Thursday, April 30, 2009


On 30 April 1975, Saigon fell to the invading army of North Vietnam. Americans watched the last helicopters fly out of the city and then immediately got on with the task of forgetting their longest war.

Three books to combat the great forgetting.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Just sayin'

Right now, if you google "izzy" "Stone", this post is #5. Number one and two are Wikipedia and the official Stone site. They are out of reach. But three and four are written by Izzy fans.

Now if a couple of bloggers were to link to my post, maybe they can be demoted.
How to win a statehouse by ruining a company

Eliot Spitzer and AIG:

The Tragedy of AIG
The Porn-Conspiracy connection

To their credit, the MSM was a bulwark of sanity on the JFK assassination and Warren Commission. They were never taken in by the ravings of the conspiracy theorists and, they have debunked and unmasked many of the charlatans who inhabit the fever swamps of the Grassy Knoll.

This is not true for one not so mainstream media. From the beginning, the skin magazines have been eager promoters of the conspiracy theorists.

Both Mark Lane and Jim Garrison were “honored” with Playboy interviews in 1967. The Garrison interview ran after CBS, NBC, and the Saturday Evening Post ran stories on the New Orleans DA that demonstrated that his investigation was a dangerous farce. Oui ran an admiring profile of one of the looniest of the CTers--Mae Brussells. Larry Flynt of Hustler actually subsidized Brussells and published her in his short-lived magazine The Rebel.

For a couple of decades the conspiracy promoters were sure to get a hearing in Playboy, Penthouse, and their sticky kin.

[In the 1970s] assassination literature found its way increasingly into soft-core pornographic magazines….it is worth noting the appearance of numerous articles, both multipart series and forums, in magazines such as Penthouse, Playboy, Swank, Gallery, and Playgirl.

Art Simon Dangerous Knowledge: The JFK Assassination in Art and Film, 1996

I’m sure there are many interesting facets to this nexus of the obsessively clueless and the one-hand mags. It certainly does suggest Bill Whittle was right with his description of the CTers:

I’ll tell you something. These conspiracy theorists that ignore that miserable, pathetic, self-aggrandizing egomaniac named Lee Harvey Oswald, or glorify him as a patsy and a hero, do so because deep down inside they realize something unpleasant about Lee Harvey Oswald and themselves.

They are Oswald.
"All great rock music was recorded by the time John Bonham died"

So pronounces Robert Stacy McCain. Off the top of my head i can't think of a song that proves him wrong.

So there you have it. 25 September 1980. The real day the music died.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

High praise indeed

The authors of the piece on I. F. Stone have a book due to hit the shelves. I could tell you why it is an important book. But i'm just a guy pecking away at a keyboard on the internet. Try this endorsement instead:

So outstandingly authoritative and convincing is this material that it will take an honored place alongside the basic sources on Soviet espionage in the United States. Here, the heart of the KGB is laid out as never before.—Tennent Bagley, author of Spy Wars

That would the Tennent Bagley who wrote the best recent book on CIA and counterintelligence.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Good reads

Happily Divorced from Bill Maher’s ‘Reality’

Maher is the sort of stunted narcissist who cannot conceive that other people have needs, desires and feelings as legitimate as his own. In his puerile mind, there is no room for consideration of anything except What Bill Wants Right Now. To know such creatures — and most of us have, unfortunately, encountered at least one spoiled brat like Maher — is to loathe them. They tend to be unconscionably rude toward “little people” like waiters and store clerks, taking vicious pleasure in bossing around and humiliating people.

The Wail of the 1%

As the privileged class loses its privileges, a collective moan rises from the canyons of Wall Street

Meghan McCain Is Not, Strictly Speaking, Very Smart

She didn't become a Republican out of principle. She did it as a gift to her dad, which is honestly very sweet but hardly qualifies you to position yourself as the voice of young Republicans. Honestly the 'my daddy is the nominee' is a small cohort the party can do without winning over.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Izzy Stone: Lying commie slime

A few weeks ago i posted on journalistic icon I. F. Stone. It now appears that i was too kind to the old fraud.

I.F. Stone, Soviet Agent—Case Closed
I wonder if the Neiman Foundation or Harvard University have any second thoughts about issuing a medal in Stone's honor?

UPDATE: Ronald Radosh weighs in here.

UPDATE 2 (Friday) From the American Spectator:

Harvard University's Nieman Foundation for Journalism awards an "I.F Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence." Ithaca College hosts an "Izzy Awards" for "independent media." The University of California-Berkeley's graduate school of journalism offers "I.F. Stone Fellowships." In 1999, New York University's journalism department, and a panel of prestigious scribes that included Jeff Greenfield, Mary McGrory, and Morley Safer, named I.F. Stone's Weekly as number 16 on its list of the 100 best works of U.S. journalism in the 20th century.

Don't expect the academic honors, or the media hosannas, to evaporate anytime soon. Stone took money from the KGB and not the CIA, after all. Izzy Stone was wrong about nearly everything he wrote about during the Cold War. It is only fitting that his admirers got him so wrong too
Back to his old tricks

Disgraced punter Eliot Spitzer is trying to get on the anti-AIG bandwagon as part of his rehabilitation effort.

