Friday, July 31, 2009

Manny and Ortiz

Oh, the horror. Red Sox Nation must be tortured with guilt. They spend the spring taunting A-rod for juicing. Now they find out that their two best sluggers from the championship teams were dirty as well.


Actually i agree with the last half of this Bob Ryan column. The revelation that a given player was dirty in 2003 or 1998 is no big deal anymore. Two other points are much more important:

1. When the Mitchell Report was issued, many people were either angered or, at the very least, intrigued by the absence of Red Sox names. There may not have been a single raised eyebrow were it not for the fact that George Mitchell is more than a little associated with the Red Sox. His name is high on the team masthead as a “Director.’’

Sportswriters treated the Mitchell Report as if it were handed down from Mount Sinai. I wonder if any reporter is willing to dig into the methods used and the reason why Ortiz and Rameriz were missed.

2. Here’s another question: What exactly is going on with the leaking of these names?

To me, that is the biggest question of all. The list in under court seal. The people leaking it are breaking the law. That is a far worse than cheating in a child's game.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pittsburgh sports: the good and the bad

From Nice Pick, Cowher:

While the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to be the biggest laughingstock in all of baseball, the Pittsburgh Steelers once again show why they are the NFL’s most elite franchise.

On a day when the Pirates traded a nine year defensive wizard and a multiple time All-Star for a bunch of guys nobody has ever heard of and nor they ever will, the Steelers were busy locking up one of their best players for the foreseeable future. Yeah, I know they’re different leagues and different sports but this pretty much sums up why one team is a first-class organization with a winning tradition and the other is an embarrassment to the championship city of Pittsburgh

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Straws in the wind

When I was young and naïve I thought that media critics, public editors, and ombudsmen played a vital role in maintaining the standards of the profession of journalism. As I grew older and better informed, I was forced to put away such childish illusions.

What is the true function of a public editor

Media criticism and corralled rebellion

CNN’s Howard Kurtz provides and on-going seminar in how to “cover” a beat while missing all the juicy stories. It is easy to do when you are more concerned with protecting the guild than with getting at the truth.

This week’s “Reliable Sources” addressed a couple of sports-related issues. First up, of course, was the voyeur video of Erin Andrews. Kurtz condemned a couple of easy targets (bloggers and Murdoch-owned media) but he devoted much of his segment to the rehabilitation of Christine Brennan.

Brennan initially responded to the Andrew’s video by blaming the victim. Since that time she has engaged in a laughable attempt to muddy the record.

Christine Brennan Continues Her Erin Andrews Smarm Offensive

Kurtz chose to give Brennan a platform for her self-serving spin, and never brought up her tweet or Facebook posting. He let her pretend that the whole affair was created by dishonest selective quotation.

Kurtz then turned to the civil suit filed against Steelers’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Both he and Brennan condemned ESPN for downplaying the story. No one suggested that maybe ESPN had learned something from the Duke lacrosse debacle and wanted to avoid a terrible rush to judgement. (I heard Colin Cowherd on “Sport Nation” and he explicitly cited the lacrosse case as the reason he was not going to discuss the story.)

It is not surprising that Kurtz saw no need to mention the media’s performance during the Durham travesty. He has studiously avoided dealing with the media’s gross failures in that fiasco.

There are odd echoes of the lacrosse case in Brennan’s criticism of Erin Andrews. For instance, in the early days of the frame-up, the media spent a lot of energy discussing and condemning “lax culture”, Duke’s party atmosphere, and the players “privileged” background. Brennan, before she backtracked, suggested that Erin Andrews tacitly encouraged her stalker by appealing to the “frat house” demographic.

In both cases, journalists committed analysis by stereotype. If you are in the guild, you can get away with such things as long as you pick politically correct groups to disparage.

Kurtz and Brennan were in solemn agreement that ESPN should have been more aggressive on the Roethlisberger story. (Howie knew it was a big story even though he did not know how to pronounce Big Ben’s name.) Curiously, Kurtz was uninterested in a story he helped break.

Military and Media Clash In Complaint
Navy Spokesman Alleges Abuse by Miami Reporter

“Reliable Sources” had no time to discuss the complaint lodged with the Miami Herald by Navy Commander Jeffrey Gordon. The officer alleges that Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg made “vile and repulsive comments” including “multiple incidents of abusive and degrading comments of an explicitly sexual nature.”

This was a story almost tailor-made for a media critic. Almost.

