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Ed Driscoll

Yearly Archives: 2009

What Ever Happened To The “Duke 88″?

December 31st, 2009 - 4:25 pm

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As we’ve noted before, the Media Matters left redefined to the word “smear” this year, to refer to just about any accurate charge leveled by conservatives against a protected liberal elite.

But what happens when the left levels a false charge? Eh, pretty much what you’d expect:

The “Duke 88″ consisted of 88 Duke professors who signed an ad which implicitly assumed that Duke lacrosse players raped a black stripper, an allegation that proved to be entirely fraudulent. The ad praised protesters who had put lacrosse players’ photos on “wanted” posters, associated “what happened to this young woman” with “racism and sexism,” and suggested that the lacrosse players were getting privileged treatment because of their race.

The ad appeared almost four years ago. Stuart Taylor takes a look at what has happened since to some of the 88 thoroughly wrongheaded professors who signed it.

First, according to Taylor, no member of the “Duke 88″ has publicly apologized. Many have expressed pride in their rush to judgment.

Second, sigining the ad seems to have been a pretty good career move. In 2007, one member of the group — Paula McClain — became head of Duke’s Academic Council, the highest elected position for a faculty member.

Three members of the “Duke 88″ have been hired by other leading universities.

Never let a crisis go to waste.

Glad They Have Their Priorities In Order

December 31st, 2009 - 2:50 pm

Some random links highlight the state of the nation’s readiness:

Just another day in “The Left’s Permanent War on the War on Terrorism.”

Update: “TSA drops subpoenas issued to bloggers who published security directive.” — though presumably not before copying all the hard drive data they snatched.

From The Heartland: Strange 2010 Populist Omens

December 31st, 2009 - 2:25 pm

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Strange rumbling from the heartland over the horrific excesses of the Obaconomy. First up, Guy Benson, talk radio host, and frequent Hugh Hewitt guest, writes at NRO’s media blog:

When I ventured home to northern New Jersey for Christmas, I happened to cross paths with a long-time family friend. She and I used to talk politics on a regular basis, differing in opinion nine times out of ten.  She is a lifelong Democrat voter, harbors a long-standing distaste for George W. Bush, and slants left on most issues — social and fiscal. In light of her political predilections, our conversation last week was pretty stunning.

YCR20090912She asked how my radio show has been going recently, noting that I’ve “had lots to talk about,” with a roll of her eyes.  I agreed that the political scene has been rather busy and that the current leadership leaves no shortage of talk topics.  Without any specific prompt from me, she uncorked an unsolicited rant against expanding government influence and spending that left me momentarily speechless.  She was particularly furious about the health-care debate (a family member is battling cancer), the “out-of-control” debt, and the “blatant lying” from those coordinating the show. Her best line?  ”Just because I don’t want my kids paying off national debts for their entire lives doesn’t mean I’m a racist.” Being a good Democrat, she couldn’t quite bring herself to name names, but did noticeably bristle when I mentioned the unholy trinity of Obama/Reid/Pelosi.

Capping off the cathartic diatribe, she worried aloud how a government that “screws up Cash for Clunkers and runs the horrible post office” could possibly run the health care system. She angrily asserted that vote-buying maneuvers in the Senate “should be illegal” for decisions on important issues like changing the entire role of government, echoing Bill Kristol’s observations about what bothers average voters. She even hinted (I didn’t ask) that she was so turned off by Hopenchange, Inc., she voted for Republican Chris Christie in November’s gubernatorial election.

Throughout the entire discussion, I put forth my best effort to stifle a grin. I’d imagine “I-told-you so” isn’t necessarily the best tone to adopt with recent converts. Nonetheless, it was a spectacular development: A real-life, first-hand example of the conservative re-awakening America is experiencing, and anecdotal confirmation of the polling data energized conservatives have been poring over for months.

Happy New Year, Democrats. If you’ve lost this left-of-center suburban female from Jersey, you’re probably in for a world of hurt in 2010.

Meanwhile, this seems even stranger:

debt-starThe big banks on Wall Street, propped up by taxpayer money and government guarantees, have had a record year, making record profits while returning to the highly leveraged activities that brought our economy to the brink of disaster. In a slap in the face to taxpayers, they have also cut back on the money they are lending, even though the need to get credit flowing again was one of the main points used in selling the public the bank bailout. But since April, the Big Four banks — JP Morgan/Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo — all of which took billions in taxpayer money, have cut lending to businesses by $100 billion.