The always interesting Edward Jay Epstein demonstrates that Spitzer still is only vaguely familiar with the truth.

He also has some interesting questions for Car Czar Steven Rattner.

UPDATE: See here for more on Rattner.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Talk about wasted airtime

Even before one NFL season ends, the sports shows start talking about the upcoming draft. ESPN easily spends hundreds of hours discussng who will choose whom. Mel Kipper is ubiquitous with his patented formula: frequently wrong, but always certain.

Cold Hard Football Facts shows just how wrong Kipper and his ilk usually are.

The dismal mock-draft scorecard
Missed it

Yesterday was David Brooks Fisking Day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Choice bits

Management professor Henry Mintzberg gives no quarter as he assesses blame for the economic crisis we face. Harvard gets a couple of well deserved kicks in its backside:

Harvard prides itself on how many of its graduates make it to the executive suites. Learning how to present arguments in a classroom certainly helps. But how do these people perform once they get to those suites? Harvard does not ask. So we took a look.

Joseph Lampel and I found a list of Harvard Business School superstars, published in a 1990 book by a long-term insider. We tracked the performance of the 19 corporate chief executives on that list, many of them famous, across more than a decade. Ten were outright failures (the company went bankrupt, the CEO was fired, a major merger backfired etc.); another four had questionable records at best. Five out of the 19 seemed to do fine. These figures, limited as they were, sounded pretty damning. (When we published our results, there was nary a peep. No one really cared.)

How much discussion has there been at Harvard about the role it might have played in forming the management styles of graduates who, over the past eight years, have been running America and what used to be its largest company

See also here and here.

Paul Krugman shows why Larry Summers is the gift that keeps on giving:

Only a few people warned that this supercharged financial system might come to a bad end. Perhaps the most notable Cassandra was Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, who argued at a 2005 conference that the rapid growth of finance had increased the risk of a “catastrophic meltdown.” But other participants in the conference, including Lawrence Summers, now the head of the National Economic Council, ridiculed Mr. Rajan’s concerns.

And the meltdown came
James Surowiecki notes that companies always face two kinds of risk.

Then again, the record is also full of forgotten companies that gambled and failed. The academics Peter Dickson and Joseph Giglierano have argued that companies have to worry about two kinds of failure: “sinking the boat” (wrecking the company by making a bad bet) or “missing the boat” (letting a great opportunity pass).

In a perfect world, competition will balance those risks. Those who gamble and succeed will grow. At other times, the prudent will inherit the market when their high flying brethern crash and burn.

In our less than perfect world, we have created a bias in favor of gambling.

First, it is increasingly hard for conservative firms to sit out a speculative binge. The stock market drives down their share price compared to their aggressive competitors. The CEO gets fired or the company is acquired by a gambling firm. The end result is that there are no grown-up companies around to sort through the debris after the gamblers wreck their companies.

The second bias is discussed here:

The Looting of America’s Coffers

Sixteen years ago, two economists published a research paper with a delightfully simple title: “Looting.”

The economists were George Akerlof, who would later win a Nobel Prize, and Paul Romer, the renowned expert on economic growth. In the paper, they argued that several financial crises in the 1980s, like the Texas real estate bust, had been the result of private investors taking advantage of the government. The investors had borrowed huge amounts of money, made big profits when times were good and then left the government holding the bag for their eventual (and predictable) losses.

In a word, the investors looted. Someone trying to make an honest profit, Professors Akerlof and Romer said, would have operated in a completely different manner. The investors displayed a “total disregard for even the most basic principles of lending,” failing to verify standard information about their borrowers or, in some cases, even to ask for that information.

The investors “acted as if future losses were somebody else’s problem,” the economists wrote. “They were right.”

On Tuesday morning in Washington, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, gave a speech that read like a sad coda to the “Looting” paper. Because the government is unwilling to let big, interconnected financial firms fail — and because people at those firms knew it — they engaged in what Mr. Bernanke called “excessive risk-taking

Saturday, April 18, 2009

That time again

The Other McCain has the linkfest beyond compare.

Freedom Meets Jeering Response Again

And, yes, this will be on the final.
Nice job

I keeping with my media luck, I really liked NBC's "Life". When it failed to grab an audience, i figured that we had another "Joe Doe" or "Tru Calling" situation: the show would end with a whimper and never explain the central mystery that defined the show.

The series two finale of "Life" was better than i expected. A little rushed, some loose ends. But at least they made an attempt to wrap it up with a decent conclusion.

Much more than we got from ABC and "Pushing Daisies"

Friday, April 17, 2009

Seventh grade politics

I wondered how the resercons would handle the sloppy, shoddy, and bigoted report on right-wing extremism thrown together by Homeland Security.

Well, the David Frum has weighed in and I am pleased to say that he did not let me down.

Frum does not exactly defend the report. He mutters a few disclaimers about how it is too bad that Homeland Security is politicizing intelligence. For eDF, however, that is a sideshow. To Frum, the real villain is not the laughably bad report.

No, David Frum aims his cannon at Glen Beck. The rodeo clown on Fox makes the report seem true and conservatives who do not denounce Beck are more to blame for the problem than are the “analysts” at HSA.