Imagine if this story had different participants. If a female reporter lodged those accusations against a football coach, Kurtz would have devoted his whole show to the problem of misogyny in the locker room. Christine Brennan and Selena Roberts would fill the hour with commentary about the dark side of the culture of big time sports.

Let a reporter attack a military officer and we get crickets.

In his WaPo story Kurtz lets the guild offer up a defense by non sequitor. Did Carol Rosenberg do these things? The Post’s Jerry Markon tells us that Rosenberg “is a great reporter.” Kurtz himself blandly ascribes the matter to a “culture clash” between journalists and the military. (Note that Kurtz never suggests that there could be a “dark side” to journalistic culture.)

While Kurtz had no time to discuss Rosenberg’s behavior, he chose to devote a segment to the “birthers” and their “ludicrous claims”. Unlike Cmdr. Gordon’s allegations the birthers do not put the MSM in a bad light. Instead, it lets the guild get in a few well-placed kicks at crazy right-wingers and talkd radio.

Taken as a whole, the program demonstrated why Kurtz is “respected” by his media colleagues. On issues that make the guild members look bad, he either ignores them or provides a platform for self-justification. The only people who come in for harsh criticism are those outside the MSMbloggers, Fox News, athletes, talk radio, etc.

UPDATE: Just One Minute discusses another angle of the birther story and Kurtz here.

Keeping up with IG-gate

Robert Blevedere of Camp of the Saints has a new blog that aggregates the coverage.

IG-GATE: The Inspector General Scandals - Linkage Site

Dead on

This is a good example of why I hate television news. Say what you will about the impact of the blogosphere on journalism, TV has been degrading our profession for decades.

Television is a totalitarian medium, which has trouble accommodating diversity of opinion in a Hayekian universe of facts, where not all facts support any one particular side of an argument


Michael Vick: Nagging Thoughts

First posted Monday, August 27, 2007

The end of the Michael Vick case leaves a bad taste. I have far more sympathy for the soon-to-be inmate than I ever did for the overpaid and over-hyped player.

Some of it is the piling on by Big Media. The ritualized denunciations of Vick are all out of proportion to the actual crimes. Do Nancy Grace and Sean Hannity really need to incite their mob of slobbering mouth-breathers day after day?

(Side point: Joining these mobs serves the same function as the Diana memorials Maureen Orth saw in San Francisco. It is a way for a pathetic loser to get close to fame.)

Another troubling question: Were the lurid stories about drowning and electrocuting dogs put into the indictment to taint the jury pool and put public pressure on Vick? I do not think cruelty to animals is a federal crime so why were those stories in a federal indictment?

Were the stories true? They came from people trying to make a deal. Maybe they had an incentive to exaggerate a little. And maybe an ambitious prosecutor will be less than diligent when he scrutinizes those statements if they point to the big fish he is targeting.

Why did this become a federal case anyway? A local drug bust led to allegations and evidence of dog fighting. State authorities moved too slowly for the DOJ, so the federal government brought its full power to bear.

The energetic federal response in Virginia stands in stark contrast to federal indifference to another high profile criminal case in California. When Lindsey Lohan was arrested the last time, traces of cocaine were found in her purse. Local authorities treated the matter as a simple DUI. The Feds deferred to the state.

Is dog-fighting now a higher priority for the DOJ than the “War on Drugs”? If so, maybe they should give this guy his money back. Maybe they should stop funding those SWAT teams that kick in doors in the inner city looking for crack and pot.

If the War on Drugs is still important, why did the DOJ pass on the opportunity to pressure Lohan and her posse into revealing her supplier? Why id a high profile dog fighter a prize worth bagging but the “Hollywood Connection” is a matter of indifference?

Somehow, I don’t see Lohan’s posse as a tougher nut to crack than Vick’s “friends.” So why not break them and find out who the dealers are?

The media mob displays the same double standard. No one is calling for Lohan to lose her career despite the fact that she has flaunted the law and endangered innocent lives. She is treated as a victim (of what?) Vick, however, is evil personified who is denied all chances of redemption.

The pressure on the NFL to ban Vick has no analogue in Hollywood. Dog fighting is wrong, but so is rape. Nonetheless, Roman Polanski is making movies and winning awards. The media mob yawns.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unadulterated awesomeness

Slublog on Frum:

Frum: History Began When I Decided to Remake Conservatism in My Image

Why advertising usually sucks

Reason #1. Clients do not take advertising seriously.

Speed-Dating: Is This the New Normal?

So a strategic partner was to be chosen primarily via a meeting scarcely more than a week away, based on creative that, except for the free-standing insert, was speculative in every sense of the word.