Meanwhile, America’s Main Street community banks — the vast majority of which avoided the banquet of greed and corruption that created the toxic economic swamp we are still fighting to get ourselves out of — are struggling. Many of them have closed down (or been taken over by the FDIC) over the last 12 months. The government policy of protecting the Too Big and Politically Connected to Fail is badly hurting the small banks, which are having a much harder time competing in the financial marketplace. As a result, a system which was already dangerously concentrated at the top has only become more so.

We talked about the outrage of big, bailed-out banks turning around and spending millions of dollars on lobbying to gut or kill financial reform — including “too big to fail” legislation and regulation of the derivatives that played such a huge part in the meltdown. And as we contrasted that with the efforts of local banks to show that you can both be profitable and have a positive impact on the community, an idea took hold: why don’t we take our money out of these big banks and put them into community banks? And what, we asked ourselves, would happen if lots of people around America decided to do the same thing? Our money has been used to make the system worse — what if we used it to make the system better?

Everyone around the table quickly got excited (granted we are an excitable group), and began tossing out suggestions for how to get this idea circulating.

Eugene, the filmmaker among us, remarked that the contrast between the big banks and the community banks we were talking about was very much like the story in the classic Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life, where community banker George Bailey helps the people of Bedford Falls escape the grip of the rapacious and predatory banker Mr. Potter.

It was a lightbulb moment. And, unlike the vast majority of dinner conversations, the excitement over this idea didn’t end with dessert. It actually led to something — thanks in great part to Eugene and his remarkable team, who got to work and, in record time, created a brilliant, powerful, and inspiring video playing off the It’s a Wonderful Life concept. Watch it below.

Within a few days, the rest of the pieces fell into place, including an agreement with top financial analysts Chris Whalen and Dennis Santiago, who gave us access to their IRA (Institutional Risk Analytics) database. Using this tool, everyone will be able to plug in their zip code and quickly get a list of the small, solvent Main Street banks operating in their community.

reduce_govt_footprint_12-09The idea is simple: If enough people who have money in one of the big four banks move it into smaller, more local, more traditional community banks, then collectively we, the people, will have taken a big step toward re-rigging the financial system so it becomes again the productive, stable engine for growth it’s meant to be. It’s neither Left nor Right — it’s populism at its best. Consider it a withdrawal tax on the big banks for the negative service they provide by consistently ignoring the public interest. It’s time for Americans to move their money out of these reckless behemoths. And you don’t have to worry, there is zero risk: deposit insurance is just as good at small banks — and unlike the big banks they don’t provide the toxic dividend of derivatives trading in a heads-they-win, tails-we-lose fashion.

Who is this populist proponent of small government fighting the good fight against the corporatist collusion of government and big business?

Arianna Huffington.

No, really!

A Slogan For 2010

December 31st, 2009 - 12:41 pm

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Found via Michelle Malkin, apparently from one of the summer tea parties based on the date of its initial appearance on the Interwebs — but definitely a timeless message with maximum relevancy.

So much for pro-choice:  “Democrats Officially Kill Successful DC Voucher Program”, SusanAnne Hiller writes at Big Government, appropriately enough.

Burning Questions, Burning Sensations

December 31st, 2009 - 12:20 pm

The Onion once again dares to go where other journalists fear to tread (but at least one golfer and one sit-com star troll there regularly): “Are Reality Shows Setting Unrealistic Standards For Skanks?”

(Via Jonah Goldberg, who adds, not surprisingly, given the above headline, “Usual warnings for language and subject matter.”)

Ask Not For Whom The Wiki Tolls

December 31st, 2009 - 12:05 pm

Wikipedia jumping the gun — hopefully by several decades — on Rush Limbaugh’s death is just business as usual for the diverse panoply of those who edit the Faith-Based Encyclopedia.

Shed No Tears For The Decade Of Fear

December 31st, 2009 - 11:16 am

As Michael Barone writes, “The decade ending today began in a moment of fear”:

The decade ending today began in a moment of fear. As midnight approached on Dec. 31, 1999, people wondered whether their computers, unable to process Y2K dates, would crash, causing planes to fall out of the sky, elevators to get stuck in their shafts and computer systems to frizz out. But as the world, starting at the International Date Line in the mid-Pacific, moved into the new decade, century and millennium, it became clear there would be no disaster.