All in all, it is a remarkable performance. Clearly Frum will go to any lengths to win MSM plaudits as a courageous conservative leader.

Just a few quick points on Beck and Fox News. I do not listen to the guy on radio or watch his show on cable. In fact, I’ve detested the little punk for years. (Beck not Frum). I also rarely watch Fox News since it is loud, sleazy, and hopelessly tabloid.

That said, I am baffled that Frum even mentions Beck. What does he have to do with the Homeland Security document? Does Frum believe that conservatives must not criticize Obama until they have silenced every clownish media mouthpiece who is on their side of the political divide?

Did DF ever apply this standard to liberals and Bush? Was (is) all criticism of the prior administration off-limits because Olbermann, Maddow, and Matthews are biased clowns? We all know that the David Frum never dared make that argument.

Frum, no surprise, is acting once again as a free-lance hit man for the leftwing. The White House decided to make Rush Limbaugh the face of their opposition; eDF was happy to oblige by attacking Rush in Newsweek. Now the administration wants to paint all opposition as loony conspiracy theorists. Big surprise that Frum jumps on the anti-Beck bandwagon.

I question the timing of the attacks on Beck. He is not newcomer to cable news. Odd, isn’t it, that he drew positive press when his show was on CNN and his populist attacks were aimed at a Republican administration. Now he is on Fox, Democrats are in power, and Glenn Beck is a secular antichrist.

It is the same old MSM double-standard. The only thing new is that Frum has enlisted as a Judas goat against conservatives.

eDf proclaims that he is interested n building a conservatism that can win. Yet he spends most of his time tearing down other conservatives in order to enhance the standing of one David Frum. He wants conservatives to be serious, yet he is the one who flacks for the White House while ignoring the real issues voters care about.

All too often Frum and his ilk behave like a bunch of cliquish junior high school girls. They define themselves by who they exclude. They always need victims to scorn, otherwise the really cool kids might start to scorn them.

The recent Tea Parties really put the lie to Frum’s posturing. By all rights, he should love this essentially libertarian grass roots movement. His great bugaboo--the Religious Right--is not driving the movement. The Tea Parties focus on economics not the social issues that Frum detests.

But Frum is luke warm. Fox News jumped on the board the bandwagon, you see. The people at MSNBC and CNN are making fun of the demonstrators. People might think that David Frum a dork like Sean Hannity if he supports the Tea Parties.

That really is the bottom line with Frum. He cares a lot about what the right people think.

Not Right as in conservative. Not Right as in correct. No, right as in popular in the cool circles and cool in the popular circles.

At the top of my blog I quote Sam Adams. The old boy speaks for millions of conservatives when it comes to Frum and the latest phase of his career management.

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands, which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
Good question

Why isn’t Joe Biden more generous with his OWN money than he is mine?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Um, just wondering

Did Immelt and Zuckerman ever hold a meeting because MSNBC had become a Bush-bashing network?

'The Whole Meeting Was Really Kind of Creepy'

THE top suits and some of the on-air talent at CNBC were recently ordered to a top-secret meeting with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker to discuss whether they've turned into the President Obama-bashing network, Page Six has learned.

I doubt it.

Where are the paladins of press freedom and unbiased journalism? Why is this item a Page Six story and not cause for thunder denunciations across the journalistic establishment?
A book i hope to read before i die

It does not exist. No one has written it yet.

I want to read a good history of the McCarthy era.

My bookshelves are littered with books that cover the topic. All of them are unsatisfactory.

Most take the conventional view that Joe McCarthy was evil personified, an unscrupulous politician who persecuted innocent people. They take it as a given that there were no Reds to fear so any Red Scare was inherently irrational. After Venona and the opening of the Soviet archives, that just won't cut it anymore.

Some conservatives have used the new revelations to defend McCarthy but they don't quite hit the mark either. I'll grant that there were communists aplenty in Washington. Unfortunately, Joe did not go after them. He let Roy Cohn run off chasing books in USIA libraries and dentists in the Army Reserves.

How did even an unscrupulous Red Hunter fail in such a target rich environment?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

He has a point

Interesting comment on an article about Columbine (actually a review of a book about Columbine):

Weinberg tells us, in effect, that he and the rest of the world were duped by the media coverage of Columbine (it's not so much that the media got it wrong intentionally, but in the end, they got it wrong). So Weinberg picks up a single book, and it tells him everything we know about Columbine is wrong. Suddenly, Weinberg assumes everything in this new book is right. To boot, Cullen was one of the reporters covering Columbine in the first place. So now we can trust him to get it right?
Still still busy

Plenty of good stuff out there:

DHS, 'Rightwing Extremism' and Information Warfare

The Dash To Dumb - Special DHS Edition

Tea Party Derangement Syndrome - it’s here!

The Obama Administration Is Criminalizing Dissent? Intimidating Its Ideological Opponents? You Must Be Joking

Monday, April 13, 2009

A troubling thought

One point Tennent Bagley makes in Spy Wars is that the Bolsheviks and the Cheka quickly became adept at counter-intelligence and sophisticated disinformation very quickly. They ran large-scale operations like the Trust that fooled their enemies-even experienced intelligence agencies in Britain and France. Bagley estimates that they ran 25-40 successful deception operations between 1917 and 1940.

