Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I guess that's what they mean by 'nuance'

NYT, 1992: Bush's 2.7% GDP Growth Is a "Gross National Letdown" NYT 2012: Obama's 2.0% Growth Is "Steady Improvement"

"Trust matters"

The Omertà Administration

We know this much: What Barack Obama said is unambiguously false. Members of his administration have not provided information to the American people about Benghazi as they have received it. And in many instances, the opposite has been true. The Obama administration has used every means at its disposal to avoid sharing information about the Benghazi attacks—not only with the American people, but with Congress, too.

Crushing dissent is the next new thing for Facebook

From Patterico:
Facebook Censoring SEALS to Protect Obama

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Benghazi cover-up

I think that this post at Powerline has a lot of interesting analysis in it.
Benghazi: A Reader Assesses the Evidence [Updated]
This is very telling:

So what we have here is the first huge contradiction between Panetta and the military and the CIA. SOMEONE sent those guys from Tripoli, but it was not the military. Why was it ok to send 8 lightly armed American guys from Tripoli into harm’s way to rescue 30+ people in Benghazi, but not ok to send a heavily armed special forces contingent who have trained for just such a scenario?
Panetta’s excuses do seem nonsensical in light of what actions were taken to help the Benghazi personnel.

David Halberstam makes an important point about scandals and investigative reporting:
Time was on the side of Woodward and Bernstein. A story like Vietnam or Watergate has a balance of forces of its own. At first the charges are deniable, the existing structure holds, powerful men with powerful positions can keep their troops in line. All the weight is on one side, and reporters like Woodward and Bernstein are a tiny minority, seeming puny by comparison. But there is the momentum, The denials slowly weaken, events undermine the denials so there have to be more denials, and each denial is a little weaker than the previous one. … Slowly the people who are issuing denials lose credibility, and the reporters begin to gain credibility.

Of course, the pace of this process depends on having enough reporters ask enough questions to chip away at the cover stories and self-serving spin. On Benghazi, most of the press have been slavish lapdogs.

For example, take our local failing daily. On Sunday, they wrote this about Libya:

The president, however, has tough questions to answer. What the administration truly knew before the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, needs to be made clear and quickly.

The only problem is, the “demand” came in the editorial that endorsed Obama for re-election. That is all the evidence one needs to know that the White House does not need to answer any tough questions quickly. Running out the clock---- stalling until election day, is working just fine with the working press.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Any editorial board that takes JFK conspiracy loons seriously is the wrong place to look for hard-headed logic or intelligent analysis.


Here is an hour-long interview with the author of the new biographer of Joe Paterno
WITF "Smart Talk"

The author does yeoman's work trying to clear up some of the major factual errors that lie at the heart of the prevailing narrative.

Why Mark Steyn is the go-to guy

Benghazi bungle requires act of urgent political hygiene

We also learned that, in those first moments of the attack, a request for military back-up was made by U.S. staff on the ground but was denied by Washington. It had planes and Special Forces less than 500 miles away in southern Italy – or about the same distance as Washington to Boston. They could have been there in less than two hours. Yet the commander-in-chief declined to give the order. So Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods fought all night against overwhelming odds, and died on a rooftop in a benighted jihadist hell hole while Obama retired early to rest up before his big Vegas campaign stop. "Within minutes of the first bullet being fired, the White House knew these heroes would be slaughtered if immediate air support was denied," said Ty Woods' father, Charles. "In less than an hour, the perimeters could have been secured, and American lives could have been saved. After seven hours fighting numerically superior forces, my son's life was sacrificed because of the White House's decision."

Is Joe Biden a psychopath or is this evidence of advancing senility?

'Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?'
Biden's bizarre question angers father of Navy SEAL who died in Benghazi attack
VP made inappropriate comment to Charles Woods, father of SEAL Tyrone
Father angered by White House reaction to deadly assault in Benghazi
UPDATE (10/31):
Does anyone in the media worry that the currently-serving Vice President isn't mentally all there? We had a National Panic about this when Sarah Palin was running for the post. Not a week goes by that Joe Biden doesn't have a senior moment, but apparently it's now okay that the Vice President might be ever so slightly mentally checked out.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How a journalistic icon covered an election year scandal

Media apologists offer two arguments for refusing to cover the Benghazi attack and its many unanswered questions:

1. People don’t care
2. It’s too close to the election.

I think this piece by Alcia Shepherd is relevant on both counts.
If Walter Cronkite Said It Was A Story, It Was

First, I think it is easy to mistake “don’t care” with “haven’t heard about it.” The average citizen is very different from the news junkies who work in newsrooms.

Nixon campaign operatives broke into the Democratic headquarters inside the Watergate building on June 17, 1972. The Washington Post and others jumped on the story initially but it still didn't have much traction four months later. A Gallup poll in October 1972 showed that 48 percent of the country did not recognize the word Watergate.
Second, Walter Cronkite was not afraid to take on the Watergate story during the 1972 election season.

The ground-breaking, two-part special ran on Oct. 27 and 31, 1972. These two stories were a turning point for the saga that would grip the nation for most of the next two years.

Cronkite's first piece ran for nearly 15 minutes in a 22-minute broadcast the unprecedented equivalent of a newspaper turning two-thirds of its front page over to one story. [The second story ran for 9 minutes.]

The CBS Evening News devoted over half of its air time over two nights to the Watergate story.

They did not just cover it, they demanded that viewers pay attention. At the time they had the biggest megaphone in the country and Cronkite used it days before the election.

America's most trusted newsman said Watergate was a story the nation should be interested it and therefore it was.

That’s a key element of “explanation space”: signifying what events are important and what events are not.

We are in a vicious circle”: The public doesn’t care because the MSM treats the story as unimportant. The deciders use public indifference as a reason to ignore the story.

Hmm…. Maybe this guy has a point.
Benghazi and Obama: the media is trying to shore up this desperate administration

Now it certainly can be argued that there is no story because there is no scandal. Right now facts are scarce and the big picture is obscure.

The same thing was true of Watergate in 1972. Ben Bradlee worried that the Post might be on a fool’s errand. He was reassured by superlawyer Edward Bennett Williams:

If they’re [the Nixon campaign]clean why don’t they show it? Why are there so many lies? I’ll tell you why. Because you’ve got them.

Jacques Barzun, R. I. P.

He was 104. He wrote an 800 page best seller when he was in his 90s. That's a good run by anyone's standards

Cultural historian, author Jacques Barzun dies

(HT: Steve Sailer)

Barzun was one of those astounding historians (now perhaps an extinct species) who combined broad learning with graceful writing.

I can heartily recommend any of these books. All of them stand up to re-reading.

Media scandals: will it be sauce for the gander?

Two British media scandals have jumped the pond.

First, the phone hacking scandal has new legs.
CNN keeps quiet over claims against Piers Morgan

The American media was all over this story last spring when the target was Rupert Murdoch. Will they show the same interest now that CNN's Piers Morgan is the one who stands to be embarrassed?

My Magic Eight Ball says--- ARE YOU KIDDING?

A much more serious scandals swirls around the NY Times and its new CEO.
New NYT CEO: BBC sex scandal doesn't alter Times support

The Jimmy Savile scandal and Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The Reuters headline understates the seriousness of the scandal. It appears that the late Jimmy Savile was the BBC's Jerry Sandusky with a victim count that may reach in the hundreds.

The Paterno rule (promulgated by the MSM in the wake of the Sandusky scandal) demands that Mark Thompson step down at the Times. After all, he was the man in charge while the serial abuser was active.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Donald makes an even bigger fool of himself

Call the waahmbulance: Thin-skinned conservafraud Donald Trump attacks Malkin as a ‘dummy’

A feature not a bug

Christina Romer: Obama Is No Roosevelt

Economist Christina Romer defends the stimulus she helped devise and delivers a few laughs in the process. Among the lessons learned from the stimulus experience she notes the importance of salesmanship and public confidence

I've argued before that the Obama administration made a cynical decision not to follow the FDR model and that they are now paying the price for that miscalculation.