Kind of like setting your wedding date and then using speed-dating to pick your mate

Did Madoff Act Alone?

Edward Jay Epstein suggests he had help.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Technology and Progress

First posted July 2003

Via Business Pundit, i found this article by Brad DeLong.

Still, there is a strong sense that computers are less of an asset to the economy than they might be if we truly knew what they were good for and how to use them.

DeLong also notes that:

New general-purpose technologies work well only if they are the base of a system, or form a cluster of reinforcing and self-sustaining changes in the way work is organized.

New technology does not automatically produce immediate progress. The best example of that i know is World War One. The combination of new weapons (tanks, machine guns, planes, quick-firing artillery, etc.) and old ways of thinking produced the stalemate and slaughter of 1914-1918. The German victories of 1939-41 owed little to superior technology and a great deal to superior training and doctrine. (See here)

Note as well, that the inventors of a technology are not always the ones who figure out how best to use it. The British invented the tank, the Germans developed the blitzkrieg.

I'm so surprised

They have corruption in New Jersey.

NJ official steps down amid corruption arrests

NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey's Community Affairs Commissioner has resigned amid a sweeping corruption investigation that has ensnared three mayors, two state legislators and several rabbis.

Newsbusters notes an all too familiar aspect to the coverage:

Two NJ Mayors Arrested in Major Bust, Party ID Ignored By AP

Speaking of corruption, R. S. McCain is still working the IG-gate beat:

MATSUI-GATE? California Democrat's Intervention in AmeriCorps Case Raises Questions on Capitol Hill

And if anyone knows corruption, it is The Other McCain--- he even wrote a book about it:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hearings about nothing

This should be a big deal. Unfortunately, it will attention only from a few bloggers.

Surely the Senate has the right to demand better than this

Roger Clegg reports that, under questioning by Senator Kyl about the Ricci case, Judge Sotomayor offered up a howler that raises serious questions about either her competence or her honesty. Specifically, Clegg reports that Sotomayor claimed it was difficult to tell whether all nine Justices rejected her position in Ricci because "there are a lot of opinions in that case."

What nonsense. First, the existence of multiple opinions doesn't make it hard to tell where the Justices stand. All you have to do is read the opinions. If the Justices are clear, it becomes easy to tell whether all of them have rejected a given position

The unfinished story of Bernie Madoff

Madoff's Incredible Money Laundry

Bernard Madoff did not merely plead guilty to running a multi-billion dollar Ponzi Scheme.

He’ also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of "international money laundering." This latter criminal enterprise has not fully come to light because while Madoff talked freely to prosecutors about the mechanics of the swindle itself, he stonewalled the court-appointed Trustee Irving Picard’s effort to unravel his tangle of money laundering to the extent that his counsel, David Sheehan, wrote the court just before his sentencing that Madoff has "not provided meaningful

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

IG-gate: not dead yet

R. S. McCain has the story and the story of how he got the story.

The Little Scandal That Could

IG-Gate: Whispers of hints of shadows

“Everyone lies, but that’s okay because nobody listens”

Television “news” has plumbed new depths of wretched excess with their Michael Jackson coverage. They know it. We know it. They know we know. Therefore even establishment eunuchs like Howard Kurtz know they must address the question of “too much Michael Jackson?”

The Jackson extravaganza was the focus on CNN’s “Reliable Sources”. Kurtz, as is his practice, ensured that that the program offered plenty of excuses and few criticisms.

Perhaps the most striking thing was that Kurtz managed to stack his show with people who actually thought the nonstop coverage was appropriate. He brought on a TV critic from the Baltimore Sun who argued that Jackson was a pop culture icon of such enormous magnitude that the public mourning demanded coverage.

Kurtz also interviewed Don Lemon, the CNN anchor who spearheaded CNN’s all Michael all the time tabloid orgy. Nor surprisingly, he had no problem with the coverage.

The whole thing became an exercise in unchallenged media self-justification. The media’s own numbers showed the public thought the coverage was overblown. Yet, Kurtz chose to do a show on the subject without including an strong proponent of that viewpoint.

What Kurtz needed was someone who was an unalloyed critic of the coverage. Some one like this guy:

Jacko-mania tarnished media credibility

The mainstream media may have covered the bejabbers out of the death of Michael Jackson, but they hardly covered themselves in glory.

A real critic would also have challenged the lame excuses that blame the public for the MSM’s follies. Michael Jackson draws ratings, said Kurtz’s guests, so CNN was “just giving the public what it wants.”