Not bad for a raggedy bunch of revolutionaries.

Which makes you wonder: Could al Qaeda or another terrorist group do the same thing?

And if they could, are they doing it now?

Reads like a good le Carré novel, but it is true

Tennent Bagley's Spy Wars is the rarest of books. It is a well-told, gripping story about a vitally important subject.

At the heart of Spy Wars is Yuri Nosenko-a KGB officer who defected to the U.S. in 1964. The Nosenko case is one of the enduring puzzles of the Cold War. For years, CIA suspected that he was a fake turncoat who was dispatched by the KGB. Later, CIA accepted him as a bona fide defector who provided a treasure trove of valuable intelligence.

Bagley was the first American to debrief Nosenko. He was also one of the first officers to question the Russian's honesty and motives. After forty years, he still has grave doubts and questions about Nosenko and his rehabilitation by CIA.

The book lays out the lies and omissions that came to light as CIA and the FBI debriefed Nosenko. Bagley makes a strong, perhaps irrefutable case that the Russian was untrustworthy from day one and held fast to his lies for years. This in itself is not unusual in the spy world. Intelligence agencies frequently baby-sit pathological liars who claim to have valuable information. The Nosenko case, in contrast, triggered a long series of earthquakes inside CIA and the rest of the US Intelligence community.


The first problem for CIA was that Nosenko claimed that he had reviewed Lee Harvey Oswald's KGB file. The Warren Commission was still investigating the JFK assassination when Nosenko defected. CIA, thus, found itself in a quandary. On one hand, they had a source who could lay to rest the fears that Moscow played a role in the murder of the President. On the other, they had grave doubts about the credibility of that source. This gave unique urgency to the counter-intelligence investigation of Nosenko and forced CIA to rush what was normally a slow, methodical process. Further complicating matters the FBI was the lead agency in the assassination investigation and the Bureau believed Nosenko implicitly.

Adding to the slow-motion crisis was the evidence that Nosenko was not just a lone wolf serial fabricator, but part of a Soviet deception operation. KGB sources "confirmed" several of Nosenko's flagrant lies. This raised an obvious and troubling question: Why should the KGB lend credence to a defector they had sworn to kill?

The frightening implication of that question was two-fold. First, KGB was trying to use Nosenko to divert CIA attention: his "revelations" were part of an organized deception campaign. Second, one of the secrets KGB was trying to hide via misdirection was the presence of one or more high-ranking moles in CIA.

Bagley makes clear that this was not paranoid "sick think". He provides concise and and useful descriptions of other Soviet deception operations. In addition, he offers tantalizing suggestions about the "crown jewels" the KGB was trying to protect.


A forty year old spy story would normally be of interest only to aficionados of espionage history. What makes the Nosenko case important today is the manner in which it was resolved, the consequent damage to CIA's intellectual foundations, and the related distortion of the historical record.

For three years, Nosenko stalemated his CIA interrogators. While they shredded his story and caught him in numerous lies, the defector refused to admit that he was lying. Eventually CIA had no choice but to accept his defection and buy him off with a pension and a consultancy. (They dared not turn their back on him for fear that he would create PR problems by returning to Moscow or talking to the American press).

In itself, this might have been a benign solution. Other forces, however, came into play.

In the 1970s, CIA was torn apart by an internal civil war. Directors William Colby and Stansfield Turner were eager to downplay counter-intelligence and covert operations. They used the public disclosures of questionable CIA activities to purge men like James Jesus Angleton. Yuri Nosenko was tailor-made for their purposes. He became one of their prime examples of the "harm" done to the Agency by the old hands.

The Colby-Turner faction proved adept bureaucratic fighters. On one hand, they used selective disclosure to create public support for their reforms. On the other, they could use the secrecy of the intelligence world to hide inconvenient facts. In Nosenko's case, they assured credulous journalists that the Russian was a bona fide and valuable defector who was badly treated by Angleton

Bagley shows how this happened and he details the many ways it hurt U.S. intelligence.

The pro-Nosenko side never refuted the case that the defector was a dispatched disinformation agent. They simply glossed over the most damning evidence, grasped at straws to bolster their case, and then pronounced him bona fide. They shut down debate by purging the nay-sayers and destroying evidence. When disturbing facts about Nosenko became public, his advocates replied with ad hominen attacks and outright lies-Angleton was a drunken paranoid, Bagley was an inexperienced agent conned by Angleton and Golitsyn, "sick think" was the inevitable consequence of counter-intelligence, etc. etc.


Their tactics had ramifications far beyond the handling of Nosenko.

First, a key result of the Colby Turner purge was the destruction of CIA's counter-intelligence capabilities. No surprise, then, that the US was plagued with moles and fell for Soviet deceptions in the years that followed.

Second, the refusal to deal with the questions honestly inside CIA created a climate of group think that is antithetical to good intelligence.

Third, the pro-Nosenko side promulgated a false history which they fed to gulliable journalists like Tom Mangold (Cold Warrior). This distorted account of Angleton, Nosenko, and Colby now is the Standard Version that other writers and historians repeat unknowingly and ad nauseum. (E.g. Nina Burleigh in her biography of Mary Pinchot Meyer.)

