Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Worth reading

Conservative Snobs Are Wrong About Palin

Inevitably, Lloyd Bentsen's famous put-down of Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice-presidential debate is resurrected, such as by Paul Waugh (in the London Evening Standard) and Marie Cocco (in the Washington Post): "Newsflash! Governor, You're No Maggie Thatcher," sneered Mr. Waugh. Added Ms. Coco, "now we know Sarah Palin is no Margaret Thatcher -- and no Dan Quayle either!"

Jolly, rib-tickling stuff. But, as it happens, I know Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher is a friend of mine. And as a matter of fact, Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin have a great deal in common
Ace tries to help the MSM avoid extinction

He's good like that.

Indeed. I think this is 90% of the press corps' problem -- they're overly taken with themselves for, um, having a job.

Mechanics don't assume they're all-purpose experts without portfolio on every subject in the universe simply because they're fixing cars.

Reporters shouldn't assume that merely because they are capable of asking questions, writing down the answers, and cranking out pedestrian copy they've somehow become Einstein

Monday, December 01, 2008

Don't make Steyn angry

You won't like Steyn angry.

Well, actually, most people will like it. There is nothing like watching a master work. As R. S. McCain says, this is the mother of all fiskings.
That mysterious thing called team chemistry

Here's part of the reason a 70 year old coach is running the best defense in the NFL.

The type of thing that makes a grown man cry

It seems funny now the Steelers picked the Bengals game to honor LeBeau. That day, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis sent star wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco home for violating a team rule. The problem is believed to have started when Ocho Cinco disrespected offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski during a meeting the night before the game.

"For one thing, that would never happen with coach LeBeau," Smith said. "And if by some chance it ever did, the guy wouldn't make it out of the room in one piece. The rest of us would take care of him."

That's respect

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The spirit of Sgt. York lives on

Marine Makes Insurgents Pay the Price

During the battle, the designated marksman single handedly thwarted a company-sized enemy RPG and machinegun ambush by reportedly killing 20 enemy fighters with his devastatingly accurate precision fire. He selflessly exposed himself time and again to intense enemy fire during a critical point in the eight-hour battle for Shewan in order to kill any enemy combatants who attempted to engage or maneuver on the Marines in the kill zone. What made his actions even more impressive was the fact that he didn’t miss any shots, despite the enemies’ rounds impacting within a foot of his fighting position.

“I was in my own little world,” the young corporal said. “I wasn’t even aware of a lot of the rounds impacting near my position, because I was concentrating so hard on making sure my rounds were on target

Monday, November 24, 2008

Perhaps someone can explain this to me

Right after the 9/11 attacks, Ann Coulter wrote an over the top column that called for vigorous action against the terrorists and their supporters. "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

That was too much for National Review and the magazine eventually stopped running Coulter's column.

In Coulter's defense, her rant was written in the immediate aftermath of an atrocity and Coulter lost friends in the attack.

Nonetheless, Naional Review felt compelled to distance itself from Coulter for her insulting attacks on Muslims. Perfectly defensible.

Now, fast forward seven years. There is no terrorist attack, but the Republicans lose a hard fought election. One Kathleen Parker writes a series of columns attacking social conservatives and Evangelical Christians.

Somehow, Parker remains in good standing with National Review. They still run her column despite its bigotry towards the very conservatives that NR presumes to lead.
A flawed business model

The local fish wrap ran this column on Saturday:


I'd expect to read this sort of thing in a free alt weekly or in a leftist paper in a liberal city like Madison, Wisconsin.

It's a shock, though, to read it in the paper that ostensibly "serves" Cumberland county. McCain, afterall, carried this area with nearly 60% of the vote.

What kind of business thinks that insulting the majority of their customers is the way to grow its business?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The other victim in Dallas

Forty-five years ago Lee Harvey Oswald murdered President John F. Kennedy and wounded Texas Governor John Connolly. Two days later, Oswald was shot down by Jack Ruby.

There was one other murder victim connected to the assassination and he is often overlooked. Oswald shot police officer J.D. Tippit about an hour after he murdered Kennedy.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Dallas PD is issuing a medallion honoring Tippit.

Dale K. Myers wrote the definitive book on the Tippit murder (With Malice, now sadly out of print.) He has a must read post up at his blog:

With Malice: The Tippit Murder 45 Years Later

I blogged about the aftermath of the Tippit shooting here:
History worth reclaiming

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jonestown: 30 Years Later

Thirty years ago Jim Jones and his henchmen murdered 900 American citizens. The mass murder marked the first time that most Americans heard of the Peoples Temple. But there was a back story. It is long and sordid and does no credit to the media in San Francisco nor to the Democratic powerbrokers of that city.

This web site does an outstanding job with that back story and fills in this important history.

Jonestown Apologists Alert

UPDATE: This post at the Flynn Files is also worth a look.
Blogger doing the work the MSM won't do

This post by Patterico is just outstanding:

What the L.A. Times Never Told You About an Inmate Who Was Close to Chuck Philips

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pop culture interlude

Ace has a nice review of The Strangers. I especially liked this from the post:
Yes, as some point out in the comments, this is pretty much an 80 minute long commercial for owning a shotgun... and taking an NRA self-defense course so you don't do stupid things with it.

I was somewhat interested in the movie when it came out-- mostly because it claimed to be "based on real events." When that turned out to be the usual lying Hollywood hype, i took a pass.

I'm not a big fan of the slasher/serial killer horror genre. It's partly a matter of philosophy, part cultural inherence.

A college friend once summed up the moral of the Friday the 13th series as "you can't kill the boogie man." At the time that struck me as an accurate assessment which meant the movies were profoundly nihilistic.

The glorification of sadism is repugnant, and, in itself, is a deal-breaker. These movies also have little appeal because i find it impossible to identify with the victims and their contrived helplessness. The "plots" require too much suspension of belief for any student of Col. Jeff Cooper.

Can't kill the boogie man? Yes we can!

Now there is hope you can believe in.
Howie Kurtz still a weasel

Kurtz: No Mainstream Media Outlet Published Trig Trutherism Until McCain Brought It Up. Oh Really???
Proposition 8, Mormons, and why the death of “serious journalism” does not matter

I do not live in California, so I did not follow the campaign for Proposition 8 (the Marriage Amendment). The resulting protests, however, did catch my attention.

The targets of choice for the gay marriage side are the Mormon Church and the state of Utah. They are the perfect villains because they are mostly white, conservative, and outsiders. There is no danger of the kind of internecine unpleasantness that bubbled up when exit polls revealed that African-Americans voted 2-1 against gay marriage.

If any group has a right to say, “Dude, get over it” when it comes to traditional marriage, it is the Mormons. They, after all, had to renounce polygamy as the price of Utah’s admission into the Union. Before they changed their doctrine, state and federal governments used their police powers to stamp out the practice of plural wives.

A few renegade sects have refused to buckle under to Caesar on this political definition of marriage. As we saw recently in Texas, Caesar remains willing to use SWAT teams to enforce its view of appropriate family structures.

Blaming outsiders for Prop 8’s defeat is the sort of weak joke that politics often affords us. After the 2006 election, The Atlantic ran an article detailing how wealthy gay activists in Colorado and California had used their money to defeat anti-gay marriage politicians across the nation. Their biggest coup was beating Rick Santorum here in Pennsylvania.

