Thursday, July 29, 2010

My favorite post title of the day

Shirley Sherrod’s ill-fitting suit

When seconds count, the police are minutes (sometimes many minutes) away

'Deadly delay': Police wait while mother, sons slain

The District police department policy on forcible entry caused a "deadly delay" as officers waited for a supervisor outside an apartment while a mother and her two young sons were being stabbed to death inside, according to a lawsuit filed by the woman's family.

The policy that led to police taking nearly an hour to finally bust down the door and find the murdered family is at the center of a $60 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the officers involved

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Another triumph for criminal profiling?

If the Maryland police are right, then the FBI missed the boat once again:

Upper Marlboro man who police call a serial killer indicted

An FBI profiler concluded last year that the two slayings weren't connected, but police say Scott masked his crimes to throw off investigators.

The truth about criminal profiling

"Profilers can aid case, but they won't solve it"

I always knew Andrew Cohen was a dishonest hack*

but i had no idea he was such a twisted, self-dramatising jerk.

The Gift of Creepiness, On Your Wedding Day

UPDATE: Cohen doubles down.


Monday, July 26, 2010

When apologies were not in fashion

Since the MSM thinks apologies are the order of the day, Legal Insurrection has a few cases that deserve a mea culpa or three.

Still Waiting For Apologies

It's a lengthy list, but it only scratches the surface.

For example, since we now know that context is everything and editing video foortage is terrible, where are the apologies for the "Collateral Murder" propoganda from Wikileaks?

It's funny, in a sick kind of way, that Shirley Sherrod has become a martyr because she was went through a couple of days of bad press and unfair attacks. In terms of duration and viciousness, her "ordeal" is a day at the spa compared to what happened to the three falsely accused Duke lacrosse players.

So you might ask, how did the MSM handle their apologies back in 2007?

Short answer: grudgingly or not at all.

More than a few actually continued to attack the innocent players in order to cover for the media's failure.

Here is Terry Moran of ABC News
But perhaps the outpouring of sympathy for Reade Seligman, Collin Finnerty and David Evans is just a bit misplaced. They got special treatment in the justice system--both negative and positive. The conduct of the lacrosse team of which they were members was not admirable on the night of the incident, to say the least. And there are so many other victims of prosecutorial misconduct in this country who never get the high-priced legal representation and the high-profile, high-minded vindication that it strikes me as just a bit unseemly to heap praise and sympathy on these particular men
Mike Wise of the Washington Post:

Just because these players aren't felons, let's not instantly transform them into martyrs. It's okay to find middle ground in the good-and-evil spectrum, no matter what a certain D.A. tells you.
Media critic and Breitbart scourge Howard Kurtz:

The three players were not choir boys -- the team had, after all, invited a pair of strippers to a midnight party -- but they hardly deserved the national scorn of being loudly trumpeted as accused rapists.

Further examples can be found here for the Washington Post and here and here for Selena Robert of the New York Times.

Roberts provides another interesting insight into media double standards. Breitbart's mistake apparently puts him beyond the pale now and forever. Roberts's disgracefull performance brought out the protective side of her reporter friends.

A new form of failure laundering*

Many in the MSM are bashing Andrew Breitbart for his handling of the Shirley Sherrod video. Some of the criticism is probably deserved. Others, however, are trying to use this story to retrospectively justify their own mistakes and journalistic failures.

Patterico takes down one such effort here:

James Rainey: Breitbart Was Irresponsible for Doing What I Do All the Time

With this series of embarrassments as background, it’s little wonder that Rainey would seize upon the Sherrod episode as a way to suggest that Breitbart was the villain all along — and Rainey simply the truth-teller battling the wild-eyed partisan.

The fact that Rainey routinely slams his enemies without contacting them for comment (he also did it to Jill Stewart lends a rich layer of irony to this complaint about Breitbart:

[D]idn’t this self-styled truth-teller have an obligation to get the full speech or a response from Sherrod? He apparently did none of those things.