One of the most crucial outcomes of the Colby-Turner regime was that CIA deemphasized human intelligence which was difficult, messy and rife with ambiguities. In its place they elevated technical intelligence like satellite pictures and communication intercepts.

When we look at CIA's performance before 9/11, we can see how many of these by-products contributed to the intelligence failure: group think, bureaucratic self-preservation, clumsy counter-intelligence, poor human intelligence, and antagonistic relations with the FBI.


We should be grateful that Mr. Bagley wrote this extraordinary book to set the record straight.

After reading it, I'm still bothered by the same question that haunted the US government in 1964: Why did the KGB dispatch a disinformation agent to lie about its relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is Risen

This passage is from Martin Bell's remarkable little book The Way of the Wolf: The Gospel in New Images.

God raised Jesus from the dead to the end that we should be clear-once and for all-that there is nothing more important than being human. Our lives have eternal significance. And no one-absolutely no one-is expendable.

Colored Eggs

Some human beings are fortunate enough to be able to color eggs on Easter. If you have a pair of hands to hold the eggs, or if you are fortunate enough to be able to see the brilliant colors, then you are twice blessed.

This Easter some of us cannot hold the eggs, others of us cannot see the colors, many of us are unable to move at alland so it will be necessary to color the eggs in our hearts.

This Easter there is a hydrocephalic child lying very still in a hospital bed nearby with a head the size of his pillow and vacant, unmoving eyes, and he will not be able to color Easter eggs, and he will not be able to color Easter eggs in his heart, and so God will have to color eggs for him.

And God will color eggs for him. You can bet your life and the life of the created universe on that.

At the cross of Calvary God reconsecrated and sanctified wood and nails and absurdity and helplessness to be continuing vehicles of his love. And then he simply raised Jesus from the dead. And they both went home and colored eggs

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tales of television journalism

So ABC "News" decided to look at armed civilian response in mass shootings. I had no doubt that Disney/ABC had an agenda and expected 20/20 to make a hash of the subject. I was not disappointed.

Other bloggers have weighed in. The best critique is at Sensibly Progressive:

ABC anti-gun hatchet job on 20/20
John Lott and Snowflakes in Hell have smart things to say as well.

PBS Frontline ran "Inside the Meltdown" this week. It was many cuts above the ABC product. It was an insightful look at the decision- making of Paulson, the Fed, and Congress during the crucial weeks in September when everything fell apart.

It was television so it was not a definitive history. At times, a little context would have been helpful. Nonetheless, it was a powerful documentary.

It did have its biases. The worst one was its treatment of Chris Dodd and Barney Frank. It used both men as disinterested commentators/reporters. This is inexcusable in light of their roles in creating this mess.

I like documentaries, even imperfect one's like Frontline. I often wonder why conservatives do not make more of them. I know Hollywood is a liberal town, but that is an even better reason to focus on documentaries. If a conservative wants to make a conventional movie, she has to convince a bunch of lefties to give her a pile of money. The she has to persuade a bunch of other lefties to sign onto the project and work with her.

A documentary is cheaper to make and requires fewer people . All in all, that means lower barriers to entry.

Nonfiction movies even get made outside of Hollywood. Look at the success those slacker/losers had with their 9/11 conspiracy movie.

Just for starters, think of what an investigative journalist could do with Jamie Gorelick, Chris Dodd, and Barney Frank.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Do we want to solve problems or elect Republicans?

Instapundit writes:

I’VE MENTIONED THE LEFTY COUNTERPOINT TO THE TEA PARTIES, Joe Trippi & Zephyr Teachout’s A New Way Forward. They’ll be marching this weekend to urge that banks that are “too big to fail” be broken up. This makes sense to me; I’ve said the same thing myself, as has Jerry Pournelle.

He seems to be in the minority. Others on the Right are treating Trippi and Co. as interlopers and enemies who are trying to undercut the April 15 Tea Parties.

Why can't the two efforts be mutually supportive?

The doctrine of Too Big To Fail helped create this economic mess. Getting rid of the doctrine is a smart reform. Why reject anyone who is honestly working for that goal?

Or is the goal to provide a rallying point for dispirited conservatives in the hopes that they will then stay in the GOP corral?

Frankly, I'd rather work with Joe Trippi to reform the financial system than elect Republicans in meaningless election.

Does it really matter if it is Henry Paulson instead of Larry Summers passing our money to their pals on Wall Street?
No surprise here

So Americans are less than enamored with "capitalism" and they do not scream and run away when confronted with "socialism".

Just 53% Say Capitalism Better Than Socialism

That strikes me as a completely predictable turn of events. American capitalism has not covered itself with glory over the last six months.

Looks like opposing the Obama program by screaming "socialism" might be less than effective.

Anyone have a Plan B?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Conservative reform done right

The right-o-sphere is buzzing about Rick Moran's latest liberal-pleasing sucker punch. (See Hot Air and R.S. McCain). That, I am sure, was Moran's goal. Bash his putative allies and get some hits for his website, which he admits, is suffering from "a dwindling number of blog readers."