No one on the Left seemed perturbed that outsider money was influencing local elections when the shoe was on the other foot.

I have not seen this reversal mentioned in any of the post-election news reports. Instead, journalists have allowed the anti-Prop 8 protesters to frame the story as one of outsiders mucking around in California elections.

That is, they let the pro-gay marriage side avoid politically dangerous recriminations and undermine the legitimacy of the democratic vote in California.

This is just one more reason not to worry about “the looming death of serious journalism.” If “serious reporters” at respectable MSM papers do not read and remember what their fellow “serious journalists” write, why should we in the great unwashed pay attention to any of them?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Veterans Day

This blogger's post to her father is a must read.

White Cliffs of Dover
Still whitewashing Ayers and Dohrn

Now it is the New Yorker. Ronald Radosh dismantles their feeble "arguments" here.

See also:
The whitewashing of Ayers and Dohrn

Monday, November 10, 2008

”They are Marines, they aren’t going to run”

A fitting story to mark the 233d birthday of the Marine Corps.
Are values voters a liability for the GOP?

Good article on the subject:

Antisocial Conservatives
See also:
Unintended consequences

Question for the anti-Delay Republicans

UPDATE: Ace makes a lot of sense here.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I'm thinking this isn't exactly a scientific instrument

You Are 20% Yankee, 80% Dixie

You're completely Dixie all the way. You've possibly never even met a Yankee!

HT: Miriam's Ideas

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Credit where due

What is the source of the bizarre co-dependent relationship conservatives have with George Bush?

Another huge drag was the deep unpopularity of the incumbent Republican President. Let us not deal in cheap shots. George Bush is a good man who did a lot of good things. But he never seemed to understand that an essential role of leadership is communicating to the country and persuading it as to where we need to go and why.

Ferrara worries that blaming Bush for the loss is a "cheap shot." Yet he then goes on to note that Republicans were doomed by the inept handling of the September financial crisis and the failure to secure victory in Iraq. It is not a cheap shot to note that both of those were 100% GWB productions.

And lest i be accused of Monday Morning Quarterbacking, i wrote this two and a half years ago:

If you look at Lifson's examples, that same tendency is apparent; Bush's loyalty has been to "his people"-White House staffers, cabinet officers, etc. He shows very little loyalty, sympathy, or understanding for the broader coalition he leads-Republicans, conservatives, the military. He too often treats them as pawns whose only role is to obey the decisions he has made. He was willing to embarrass Senate Republicans by nominating Miers to the Supreme Court, he is willing undercut the Republican House on immigration, he panders on gas prices and was wobbly on the rights of gun owners. He is a wartime president who passes out Medals of Freedom to Muhammad Ali and neocon polemicists.

In sum, I see more reasons for pessimism than Lifson. The last couple of years of any administration are difficult. The habits of mind that GWB formed at HBS might make his especially difficult

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Wow. I can't belive that this is not a bigger issue in Pennsylvania

Obama will bankrupt the coal industry

Oh, yeah. This is the first we've heard of it. Like the man says-- the MSM is so far in the tank "they need scuba gear."

UPDATE: The story led the 11.00 pm news on the Harrisburg stations last night. We'll see what today brings.
Jerry Pournelle on polls and the election

Despair is a sin, and often a mistake. The polls do not record the "refused to respond" which in my judgment is a much larger category than any admit -- it includes me, five times so far this year since I'm home to answer the phone more than many people are -- and I suspect that more McCain people refuse to respond than the trendier Obama enthusiasts.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Metrocons in a nutshell

Stickin' With the Hockey Mom

Experts, you see. And at nothing are they more expert than evading responsibility, a task that requires scapegoats. So the unpopularity of the Republican Party has nothing to do with the policies the experts urged and the politicians the experts supported. Rather, it's the provincial hockey mom who is to blame.

"Cakewalk Ken" and Fukuyama have now declared their support for Obama, citing Palin prominently among their reasons. Brooks and Will have not (yet) declared themselves acolytes of Hope, but have made clear that they view Palin as an unalloyed dead weight on the GOP.

Experts in Washington think themselves infinitely more important to the Republican Party than mere voters in Pennsylvania who stand in line to see the Alaska hockey mom who sent her oldest son to fight the war the experts once urged

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The illogic of the Obamacons

Powerline has it exactly right:

An Obama administration would almost certainly be to the left of the Clinton administration. It might well be to the left of any U.S. administration ever. A person who votes to bring on that administration may be admirable in many respects. He or she may have been a conservative recently. He or she may become a conservative soon, and should be welcome in that event. But if the term "conservative" is given its ordinary, contemporary meaning, how can he or she be considered a conservative now?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just sayin'

Phillies Beat Rays, 4-3, to Win World Series

The last time the Phillies won the World Series was 1980. Which was also an election year. And the GOP candidate did much better than pundits expected.
Palin in Pennsylvania

R. S. McCain was at Hershey and Shippenburg yesterday. He reports on what he saw here:
'Stand Up and Fight'

'Nothing is inevitable here'
A new book on the JFK assassination

This one looks at the Cuban (i.e. Castro) connection. Here's an eye-opening review by Dale Myers:

Brothers In Arms: The Kennedys, the Castros, and the Politics of Murder

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Getting ready for 2012


Former Mitt Romney presidential campaign staffers, some of whom are currently working for Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin's bid for the White House, have been involved in spreading anti-Palin spin to reporters, seeking to diminish her standing after the election. "Sarah Palin is a lightweight, she won't be the first, not even the third, person people will think of when it comes to 2012," says one former Romney aide, now working for McCain-Palin. "The only serious candidate ready to challenge to lead the Republican Party is Mitt Romney. He's in charge on November 5th."
Quality fade still plagues TMQ

It what is becoming a disturbing trend, Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback (ostensibly a football column) is more filler than NFL meat.

What makes it really bad is that he insists on devoting huge chunks of bits and bytes to college basketball and the NBA. The NFL is the most popular sport in America. The NBA is a niche sport. Why is he wasting our time on something most football fans don't care about?
The whitewashing of Ayers and Dohrn

Three must read items on Chicago’s favorite terrorists.

"Prairie Fire"

Just a Little Genocide

Prof. William Ayers, Ph.D., Model Scholar

The joke is on us, but I can’t help noting that William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn stole two pages out of Nixon’s Watergate playbook. Lucky for them, they were much more successful than Tricky Dick.

Nixon’s men tried to dismiss the DNC break-in as a “third rate burglary” of no great importance. Ayers and his apologists now claim that he and his Weathermen crew were not real terrorists because they were inept and bungling. Their murderous intent is ignored, or even excused, because they mechanically inept.

The happy couple have also showed the world the right way to do a “modified limited hangout”. They tell us that they renounced violence while they were living underground. Few in the MSM have challenged those assertions. No one is willing to dig into those years. Armies of reporters are moving heaven and earth to get to the bottom of Palin’s shopping habits. Few stand ready to challenge Ayer’s convenient “truth” about his life on the run.

Yet, both Ayers and Dohrn readily admit that they have never told the whole story. (Once again, Dohrn went to jail rather than tell what she knew about the Brinks robbery and the people who carried it out.) For some reason, the relentlessly skeptical MSM finds these two ex-terrorists trustworthy and uninteresting.