When Breitbart fails to contact someone for a response, that’s unforgivable sloppiness, according to Rainey. But when Rainey fails to contact Giles, or O’Keefe, or Breitbart, or Jill Stewart, that’s tip-top Big Newspaper Journalism

Clarice Feldman takes a broader tour d'horizon on the meaning of the story.

Clarice's Pieces: Know When to Hold 'Em

Feldman actually read what Breitbart wrote when he posted the videos. That puts her ahead of about 90% of the fulminators on the issue.

It appears that the White House is hoping to run this story through the wash cycle a few times. They want Ag. Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Undersecretaty Cheryl Cook to shoulder all the blame for the quick firing of Sherrod. But as Jack Kelly notes, the WH praised the Ag department for their "decisive action" the day after Sherrod was ousted.

*Other examples of failure laundering can be found here, here, and here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Michelle Malkin:

Dealergate, social justice & the Obama job-killing machine

But Neil Barofsky, the federal watchdog overseeing the bank-auto-insurance-all-purpose bailout fund, found that the White House auto industry task force and the Treasury Department “Auto Team” had no basis for ordering the expedited car dealership closure schedules. They relied on a single consulting firm’s internal report recommending that the U.S. companies adopt foreign auto industry models to increase profits — a recommendation hotly disputed by auto experts who questioned whether foreign practices could be applied to domestic American dealership networks.

Team Obama’s government auto mechanics also ignored the economic impact of rushing those closures. According to Barofsky, they discounted counter-testimony from industry officials that “closing dealerships in an environment already disrupted by the recession could result in an even greater crisis in sales.”

MM also points out that the the people responsible for these important decisions were hardly the best qualified to weild such power.

This is no surprise, of course, considering the amount of actual auto business expertise among Obama’s auto czars and key staff. That is: zero. Obama’s first auto czar, Steve Rattner, ran a private equity firm in New York before resigning his position amid a financial ethics cloud.

Rattner’s chief auto expert adviser, Brian Deese, is a 30-something former Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama campaign aide and law school grad with no business experience, who openly boasted that he “never set foot in an automotive assembly plant

I blogged about Rattner (here and here) and Deese (here) last year.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Giving Jonathan Alter his due

The whole review is a gem

Friends and Sources

"A mile above sea level," reads the first awful sentence by Newsweek's Jonathan Alter in his prologue to this book, "the thin Denver air refreshed the throngs as they waited in the summer darkness for their man to ascend. It was an electric evening for a nation yearning to believe in something or someone again. Barack Obama accepted his party's nomination for president on August 28, 2008, the forty-fifth anniversary of Martin Luther King's ‘I Have a Dream' speech at the Lincoln Memorial."
As far as we know, no loaves and fishes to feed the hungry multitudes, no water changed to wine. But otherwise, the symbols are all there -- the adoring throngs, the mountaintop, the ascension -- and the tone is set.

Coyne also understands how the guild works and how it takes care of its own:

But don't cry for Jonathan Alter and Jon Meacham. As Patrick Gavin writes in Politico, Meacham "has the great fortune of being part of an elite club of journalists who take care of their own." He quotes Peter Mirijanian, a Washington crisis communications expert: "Within the fraternity and sorority that is the journalist corridor between New York and Washington, I think he's fine..." And so is Alter. After Game Change and The Bridge, his Promise is third in a series of at least three more Obama books this year by that "elite club" of journalist/writers, topping off with Bob Woodward, who creates great fictional characters and will find at least one Deep Throat in the administration, unnamed of course, to pass him secrets in an unlit parking garage.

The story will change, the plot thicken, and Alter will be kept in book contracts for a few more years -- at least up through Year Four -- thus continuing to ensure him a place beside Jon Meacham at Charley Rose's table

The philosophy behind gun control

Great post from Kevin Williamson at NR:

Coyotes in the State of Nature

Ignatius here is remarkably forthcoming: He is not worried about guns in the hands of criminals, but about guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens, people who are willing to apply for a permit and jump through the bureaucratic hoops re­quired of gun buyers. His nightmare is not an America in which criminals run amok with Glocks, or even an America in which gun permits are handed out liberally, but an America in which “every American can apply for a gun license.” Never mind the approval of licenses, the mere application gives Mr. Ignatius the howling fantods. It is wonderfully apt that he references the “state of nature” in his criticism, imagining a Hobbesian version of life in these United States: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short, permeated by the aroma of cordite. Mr. Ignatius, like Thomas Hobbes, is casting his lot with Leviathan and makes no apology for it.