I might comment on Moran later if I have time. Or maybe not. His latest blast is really just a sideshow, and we have more important issues to deal with.

The most important item to read today is Philip Klein's article in the American Spectator:

Wrestling with Capitalist Pigs

Klein is willing to look hard at the causes of the crisis and grapple with the tough question. "How do we defend free markets without whitewashing the sins of the greedy executives who helped creat this mess?"

RTWT. It is too important to excerpt.

I've touched on some of his points on this blog, but he does a masterful job of pulling most of the key points together in a coherent, logical presentation.

Stuff I'd like conservatives to think about:

1. Big business is not the natural ally of free-markets. Look closely at the actions of corporations and you will notice that they spend an inordinate amount of time insulating themselves from the rigors of market competition.

2. The typical business executive is a private sector bureaucrat not some Randian Super Hero. Love John Galt all you want, but do not confuse fiction with the reality as found in the executive suites of the Fortune 500.

3. For decades Big Business has been the willing handmaiden of Big Government. We cannot continue to treat free markets, capitalism, capitalists, and Wall Street as synonyms. The defense of free markets does not require us to defend every action of every private sector actor.

4. Most conservatives believe in deregulation. I know I do. But deregulation is not the same as lax enforcement. It is one thing to change the rules. It is something else entirely to pretend to have rules but to let some favored entities ignore them.

Bernie Maddoff was a crook. Why wasn't he caught?

Asking that question doesn't make me a communist.
Thank you Mr. Moran

The world owes a great, unrecognized debt to the undistinguished scribblers of long-forgotten works. Much of G. K. Chesterton's best work was dashed off in response to some book or article that caught his attention and triggered a thought. Does anyone read the fiction of Mrs. Craigie or Miss Fowler? Yet without these two fine ladies, we might not have Cahpter 15 of Heretics.

I'm beginning to think that Rick Moran is the blogosphere's Miss Fowler. What he writes is of little intrinsic importance and will be forgotten. But every now and then he provokes Robert Stacy McCain into writing something like this:

'Kooks,' Blue-State Republicans, Rick Moran, and the Messaging Problem

After you read it, ask yourself this question: Why did National Review hire the awful David Frum instead of Robert Stacy McCain? Why don't they hire him today?

NR could give him a column like the old "Gimlet Eye" of D. Keith Mano. My guess is that McCain could single-handedly make them interesting again.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I'm no fan of snark (see here and here) so i was predisposed to like David Denby's recent book condemning it. Then i saw him doing a reading on CSPAN and saved myself fifteen bucks.

A couple of good reviews in Reason and the New York Observer. Mark Steyn reviewed it for Commentary.

The deal-breaker for me was Denby's comments on Tom Wolfe who he accused of racism in Radical Chic. The Reason reviewer notes the smear in his piece. After going back to Radical Chic, i concluded that Denby is either dishonest or a bad reader.

This, i think, gets to the heart of Denby's problem with snark:

For a great majority of Denby’s years as a professional writer, he was effectively firewalled from his critics. In the Age of the Internet, hipster bloggers are baying for the fusty critic’s blood.

I explored this point here:

Agony of the push-media guild

A badge of honor, but maybe not the best business model

They Crossed a Line
A good reason to oppose Harold Koh

Powerline looks at Koh's efforts to keep military recruiters off college campuses.
Quiet corruption

The State Lawsuit Racket

Pennsylvania's Ed Rendell has a starring role.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

It's Tuesday and you know what that means

It's David Brooks Fisking Day!
Go thee forth and partake.
Active shooters

What a surprise to read facts not emotional screeds.

Thoughts on "active shooters"
(HT: Snowflakes)

Couple of critical points:

They strike “stunned, defenseless innocents via surprise ambush. On a level playing field, the typical active killer would be a no-contest against anyone reasonably capable of defending themselves.”

• They generally try to avoid police, do not hide or lie in wait for officers and “typically fold quickly upon armed confrontation.”

See also:

Richard Clarke in The Atlantic

Not a helpless bystander
What kind of journalism do they do at Newsweek?

The apologists for the MSM keep telling me that professional journalists are a necessary bulwark to freedom and good government. We can count on them (and only them) to call the mighty to account.

That is pretty hard to reconcile with this confession by Evan Thomas:

If you are of the establishment persuasion (and I am), reading Krugman makes you uneasy. You hope he's wrong, and you sense he's being a little harsh (especially about Geithner), but you have a creeping feeling that he knows something that others cannot, or will not, see. By definition, establishments believe in propping up the existing order. Members of the ruling class have a vested interest in keeping things pretty much the way they are. Safeguarding the status quo, protecting traditional institutions, can be healthy and useful, stabilizing and reassuring. But sometimes, beneath the pleasant murmur and tinkle of cocktails, the old guard cannot hear the sound of ice cracking. The in crowd of any age can be deceived by self-confidence, as Liaquat Ahamed has shown in "Lords of Finance," his new book about the folly of central bankers before the Great Depression, and David Halberstam revealed in his Vietnam War classic, "The Best and the Brightest."

That helps to explain why insiders like Jamie Gorelick get a pass from prestigious journalists.