Monday, October 27, 2008

SOS: Same old Steelers (coaches)

A smart guy once declared that it is the mark of insanity to repeat the same failed actions while expecting a different outcome. After watching the Giants’s game, it is clear that the Steelers’s offensive coaches belong in the loony bin not on an NFL sideline.

We entered the season with question marks about the offensive line. The Eagles’s game showed that aggressive pass rushing teams can get to our quarterback and shut down our passing attack. Yet against the Giants we saw the same failed plays that did not work against the Eagles and Ravens. For some reason, Tomlin, Arians, et. Al. believed that these plays would work against the team that stopped the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Please-stop the insanity!!

The shame of it all is that this brain-dead offensive brain trust squandered an outstanding effort by the defense. The Steelers’s D gave the team multiple opportunities to win against the Super Bowl champs.

Friday, October 24, 2008

View from inside

Michael Malone pulls no punches:

Editing Their Way to Oblivion: Journalism Sacrificed For Power and Pensions
Patterico back in business

His old domain got hijacked. His blog is now here.
Let's talk football

Big Ben vs. Eli: Complete & Unabridged

I disagree on one point. While Eli has the better signature moment, it is not true that Roethlisberger has no signature moments. The tackle against Nick Harper in the 2005 playoffs saved the season (and kept Jerome Bettis from becoming Scott Norwood or Joe Pisarcik) should count. I'd also add the block he threw in the Superbowl that sprang Randle El to complete the option pass to Hines Ward for the clinching TD.

But that's Big Ben. Show me another QB with passer ratings in the 90s who also helped his team win a championship with a block and a tackle.

Sportswriters have forgotten just how bad the Steelers were when Roethlisberger came on board. They finished 6 and 10 in 2003. In the game before his first start the Ravens conducted a textbook beatdown on Pittsburgh and won 30-13. The Steelers went 14-0 from that point on with #7 as the starting QB.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

MSM operative confesses

Newsweek Reporter Outs Himself as a Hack

If that sounds like I had some trouble being “objective,” I did. Objectivity is a fallacy. In campaign reporting more than any other kind of press coverage, reporters aren’t just covering a story, they’re a part of it—influencing outcomes, setting expectations, framing candidates—and despite what they tell themselves, it’s impossible to both be a part of the action and report on it objectively.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


The Harvard Business School is celebrating it centennial.

The timing is not so hot. For one thing, Bush is the only president ever to graduate from the HBS. His performance offers no reflected glory for the Harvard MBA.

For another, one scholar argues that the financial crisis grew out of the theories taught and promoted by the school.

A Financial Crisis Fifty Years in the Making?
A new book on Lincoln as war leader

Here's a review from the Times:

Crisis Manager

This is not a book about White House table talk, the president’s spiritual values, his relations with Mary Todd or even his deep-seated opposition to slavery. It is about how Lincoln led the nation to victory: his formulation of the country’s war aims; his mobilization of public opinion; his diplomatic and economic leadership. Above all it is about his oversight of military strategy, in short, his duties as wartime commander in chief — duties that Lincoln defined and executed for the first time in the nation’s history.

I contrasted Bush's failures with Lincoln's success in this post from 2006

When you look at the functions listed for wartime C-in-C, it is pretty obvious that GWB has done a woeful job in Iraq. I'm not sure he deserves passing marks on any one of them.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Where did they go?

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

I knew there was something missing this election cycle. I just now put my finger on it.

I have not seen the establishment pundits writing/commenting on the joys of divided government.

You know, like in 1996 when they suggested that the country would benefit if Democrat Clinton balanced the Republican congress. Ditto 2000 and Gore.

Or the positive aspects of Reid/Gephardt/Pelosi reining in President Bush.

Just one of those things that make you go "hmmmm."

See also:

Notes on the current crisis
Taking Peggy Noonan to the woodshed
Ace: more than just the funny

This comment has the sociological insight that is supposedly David Brooks stock in trade.

Ross Douthat is whining that 'grassroots' need "elites." by elites, of course, he means himself, or people like him, even though he's a blogger and very minor author.

I actually do not mean that with much disrespect -- i respect he's written a book.

But my point is, ross douthat lables himself an elite. except for his education, he just is not.

When people say "elites,' they mean ESTABLISHMENT. Northeastern Ivy-ish establishment. But not actual elites-- most of them are not terribly elite at all.

they merely ape the tastes and policy preferences of the upper class northeastern set
Why Steyn is the best

Cocoon: The Return

That's why the metropolitan sneers about the size of Wasilla were extremely ill-advised, and not just because of the implication that the mayors of, say, New Orleans, San Francisco or Detroit are therefore more qualified to be in the White House. If it weren't for small towns, suburbs and rural districts, there would be no conservative government at all. With a few exceptions (such as Vermont), "blue states" mostly turn out to be red states with a couple of big blue cities (Pennsylvania, for example, or even California). Almost by definition, an effective conservative executive - the kind you might want in the White House - can only come from flyover country.

So, when a conservative pundit mocks Wasilla, he's mocking conservatism as it's actually lived, as opposed to conservatism as a theoretical fantasy playground for the purposes of cocktail-party banter

Friday, October 17, 2008

Taking Peggy Noonan to the woodshed

Over at Ace's joint.

Peggy Noonan's relevance (what little she has left) comes from her association with Reagan. Yet, she was hardly a major Reaganaut. On election night 1980 when conservatives finally emerged from the wilderness Peggy Noonan had no association with the conservative movement, the GOP, or the Reagan campaign.

She was in the studios of CBS News. She worked for CBS as a writer for Dan Rather. She jumped on board the Reagan train late. Very late. Long after the bleak hard work of the election was done.

Even then, she was hardly a loyalist. Her first book on RR was surprisingly critical, snide, and often dismissive. It came out before the final verdict was in on Reagan's successes (especially the Cold War victory). When the Gipper left Washington in 1989, all the smart people knew he was just an amiable former actor who somehow charmed the American people. Noonan did little to challenge that assertion.

Her role as Reagan's hagiographer did not start until even the smart set had to admit that he was more than that.

Noonan always stays on the right side of conventional wisdom in DC and Manhattan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bill Ayers, Boy Scout?

Check out Beldar:

Bill Ayers, Eagle Scout from Hell

Boy Scouts salute the American flag, and learn how to raise and lower and fold it with proper reverence. I was my scout troop's bugler. As a junior high and high school student, I played "Taps" at many military funerals during the Vietnam War. I watched many an American flag — indistinguishable from the one Bill Ayers proudly trampled in 2001 while posing for magazine cameras — carefully folded and handed to grieving family members. During those years when I was a Boy Scout bugler in the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, Bill Ayers was trying his best to create more military funerals.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Bill Ayers wanted

This is post by Bob Owens is a must read.

The Ayers-Weatherman Terrorist Attack as It Might Have Happened

The Weathermen were inept at first, but they were always deadly serious in their aims. Over time, some Ayers's good buddies became highly competent at violent crime and murder.

Let's also note that Ayers's wife, Bernadine Dohrn, had connections to violent terrorism long after the Sixties ended.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Two Americas

Esteemed commenter AMac tipped me to this thought-provoking column from Asia Times:

Hockey moms and capital markets

Asian capital markets cannot absorb Asia's savings.

