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?"

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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.