Perhaps the billions of dollars in Y2K fixes had paid off; perhaps the precautions had been unnecessary. Whatever. We had lived through a decade of expanding freedoms and economic prosperity and had successfully, it seemed, anticipated and warded off disaster. We had reached the end of history. It seemed like clear and happy sailing ahead.

No such luck. The decade beginning 1-1-00 has been a time of one unanticipated disaster after another. Our powers of prognostication proved paltry. Experience has taught us again and again that there was more to fear than even the most respected experts expected. A decade of unexpected successes has been followed by a decade of unexpected fears.

Found via Maggie’s Farm (where plenty more links worthy of your time wait), Sammy Benoit at the American Thinker sums up the decade thusly:

When we look back at the decade 2000-2009, we may well define it by three crises: the crisis that didn’t happen, the crisis that wasn’t supposed to happen, and the crisis that we don’t realize is happening. We haven’t learned the lessons of the first two, and our ignorance of the third may doom us to be slaves to our government, rather than the other way around.

Read the whole thing. And at the risk of kicking off the coming decade in the same way that Barone says the naughts began, don’t miss the graph that accompanies Benoit’s article:

government-expenses-growth-1930-2009

Big Hollywood, Then And Now

December 31st, 2009 - 11:03 am

In the latest edition of their “Poliwood” series at PJTV, Roger L. Simon and Lionel Chetwynd compare today’s Hollywood with the Academy Award winners and nominees of 50 years ago, including such films as:

  • All About Eve
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • High Noon
  • The Caine Mutiny
  • Bridge On The River Kwai
  • On the Waterfront
  • Ben Hur

In contrast, today’s Hollywood? This headline says it all: “The Decade That Superhero Movies Beat Video-Game Movies.”

Rush Felt Pains Similar To Heart Attack

December 31st, 2009 - 10:28 am

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Rush Limbaugh was hospitalized yesterday while vacationing in Hawaii (which apparently is the new Rick’s Cafe — everybody goes there):

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh remained hospitalized in Hawaii Thursday after experiencing chest pains similar to a heart attack, according to the guest host on his nationally syndicated radio show.

Limbaugh was rushed to a Honolulu hospital Wednesday during a vacation.

Guest host Walter E. Williams described Limbaugh’s pains as similar to the feeling of a “heart attack coming on.” But Williams said doctors haven’t confirmed whether the 58-year-old had a heart attack, and more exams were planned Thursday.

“Rush continues to rest very comfortably in a hospital in Honolulu this afternoon—actually it’s morning out there,” Williams said. “He had a comfortable night and he’s getting good medical attention.”

Williams, an economics professor at George Mason University, was already scheduled to fill in on Thursday while Limbaugh was on vacation.

No doubt Media Matters, Rush’s unofficial transcription service of all quotes real and (especially) imagined, will miss the irony of the man they imagine to be an inveterate racist having a black libertarian-conservative sit in for him, as Williams and Thomas Sowell have been doing off and on since the start of Rush’s national radio show 20 years ago.

On his homepage, Mark Steyn writes:

As many of you will know, Rush Limbaugh, a good friend to this site and a man who’s been enormously kind and generous to me, was admitted to hospital in Hawaii yesterday afternoon local time. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. He’s been the indispensable man these last 20 years, and we need him back at the golden EIB microphone and fighting fit for the next 20 — for reasons Bill Bennett and I expand on here.

Meanwhile, as Ann Althouse writes, the folks who have already politicized medicine and seek to further control it, would be thrilled to see Rush denied service:

I’m impressed that it took 12 comments before anyone at Politico said that (or anything like that) after a report that Rush Limbaugh has been hospitalized with chest pains and is in “serious” condition.

ADDED: Much re-tweeted at Twitter: “The people calling for Rush Limbaugh to die are the same people who ask to control your healthcare.”

AND: Rush Limbaugh has said on his show many times that once the government runs health care, there is a threat that life-or-death decisions will be made based on politics, and people will worry that if they  criticize the government or espouse the wrong opinions decisions will go against them.

In other words, death panels, to coin a phrase.