What does America have that Asia doesn't have? The answer is, Sarah Palin - not Sarah Palin the vice presidential candidate, but

Sarah Palin the "hockey mom" turned small-town mayor and reforming Alaska governor. All the PhDs and MBAs in the world can't make a capital market work, but ordinary people like Sarah Palin can. Laws depend on the will of the people to enforce them. It is the initiative of ordinary people that makes America's political system the world's most reliable.

America is the heir to a long tradition of Anglo-Saxon law that began with jury trial and the Magna Carta and continued through the English Revolution of the 17th century and the American Revolution of the 18th. Ordinary people like Palin are the bearers of this tradition….

Provincial America depends on the initiative of ordinary people to get through the day. America has something like an Education Ministry, but it has little money to dispense. Americans pay for most of their school costs out of local taxes, and levy those taxes on themselves. In small towns, many public agencies, including fire protection and emergency medical assistance, depend almost entirely on volunteers. People who tax themselves, and give their own time and money for services on which communities depend, are not easily cowed by the federal government or by large corporations
RTWT. It is a surprisingly positive take on Palin and the America that produced her.

In most big cities, a different pattern and ethos prevail. The best (i.e. worst) example is New Orleans.


Yet, even among these five killing capitals, only Caracas had a higher murder rate than New Orleans.

In part, the magazine blames "grinding poverty, an inadequate school system, a prevalence of public housing, and a high incarceration rate" for New Orleans' world-class murder rate.

What the magazine didn't mention was that the city is run by crooks and charlatans. The mayor can't keep his foot out of his mouth long enough to complete a sentence and his only skill set seems to be begging the federal government for more money. The DA was forced to quit last year because he was an incompetent boob. The city's U.S. Congressman, Bill "What's that money doing in my freezer?" Jefferson, is under federal indictment. A well-known local political hack reported to federal prison this week to begin a five-year stretch for his part in a million dollar city contract skim ...

In New Orleans, nothing ever changes

While New Orleans is an extreme example, many other big and small cities share similar symptoms and suffer from the same deep-seated problems. Here in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia has a murder rate four times the national average. It, too, is plagued by corruption, bad schools, and political futility.

When a provincial outsider looks at Philly or New Orleans, he does not underestimate the problems they face. Yet three facts stand out in stark contrast to the America described by Spengler in the Asia Times.

1. Political leadership rarely confronts the desperate problems in a systematic or thoroughgoing manner. Instead, their policies amount to little more than evasion and passing the buck.

Faced with violent crime and street gangs, they demand more gun control for citizens outside their city. When their schools fail abysmally, they propose that the state and federal governments give more money to those same schools. At every turn they do not solve problems, they redefine them so that some one else is to blame.

2. Like New Orleans, these urban areas hold elections but nothing changes. When it comes to positive change, the new boss is the same as the old (failed) boss. No matter how passionate the run-up to election day, the ballot box seems to ratify the status quo. Politics in these failing cities is trapped in a sticky equilibrium that confirms the flawed policies of the past.

Hey diddle diddle
Distribute the middle
The premise controls the

Frederick Winsor, The Space Child’s Mother Goose

A big reason for this stagnation is the fact that these cities have a political mono-culture that is actively hostile to new ideas.

The establishment Democrats, the rump Republicans, and the major media outlets all share the same world-view. While there may be cosmetic differences among candidates, no one is willing to offer bold alternatives that offer real change. Campaigns never address the real problems that plague the city. The parties and the press serve as mediators who ensure that the prevailing consensus prevails.

Over time this mono-culture has sapped the life and hope out of the electorate. Politics resembles the flawed systems of Asia instead of the vibrant provincial systems that Spengler celebrated and Palin personifies.
The Tasergate hatchet job

Beldar is the man to read when it comes to Palin in Alsaska. He slices and dices the latest attempt to smear the governor for her actions in office:

Branchflower report on Tasergate: Just one guy's opinion that contradicts itself and ignores the relevant facts and law

Democratic state senator and staunch Barack Obama supporter Hollis French of Alaska boasted in early September that he would provide an "October Surprise" which would upset the McCain-Palin campaign. Indeed, he originally planned to time it for October 31, four days before the election, for maximum impact, until other legislators forced him to abandon that particular strategy.

Today, however, in an episode of political theater that would make Josef Stalin blush, French gave it his very best shot: The investigator he hired and directed, Steve Branchflower, has labored mightily and given birth to a bloated and redundant 263-page report which boils down, for purposes of the ongoing presidential campaign, to two paragraphs that completely contradict one another. And the one of them that's unfavorable ignores the most important — indeed conclusive — evidence on point, but goes on to provide Branchflower's guess as to whether Gov. Palin has done anything improper

Friday, October 10, 2008

What role did RE-regulation play in the banking meltdown?

Regulation and “Mark to Market” Accounting Rules

Few people realize how much of the present damage to markets is caused by the new regulations imposed by Sabannes Oxley and the “mark to market” rules imposed by FASB. How do you mark to market when there is no market? The market for troubled loans has dissolved for two reasons: no one knows what they are worth, and if an investment bank takes the loans into its portfolio it must mark them at the market price. The market is illiquid and facing not mere risk. They are facing uncertainty. No one knows what the values are or what the probabilities are.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The man who knows more about American politics than anyone alive today sez it ain't over

Michael Barone:

The Race Isn't Necessarily Over for Barack Obama and John McCain
Why i usually ignore the polls

I don't waste much time with political polls. Like all survey tools, they are at best a snapshot of a point in time and election cycles are all about movement. After all, it wasn't that long ago that the media was polling the Hilliary-Rudy general election race.

Plus, it is hard to tell if a survey was done competantly or in a slipshod fashion.

Also, i know for a fact that respondents lie. I work in marketing and i've used market research and analysis for many years. Time and again i've run into results where customers answer questions contrary to the facts: Credit card customers who claim they never carry a balance even though the survey sample was drawn only from people who had carried a balance for six straight months. Farmers who claimed to buy only John Deere equipment even though we were surveying people who had purchased Case implements in the past years. Etc. etc.

Sometimes the results are a matter of simple confusion and low involvement. For example, the last time i was phone surveyed i had a hard time remembering if i bought my last printer at Office Max or Office Depot. I know which store i went to, but i can never remember the name. Being the scrupulous, honest sort, i answered "I don't remember". At least i think i did. Maybe i just picked one so i didn't sound stupid.

At other times, the reponses are shaped by perceived social stigma. Many people do not want to admit that they carry a credit card balance. Hence, they tell the surveyer (pollster) they do not. In the right environment, Walmart shoppers will claim they never visit the big store. There is perceived social pressure even in an ephemeral survey encounter.

Knowing all that, i don't get bent out of shape about something that could be incorrect today or irrelevant two weeks from now.
Where journalism is headed?

The End of Dailies

Hastened by the economic and credit crisis, we are moving ever closer to a moment of catastrophe for one or more major daily newspapers. Sometime in the next few months, we're going to lose one–or it's going to be changed so radically as to be barely recognizable under the current definition of daily newspaper. And given the lemming-like tendencies of the newspaper industry, once one newspaper goes, others will quickly follow.
Note to bloggers and pundits: Long faces lose elections

Yeah, it looks bleak now, but there are many days before the election.