The numbers do not support this thesis, but it passed unchallenged in CNN’s echo chamber. Eighteen channels carried the memorial service and it drew only 30 million viewers. Despite all the hype, the vast majority of Americans took a pass on the spectacle.

There is no doubt that the Jackson story is perfect for cable news. The key factor is not its popularity; it is the low cost. CNN, Fox et. al. could bump their miniscule ratings on the cheap. Cable’s addiction to tabloid stories is a question of economics not of overall popularity.

Cable news is, of course, a business. Tabloid stories help short-term profits. That is a fair and honest explanation for the Michael Jackson coverage. But journalists claim they have a higher calling than mere commerce. It is impossible to reconcile their “blame the audience” rational with their frequent appeal to “news standards” and “editorial judgment”.

What happened to the fearless “deciders” who determined what was news? When convenient, the press wants to act like lemmings chasing after a handful of obsessed viewers. They expect viewers to forget such tawdry behavior when they start their well-worn sermons about the value and values of the professional journalist.

Kurtz and his guests referenced Princess Diana’s death as an earlier example of this sort of pop culture tsunami that the media is compelled to cover. No one addressed a key point made by Maureen Orth about that dirgy Digasm:

From the mixed barone for both gays and lesbians where I was interviewingI could see a dozen dried bouquets which had been stuffed into the iron grill beside a bank in an homage to the fallen princess. The man I was interviewing then gave me a memorable lesson in the power of celebrity. The bouquets, he said, were a way to get the neighborhood in on the act.

How much public grief is real and how much is created by the massive media attention?

These media orgies resemble a fire whose updraft creates ground winds that fan the flames even higher. CNN was not just covering a story; they making the story appear larger by covering it at such length. That is a topic a real media critic would love.

Howard Kurtz? Not so much.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A righteous rant

Check it out

I give up

One minute, CNN is the fearless purveyor of TRUTH, SCIENCE, and HARD NEWS. The next they become enablers of charlatans, promoters of frauds, and exploiters of the hopelessly weak-minded.

Words from a great Supreme Court justice

Justice John Marshall Harlan II from his dissent in Reynolds v. Sims, (1964)

Finally, these decisions give support to a current mistaken view of the Constitution and the constitutional function of this Court. This view, in a nutshell, is that every major social ill in this country can find its cure in some constitutional "principle," and that this Court should "take the lead" in promoting reform when other branches of government fail to act. The Constitution is not a panacea for every blot upon the public welfare, nor should this Court, rdained as a judicial body, be thought of as a general haven for reform movements. The Constitution is an instrument of government, fundamental to which is the premise that in a diffusion of governmental authority lies the greatest promise that this Nation will realize liberty for all its citizens. This Court, limited in function in accordance with that premise, does not serve its high purpose when it exceeds its authority, even to satisfy justified impatience with the slow workings of the political process. For when, in the name of constitutional interpretation, the Court adds something to the Constitution that was deliberately excluded from it, the Court, in reality, substitutes its view of what should be so for the amending process.

But remember, they know better in New York

In a rare moment of lucidity, Susan Sontag made a painful admission:

Imagine, if you will, someone who read only Reader's Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation or The New Statesman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of Communism? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?

We see the same elite ignorance with the JFK assassination. Those who relied on The New York Times, The Nation, or Partisan review were "knew" that Dallas and theradical right-wing were to blame. In contrast, the Tulsa Daily World ran this page one headline the day after the assassination:


Sunday, July 12, 2009

When did Peggy Noonan become a Republican who mattered?

Dr. Zero takes on her latest column.

A Seemingly Very Nice Middle-Class Girl

I'm still puzzled by the Noonan's elevation to savant status on all things conservative. She was, after all, a late comer to the party. When Reagan won his smashing victory in 1980, Noonan was working at CBS for Dan Rather. She was a speechwriter for RR in the White House for only a couple of years. Then she cashed out and cashed in to write a memoir.

Her Reagan books (she has managed to write three books about the man she worked with for less than three years) are revealing when taken together. What I Saw at the Revolution is highly critical of the administration, obsessed with trivia, and seems to accept the media caricature of the man. Each subsequent book becomes more lavish in its praise as the great accomplishments of Reagan become more apparent.

Simply put, Noonan displays no great insight into the man she worked for and what he was doing. She simply paints the portrait most likely to appeal to conservatives while fitting into the media/liberal narrative of the time.

Let us also not forget that Noonan, as Reagan left office, wrote the "kinder, gentler nation" speech for George H. W. Bush. The true Reaganauts recognized that line as a not too subtle jab at the man leaving the Oval Office.