That is the essence of 21st-century progressivism: In matters ranging from financial derivatives to education to gun control, the Left believes that we face a choice between a masterful state and a Hobbesian war of all against all. For all of the smart set’s vaunted and self-congratulatory nu­ance, it is this absolutist vision, this Manichean horror, that forms the foun­dation of progressivism.....

Just as state schooling is not about education, but about the state, gun control is not about guns: It’s about control. A citizen who can fend for himself when the predators come or the schools fail is less inclined to look to the state for sustenance and oversight in other areas of life. To progressives, that’s an invitation to anarchy. To the men who wrote the Second Amendment, it was a condition of citizenship in a free republic. It’s what free men did, and do

See also Jesse Walker's article on the "paranoid center" from last fall for a smart analysis of another facet of the problem.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Looking for the dark cloud behind the silver lining

When most normal people read that a serial killer has been captured, they view it as an unalloyed good.

A killer off the street, what’s the downside?

OTOH, MSM pundits and editors seem to take a perverse pleasure in finding the potential downside to every piece of good news.

Case in point--the capture of Lonnie David Franklin who is accused of being South Central LA’s “Grim Sleeper” serial killer. After years of frustration, investigators made their breakthrough when they used familial DNA analysis. Lonnie Franklin was not in the state’s DNA database so earlier searches came up empty. When investigators looked for close matches (i. e. family members of their unknown killer), they got a hit. Further investigation led them to Franklin. Undercover officers snagged his DNA from an discarded slice of pizza. That DNA proved to be to be a match with the evidence from the murders and an arrest was made.

What’s not to like?

MSM pundits and editors have found plenty not to like:

A Yellow Light to DNA Searches (NY Times)

The Grim Sleeper and DNA: There's much to be concerned about (LA Times)

Familial DNA analysis is promising but hazardous (KC Star)

Most of the arguments are either short on logic or light on facts. Or both. For example, the New York Times is fine with how California handled this case and thinks it should be a model for the nation. Yet, Jerry Brown has imposed a couple of bizarre restrictions on police:

Under rules set up by Attorney General Jerry Brown, familial searching cannot be used unless all other investigative leads have been exhausted. The crime must be murder or rape, and the criminal has to be an active threat to public safety still committing crimes.

Why must other, possibly less effective methods be “exhausted” before police turn to familial DNA analysis? In the case of serial murder and serial rapists this give the criminal more time to find more victims.

Similarly, why should cold cases be excluded? Just because a case seems to be cold, that does not mean the killer is no longer a threat. The “Grim Sleeper” got his nickname because he apparently stopped killing for fourteen years. In the case of BTK (Dennis Rader) police thought he stopped killing in 1978, but, in fact, he committed three murders in 2004 and 2005 that police did not link to BTK until Rader confessed to them after his capture.

I not sure what drives this obsessive desire to find a perverse angle to stories in the news. Is it merely a need to look clever and stand apart from crowd? That’s the most likely explanation. But I cannot help thinking about something David Gelernter wrote after he was almost killed by the Unabomber:

Between lawmen and reporters on the whole it is impossible, however, not to notice this difference: Most lawmen seem to hate criminals, and most reporters couldn't care less.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Behind the Pirates's woes

by The Last Hollywood Star

For those of you interested in how the Pirates got where they are, this Sports Illustrated article does a good job of explaining.

Not A Pretty Picture

With their rich heritage and jewel of a ballpark, the Pirates could be a major league treasure. Instead they're an object lesson in how a once-proud club can become the most futile franchise in sports

Friday, July 09, 2010

Case in point

There's no statute of limitations on counterespionage, none at all.

William Hood

Nor, is there any statute of limitations on writing about spy puzzles.