Blogger, both left and right, sure are naive and trusting when it comes to polls.

Hey, attitude matters. That's not just happy talk induced by GOP talking points. (I stopped caring about what the party insiders think long ago). Attitude is a survival tool:

Attitude: More Important than Exercise

I never fail to be amazed at how much attitude matters. It sounds so squishy and lame, and yet… Again and again, research and real life prove that attitude is the single biggest determinant of almost everything.

I saw it in researching THE UNTHINKABLE (in studies and stories showing that people with a healthy attitude recover more fully from trauma), and you can see it again today in the New York Times. In a study mentioned on the front page, people who a positive attitude about aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer (a bigger increase than those associated with exercising or not smoking).
Politics is certainly not war (thank God). But even in the harsh cauldron of deadly conflcit, attitude matters. Here's Lt. General Harold Moore's lessons he learned from the battle at Ia Drang:

First, never quit. Three strikes and you're not out. Put that on your refrigerator. Number two - there's always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor. There's always a way. Number three - trust your instincts.

So come one, suck it up. What's the point in wallowing in fauz-despair now?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This is really sad on so many levels

So a dying paper decides to waste resources on a columnist who writes whiny little items like this:

Sarah Palin, the classic schoolyard bully

Those of us with vivid memories of middle school have seen Gov. Sarah Palin's type before. She was the girl who was always the first to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and the last to stop instigating fights in the cafeteria.
Most people think that carrying around all that "trauma" from middle school is a good reason to enter therapy. The editors of the Post-Gazette think it makes for good journalism.

But the really sad thing is that it ran in the Pittsburgh paper. That's a city that prides itself on toughness and resiliance and its blue collar heritage. It does not deserve to be shamed by newspaper that is so happily wimpy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Credit where due

The Miami Dolphins have now doubled their win total from last year. There are no doubt many reasons for the improvement, but i think Joey Porter deserves a chunk of the credit.

Two weeks ago he was ridiculed by the sports yakkers when he announced that Miami was going to treat New England's QB like the career back-up he was. It was big talk from a guy whose team had one win in its last eighteen games.

Big talk. Bigger performance. Porter had three sacks in the improbable Dolphins's victory.

They did it again Sunday when they upset the Chargers. The Charger's had averaged over 34 points a game but the Dolphins defense held them to 10 points.

JP was a yapper and a trash talker when he played for the Steelers. But he knew how to back it up. (See Jeremy Stevens and Super Bowl XL). He's a good guy to have around when you're trying to change a locker room culture.

Troy Brown retired a few days ago. I should hate him because he knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs more than once. I have to say though, he was the greatest big game player of his generation.

Other players might have racked up better stats. No one else can match his versatility or his ability to perform in crunch time. He was a wide receiver, defensive back, and kick returner. He was also a smart, smart player in all those phases. I think two plays are emblematic of his greatness. In the 2001 AFC Championship Game, Brown recovered and returned a blocked field goal. Just as he was tackled, he lateraled the ball to Antwan Harris who took it in for the touchdown. In 2006, in the playoffs against the Chargers, he stripped Marlon McCree after an interception, thus opening the way for a Patriot's comeback win.

Wide receivers are the most vocally selfish and self-promoting players in the NFL. A WR can be famous for his antics, or his tantrums, or his highlight reel. Troy Brown was not very good at those sorts of things and so he rarely gets mentioned in the company of TO, Ocho Cinqo, or Steven Smith. On the other hand, he has three rings which is three more than those guys have combined.
Notes on the campaign

I do not watch the presidential or VP debates. I cannot imagine worse television than a joint press conference with two highly programmed candidates answering questions from a smug, preening, 'highly respected journalist." Nothing said at the debate is going to change my vote. Watching the show in order to critique the performance of the candidates strike me as a more miserable experience than the worst Oscar party a guy can imagine.


Reading bloggers reading polls is a classic illustration of Michael Crichton's Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect

Day in and day out bloggers criticize, dissect, fisk, and refute the MSM and their flawed polls. Yet, come election time, they exult, despair, with each turn of the same flawed surveys and the often cluesless "analysis" that accompany them.

Even if the polls were accurate (an impossible "if" given how frequently the polls differ among themselves) they are a static snapshot of a dynamic event. It's four weeks from election day and a single week is a long time in politics.


Scientific civilization ... has one rather particular defect; it is perpetually tending to destroy that democracy or power of the ordinary man.

Once men sang together round a table in chorus; now one man sings alone, for the absurd reason that he can sing better

G. K Chesterton, Heretics

I wonder what G. K. would make of our modern presidential campaigns. We seem to have gone beyond even what he imagined.

What kind of democracy do we have when faceless operatives in Washington make so bold as to tell voters if their vote matters?

"We're pulling out of Michigan. It's out of reach."

Why would any campaign say such a thing?

I can understand spending money where it will do the most good. I am mystified that a campaign would publicly write off states before election day.

Maybe it happens because political operatives want to build their insider cred with reporters.

Or maybe they want to make sure that losses do not end up on their resume.

Of course, it is pretty hard to build a party or a political movement if no one wants to campaign in marginal or difficult states.
Worth a look

Political Origins of the Financial Crisis

It's a nice round up of articles written by economists.
Quite good

There is no end to it — everyone gets the version of Obama that perfectly fits his own world view. It is not hypocrisy. It’s fraud. Whatever he told or shared with Ayers, Dohrn, Wright, or Pfleger counts for no more that what he told or shared with other now inconvenient groups and individuals. He’s sold the same piece of political real estate to multiple buyers for multiple, conflicting uses.

But one thing has been consistent. He has never, ever attacked political corruption, whether in Chicago or Washington. To the contrary, at the Woods Fund, the Annenberg Challenge and the U.S. Senate he’s laddled out earmarks and goodies to a long list of friends and associates — Wright, Pfleger, Will County (home of FBI target Larry Walsh), Allison S. Davis, ACORN, etc. The one consistency has been his fidelity to political supporters. Everyone else and every political position were disposable.

Now is precisely the time for firm convictions, strict ethical propriety and the firmness to turn away those who put private interests above the public good. We may be on the verge of electing a candidate who lacks any of these traits


I do find it interesting that BHO is allowed to pretend that he did not know much about Ayers and Dohrn. I doubt that there is a history class in any college in America that does not cover the Weathermen and Dohrn as part of the 1960s.

Ignorance has its uses, i guess. But how do you get to be considered brilliant while claiming not to know many basic and obvious things about your political allies?

The Weekly Standard has a good piece on Billy A and the MSM's attempt to whitewash his crimes and background.

Stanley Kurtz dismantles the New York Times latest piece of creative journalism.

Powerline is also quite good:
During the years when Obama was "palling around" with Ayers, as Sarah Palin accurately termed it, Ayers was proud of his attempt to kill nine-year-old John Murtagh and his family. He said, for publication, that his only regret was that he and his murderous colleagues hadn't tried to kill more people. This unrepentant would-be mass murderer was the one person (along with his bloodthirsty wife, the only public figure, to my knowledge, who expressed enthusiastic approval of the Charles Manson murders) whom Barack Obama chose, over all other friends and acquaintances, to host his inaugural Democratic Party political fundraiser. And Ayers was Obama's close collaborator in trying to "reform" Chicago's public education system by drenching it in radical politics and anti-Americanism.

