Thursday, May 26, 2011

An important new book on the financial crisis

Here's the transcript of an interview with Gretchen Morgenson.

Morgenson points out that both Barney Frank and Chris Dodd played large roles in furthering the activities that created this economic catastrophe.

Surely it must say something about Washington culture that both men were given lead roles in authoring the "financial reform" legislation after the crash.

Is Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik engaged in a cover-up?

That's the impression you have to ask after reading the latest from Bob Owens.

Seventy-One Shots: The Death of Jose Guereña

Jose Guereña survived two tours in Iraq, but he couldn't survive his own government

Wonder if there are any enterprising Woodwards out there in Arizona. Or has Dupnik earned provisional Gorelick status for his attempt to slander the Tea Party movement in the wake of the Rep. Giffords shooting?

A good read

The Colorado Kid is the first and only Stephen King book I've read. It not the sort of story I think of when I think "Stephen King". In all respects it is sui generis. Published as part of the Hard Case Crime series it lacks the tough private eye and violent actions. Instead of mean urban streets, the action (such as it is) takes place on a small resort island off the coast of Maine.

The story is not a simple whodunit. It is a rich, discursive meditation on the very nature of the mystery story and the value of journalistic narratives.

In the end, it was one of the best books I've read in years.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Michael Barone agrees

It's the Chicago Way

Obama skirts rule of law to reward pals, punish foes

Punishing enemies and rewarding friends -- politics Chicago style -- seems to be the unifying principle that helps explain the Obamacare waivers, the NLRB action against Boeing and the IRS' gift-tax assault on 501(c)(4) donors.

They look like examples of crony capitalism, bailout favoritism and gangster government.

One thing they don't look like is the rule of law.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

That's good stuff right there

Ace shows the losers at SNL how it is done:

Special Guest Commentary

Smug and clueless on both sides of the Atlantic

David Brooks of the New York Times thinks he understands Great Britain. He doesn't

Good write-up on the priest abuse scandal

George Weigel looks at the recent John Jay College study:

Priests, Abuse, and the Meltdown of a Culture

As he notes, the report contradicts the established narrative on may critical points.

This part of the history usually gets ignored or glossed over:

This, in turn, led to an overdependence on psychiatry and psychology in dealing with clerical perpetrators, in the false confidence that they could be “cured” and returned to active ministry — a pattern that again mirrored broader societal trends.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The man who invented the modern thriller

The Telegraph has an interview with Frederick Forsyth:

Frederick Forsyth: 'I had expected women to hate him. But no...

Forty years since 'The Day of the Jackal’ transformed the thriller, its author Frederick Forsyth talks to Helen Brown about the curious allure of his cold-blooded assassin.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"The most trusted name in news"-- Really?

Sam Feist and Eliot Spitzer: A tale of two CNNs

But before I had a chance to write that piece, along came word from TVNewser that CNN had run a piece on political sex scandals and a decision had been made in the editing process to not include the Spitzer saga, one of the more egregiously hypocritical examples of the very pattern the piece was trying to report.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Getting it wrong about bin Laden

All the so-called ‘experts' really were wrong about bin Laden

Most of what we were told over the last decade turns out to be wrong. Miniter has a theory about why that is true:

Reflecting back on each of these fables about bin Laden, a common thread emerges. Each of them first appeared in the Pakistani press before migrating onto America’s television screens. Can that be a coincidence?
RTWT. Lots of interesting stuff.

I think that this might be the most significant myth:

How many times have you heard how religious or pious bin Laden was? Such a carefully crafted religious reputation certainly helped al Qaeda’s recruiting efforts, but it’s unclear why so many Western experts took this claim at face value. They certainly would not have used these adjectives about any Western leader without really compelling proof. Again, evidence from bin Laden’s lair shows how wrong the experts were.

An extensive library of pornographic videos, most of it of fairly recent vintage, was recovered in the electronic files of bin Laden’s computer, according to Reuters.

It suggests that David Gelernter was on to something when he wrote this:

We now learn that suicide bombers are told to expect a heaven full of comely virgins as their next assignment. To the suicide-murderers, those waiting virgins are real as dirt. The killers call themselves "martyrs," but in their own minds they are the next thing to sex criminals. "Pardon me, sir or madam, do you know why I plan to murder your child? Because the authorities are offering me great sex--and, after all, I don't get many opportunities."

People who think this way are shielded from view, up to a point, by their own sheer evil. They are painful to contemplate. We instinctively look away, as we do whenever we are confronted with monstrous deformity. Nothing is harder or more frightening to look at than a fellow human who is bent out of shape. And moral deformity is the most frightening kind by far
Miniter has a new book out that looks like it could be a must read. C-SPAN has an hour long interview with him here.

It's the Chicago way

Nearly 20 percent of new Obamacare waivers are gourmet restaurants, nightclubs, fancy hotels in Nancy Pelosi’s district

Of the 204 new Obamacare waivers President Barack Obama’s administration approved in April, 38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

David Mamet makes waves

Andrew Ferguson chronicles the political evolution of out most interesting living playwright.

