilege leading The Patriot-News Opinion pages

This is my last column. As with many love affairs, this one is coming to an end. I am leaving The Patriot-News, returning to a position in public relations and advocacy with the Harrisburg-based firm Bravo Group.

Because I have had the rare good fortune of being able to slip between these two worlds, I know there are great and rewarding challenges ahead of me as well. No lack of balls in the air and just a different type of adrenaline rush.

Again, I ask:
How does that re-virgining process work.

Agency problem

Unlike Tina Brown of Newsweek, the people at the P-N have not blamed the Zeitgeist.

Both publications did suffer from some of the same problems. For example, the classic agency problem:

This is a case study in agency theory. The stockholders want Newsweek to maximize the returns it pays to them. The best way to do that is to write a high-quality publication that appeals to a broad audience. The writers and editors are seeking career advancement. You don’t get that appealing to the morons in flyover territory with simplistic bourgeois truth. You get ahead in the media by impressing the media elites, the unofficial campaigners, the reality-based community.

So Newsweek, like many publications, increasingly focused on appealing to a very narrow K-Street/Upper East Side/90210 crowd. That trashed the magazine’s reader base and ruined the company, but it made a lot of journolists into Big Names.

The Agents succeed by gutting the Principals. Tis a twice-told tale.
In the case of the P-N, the editorial page was way out of step with the center-right, gun-owning population of central Pennsylvania. Plus, it periodically felt the need to remind their readers that they were racist.

Commentary: Intolerant public will hinder gun control efforts

Op-ed: Modern day 'slaughter of the innocents' should prompt action

Editorial: Harrisburg and its suburbs need to reacquaint themselves as good neighbors

Editorial: Newtown shooting should prompt safety and gun conversation

This stance did not help it retain subscribers, but it might have helped the career prospects of the people who ran the page.

Heather Long is editorial page editor. 255-8104 or Beginning in January, Long will be assistant comment editor for The Guardian.
They really should have taken a page page from the New York Times.

When the Times went looking for a replacement for William Safire, they skipped the castor oil journalism that the P-N loved so much. Instead they placated their core readership:

In 2003, Brooks got a call from New York Times editorial-page editor Gail Collins inviting him to lunch. Collins was looking for a conservative to replace outgoing columnist William Safire, but one who understood how liberals think. “I was looking for the kind of conservative writer that wouldn’t make our readers shriek and throw the paper out the window,” says Collins. “He was perfect.”
Sandusky scandal--who captured the value?

Like Newsweek, the decline of the P-N illustrates the non-synergistic relationship between print and cable news:

The Patriot-News won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Their lead reporter, Sara Ganim, became a fixture on television news. That worked out better for Ganim than for the newspaper that paid her.

Pulitzer Prize winner Sara Ganim leaves Patriot-News to join CNN

Which raises a question I asked years ago:

In essence, they let newspapers bear the cost while ESPN or Nancy Grace shares in the benefit.

(I’ve long found it puzzling that publishers and editors let their reporters give away their expensive product to the competition. Don’t they know about unsold cows and free milk?)

Monday, January 14, 2013

This could be an interesting read

Epstein is one of the smartest writers around so this is not going to be your usual true crime book.

Smart analysis you won't hear on ESPN

Tim Tebow Could Have Saved 5 GMs, 7 Coaches And 9 Teams

Seven coaches and five general managers were fired on Black Monday, the day after the 2012 regular season came to an end.

A total of nine teams canned one, the other, or both.

Tim Tebow could have saved any one of these jobs – if only these coaches and GMs had the nuggets to stand up to tired old conventional wisdom and had the common statistical sense to acquire and put on the field the most misunderstood quarterback in the game today.

New insight unto the day of infamy

Pearl Harbor 2.0

The “infamy” of December 7, 1941, is deeper than most Americans have ever imagined. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was almost certainly the result of a Soviet plot—“Operation Snow”—carried out by Harry Dexter White, a figure of enormous influence in the Roosevelt administration and a known Soviet spy.