This article from the Hill last years notes BHO's vulnerability on the crime isssue. I find his stance on gangs quite telling:

In 1998, Obama was one of only three senators to vote against a proposal making it a criminal offense for convicts on probation or on bail to have contact with a street gang.
And this:
Obama, at the time, said the bill would unfairly target minorities, stating, “There’s a strong overlap between gang affiliation and young men of color … I think it’s problematic for them to be singled out as more likely to receive the death penalty for carrying out certain acts than are others who do the same thing.”

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Another good question

What is it about Cheney that makes him such a bogeyman? Parents apparently frighten their children by threatening to call in Cheney to discipline them if they don't mind.

Biden vs. Palin

Betsy's Page has a round up of Biden's mistakes, misstatements, and sef-serving lies. As usual Mark Steyn says it best:
By contrast, Biden was glib and fluent and in command of the facts – if by "in command of the facts" you mean "talks complete blithering balderdash and hogwash."
If Sarah Palin had committed one-quarter of these whoppers, the talking heads would still be frothing at the mouth. Instead we get garbage like this:
To the contrary, it is hard to count any objective measures by which Biden did not clearly win the encounter. She looked like she was trying to get people to take her seriously. He looked like he was running for vice president. His answers were more responsive to the questions, far more detailed and less rhetorical.

I share Scott Chaffin's disgust with the press reaction.
Must read

Check out this transcrip from This American Life. It provides an extraordinary look into the mortgage crisis.

Giant Pool of Money(small .PDF)
Great question

How come people who are so pleased to think that they might have seen another country "like a native" are so willing, or even proud, to spend their whole lives as a tourist in their own?


Friday, October 03, 2008

Notes on the current crisis

Jamies Gorelick is emblematic of a large part of the problem.

Mistress of Disaster: Jamie Gorelick

Making sense of the economic crisis

It is bad enough that insiders like her bounce from failure to failure while collecting huge paychecks. What is really galling is the lack of scrutiny people like Gorelick receive from the “watchdog press”.

No surprise. When her conflict of interest on the 9-11 Commission came to light, she did not lack for defenders. Establishment pundit David Ignatius raced forward to denounce criticism of his “friend” as partisan smears. In such an environment, you cannot expect the MSM to look into the actions of sharp operators like Gorelick, Raines, or Johnson.

The greater sin of the elite media is the fairy tale version of Washington they foist upon their readers/viewers. In their telling of the story, the Party of Free Enterprise wages a vicious, partisan war against the Party Opposed to Big Business.

The reality is something far different. Liberal Democrats like Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, and Barney Frank received huge sums of campaign cash from Freddie and Fanny. Joe Biden watches out for the interest of credit card giant MBNA while his family dabbles in running hedge funds.

The fairy tale has been obsolete for decades. The Democrats made their peace with Big Business in 1975 when Phil Burton and Tip O’Neil realized that they could use corporate money to preserve their post-Watergate majorities.

The Beltway and Wall Street seem so connected that the ethos of crony capitalism prevails. The Republican Secretary of the Treasury, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs, crafts bailouts with the input of the current chairman of Goldman Sachs. Should anyone raise questions about the propriety of this cozy deal-making, both men can count on a ringing defense from a past Democratic Treasury Secretary and the Democratic Governor of New Jersey. Oddly enough, both men are Goldman alums.

The fairy tale conflict and cozy bipartisan reality is a negative by-product of the “mediated democracy” Powerline discussed.

There seems to be a fatal contradiction in free market theory when it comes to financial services. On one hand, “too big to fail” is cold unpleasant reality. The terrible thing is that it encourages big firms to take too much risk because the Feds will have to save their bacon to avoid a financial meltdown. Right-wingers hate this.

At the same time, they hate anti-trust action. Therefore, they permit more and more financial services companies to reach that “too big to fail” threshhold.

‘Tis a puzzlement.

In our market research in consumer banking we ran into a concept called “the moralization of credit.” A certain segment of the population looks at how their neighbors manage their money through a prism of “right and wrong” not “prudent or unwise”. I hear echoes of that in many conservative commentators.

Frequently, these moralists seem most offended by the borrower who cannot pay, not the banks who encourage the borrowing (and turned a tidy profit for a time.)

Yet these same conservatives recognize that the drug dealer is a bigger villain than the addict. How is credit different from dope?

I think a sensible conservative has to add a little Niebuhr to his Hayek. We cannot expect men in groups to behave as morally and as responsibly as men will as individuals. That does not change just because the group is a for-profit corporation.

A sad quirk of fate is that McCain did more than most senators to address these problems before they became a crisis. Yet, he does not get credit for his foresight. Instead, the economic bad news will probably cost him the election.

In the aftermath of this crisis, many companies will fail, or merge, or be taken over in a shotgun marriage. Nearly everyone will blame the unforeseen credit crunch, market meltdowns, etc., etc. in many cases this is just a new form of failure laundering. The true cause of their problems are bad strategies or poor management. The broader economic problems just provide a convenient fig leaf to hide these executive failures.

There is a special class of market victims in these sorts of bubbles and they get almost not attention. These are businesses who tried to manage prudently while the irrational exuberance was rising toward flood tide. In the Hayekian/Darwinian fairy tales of the Right, these firms will step forward to pick up the pieces. The reality is that many of these firms have disappeared. What now looks like prudence was formerly condemned as stodgy, unimaginative, and out of touch. Their lagging stock price made them takeover bait for the glamorous high rollers who then crashed and burned. Other once prudent businesses replaced their “underperforming” executives with aggressive charismatic executives who drank freely of the bubble Koolaid.

The Bush-Cheney administration has worked assiduously to restore the power and prerogatives of the executive branch. They have been curiously loath to wield those powers at critical times. We saw it first in their lackadaisical efforts to win the Iraq War. We saw it again in the present economic mess.

Hmmm, jealous of its prerogatives yet indolent in governing. That sounds more like a decadent monarchy than a vigorous Jacksonian chief executive. I think the Right got Bush wrong. Today, he seems more like G.W. Bush II of Connecticut than he does the forceful W from west Texas.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A religious war fought out every day in the headlines and at the newsstands

I came across an interesting quote by historian Johann Huizinga:

[the newspaper] fulfills in America the cultural function of the drama of Aeschylus. I mean that it is the expression through which a people-- a people numbering many millions-- becomes aware of its spiritual unity. The millions, as they do their careless reading every day at breakfast, in the subway, on the train and the elevated, are performing a ritual. The mirror of their culture is held up to them in their newspapers.

cited in Brown and Duguid, The Social Life of Information, (2000)

Huizinga was writing circa 1926. I doubt that he would see it this way today. Newspapers no longer reveal our "spiritual unity". Instead, they emphasize and exacerbate deep spiritual faultlines. On one side we see the worldview of the papers themselves: urban, secular, drenched in an upper middle-class liberalism. They are still confident in their elect status and the rightness of each and every one of their positions.