For example. Chapman Pincher returns to the "Fifth Man" question in his 2009 book Treachery. Tracking down the Cambridge Ring and their enablers has been good sport for British journalists since 1951.

The thing that amazes me is that Pincher was one of those journalists. The man was born in 1914. And yet, he is still chasing down leads and writing fat books as he nears the century mark. That is a worthy achievement in and of itself.

Pincher is convinced that former MI5 director Roger Hollis was a Russian mole. He has pursued that avenue for thirty years(since Their Trade is Treachery). His latest book has some new information that bolsters the case, but still no smoking gun.

What makes this book fascinating is that Pincher dishes a lot of inside information on how he got his scoops. Like Bob Novak's memoir, we get a close up look at how the sausage is made.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The essence of "Twilight"

Twilight Hit for the Same Reasons Knight and Day Flopped

A weaker novelist than Rowling, Meyer less understands the adolescent girl’s mind than shares it. Her Bella epitomizes teen self-obsession, the ambition to have every boy fight over you and every girl hate you for it.

Unlike Harry Potter’s world, which is so crisply-imagined that it’s a little limiting as metaphor, Meyer’s hazy imagination created a vampire cosmos where everything can symbolize anything. Sex, death, growing up, marriage, religion, race, family, whatever interests you, it will fit into Twilight’s cloudy cosmos

Friday, July 02, 2010

Double standards are the only standards he's got

Last year Howard Kurtz was deeply troubled because ESPN was slow to jump on the sexual assault accusations aimed at Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger:

I've got one more ESPN controversy to throw at you, and that's the story involving Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was suddenly confronted with allegations from a woman who filed a civil suit against him saying that he sexually assaulted her a year ago. She never went to the police. This is a year later. Who knows whether it's true.

Lots of news organization reported it. ESPN initially did not and told its talk show hosts not to talk about it.

Can you really ignore a story like that

Funny thing, he sings a completely different tune when the target is Al Gore:

But, now, you have an accuser who, as I mentioned, her cooperation with the police was spotty. The police did not see any reason to launch an investigation.

Didn't that give you any pause about publishing?

LEVINE: Howard, it did not give us pause in the sense that this was something that had been buried. Was there some type of cover-up involving the police? We don't know.

I mean, I think our job was to bring it to the surface after we were able to corroborate certain facts of the story. And now there's public opinion on this story.

Let's look into the thing. Let's look into the evidence that's at hand. Let's hear from Al Gore in terms of his side of the story. He's officially issued a "no comment" about this, so I think there's still a lot that remains to be seen on this story.

KURTZ: You talk about Gore's side of the story, but you told me this week that "The Enquirer" did not call Al Gore's office for comment because you didn't want to lose the exclusive before your issue hit the newsstands.

Was that fair to the former vice president?

LEVINE: I think it was. You know, this was a competitive story.

You know, he could have gotten out in front of it by putting it in the hands of a news organization, to some degree, more favorable. We felt that we had the facts and we wanted to put that information out. Now is his time to come forward.

We thought our story was very fair in the sense that we said very high that the police had not charged him in any way. We also pointed out some things that we found out about the woman's past, that she had been involved in a previous domestic relations abuse case from 1998.

KURTZ: Right.

LEVINE: So we thought we laid all the information out.

KURTZ: Gore's office has not commented yet, and I put in a request as well. But isn't it possible, Barry Levine, that this woman is making this up and making a charge against a very famous person who is now being victimized

(I discussed the media and the Roethlisberger allegations here)

The MSM puts great stock in the value of its insider status. They know things that we outsiders do not. That allows them to see context and nuance that the dirty masses are blind to. What the public might think is favoritism is just superior knowledge. Because they know that Joe Biden is smart and Sarah Palin is dumb, it is AOK for pundits to mock the latter while ignoring the missteps the of Veep.

Yeah, they know Biden is smart just as they know (knew?) that Al Gore was a good family man.

Uh-oh. In the wake of the divorce and the sexual assault allegations, maybe the insiders aren't so knowledgeable after all.