Out Of The Cool

December 30th, 2009 - 3:07 pm

In “The Limits Of Cool”, Paul Mirengoff of Power Line writes:

Byron York notes that some Obama defenders are circulating articles from the Huffington Post and Politico arguing that President Obama is being subjected to a double standard of criticism for his handling of the Detroit terrorism incident. This claim is based on the fact that, as Politico’s Josh Gerstein notes, when shoe-bomber Richard Reid struck on December 22, 2001, “it was six days before President George W. Bush, then on vacation, made any public remarks…and there were virtually no complaints from the press or any opposition Democrats that his response was sluggish or inadequate.” Yet despite what Gerstein calls striking similarities between the Reid case and the Detroit incident, Obama has become the target of “withering” criticism from Republicans and some in the press.

In addition to Dick Cheney, the attacks on Obama are coming from that infamous neocon cabal at the New York Daily News and the archconservative Maureen Dowd, who, after fantasizing of Obama as Spock earlier this year (one of a number of Obama-related fantasies amongst the distaff staff of the Gray Lady this year), appears to finally be tiring of the act:

Before he left for vacation, Obama tried to shed his Spock mien and juice up the empathy quotient on jobs. But in his usual inspiring/listless cycle, he once more appeared chilly in his response to the chilling episode on Flight 253, issuing bulletins through his press secretary and hitting the links. At least you have to seem concerned. On Tuesday, Obama stepped up to the microphone to admit what Janet Napolitano (who learned nothing from an earlier Janet named Reno) had first tried to deny: that there had been “a systemic failure” and a “catastrophic breach of security.” But in a mystifying moment that was not technically or emotionally reassuring, there was no live video and it looked as though the Obama operation was flying by the seat of its pants.

Gosh, ya think, Mo?

Of course, as Bill Whittle noted earlier this year at PJTV, there’s a reason why it was nice to have Spock manning the sensors, but  whenever Kirk tossed him the keys to the Enterprise or its shuttlecraft, the result was invariably close to a Vulcan-caused disaster.

Update: “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views . . .”

The Marshall Plan Continues To Pay Dividends

December 30th, 2009 - 2:04 pm

Back in 2008, Orrin Judd wrote:

The point at which Europe could have been saved was immediately after WWII, when it couldn’t afford its cradle-to-grave welfare systems and faced a threat from the USSR. But America–to what degree consciously is a subject for argument–chose to enervate Europe instead, sending Marshall Plan money to prop up their socialist states and taking over their defense. In effect, after getting drawn into three European wars we put them out of our misery.

Or as Victorino Matus writes at the Weekly Standard today, quoting Rainer Stinner, FDP member and chairman of the NATO Partnership Committee within the Bundestag regarding Germany’s dithering in Afghanistan:

Stinner acknowledged that the Germans “need to do their fair share” but that the cultural hurdles to greater German military involvement were great. “Germans are the most risk-averse people in the world,” he says. And they are not so easily inclined to go to war, following 60 years of social reengineering: “You wanted to have peaceful Germans. Now you have them. Don’t complain.”

Heh. Considering the alternative, that sounds like a more than acceptable trade-off.

Robert Morgenthau, whom the New York Times, who’s never seen a powerful a liberal it didn’t seek to flatter, dubbed Manhattan’s “DA for life”, finally retires at age 90.

After 35 years on the job, “I looked at my birth certificate, and I said, ‘It’s about time’”, the Times quotes him as saying.

Morgenthau was the inspiration for Steven Hill’s Adam Schiff character during the earlier, watchable years of NBC’s Law & Order.

(Incidentally, Michael Moriarty, who brilliantly portrayed Law & Order’s assistant DA Ben Stone during that period, is now blogging up a storm at Big Hollywood. Stop by today and check out his posts.)

The MSM: Sold Without Warranty

December 30th, 2009 - 12:22 pm

Back in 1993, the late Michael Crichton famously predicted the demise of the mass media. Last year, in the months before Crichton unexpectedly passed away, Jack Shafer wrote in Slate:

In 1993, novelist Michael Crichton riled the news business with a Wired magazine essay titled “Mediasaurus,” in which he prophesied the death of the mass media -– specifically the New York Times and the commercial networks. “Vanished, without a trace,” he wrote.

The mediasaurs had about a decade to live, he wrote, before technological advances — “artificial intelligence agents roaming the databases, downloading stuff I am interested in, and assembling for me a front page”–swept them under. Shedding no tears, Crichton wrote that the shoddy mass media deserved its deadly fate.

“[T]he American media produce a product of very poor quality,” he lectured. “Its information is not reliable, it has too much chrome and glitz, its doors rattle, it breaks down almost immediately, and it’s sold without warranty. It’s flashy but it’s basically junk.”