September 2009

So it turns out that the Obama brain trust was more realistic than Republicans and many conservatives. They understood that Michael Barone was correct: the US remains a center-right nation. While many Republican “strategists” thought the public had rejected all things conservative, the new administration recognized that their agenda lacked popular support.

Hence, their cynical desire to “not let a crisis go to waste.” The administration hoped that they could lock in their programs while the public was stunned by the financial meltdown and the Obama honeymoon.

December 2010
There is some truth in this assessment. I would also argue that the administration stumbled because it was too cynical, too insular, too high-handed, and too partisan.

If ever there was a president with the opportunity to become a second FDR, it was Barack Obama in January, 2009.

Yet the administration rejected Roosevelt’s focus of his first 100 days: relief, recovery, reform. Nor did it follow his example and rally broad national support for his programs. Instead, the tone and direction were set by the hyper-partisan Rahm Emmanuel: “never let a crisis go to waste.”

The administration was almost eager to move the economic crisis to the back burner while they and the liberal Congress pushed forward with long-standing items on their wish list (cap and trade, health care reform, immigration reform, etc.). Inside Washington, it might seem smart to see a crisis as an opportunity to pass progressive legislation. To the people who are bearing the brunt of the recession, it seems like an abdication of leadership or a heartless betrayal of trust.

No surprise, then, that the stubborn economic weakness has been a drag on Obama’s approval numbers. It is not just that the public is impatient; many voters rightly sense that the White House felt little urgency to fix what was obviously broken.

September 2011

In the Hundred Days Congress did little more than rubber stamp the legislation that flew from the White House to Capitol Hill. That might not be the best way to govern, but it left no doubt that Roosevelt was the Man with a Plan (actually many plans). FDR also used the new medium of radio to connect with voters via his fireside chats. He was at the center of the public debate-- at once the towering authority figure in the White House and the reassuring voice in everyone's living room.

Obama often seemed to disappear off-stage during the major battles of 2009. He deferred to congress and let them craft most of the major legislation. He allowed Reid and Pelosi to move at a glacial pace on important issues like financial reform. The White House was unable or unwilling to find a modern equivalent of the fireside chat that would let Obama sustain public support for his programs.

Maybe, just maybe, the voters did not sour on Obama because he confronted problems that were beyond the powers of government. Perhaps, remembering Roosevelt, they fault him for not trying hard enough to solve the problems they care about most. If i am right, then progressives owe the president an apology. It is not that he did too little for them, it is that he tried to do too much.

June 2012

Unfortunately, the Administration chose to operate as a arm of the most partisan members of Congress instead of fashioning a program and platform of its own. On the really crucial issues, the president ratified the proposals of Pelosi, Dodd, Frank, et. al., rather than crafting his own, more centrist program

For the record

Obama wrong about bayonets

Hoover and Pearl Harbor

I found this paper fascinating.
The FBI’s Role in the Pearl Harbor Attack(.pdf)

However, mounting new evidence clearly demonstrates not only that the Pearl Harbor commanders shouldered the blame unjustly but that the FBI secretly and shamelessly contributed to this result. Specifically, the FBI successfully: (1) shielded investigation of its own failures from all Pearl Harbor investigations; (2) acquiesced to the Commission Chairman’s perjury to Congress; (3) secretly influenced Congress’ report to protect the FBI at the expense of the Army and Navy; (4) secretly made false accusations against Admiral Kimmel and General Short; and (5) conspired to withhold evidence from the Attorney General.

Just another example of the sort of dirty bureaucratic games that Hoover played every day he was with the Bureau. That's old news but the article shows that Hoover's lies and distortions still color the historical record.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

First rule of counterintelligence: never say never

While rummaging through some old files, I ran across this review essay from 2000:

The Plot Thickens

One passage turned out to be unexpectedly revealing.

In 1992 KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin defected to the British and brought with him an enormous trove of detailed notes he made of the KGB files he handled. Historian Christopher Andrew mined these notes to produce a revelatory book on the KGB.

Andrew is a respected and prolific scholar of Soviet and British intelligence. Thomas Powers (the reviewer) is an astute writer who is no neophyte on the spy beat.