On the other side we have a large chunk of their current, former, and potential readership. They reject large portions of the worldview. Certainly religious faith and values issues mark faultlines. But you see the same divide on issues like gun control, crime, immigration, and multiculturalism.
The main issue is not so much the difference in viewpoint. It is that the newspapers rarely debate or seek to persuade those on the other side. Instead they ignore, dismiss, denigrate, and mischaracterize their positions.

Then there are the equivalent of agnostics: those (mostly the young) who will never participate in Huizinga's ritual of careless reading because they do not read much of anything.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

MSM to public: "Sure we're in the tank for Obama, whatcha' gonna do about it?"

Welcome Ace of Spades and OTB readers. While you're here, why not check out the archives and blogroll? And maybe add this blog to your RSS reader (pretty please?)

See updates at bottom of post.

Patterico and Michelle Malkin have details on the latest outrage:

Moderator of Palin Debate Has Pro-Obama Book Coming Out on Inauguration Day

A debate “moderator” in the tank for Obama; Update: McCain campaign didn’t know about book

This is nothing new. David Gelernter has this story from 1996 in his Book Drawing Life:

Today's elite loathes the public. Nothing personal, just a fundamental difference in world view, but the hatred is unmistakable. Occasionally it escapes in scorching geysers. Michael Lewis reports in the New Republic on the '96 Dole presidential campaign: 'The crowd flips the finger at the busloads of journalists and chant rude things at them as they enter each arena. The journalists, for their part, wear buttons that say 'yeah, i'm the Media. Screw You.' The crowd hates the reporters, the reporters hate the crowd-- an even matchup, except that the reporters wield power and the crowed (in effect) wields none.

Their power might be waning, but they still seem to have enough to keep pushing their agenda. (At least the ones who still have jobs.)

This old post has a hypothesis for why this is so:

MSM: Shrinking Audience, Leftward Drift

UPDATE: Howard "Howie the Wesel" Kurtz defends Ifill here.

It really is a perfect case study for the corralled rebellion school of media criticism.

Kurtz makes race an issue ("In The Post interview, Ifill said that as the daughter of a minister who marched in civil rights demonstrations") and then let's Ifill level a bogus racism charge against her critics ("She added: "No one's ever assumed a white reporter can't cover a white candidate."). He touts her MSM credentials ("Ifill, who has worked for NBC News, the New York Times and The Washington Post") as though that proves she is not biased. He goes out his way to slam the first website to point out the conflict of interest even though they had their facts right.

UPDATE 2: As if to prove the point, a whole lot of "media critics" flack for Ifill:

MSM starts throwing its ethics under the bus to cover for Gwen Ifill

UPDATE 3: This transcript from Washington Week right after the GOP convention shows Ifill's attitude toward any conservative who questions anything she and her friends do:

MS. IFILL: Speaking of fired up, ready to go, right? Okay, since we are representatives of the eastern media elite - (laughter) - we have to address the question - speak for myself, yes - we have to address the question that was raised at this convention and was used with great effect by not only Sarah Palin, but many of the other speakers, which is we're at fault essentially.


MS. IFILL: We've got tough, tough hides up here on this stage, so - (laughter) - hack away at us. Plus, when we get some sleep, we'll even be able to give it back to you.

UPDATE 4: Powerline believes that Ifill has "a shocking conflict of interest. I think that is true and it has nothing to do with left vs. right.

During the 1960 campaign, T. H. White considered writing a book that looked at presidential politics from the inside. When he broached the subject to his wife, she told him, "It's probably a good book if Kennedy wins. But if Nixon wins, it's a dog." JFK did win, and The Making of the President became a classic book. His wife may have been onto something because his later election books never had the same sizzle.

White, unlike Ifill, had played no journalistic role duing the campaign. He certainly did not pretend to be an impartial moderator during one of the debates.

A similar conflict of interest permeates Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Every one knew that the best ending for the book included a description of the hanging of the two killers. It could no be finished until the appeals finished. Yet, Capote had befriended Smith and Hickock during their incarceration and they looked to him to help them fight the death sentence. Both recent movies on the matter (Capote and Infamous) recognize that this put the author in a morally compromised position.

Nonetheless, many members of the MSM "defend" Ifill by treating the whole matter as "right wing talking points."

Others resort to aristocratic disdain:

(A personal note: we've met Ifill and she's a terrific person and journalist.)
Really? So people in the guild get a pass because other members of the guild think they are "terrific". That recalls a defense of Jamie Gorelick during the 9-11 Commission hearings.

This guild mentality lies at the heart of many of journalisms problems. As Power Line noted a few days ago:

We live in a political system that has not yet been adequately described, but one might call it a "mediated democracy." Mediated by a self-appointed, generally ignorant but highly opinionated "elite" that is not elite by any conventional measure--income, intelligence, education, social position--but that successfully dictates the terms of political discourse even though it no longer controls (exclusively, anyway) the means of production of the news. Someday, social scientists may be able to explain this. For now, we appear to be stuck with it.

UPDATE 5: Howie the Weasel likes flacking for Ifill so much, he did twice. This time in his regular column.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Extraordinarily good

Innocent Until Reported Guilty

The simple prescription for reducing wrongful convictions: better journalism about crime and punishment.

One solution for wrongful convictions, however, has not been explored in a sustained, meaningful manner. It is a solution that cannot be legislated or even come from the government. The solution requires writers and editors for newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, Web sites and books to practice preventive journalism rather than after-the-conviction, too-late journalism

HT: Abb at Liestoppers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ugly loss

Ron Cook spares no one:

Coaches need to take some heat

The worst part wasn't the 15-6 loss or the nine sacks by the Philadelphia Eagles or the fact the Steelers' offense could have played the game all night and still not threatened to score a touchdown.

The worst part yesterday was that the Steelers didn't have a clue what hit them at Lincoln Financial Field.

I'm talking about the players, sure. All of the offensive guys -- everybody from the quarterback to the running backs to the wide receivers and tight ends to the poor, beleaguered offensive linemen -- were truly awful.

But make sure you don't overlook the contributions to this sporting nightmare from Mike Tomlin and his Steelers coaches. They couldn't have had a more rotten game.

Where were the adjustments to Philadelphia's all-out blitzing defense? Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is good, but he shouldn't be that much smarter than Tomlin and his guys

Based on what i saw this week, Dallas has the inside track to its sixth Lombardi Trophy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Making sense of the economic crisis

Two good artices

Michael Lewis-- Let the Heads Roll

Jack Shafer-- Fannie Mae and the Vast Bipartisan Conspiracy

Lewis has has harsh words for the Wall Street executives who have cratered their companies after pocketing huge bonuses. However, he is also asture enough to nothe the market dynamics that drove their actions.

But interestingly, if any of these men had behaved well and resisted the pressures and temptations of the moment, his firm would have, for several years, dramatically underperformed the competition. Probably he would have lost his job.

This passage from Shafer stopped me in my tracks

Next up is Jamie S. Gorelick, whose official résumé describes her as "one of the longest serving Deputy Attorneys General of the United States," a position she held during the Clinton administration. Although Gorelick had no background in finance, she joined Fannie Mae in 1997 as vice chair and departed in 2003. For her trouble, Gorelick collected a staggering $26.4 million in total compensation, including bonuses. Federal investigators (PDF) would later say that "Fannie Mae's management directed employees to manipulate accounting and earnings to trigger maximum bonuses for senior executives from 1998 to 2003." The New York Times would call the manipulations an "$11 billion accounting scandal." Gorelick, it should be noted, has never been charged with any wrongdoing.