And of course, the back to back election “coverage” last year, followed by CNN and MSNBC’s unceasing attacks on the populist Tea Partiers, and thus, the message of limited government and fiscal responsibility they’re preaching have driven that home. Victor Davis Hanson called it at the end of last year: “Sometime in 2008, journalism as we knew it died, and advocacy media took its place.”

As a commenter perceptively remarked at Hot Air yesterday, regarding CNN’s ratings woes:

CNN is the new Kodak. The problem with having a monopoly, or at least a virtual monopoly, is that once things change and there is competititon, the company that formerly didn’t have to worry about competition often has no clue what to do to remain relevant.

In one of my Silicon Graffiti videos last year, building on Shafer’s article about Crichton’s prediction, I explored some of the technological reasons, even beyond a bias that excludes upwards of half their potential viewers, why the legacy media really are the legacy media.

In the latest edition of PJTV’s Trifecta program, featuring Bill Whittle, Scott “Scrappeface” Ott, and my partner in radio at PJM Political, Steve Green, debate “The Decade In News: How the Internet Has Changed Your Daily Fix.”

(And for those who’ve made us a small part of your daily fix, we thank you!)

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They’re Lost, But They’re Making Good Time

December 29th, 2009 - 9:13 pm

Maybe that paraphrase of one of Yogi Berra’s famous malapropisms helps to explain this dichotomy on the left. Over the weekend, esteemed broadcast professional Joy Behar, who replaced Glenn Beck on CNN’s Headline News channel when he went off to green pastures and boffo ratings at Fox, told her viewer that Sarah Palin’s “base doesn’t even read:”

Joy Behar expressed confusion about the success of Sarah Palin’s book because, according to the CNN Headline News/ABC talk show host, a lot of the former governor’s “base doesn’t even read.”

Behar slammed Palin, as well as Glenn Beck, Carrie Prejean and other conservatives  during her “look back at 2009″ edition of the “Joy Behar Show” that re-aired over Christmas weekend.

An “esteemed” panel consisting of comedians Sandra Bernhard, Mo Rocca and Dave Attell joined Behar in mocking this year’s prominent voices on the right.

Bernhard claimed that people who bought Palin’s book “like to look at pictures. There’s only one on the cover, but they like to look at that picture.”

But back in November, the Huffington Post pondered a “Separate NY Times Bestsellers List for ‘Conservative Blockbusters:’”

According to The Huffington Post, Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck and other right-of-center stars that regularly dominate the New York Times Hardcover Non-Fiction Bestsellers List are – or should be – in a league of their own.

No, that isn’t Arianna Huffington’s blog heaping praise on conservative authors. It’s a literal suggestion. With right-leaning books and authors holding so many spots on the list, and more to come – former Sarah Palin, former Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush all have books due out -Huffington Post suggests conservatives should have their own category to differentiate from other works of non-fiction.

In a Nov. 9 entry on The Huffington Post that laments Fox News host Glenn Beck pulling a feat not done before – holding the number one spot on The New York Times’ four lists: hardcover fiction, hardcover non-fiction, paperback non-fiction and children’s – they suggest a separate category altogether, not for political non-fiction, but conservative non-fiction.

“Should The New York Times create a separate bestseller list for conservative blockbusters?” the post said. “Think of the history: we have a children’s bestseller list because of “Harry Potter” — Harry was knocking adult books off the top spots on the hardcover fiction list so publishers complained. The same thing must be true for Beck, Palin, Cheney, Bush (George W. and Laura), Malkin and others. What do you think?”

HuffPo isn’t the only liberal source bothered by right-wing literary success. Pundits like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews have openly expressed aggravation over conservatives dominating the list. However, the Huffington Post novel solution of “if you can’t beat them, put them on their own list,” seems to be a sign the left has given up on its own ability to sell hardcover non-fiction.

What’s more, conservatives are selling books without the usual push best selling authors get from other media. A recent study by the Media Research Center’s Culture & Media Institute found that most of the conservative books that appeared on the list often went unnoticed or unmentioned by the networks, while liberal authors and books enjoyed plenty of coverage.