So it was something of a shock to read this:
Nor, Andrew says, do Mitrokhin's six cases of notes suggest that major Soviet spies in the United States and Britain remain undiscovered.
Nine months after this review appeared, the FBI arrested Robert Hanssen. He had been a Soviet/Russian spy for 22 years. For 13 of those years, Mitrokhin was still with the KGB. Yet, apparently, he never saw a hint in the Moscow files that the KGB had a high level source in Washington.

That is no criticism of Mitrokhin; it is simply a useful reminder that the fragmentary revelations from spy agencies never give us the complete picture.

Christopher Andrew, however, is a different issue. He is an inveterate defender of Britain's intelligence bureaucracies and is quick to use his insider status to disparage investigators who raise troubling questions about old spies. See this essay for an example:
Christopher Andrew and the Strange Case of Roger Hollis
Chapman Pincher provides another example of Andrew's tendency to push his evidence too far. Before Andrew worked with the Mitrokhin material, he co-authored a book with KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky (KGB: The Inside Story, 1990). Because Gordievsky claimed to have worked on an official history of KGB operations in Britain, his knowledge is deemed definitive and his judgments were treated as well-nigh definitive when it comes to Cold War mysteries.

Yet, as later investigations revealed, Gordievsky revealed nothing about Geoffrey Prime while the latter was betraying Anglo-British secrets to the Soviets. Nor did his historical studies include the activities of Melita Norwood and Kitty Harris-two agents who helped steal atomic secrets for Stalin.

Gordievsky may have known a lot, but he hardly knew everything.

Robin Winks displayed a more sophisticated understanding of the intelligence game in Cloak and Gown:
[Angleton] had the professional's necessary interest in ambiguity: an intense commitment to the elimination of ambiguity where sources conflicted (rather than the amateur's tendency to attempt to reconcile conflicting statements, as though both might be true, rather than both being false) combined with the ability to live with the unreseolved so that one did not force a premature resolution out of sheer discomfort. Ambiguity related, of course, not merely to factual accuracy; perhaps more important, it related to moral meaning (326-327)

[There are] no secret documents in the romantic sense of the words. On any important subject, there is no single document or even group of documents that contain "the secret." No spy could know enough to spot such a document if it existed, and no vacuum cleaner approach to espionage, even should it gather up two or three documents of the highest importance, would lead without all the analytical skills of the humanists to any valid conclusions. Documents do not speak: they do not declare that they are "the offbeat thoughts and recommendations of a highly-placed but erratic advisor," not a draft intended only for discussion, not a record of a decision rescinded orally the next day. (462-463)

Chris Matthews is deranged

He thinks he coulda' been a contender

What Matthews just described is a Mary Sue fantasy. He's just constructed a fanfic in which a character much like Chris Matthews, who is in fact also named Chris Matthews, bails Obama out of his troubles using his Street Smarts and Irish blarney in an alternate universe America of 2010-2012.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The case of the dog that barked too soon

Why did the Chicago Tribune tip-off Blogo?

The Blago File

Follow-up question: Why doesn't Patrick Fitzgerald care?

All of which leaves the reader still wondering why a U.S. attorney with a record of not tolerating leaks would be so sanguine about this one, even going so far as to thank the Tribune and then, presumably, grant it exclusive access to hundreds of hours of wiretap evidence. Was Blagojevich’s arrest—occurring, as it did, before any quid pro quo was finalized—a surgical strike intended to warn Jesse Jackson Jr. and, perhaps, Obama’s top aides that they, too, were under surveillance? Coen and Chase don’t even raise the possibility.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

CNN circles the wagons (UPDATED)

Mark Whittaker, CNN's Managing Editor:

Let’s start with a big round of applause for Candy Crowley for a superb job under the most difficult circumstances imaginable. She and her team had to select and sequence questions in a matter of hours, and then she had to deal with the tricky format, the nervous questioners, the aggressive debaters, all while shutting out the pre-debate attempts to spin and intimidate her. She pulled it off masterfully.

More at Powerline.

It says a great deal about the MSM that CNN is backing Crowley for her bizarre intervention in the debate.