James Fallows's review of her first book is revealing now when read beside her criticisms of Sarah Palin:

Noonan is wholeheartedly on the side of Reaganism and of Ronald Reagan, but she does not make Reagan out to be some kind of mental giant or perfect man. Near the end of his term, she says, "I knew he was one of the great men of our time ... but~ when I thought of him in those days, it was as a gigantic heroic balloon floating in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, right up there between Superman and Big Bird."


First, even by the standards of Reagan-era memoirists and of speechwriters as a class, Noonan seems remarkably full of herself. Life somehow has never taught her that, if you can't be genuinely modest, even the semblance of modesty is a plus. She gives phrase-by-phrase accounts of how she drafted her speeches, in a tone that would be appropriate for barby-bar recollections by Mozart.


Second, there is a peculiar class dynamic underway in the book. Noonan grew up in a working class Irish neighborhood in Brooklyn, where most children of her generation (she is in her late 30s) were the first in their families to go to college. She understands exactly why the hereditary Democrats of her neighborhood, who viewed John Kennedy as their hero and savior in 1960, came to see Ronald Reagan the same way 20 years later. We all bear the marks of our upbringings, and even though Noonan has spent the last 15 years doing professional-class jobs in Cambridge, Manhattan, and Washington, she may feel that her soul is still in Brooklyn. But in this book she hauls out her working-class credentials so often and so showily that she seems to be using them to mau-mau the "nice young men in blue suits from Brooks" she fought against in the White House. They couldn't possibly understand the emotions of the real America (she would tell them), because unlike her, they weren't from Brooklyn and hadn't ever worked in a diner. There's something to this point, but not as much as Noonan makes of it here.


First, even by the standards of Reagan-era memoirists and of speechwriters as a class, Noonan seems remarkably full of herself. Life somehow has never taught her that, if you can't be genuinely modest, even the semblance of modesty is a plus. She gives phrase-by-phrase accounts of how she drafted her speeches, in a tone that would be appropriate for barby-bar recollections by Mozart. She says that, after she finished hammering out a draft, the speech writing process would typically !) go like this: "I would get it back from Ben. He would not have changed it much, but he would have written little exclamation points along the margins, and sometimes on some sections he would write, Excellent!' And I would be shocked that Ben's critical faculties had failed him. Then I would read over the speech and realize for the first time that it was actually pretty brilliant, so delicate and yet so vital, so vital and yet so tender." My sympathies are entirely with Noonan as she fights against the policy nerds, but it's easy to imagine them grinding their teeth about her "delicate yet vital" prose.

Class act

Second, there is a peculiar class dynamic underway in the book. Noonan grew up in a working class Irish neighborhood in Brooklyn, where most children of her generation (she is in her late 30s) were the first in their families to go to college. She understands exactly why the hereditary Democrats of her neighborhood, who viewed John Kennedy as their hero and savior in 1960, came to see Ronald Reagan the same way 20 years later. We all bear the marks of our upbringings, and even though Noonan has spent the last 15 years doing professional-class jobs in Cambridge, Manhattan, and Washington, she may feel that her soul is still in Brooklyn. But in this book she hauls out her working-class credentials so often and so showily that she seems to be using them to mau-mau the "nice young men in blue suits from Brooks" she fought against in the White House. They couldn't possibly understand the emotions of the real America (she would tell them), because unlike her, they weren't from Brooklyn and hadn't ever worked in a diner. There's something to this point, but not as much as Noonan makes of it here. When she's not talking about her humble roots, Noonan drops allusions to the world of academics and aesthetes-the Deconstructionists, Gerald Murphy-that seem a little far-fetched. I could be reading it wrong, but it looks as if she is using these signals to show that she has it both ways: she's a woman of the people, but she knows as much as the pointy-heads. To be clear about this point, there is nothing wrong with being a woman of the people or with knowing a lot about history or art. The problem is that both these parts of Noonan's identity in the book seem forced rather than natural, as if they say more about the way Noonan wants to be seen than about what she really is.