Or as Yogi also said, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Related: “Apocalypse Now: Sarah Palin’s ‘Going Rogue’ Number 3 Bestseller in Bay Area…”

A Cornucopia Of DIY Video Tips

December 29th, 2009 - 8:45 pm

If Santa brought you a camcorder for Christmas, or you’re simply encouraged by the videos over at PJTV, or our own efforts here, you might be looking for some tips to jump start your own creativity. Videomaker magazine, where I frequently contribute articles is excellent and its Website warrants plenty of exploration time. And you may also want to supplement your study of DIY video with…video. Here’s a great place to start, as producer D. Eric Franks writes on his Videopia blog:

A few years back, Digital Juice produced some really great programming for DJTV that I was lucky enough to be involved with. It sure didn’t last long, offically from October 2006 until late 2007, but the concept was well ahead of its time and most of the content still feels fresh in 2010. Unfortunately, while almost all of the shows are still available for free online, they are also almost completely and hopelessly lost in the chaos of Digital Juice marketing, promos and lesser screen-grab training segments. (Yes, I have contributed to the “lesser” content, but I accept no responsibility for the lack of organization!)

And so, I present here my annotated and completely biased catalog of DJTV programs and episodes. Much of this content is also available for purchase on convenient, conventional DVD-Video disc from Digital Juice as well, but you’ll have to track that down yourself!

Click over to Franks’ blog and follow the links for a variety of extremely useful tips — you’ll probably recognize more than a few that I’ve borrowed from time to time to spice up my own Silicon Graffiti videoblog. Probably the best place for a beginner to start is DJTV’s first series, Take Five. As Franks writes:

Take Five was really the pilot show for the entire DJTV venture. It started as a narrow sort of “Tips for Using Digital Juice Products” marketing piece (nothing wrong with that at all and a great idea) and eventually expanded to cover more than just Digital Juice, which, in my opinion, made the show much more broadly interesting and useful. Relatively easy to produce, it was never a fancy flagship showcase, but man, between Chuck and Rick, the 30 or so episodes (and 150 Tips!) sure were fun to watch. Unfortunately, due to the disorganization over at Digital Juice, these episodes are truly lost in the clutter and I couldn’t figure out how to tease them out of a simple search. Some day I’ll see if I can’t manually dredge through the files and find them for us!

Here’s a quick and dirty Google search of the Digital Juice site for the words “Take Five.” You should be able to track down most of the segments from there. Happy viewing!

Is the Undiebomber Obama’s Katrina?

December 29th, 2009 - 8:19 pm

Jennifer Rubin offers “Two suggestions for the president: end the vacation and fire some people:”

Four days after an al-Qaeda-supported Islamic terrorist nearly butchered 278 people, two days after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said “the system worked,” and a day after a slovenly and disengaged performance in which Obama told us that the Christmas Day bomber was really an “isolated extremist,” Obama emerged once again to assure us that, well, okay, we had a “catastrophic breach” of security and a “systematic failure.”

As more details trickle out, we learn that the bomber was likely aided by al-Qaeda and inspired by the same imam who was Major Nadal Hassan’s e-mail pal. Not isolated at all, was he. And now we learn just how catastrophic was the failure:

The father of terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab met with the Central Intelligence Agency at the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, and told of his son’s likely radicalization, according to the CIA.The initial meeting Nov. 19 led to a broader gathering of multiple U.S. agencies the next day, including representatives of the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department and the CIA, in which the information was shared, a U.S. official said.

With no hint of irony, some hapless official tells us (on background, of course) that “it is unclear whether intelligence officials in Washington effectively collected and analyzed all the relevant information gathered in Nigeria, pointing toward a possible lapse that could have helped prevent Mr. Abdulmutallab getting on the plane he attempted to bomb.” Let me take a stab at that one: they didn’t effectively collect and analyze all the relevant information because Abdulmutallab got on the plane and almost incinerated hundreds of people. So what were Napolitano and the president talking about up until now? Were they trying to flim-flam us or were they grossly and inexcusably unprepared and ill-informed?

This is a scandal of the first order. On this one there is no George W. Bush to blame. There is only the president and his tragically clueless administration. Unlike the  pre-9/11 bits of data, which never wound up in the right hands, in this case we had a specific bomber, a specific tip, and the imam was literally in our gun-sights (reports say he escaped the predator attack). And the intelligence community was given it all on a silver platter. This is the quintessential failure to connect dots. Had the detonator not failed or an alert passenger not intervened, we would have had not a catastrophic failure but a catastrophe.

Two suggestions for the president: end the vacation and fire some people. And if he wants to show that he isn’t cowering from an increasingly infuriated public, he would do well to hold a press conference and answer each and every question put to him. If he chooses not to, the scandal may turn into Obama’s political hurricane, akin to Katrina. Perhaps it already has.