Bryan Preston reminds us of the key fact:

More than a Week After Benghazi, WH Spox Jay Carney Admitted that Administration Had Not Called It a Terrorist Attack

Crowley is relying on a Clintonian parsing of the record to defend Obama.

Jeffrey Lord asks a good question:

Did she at any point say to some Obama staffer something along the lines of "Oh by the way, I have the transcript of the Rose Garden statement on Benghazi with me for the debate"?

She hasn't said.

But suffice to say, there are a lot of people raising the question of behind-the-scenes coordination -- all stemming from Obama's instruction (and it certainly sounded like an instruction) to "Get the transcript." Followed instantly by Crowley complying -- and silencing Romney on the topic.

My fearless prediction: Howard Kurtz will defend Crowley to the hilt on Sunday's "Reliable Sources"

UPDATE: As predicted, Kurtz did what a good lap dog does.

Although i do wonder if using Dan Rather to vouch for Crowley was really a good idea.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Looks like lying is contagious

Candy Crowley’s Big Lie of a “fact-check”

And that, perhaps, is why Crowley did it—so that she could wreak the maximum damage on Romney, carry the largest bucket of water possible for Obama, and count on the fact that any corrections that emerged would reach only a small fraction of the number her lie did.

Bryan Preston

This is the moment that debate moderator Candy Crowley jumped up from behind her desk and tackled Mitt Romney just as he was striding toward a game-changing touchdown. The replacement refs of the NFL had nothing on Crowley. They merely got calls wrong. I don’t recall them ever slipping into a linebacker role and making a game-saving tackle for any team.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Joe Biden's big lie

Joe Biden's War On The Truth

Catholics push back against one of Smirkin' Joe Biden's many preposterous debate assertions.

Friday, October 12, 2012

VP debate reactions


Jeffrey Lord
Biden Loses by a Smirk
Hot Air
Angry old man yells at Paul Ryan for 90 minutes
Fred Barnes
Biden Bombed

A good man gone

Vietnam vet Plumley dies; featured in war movie

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — Basil L. Plumley, a renowned career soldier whose exploits as an Army infantryman were portrayed in a book and the movie "We Were Soldiers," has died at 92 — an age his friends are amazed that he lived to see.

HT: Paul Davis

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why some newspapers deserve to die

A troubled (redundant: is there any other kind? ed.) local paper decided to offer their paying customers a preview of tomorrow’s VP debate.

High drama: How Joe Biden can defeat Paul Ryan in VP debate

The deciders drew on their vast professional expertise and offered up a piece that was part meandering paean to gaffe-prone Joe and part slap-dash hit job on Paul Ryan.

The real WHAT WERE THEY THINKING moment comes at the end. Here we find the brief bio that tells the reader why they should pay attention to the astute analysis just presented.

Harry “H.C.” Nash is a writer and painter living in Williamsport. He is marketing a book titled “Patsy of the Ages: Lee Harvey Oswald and His Nation Half a Century Later.”

That’s right. The Harrisburg Patriot-News is offering political “analysis” by a loony* JFK conspiracy theorist who believes that “a deliberate fraud was perpetrated by officials of the U.S. government to conceal the conspiracy that assassinated the president.”

*Bryan Burroughs:

What Bugliosi has done is a public service; these people should be ridiculed, even shunned. It’s time we marginalized Kennedy conspiracy theorists the way we’ve marginalized smokers; next time one of your co-workers starts in about Oswald and the C.I.A., make him stand in the rain with the other outcasts.

Monday, October 08, 2012

I guess some voters are more important than others

Here in Pennsylvania our voter ID law was put on hold for the November elections. The courts were concerned that some voters would be disenfranchised.

The local press treated the law as big news and a big political issue.

I have no illusions that this case of voter disenfranchisement will get any attention whatsowever.

Obama’s Invisible War Against Military Voters

Almost no one has noticed that the Obama administration is waging war administratively against the voting rights of America’s warriors overseas. This bureaucratic assault comes in the form of the Obama administration’s unconscionable foot-dragging on the implementation of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2009. The legislation passed, in part, because the nonpartisan Military Voter Protection Project discovered in 2008 that under 20 percent of 2.5 million military personnel voted by absentee ballot. By 2010 that figure had shriveled to just 5 percent.