Finally there is the question of "writing for the ear." Before she joined the Reagan staff, Noonan had spent several years as a writer for Dan Rather. Her speciality was scripts for his five-minute radio commentaries. She presents it as a kind of delicious irony that she could have spanned the gulf between Rather and Reagan. But by the time a reader finishes this book, the irony or mystery will have disappeared. In both jobs, Noonan was doing essentially the same thing-writing words that would be listened to, rather than read on a page. Probably without meaning to, she uses the same approach in much of this book, and in so doing she demonstrates that the way she writes matters more than what she says: The structural similarity between Rather's broadcasts and Reagan's speeches matters more than the supposed differences in their political points of view

HT: The Other McCain


Taking Peggy Noonan to the woodshed

Saturday, July 11, 2009

For serious football fans

Highly recommended

Football, decisionmaking, and the brain

And they say bloggers are self-absorbed

From Steve Sailer:

a remarkable fraction of female journalistic output, at least the most heartfelt stuff, consists of demands for society to change so that that particular female journalist would be considered hotter looking.

Why the Watergate narrative remains frozen in 1973

Watergate Figure John Dean Threatens to Sue Historian Over Damaging Tape Recordings

Love this quote from Fox News's James Rosen:

My book speaks for itself, and I think it's noteworthy that Dean has entirely avoided engaging its substance. Dean himself is well aware that his historical reputation has suffered enormously in the last two decades, and so he resorts to frivolous litigation and bullying tactics to rehabilitate himself. Not since Albert Speer [a Nazi minister convicted at the Nuremberg Trials] has a historical figure so assiduously used his post-prison writings to muddy and distort the historical record of the events in which he was culpable.

How we live now

RS McCain is back with another essay on the People Who Really Matter.

IQ, Temperament and 'Meritocracy'

Friday, July 10, 2009

Very true

From a emailer to Glenn Sacks:

Many commentators are criticizing McNair because his murder revealed that he was apparently having an extramarital affair. This is another double-standard on men & DV–it’s very hard to imagine the media criticizing a married woman who was gunned down by her boyfriend.

As i noted about Mary Winkler:

The tabloid media (both online and cable) are handling the murder of Matthew Winkler much differently than the murders of Laci Peterson or Rachel Entwistle. When the wife was the victim they said:

"What a sociopathic brute to kill a delicate, innocent flower like Laci."

But now, when the wife is the killer, they keep trying to frame the story as:

"What did that brute do to make that delicate innocent flower kill him?"

TV shrinks assured us that Scott Peterson wore a mask of normality but was evil underneath. Now they are warming up to explain that Mary Winkler was forced to wear a mask of normality and that is why her killing was not evil

HT: Dr. Helen.

Louisiana comes to Washington

Don't write anything you can phone. Don't phone anything you can talk. Don't talk anything you can whisper. Don't whisper anything you can smile. Don't smile anything you can nod. Don't nod anything you can wink.

Earl Long

'Put nothing in writing,' Browner told auto execs on secret White House CAFE talks; Sensenbrenner wants investigation

Carol Browner, former Clinton administration EPA head and current Obama White House climate czar, instructed auto industry execs "to put nothing in writing, ever" regarding secret negotiations she orchestrated regarding a deal to increase federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

Public Enemies

James Bowman did not like the movie. I haven't seen it yet, so i cannot comment on many of his points. But i think he let's politics get in the way of history with this:

Mr. Mann commendably refrains from putting the head G-man in a dress, but only because he doesn't have to in the furtherance of his portrayal of him as a publicity hound whose crime-fighting was nothing but a cynical (and successful) attempt to manipulate a more credulous media than today's (and there's another box for us to check). Collusion between government at all levels and organized crime in the person of Frank Nitti (Bill Camp) -- in the murder of Dillinger as in other matters -- rounds out the film's portrait of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave in the 1930s for an audience mostly ill-equipped to know any better or to care very much if they did.

It sounds to me that director Mann is true to his source in this portrayal. The book Public Enemies (i reviewed it here)
provides ample documentation that Hoover was a publicity hound and that there was collusion between organized crime and government in the 1930s.

Now they tell us

Reporter: 'We Took Sides, Straight and Simple' Against Palin

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

FBI agent gets deferred probation, community service for shooting dog

“Disappointed but not surprised,” is how Jason and Amy Davis feel about the sentence handed down Wednesday to the local FBI agent who shot and killed their 3-pound Chihuahua, Sassy.

Lovett Leslie Ledger, 40, was sentenced Wednesday by 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson to two years’ deferred probation and 300 hours of community service after pleading no contest to state jail felony animal cruelty charges. Deferred probation means there will be no final judgment of guilt if Ledger successfully completes deferred probation

The story notes that he lied to investigators when questioned by police. How can he remain an FBI agent after all this?

Garry Wills: The magnanimous apostate

William F. Buckley once joked that he worried that he was running a “finishing school for apostates” at National Review. He hired a number of talented young writersJoan Didion, John Leonard, Arlene Crocewho left the magazine and became decidedly non-conservative writers and journalists.