Evan Thomas produced one of the most memorable lines from the Duke lacrosse case. He tried to explain why Newsweek and the rest of the MSM ended up with egg on their face after they rushed to convict the lacrosse team in 2006.

We just got the facts wrong. The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong.
Here most of us plebes thought getting the facts right was Job #1 for journalists. Apparently we were naive.

Thomas's quote in context is even more damning:

"We fell into a stereotype of the Duke lacrosse players," says Newsweek's Evan Thomas. "It's complicated because there is a strong stereotype [that] lacrosse players can be loutish, and there's evidence to back that up. There's even some evidence that that the Duke lacrosse players were loutish, and we were too quick to connect those dots."

But he adds: "It was about race. Nifong's motivations clearly were rooted in his need to win black votes. There were tensions between town and gown, that part was true. The narrative was properly about race, sex and class... We went a beat too fast in assuming that a rape took place... We just got the facts wrong. The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong."

If the facts are wrong, though, why explore the narrative at all? Is it fair to use the Duke lacrosse players to tell a larger story of athletes run wild--a theme that appeared not only on sports pages but also was splashed, repeatedly, on the front pages of major newspapers and amplified on cable shoutfests? Says Johnson: Once the facts are "proven not to be true, you certainly have to consider whether the narrative is relevant."

Gee, the MSM has lectured us for decades that USING STEREOTYPES IS WRONG! Yet here we see Thomas trying to defend his rag by explaining that they relied on stereotypes instead of digging for facts. I guess that is all part of the nuanced thinking that the Big Brains of the Big Media get paid for.

Or, just maybe, the MSM is trapped by their knowingness and the limits of their education.
The new triangulation

My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Obama is hardly a disinterested party here. He has long standing ties to the pitchfork crowd (ACORN, et. al.) He sounds like a mob boss running a protection racket.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Bushism of the day

Oh, wait.

Bush isn't president anymore. So i guess mocking the verbal gaffes of POTUS just is not as much fun anymore.

Beldar gets it half right:
But seriously, folks. Do I believe that Barack Obama genuinely doesn't know that they speak German in Austria, and that he'd make this same mistake in an unstressed setting with a moment to reflect upon it? No, I don't believe that. This was a silly and innocent mistake — like the "57 states" comment during the campaign — and any human being, no matter how well educated and genuinely knowledgeable, will be caught making this sort of mistake from time to time if subjected to constant and intense scrutiny.

I grew sick to death of those who seized upon every verbal misstep of George W. Bush's or Sarah Palin's and treated those missteps as if they were meaningful, as if they were worthy of anything more than mild mockery for purposes of amusement. They weren't. This isn't either
The minor mistakes are not meaningful. The disparate treatment of the mistakes are very meaningful. They tell us nothing about the President's ability. They tell us a great deal about the MSM
What is McCarthyism? (Part two)

Despite the name, Joe McCarthy had little to do with the events that are tossed into the pot labelled "The McCarthy Era." For instance, he had nothing to do with the Hiss case; that was HUAC. The House Committee had more hearings over a longer time period than McCarthy's Senate subcommittee.

Many of the so-called "victims of McCarthyism" were actually witnesses called by HUAC.

Another component of the "Red Scare hysteria" was the activity of private watchdog groups that tracked and publicized the activities of communists and fellow-travelers. Public exposure frequently resulted in lost jobs, etc.

Conventional wisdom holds that there are two reasons why this public witch-hunting was a bad idea. 1. People should not lose their jobs simply because they held unpopular political beliefs. 2. The private watchdogs frequently tarnished innocent people through guilt by association.

Let's say we accept the conventional wisdom: private sector watchdogs were harmful to civic life and are a stain on our history.

Well, then, what should we make of the Southern Poverty Law Center? They are quick to engage in tactics favored by the red hunters-- guilt by association, name-calling in lieu of rational argument , hyping threats to raise money. Their targets, like many targets of HUAC, have no role in government.

Why, then, is the SPCL treated as a reliable source by the MSM? If the McCarthy-era was so bad, why repeat its methods today?
David Broder gets a tingle

Apparently, watching the President fire the CEO of General Motors gave the old boy quite a thrill.

Obama's Muscle Moment
History is filled with scribblers who applauded when the Big Man of the moment engaged in the naked exercise of power.

One can take the same facts that Broder cites and see disturbing, even dangerous actions.

1. No consultation with Congress. Apparently the Imperial Presidency is only a problem when the guy in the Oval Office has an R after his name.

2. A refusal to make the economic crisis the number 1 priority. Obama, instead, is intent on using this moment to enact his broader agenda for health care, global warming, and education.

A point not noted by Broder is that economic policy is being made in the West Wing while the Treasury is understaffed. This means less Congressional oversight and less transparency. Because the key players avoided confirmation hearings, we do not know what conflicts of interest they have, or what role they played in creating this mess. (The example of Larry Summers does not inspire confidence.)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Two good items on the future of newspapers

How to Save your Newspaper

Isaacson wants newspapers to figure out how to charge for their content.

That seems like a pipe dream today, but who knows about tomorrow? Television was once free, but now the average American spends hundreds of dollars each year for his cable or satellite subscription.