Converting Mamet

Here is Feguson on a talk Mamet gave at Standford.

But the unease that began to ripple through the audience had less to do with the speaker’s delivery than with his speech’s content. Mamet was delivering a frontal assault on American higher education, the provider of the livelihood of nearly everyone in his audience.

Higher ed, he said, was an elaborate scheme to deprive young people of their freedom of thought. He compared four years of college to a lab experiment in which a rat is trained to pull a lever for a pellet of food. A student recites some bit of received and unexamined wisdom—“Thomas Jefferson: slave owner, adulterer, pull the lever”—and is rewarded with his pellet: a grade, a degree, and ultimately a lifelong membership in a tribe of people educated to see the world in the same way.

“If we identify every interaction as having a victim and an oppressor, and we get a pellet when we find the victims, we’re training ourselves not to see cause and effect,” he said. Wasn’t there, he went on, a “much more interesting .??.??. view of the world in which not everything can be reduced to victim and oppressor?”

Mamet's new book sounds interesting:
Next month a much larger number of liberals and leftists will have the opportunity to be appalled by Mamet’s Stanford speech. Passages from it form the bulk of a chapter in his new book of brief, punchy essays, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture. The book marks the terminal point of a years-long conversion from left to right that Mamet-watchers (there are quite a few of these) have long suspected but hadn’t quite confirmed. It’s part conversion memoir, part anthropology, part rant, part steel-trap argument—the testimony of a highly intelligent man who has wrenched himself from one sphere and is now declaring his citizenship in another, very loudly.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Speaking truth to power

Tina Fey, just not that funny:

The soft bigotry of low expectations

I'm sure Tina Fey is funny in person. But not the laugh out loud funny that people strive to credit her for. Should she tell a joke, it's more of a "Hmmm, that's funny" rather than the "Haha" funny. And she did make some success in the male dominated world of comedy writing. But most of that was because she is a funnyish woman. Not in spite of it. Succeeding up the ladder of success the Politically Correct way...

But like any good liberal, nothing is ever her fault. If people don't care for her, it's because of sexism. Not because of the way she polarized 50% of the population....

She spent her tour of duty on SNL making fun of the Right to a canned, liberal audience. And those who weren't liberal were being polite in laughing with the crowd so the tires on their car wouldn't be slashed later

Life imitates art (without the happy ending)

Tragedy of a real-life Weeds mom: Young mother 'brutally murdered and dumped in pond after arriving at house for drug deal'

The tale of the suburban mother sucked into the seedy world of drugs has made millions laugh in the hit Showtime television comedy Weeds.

But the realities of dabbling in drugs brought a nasty ending for Krista Dittmeyer when the 20-year-old mother was brutally murdered in New Hampshire after an alleged drug deal at a house.

Like the Weeds character Nancy Botwin, her apparent respectability masked a grim connection to the violent world of drugs. Police believe she was killed by a gang of men desperate to steal her stash.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

News you might have missed

Source: Gibson's ex drops violence claims in court

Funny how the charges were non-stop tabloid fodder, but the dropping of those same charges triggered little notice. Emily Litella lives!

Makes this writer look a lot smarter than the pack of entertainment "journalists" who ran with the story so long (but are now silent).

This stinks to high heaven

FCC commissioner leaves for Comcast

One of the FCC commissioners who approved the Comcast/NBC Universal deal is leaving the commission to work for Comcast.

Meredith Attwell Baker, one of two Republican commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission, announced today that she is leaving her government post when her term expires in June. Baker was appointed to the FCC by President Obama in July 2009.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Morning Joe slanders the troops

I don't have very high expectations for MSNBC's morning show. Nonetheless, today they hit a new low even for the home of Lawrence O'Donnell and Chris Matthews.

Morning Joe Regular Accuses US Special Operations In Afghanistan Of 'High-Tech Murder On A Large Scale'

Goldberg asks the right questions

Why the Hurry?

But the real treasure trove is that “college library” of intelligence.

And while reports are pouring out from a gloating White House that’s
leaking like the Titanic in its final hours, one can only assume our analysts have barely begun to exploit the data. Couldn’t they have at least tried to give the CIA a week, a day, even a few more hours to look at it all before letting Ayman al-Zawahiri and the rest of al-Qaeda know about it? Why give him the slightest head start to go even further underground?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Richard Cohen is a morally repulsive idiot

Patterico explains why:

Richard Cohen’s Exceptionally Wrongheaded Essay

An insider explains the "narrative"

I'm a big fan of Stephen Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger novels. Not many writers know how to craft an exciting story while getting the important details right. Like Tom Clancy, Hunter almost always gets it right.

But this is not about Bob the Nailer.