The sharpest break came with former seminarian Garry Wills. He had the highest profile at the magazine and the longest tenure there. His move to the left sparked two decades of low intensity conflict between himself and NR.

Despite that, Wills wrote several memorable pieces about working at the magazine in its original incarnation. (E.g. in his book Lead Time.)

He has a new piece in The Atlantic on WFB. It is brilliant journalism: warm, generous, balanced, and insightful. Wills was to be Buckley’s biographer so he knows the full man as few do. He also knew WFB as boss, friend, and mentor before Buckley became an icon and institution.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

An important new book on World War Two

From the review in The Telegraph:

This is the first to focus on the leaders and their army chiefs of staff, the relatively unheralded George C. Marshall and Sir Alan Brooke (later Viscount Alanbrooke), who had the thankless task of advising their political masters on military strategy.

Given the popularity of the period, Andrew Roberts has done exceptionally well to unearth some new material....

Armed with these and a wealth of other primary sources - including the private papers of nearly 70 contemporaries - he demonstrates in minute detail the way in which many of the key decisions of the war depended upon the personalities and relationships of his chosen subjects

Bottom line-- leadership matters.

Other reviews:

Christian Science Monitor

New York Times

I wrote about Marshall here.

Blogging then and now

This is a great post on how blogging has changed over the last six or seven years.

The Blogosphere 2.0
It is an astute assessment and every point strikes me as correct.

I would add one point. Blog readership appears to be an intensely partisan audience. What pulls readers (skimmers?) is red meat for the true believers. Predictable punditry sells. It is the Crossfire model reborn so that only the left or rightwing host has a microphone.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


``Savran on Sportsbeat'' to be cancelled

Now where am i supposed to get my fix of Penguin and Steelers inside dope?

Tunch Ilkin, the Steelers radio analyst, came in a couple of times a week during the season and explained what happened and why. For my money he is better at this than anyone on ESPN or the broadcast networks. He always points out things that i missed during the game that turned out to be important.

This is pretty cool

Harrisburg exhibit shows off current champions in 3 pro sports

You just might call Pennsylvania the "state of champions."

Three trophies marking three recent titles won by Pennsylvania teams were on display together, for the first time, today at the Capitol: the tall, silvery Stanley Cup, won by the Penguins last month; the silvery football of the Vince Lombardi trophy, won by the Steelers in February; and the gold-colored Major League Baseball World Series trophy, won by the Philadelphia Phillies in October

This is rarely noted in the "debates" about gun control

The UK has draconian laws on gun ownership. That has not made it a more peaceful society.

The most violent country in Europe: Britain is also worse than South Africa and U.S.

Britain's violent crime record is worse than any other country in the European union, it has been revealed.

Official crime figures show the UK also has a worse rate for all types of violence than the U.S. and even South Africa - widely considered one of the world's most dangerous countries

Odd thing. Over the last fifty years, Britain has adopted ever more stringent restrictions on civilian self-defense. Yet, violent crime has become common.

Hmmm. I wonder if there is a connection? Somehow i doubt that CNN or Katie Couric want to investigate it.

Understanding Palin-hatred

Two outstanding posts:

Feminists and the mystery of Sarah Palin

But after you’ve had a few of these myth-dispelling conversations, you start to realize that it doesn’t matter. These people don’t hate Palin because of the lies; the lies exist to justify the hate. That’s why they keep reaching and reaching for something else,

More on Palin-hate? [continued…and continued…]

You might say that Palin-hated represents the perfect storm, the confluence of flashpoints regarding class, education, beauty, sexuality, Christianity (don’t discount the latter; it’s important to the hatred and comes with a whole set of assumptions, some of which Violet discusses at some length), and female ambition.