Not too long ago it seemed inconceivable that a grocery stores would accept credit cards. Now, using cash and checks seems hopelessly backward.

A payment system that is less expensive than a subscription could do wonders for newspapers and their bottom line.

Editors as Curators: What's Taking So Long?

With all the resources of the Internet at their fingertips, editors should be able to use their expertise on a subject or geography to sift through multiple sources of news and information and use links and other tools to assemble a comprehensive, edited collection of information for their readers.

The buzzword for that is "aggregation." And the big surprise is that it doesn't seem to be happening at most mainstream news Web sites. Instead, newspaper and TV sites still generally are trapped in their walled gardens, putting together their daily reports only from the sources they pay for: their own reporters, maybe some wire and syndicated copy and photos, and that's about it

It's a really smart idea/model. Can the culture of the newsroom support it? Or does a version of the Not Invented (Created) Here syndrome work against it?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

It's Saturday

Time for another FMJRA:

Feeling Most Jacobite Right About Now
Men and boys

James Bowman:

"I Love You Man"

The idea here is perhaps that a man needs a friend to supply him with an excuse to stop being a man and regress to adolescence. That's why, at one level, the film is all about manhood. But it is a freelancer's manhood -- manhood cut loose from its social dimension and the honor culture that goes with it and, therefore, something that kids are free to make up as they go along. "I'm a man, Peter. I have an ocean of testosterone flowing through my veins," says Sydney on one occasion when he is confronted by a man who has stepped in his dog's feces, which he leaves to foul the public footways on principle. Turning on the man aggressively and scaring him away, he blames "society" for trying to arrest his aggressive impulses. "The truth is we are animals, and we have to let it out sometimes."

Later, after a similar confrontation with a bodybuilder, Sydney turns tail and runs for his life. So much for his lovingly tended aggressive impulses. There's not even any attempt to hide the fact that his various rationalizations for bad behavior are merely nonsensical excuses for an adolescent delight in bad manners as a token of personal authenticity

Jonah Goldberg:

‘Taken’: Patriarchal Porn

Again, I was taken with “Taken,” but you can be sure that some post-modern, critical-whatever-studies types will hate this movie, what with the not-too-subtle “Death Wishy” attacks on non-Americans and the patriarchal revenge fantasy of it all. This is “Thelma and Louise” for fathers.

Friday, April 03, 2009


Why They Hate Sarah Palin So Much

The American Spectator lies again

They are claiming that our Treasury Secretary is not up for the job

On the Prowl
I know this is a lie becuase David Brooks assured me during the campaign that Obama was a genius when it came to picking staff:

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

Thursday, April 02, 2009

John Ziegler

Patterico interviewed John Ziegler and gives us an inside look at the talk radio business.

Incidentally, Zielger's new movie "Media Malpractice" is available on DVD. Order here.
Analyzing the AIG bailout

Powerline looks at Hank Greenberg's recent testimony.

Key question: why did the Treasury opt for a "solution" that placed the interest of large banks (especially European banks) ahead of the US taxpayer?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

This doesn't seem right

American taxpayers shell out trillions to save big banks.

Banks then layoff American taxpayers in order to hire cheaper workers brought over from India.

I thought the H-1B visas were supposed to be used to fix local labor shortages in critical skill positions.

There is no way that banking, with all the layoffs, has a labor shortage.

And people wonder why voters support limits on executive compensation.
What if the mule is too stubborn to pay attention

even after you whack it with a 2x4?

The Duke Lacrosse Hoax was a mighty big whack to the faculty and administration at Duke. Yet, they appear to have learned nothing.

The Group Tightens Its Vise
Yes. "Where do we go to get our election back?"

When the Left said that Bush was politicizing the Justice department and wanted to steal elections, i did not believe them.

At a minimum, i expected that if they were right, that Bush, Rove, and Gonzales intended to steal elections from Democrats.

What, then, to make of this?

DoJ Seeks to Reverse Ted Stevens Convictions
All kidding aside

The Other McCain does have a great post up on teams and leaders.
I'd call them cranky old men

But not all of them are old and some aren't even men.

How about clueless weenies?

Let's all get our shriek-freak on and bash Jimi Hendrix.

San Francisco education reform: Be like Jimi Hendrix

Well not here. This site brooks no bashing of Jimi Hendrix.

Heck, i'll even defend the SF schools on this one. If you want a pop icon to represent "transformation", Hendrix is a pretty good choice.

Now 'scuse me while i fire up the CD player with a little "Manic Depression."

You know who i want to hear from? R. S. McCain. As the right-o-sphere's reigning semi-reformed bad boy, McCain has to have a lot of fond memories with a Hendrix sound track. As a guitarist. he knows that Hendrix is more than a "drug-addled rock star". Yet we also know that McCain has broken bread with Malkin.

So what will it be? Will he stand up for truth, beauty, and essential American music? Or will he compromise out of political calculation and ideological alliance?

Watch this space as we look for clues for the state of Robert Stacy McCain's soul.

UPDATE: Worse than we dared think. McCain, who i thought was a patriot, actually wasted his time on derivative and pretentious Brits instead of a real American genius.