Hunter spent decades working for daily newspapers. He understands how the sausage gets made. As a long-time denizen of the Washington Post, he is a jaundiced observer of how the news business works in the nation's capital. Of late, he has spiced up his fiction with some astute, if withering, commentary on the media.

This is especially timely as the MSM chews over the UBL raid:

For those involved, however, the trials and interviews and think pieces et. al. were really signifiers of nothing. It was just the assholes of the world catching up to what the people on the point of the spear had already done in their name

I don't know that i've seen a better explanation of  "the narrative" and it's role in the news business:

"Let me tell you what's going on, and why this one is so touchy. We are fighting the narrative. You do not fight the narrative. The narrative will destroy you. The narrative is all-powerful. The narrative rules. It rules us, it rules Washington, it rules everything. Now ask me, 'What is the narrative?'

"What is the narrative?"

The narrative is the set of assumptions the press believes in, possibly without even knowing that it believes in them. It's so powerful because it's unconscious. It's not like they get together every morning and decide 'These are the lies we tell today.' No, that would be too crude and honest. Rather, it's a set of casual, nonrigorous assumptions about a reality they've never really experienced that's arranged in such a way as to reinforce their best and most ideal presumptions about themselves and their importance to the system and the way they have chosen to live their lives. It's a way of arranging things a certain way they all believe in without ever really addressing carefully. It permeates their whole culture. They know, for example, that Bush is a moron and Obama a saint. ... And the narrative is the bedrock of their culture, the keystone of their faith, the alter of their church. They don't even know they're true believers, because in theory they despise the true believer in anything. "

UPDATE: 14 October 2016

Key point from Steve Sailer:

The Narrative is controlled in the retelling of the story.

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Times gets it wrong (again)

False narrative about Jessica Lynch and Pentagon surfaces anew

Despite what Timothy Egan wants you to believe, the Pentagon did not fabricate the story about Jessica Lynch's heroism. The Washington Post did that and has never owned up to its mistake. Nor has it clarified why it got the big story so wrong.

Lost in the Lynch story and its evolving devolution is the fact that there was a hero on the road the night of that ambush. His name is Sgt. Donald Walters and you can read his story here.

Questions for Excitable Andy

Pejman Yousefzadeh has a little fun at Andrew Sullivan's expense

Open Questions For Andrew Sullivan

Man's best friend indeed

They spent $19 billion on technological abilities to sniff out explosives. After six years of trying to make a bomb-detecting gadget, they found their best efforts produced only a 50% detection rate.

The plain old dog had an 80% rate.

Click over and check out the picture.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Good news tarnished by the spin

Osama bin Laden dead: Yes, SEALs were in on the raid, but aides hail Obama's office bravery

According to another one of those White House briefings of reporters designed to suck up all available credit for good news, President Obama's homeland security advisor reveals that it was a really tense time in the air-conditioned White House as unidentified U.S. Navy SEALs closed in on the world's most wanted man after midnight a half a world away.

President Obama displayed courage when he OK'd the raid into Pakistan. It was not the same sort of courage displayed by the SEALs, but it was real.

Clausewitz: "Courage is of two kinds: courage in the face of personal danger, and courage to accept responsibility".

There is something unseemly about the outpouring of lavish praise from his own aides. Are these people public servants or courtiers?

Capital punishment

Jerry Brown Slowly Dismantling Death Penalty Apparatus in California

What gets me is how perverse the arguments can be. The death penalty costs too much, we are told by those who seek to make it as expensive as possible. The death penalty takes too long to administer, we are told by those who drag it out as long as possible. And, increasingly, the response from those who support the death penalty is to accept these arguments, rather than to fight them.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I guess this is the New Age version of freedom fries

Summit Park Slope has had its share of drama. Originally called Perugia Park in honor of Seattle's sister city, the name had to be changed when Perugia sent Seattle sister Amanda Knox to prison for the infamous was-alleged-is-now-convicted murder of her roommate. It got renamed the innocuous 'Summit Park Slope'


Some smart, but sobering thoughts

Courtesy of Frank James:

HT: View from the Porch

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

That's crazy, crazy, Glenn Beck talk

So what's it doing in The Atlantic?

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Sticks With Bin Laden

The Islamist political party has made devout moderation a cornerstone of their post-Mubarak strategy, but the group's statement after the death of Osama bin Laden suggests they may not be so moderate

Sunday, May 01, 2011

President Barak Antoinette

Gas prices keep rising

Meanwhile, Obama says: 'Let them buy smaller cars.'

But President Barack Obama did tell an American worried about gasoline prices that he should buy a new car: "If you're complaining about the price of gas and you're only getting eight miles a gallon, you might want to think about a trade-in," Mr. Obama joked in response to a questioner at a campaign stop near Philadelphia April 6.

It apparently didn't occur to the president that people for whom it is a hardship to pay a dollar more a gallon for gasoline can't afford to buy a new car.


End the White House Press dinners

In light of this annual event, it is difficult to view the White House press corps as anything other than Daily Kos commenters who are well-paid and without the profanity.