Friday, July 03, 2009

I think this is what Forrest McDonald was talking about

Earth to Congress: Keep Your Hands Off of College Football and Pay Attention to Real Issues! Earlier this week, Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah) whined in an opinion essay (for Real Clear Politics) that the Senate needed more time to review the "large and complex record" of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Perhaps Hatch and the other members of the Judiciary Committee could devote more attention to Sotomayor if they canceled a hearing, scheduled for next week, to investigate the College Bowl Champion Series (BCS). The upcoming hearing is a colossal waste of time.
Forrest McDonald, A Constituional History of the United States, (1984)
Between the late 1950s and the early 1980s government in the United States became so big and so complex that it all but lost the ability to function. A medical term, 'iatrogenic disease,' illness resulting from treatment by a physician, fairly well describes what happened. Starting with the New Deal, government attempted to solve problems of a nature and magnitude beyond the capacities of a limited constitutional system and perhaps of any system. Some remedies worked, others did not. When they did not, the tendency was to create a new program on top of an old one, rather than to scrap the old. By the early 1960s this jerry-built machinery was beginning to produce, or aggravate, social problems of a scale previously unknown in America. Every governmental 'remedy' produced a new governmental-caused sickness; and yet Americans had become so addicted to the habit of believing that government could cure everything that the response of the late sixties was wave after wave of crash programs. These created new problems that, in the seventies, resulted in more programs. By the time considerable numbers of people began to suspect that they were overgoverned, the reality was that, though government interfered in their lives from cradle to grave, it scarcely governed at all, in the original constitutional sense of the term. Government had ceased to be able to protect people in their lives, their liberty, and their property; and it had lost the capacity to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare.


An unsurprising headline that should shock us all

Barney Frank Just Can't Stop Wasting Money

That's just Barney being Barney.

It should be shocking because Frank is one of the major creators of the present financial crisis (especially the housing bubble and the Fannie/Freddie disaster).

Yet here he is, still a big player in federal economic policy-making and still pushing policies like the ones that failed so miserably.

More mediated democracy in action. The first rule of the Washington Club is that you can't get tossed out of the Washington Club for little things like being wrong.

Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which your are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked. ... It may be that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal and that you are a paralytic.

G. K. Chesterton, As I Was Saying


Miracles All Around Us

On the bottles of its signature drinks, the Boston Beer Company describes Samuel Adams as a brewer and patriot. Although he was instrumental in forming the Boston-area "Committee of Correspondence" that helped spark the American Revolution and was copied by other colonial towns, the beer bottle labels do not identify Mr. Adams as a "community organizer." Like other heroes of our founding generation including Paul Revere the silversmith, William Dawes the tanner, and Joseph Warren the doctor, Adams never thought of organizing as a full-time occupation; he just lent a hand where he thought it was needed.

This July 4th weekend, my heart is filled with gratitude for the men and women who, like Adams, are untitled community organizers. What they do in their spare time makes our lives better than they would otherwise be

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Hypocritical double standards

Victor Davis Hanson explains why the MSM is hypocritical when they discuss politicians's hypocrisy.

Some Hypocrisies Are Not Hypocrisies

Bailouts and crony capitalism

The Washington Post has a perfect example of crony capitalism:

After Call From Senator's Office, Small Hawaii Bank Got U.S. Aid

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye's staff contacted federal regulators last fall to ask about the bailout application of an ailing Hawaii bank that he had helped to establish and where he has invested the bulk of his personal wealth.

The bank, Central Pacific Financial, was an unlikely candidate for a program designed by the Treasury Department to bolster healthy banks. The firm's losses were depleting its capital reserves. Its primary regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., already had decided that it didn't meet the criteria for receiving a favorable recommendation and had forwarded the application to a council that reviewed marginal cases, according to agency documents.

Two weeks after the inquiry from Inouye's office, Central Pacific announced that the Treasury would inject $135 million

The Pirates won't be denied

Nutting's determined to own consecutive losing season record

Lastings' impression not positive

The Pirates sent much of what remains of their melting fan base back into the full Nate McLouth/Jason Bay boil yesterday, trading still another popular outfielder for some highly suspicious baggage belonging to the worst team in the major leagues.

The mid-afternoon acquisition of all tools-no job free swinger Lastings Milledge, banished to the Washington Nationals' farm lands after just seven games this season by a club that will be lucky to get to the All-Star break with 25 wins, triggered a fresh round of exasperated hostility from the people who had come to appreciate Pirates left fielder Nyjer Morgan, the smiling face and earnest heart of the still somehow hopeful young Pirates

Collier is one of the few Pittsburgh sportswriters who understanding just how laughable the Pirates's ownwership has become:

Morgan bought in, as he has with everything the organization has done since signing him in 2002 (or as I like to call it, Year 5 of Five-Year Plan II, this being Year 2 of Five-Year Plan IV)....

It must be awfully reassuring for the rest of the people in Huntington's clubhouse to know that they can perform beyond all expectations, as Morgan has, play the game passionately, as Morgan has, swallow management's dubious medications and still come up smiling, as Morgan has, even help spur a comatose club into somebody's goofy fantasy of a wild-card chase, as Morgan has, and still be dealt for a Nationals minor leaguer who might or might not perform at Indianapolis.

What happened to changing the culture