Gorelick was responsible for hindering counter-terrorism efforts in the Reno Justice Department. The Wall she helped erect may have contributed to the 9-11 disaster.

Now we find out that she was hip-deep in the largest economic disaster of our time. Yet despite her sorry track record, she was selected to serve on the 9-11 Commission.

Gorelick is interesting in another way. She has exactly the sort of "elite" resume that lights David Brooks's fire. Given the results she's produced (almost uniformly bad), Sarah Palin's "Limited experience" looks like a powerful point in her favor.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hmm. Could there be a connection?

McClatchy to Reduce Staff, Cut Dividend

Then check out how a senior McClatchy editor deals with public criticism:

This just gets better (and sadder)
Sic transit gloria mundi

Michael Hammer, the father of reengineering, died on September 3. His passing received surprisingly little attention in the press. He was, without a doubt, one of the most influential business thinkers of our time.

His 1993 book, Reengineering the Corporation, was a best seller. Fortune magazine named him one of the 25 most influential Americans (along with Martha Stewart and Oprah.)

The term reengineering soon went out of vogue after it became synonomous with layoffs and out-sourcing. In most cases, the corporate bureaucrats were simply using "reengineering" as a fig leaf to cover-up old fashioned cost-cutting. Very few were following Hammer's advice that they start with a clean sheer of paper to redesign their corporate processes.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Is The Atlantic trying to become the print version of the HuffPo?

First they let Excitable Andy peddle his vile rumours on their blog. Now there is this interesting sidelight to the McCain cover photograph.

How Jill Greenberg Really Feels About John McCain

When The Atlantic called Jill Greenberg, a committed Democrat, to shoot a portrait of John McCain for its October cover, she rubbed her hands with glee.


Given her strong feelings about John McCain, we asked whether she had any reservations about taking the assignment in the first place.

“I didn’t,” she says. “It’s definitely exciting to shoot someone who is in the limelight like that. I am a pretty hard core Democrat. Some of my artwork has been pretty anti-Bush, so maybe it was somewhat irresponsible for them [The Atlantic] to hire me

Friday, September 12, 2008

9-11: Why we did not connect the dots

and what we must learn now.

Extremely important article by Walid Phares:

9/11 and Future Jihad

Since the early 1990s, jihad-inspired attacks had taken place against Americans, America, and other countries around the world. After the 1998 declaration of war, more strikes took place, including against the USS Cole in Yemen. But on September 10, 2001, the United States had not declared war against al Qaeda.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's the end of the MSM as we know it. Reason 39,751 why i feel fine about it

A journalism profgessor has written a scholarly paper on the Duke lacrosse case. The ideology-addled poseur (Varbara Barnett) argues that Duke was too concerned about due process and ignored the problems of campus rape.

As one who took a close interest in the case from the beginning, i have to ask: what color is the sky in Professor Barnett's world?

KC Johnson, as per usual, has an outstanding analysis.

See also:

Duke lacrosse: auto-de-fe
Football is back

And the Steelers look good. 38-17 and it was not that close.

Pittsburgh played close to a perfect game. That's a pretty big deal even though the Texans were only 8-8 last year.

In recent seasons, Pittsburgh has had a tendency to play down to the competition. They let inferior teams hang around. A couple of times a year it bit them in the backside as they lost games to they should win (like the Jets last season.) This year they have the toughest schedule in the NFL. They cannot afford to toss away any games. There was no danger of that on Sunday.

One of the big plays of the game came on the Texans opening drive. They went for it on fourth and 1 on the Pittsburgh 48. Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton stuffed the QB sneak and the Steelers got the ball on a short field.

In training camp Hampton was in the dog house because of his weight. I hope he came off the field after that play yelling "How do you like my fat ass now!"

The reaction of the sports yakkers was predictably wrong-headed. They focused on the rushing yards and proclaimed that the Steelers won by running the ball.

Any knowledgeable fan who watched the game knew that this was a case of correlation without causation. Pittsburgh jumped to a 21-3 halftime lead even though the running game was uninspiring. (Willie Parker carried 14 times for 46 yards in the half). The big story of the game was Ben Roethlisberger's almost perfect play at quarterback. Big Ben even had the best run of the half: a long scramble for a first down.

The sad fact is that sports pundits have little time to think or study. They have to opine on dozens of subjects every day. Therefore, they fall back on clichés and conventional wisdom. Once an idea enters the pundit-stream it gets repeated endlessly. It takes a bold and well-informed observer to break with the bloviating masses. But the sports media isn't made up of knowledgeable independent thinkers. It's full of Tony Kornheisers.

BTW, Cold Hard Football Facts has a great post up on Kornheiser. A taste:

But he's also typical of the modern celebrity "pundit" of the cable age. He knows little about the history or the intricacies of the game (the latter, to his credit, which he readily admits). He grew up professionally in the ESPN age, and if Chris Berman never gave the guy a chintzy nickname, Kornheiser apparently doesn't even know he existed.

What kind of person makes the pronouncements that echo into received opinion? I discussed that in this post. (Hint: it is not the best informed or most thoughtful).

Fortunately, sports opinion is mostly just noise in the ether. I wonder, thought, if the same dynamic is at work with political punditry. Do Andrea Mitchell or David Gregory do their own thinking? Or are they just articulate sheep following along behind some ur-pundit?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

He belongs there

Cold Hard Football Facts looks for the most underrated players in the NFL. #2 on the list is Aaron Smith (#91) of your Pittsburgh Steelers.

Nice to see a great player get some credit.

Friday, September 05, 2008

An important piece of history

Patterico lays out the record on John McCain and the surge.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Apparently to work for the MSM you need a Ph. D. in "Not Getting It"

Howie the Weasel does his thing:

Sarah Storms St. Paul
It's a target rich environment for a blogger. Unfortunately, i'm pressed for time. Fortunately, the MSM is so stuck in its ways that old posts never lose their relevance.

Journalism: Worst of all worlds

MSM: Shrinking Audience, Leftward Drift

Media criticism and corralled rebellion

What is the true function of a public editor?

Howard Kurtz

UPDATE: This post gives Kurtz and Friends the fisking they richly deserve:

Media Still Doesn't Get It

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

BTW, Ace is still on fire

Go here so you don't miss anything.

This one is not to be missed.
Peggy Noonan on Sarah Palin

she is a real and present danger to the American left, and to the Obama candidacy.

She could become a transformative political presence.

So they are going to have to kill her, and kill her quick.

And it's going to be brutal. It's already getting there


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ain't that the sad truth

In 72 hours, the media has subjected Bristol Palin to more scrutiny than they've given to Barack Obama in two years.
The byline says Howie

But it is the same old weasel writing this crap.
Pregnant Pause

After defending the way the MSM covered for John Edwards, Kurtz now thinks the rumor-mongering about the Palins is understandable and probably OK. (Wow, what a surprise.)

Gee, i wonder if that means that the Post is now ready to dig into BHO's commie rapist mentor? Or his half-brother living in squalor?

UPDATE: Powerline has the goods on the flexible standrds at the new York Times:

Getting Less Squeamish By the Minute