But the Obama administration, which moves at light-speed to undermine common-sense state voter identification laws, hasn’t bothered to set up half of the installation voting assistance offices (IVAOs) required under the MOVE Act. The law was created to help deployed soldiers, many of whom are constantly on the move, to exercise the right to vote that they risk their lives to protect. IVAOs are supposed to help military personnel find their way through the maze of confusing voting rules enforced by the nation’s 55 states and territories.

Two historians

Stephen Schwartz
Eric Hobsbawm, 1917–2012

The British Stalinist writer Eric Hobsbawm died on October 1, aged 95. I hesitate to refer to him as a “historian,” as other commentators doubtless will, given his extraordinary career as a purveyor of totalitarian lies.

A.N. Wilson
He hated Britain and excused Stalin's genocide. But was hero of the BBC and the Guardian, Eric Hobsbawm a TRAITOR too?

In his book The Age Of Extreme, published in 1994, he quite deliberately underplayed the Soviet Union’s attack on Finland in 1939-40, saying it was merely an attempt to push the Russian border a little further away from Leningrad. He also omits any mention of the massacre of 20,000 Polish soldiers by Russian Secret Police at Katyn.

In the same book, he dismisses the appallingly violent suppression by the Nazis of the Polish resistance in the 1944 Warsaw uprising - when a complacent Soviet army ignored desperate pleas to come to the Poles’ aid - as 'the penalty of a premature uprising'.

Roger Kimball

Eric Hobsbawm, 1917–2012

In the annals of moral idiocy, the Marxist British historian Eric Hobsbawm, who died yesterday at 95, will ever enjoy a conspicuous place. A gifted and prolific writer, the Egyptian-born Hobsbawm was utterly absorbed by the ideology that fired his youthful dreams of utopia. How he must have savored the fact that he was born in 1917, the year of the Bolshevist revolution in Russia which ushered in so much poverty, misery, terror, and freedom-blighting totalitarian oppression. “The dream of the October Revolution is still there somewhere inside me,” Hobsbawm wrote in his memoir Interesting Times in 2002, “I have abandoned, nay, rejected it, but it has not been obliterated. To this day, I notice myself treating the memory and tradition of the USSR with an indulgence and tenderness.”

Ron Radosh

Eugene D. Genovese: 1930-2012. Rest in Peace

One of America’s best historians, Eugene D. Genovese, passed away two days ago. He was one of my long-time friends. I knew him when both he and I considered ourselves Marxists, and his scholarship, integrity, forthrightness and outspoken and principled positions made him a figure that everyone had to contend with. Anyone who was lucky enough to have known Gene, even when at times they found themselves on opposite sides from him in a political battle, knows how much they learned from him, and how lucky they were to have had the chance to engage with him.

Hobsbawm kept his mind shut against inconvenient fact. Genovese, even as a Marxist, had a lively intelligence and an honest, open mind.

Guess which one was showered with honors?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Polls: Remember Carter's "re-election"

Jeffrey Lord:

How Carter Beat Reagan

No matter what the polls say, we should remember the words of advertising great Bill Bernbach:

We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it. We are so busy listening to statistics we forget we can create them.
Poll Games

A forgotten story is finally told

Here's a review from the Economist:

The Vivisection of Poland

THE biggest gap in most histories of the second world war is what happened to Poland. By the war’s end it had lost not only a fifth of its population but also its freedom—despite having fought from the first day to the last against the Germans....

But until Halik Kochanski’s “The Eagle Unbowed” nobody had written a comprehensive English-language history of Poland at war. A British-born historian whose own family’s experiences dot her pages, she weaves together the political, military, diplomatic and human strands of the story. She ranges from the fatal weaknesses of pre-war Poland (divided, cash-strapped and isolated) to the humiliation of Britain’s victory parade in 1946 when the organisers invited Fijians and Mexicans, but not Poles.
(HT: Bieganski the Blog)