No doubt, Obama’s poll numbers aren’t going to be helped by this Jan-caused disaster. But I doubt if the fallout they’ll face will be as severe as what the Bush administration went through due to Katrina, simply because the media will never gin up a news storm against the man they helped to elect that’s anywhere near as powerful as the one they created to accompany Katrina.  As Mickey Kaus wrote at the beginning of September, 2005:

I’m not saying Bush and the Feds don’t clearly deserve major grief for not getting today’s National Guard aid convoy into downtown New Orleans a couple of days earlier. Some people are probably dead as a result. But the commentators on Washington Week in Review seemed a little too happy when proclaiming this a “debacle” that will damage Bush politically for a long, long time. And I don’t think they were happy just because Bush has suffered a blow. I think it’s because the hurricane and its New Orleans aftermath at least seemed to solve a big problem for anti-Bush commentators and politicians. Previously, they couldn’t grouse about the Iraq War without seeming defeatist (and anti-liberationist and maybe even selfishly isolationist). Even the Clintons never figured a way out of that trap. But nature has succeded where they failed; it has opened up a way out, at least temporarily. Now Bush opponents can argue, in some cases quite accurately, that without the Iraq deployment aid would have gotten to New Orleans faster. And ‘if we can [tk] in Iraq, why can’t we [tk] in our own South?’ They aren’t being selfish. They are just asserting priorities! In short, Katrina gives them a way to talk about Iraq without talking about Iraq. No wonder Gwen Ifill smiles the “inner smile.”

Building on Byron York’s article today in the Washington Examiner that “Republicans deserve blame for Democratic excesses”,  SusanAnne Hiller of Red State adds that the GOP should have understood what the MSM’s gross dereliction of honesty, beginning in 2005 (even by the media’s rather elastic definition of the word) portended:

York is right in that the GOP did lose the public trust in their capacity to govern in 2006 and 2008 and ultimately “created the conditions” for sweeping losses. The GOP should have tackled the budget and health care reform while they had the chance, and Iraq had its issues. Katrina, although a state and local issue, in addition to a personal responsibility issue as the residents did have mandatory evacuation orders, the GOP and Bush administration took the fall, rather than the irresponsible residents who violated the mandatory evacuation order and mismanagement by Democrat mayor and Democrat governor of Lousiana.

It was at that moment in time the GOP and, frankly, the RNC should have had the epiphany that the MSM was about to steamroll them. The left had their crisis, cries of racism, and so-called federal mismanagement; and in September 2008, they had their financial crisis. As a side note, I always wondered why the GOP never effectively explored the fact that Obama not only did not return to Washington during the financial crisis (yes, I know Obama can walk and chew gum at the same time–I got the memo), but more, why Obama was the ONLY member of Congress who wasn’t even the slightest bit alarmed at the financial meltdown. Remember, if you need me, call me.

The GOP should have put the mainstream media on notice at onset, rather than try to backfill the issues and rightfully blame-shift the disasters to the Democrats, much like Newt Gingrich had done in the 1990’s. The GOP should have called out the media, rather than retreating into a corner so as not to be branded as racists, obstructionists, the party of no, or worse, conservatives.

Again, it was at this time that the MSM started its ground assault of the Bush administration and mauling of the GOP. And the GOP never fought back. Bush never fought back.

With this defeatist attitude, the MSM reshaped conservative thought to hate Bush, creating apathy and division in the Republican party, and ultimately causing Republicans to vote Democrat or stay home on election day in 2008.

In reality, the American people crave a party to take on the media, Democrats, and corruption. Just look at Joe Wilson, Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, Andrew Breitbart, Rush, Hannity, Beck, Tea Partiers, and [Red State's] own Erick Erickson. Look at Fox’s sky-high ratings. All signs of the American people’s thirst for knowledge and someone–anyone–to stand up against Obama, Congress, the media, and the left. And those who do get major support from the GOP base.

At the liberal Daily Beast Website, Reihan Salam explores how Janet Napolitano’s disastrous recent public appearances — and even worse actual job performance — could impact the left in the coming election year:

The real and lasting damage, however, is not to Janet Napolitano’s tenure in the Obama cabinet. Rather, it is to Democrats running in 2010. One of the quirky things about the post-9/11 political landscape is the way national security issues subtly changed the electoral map. In 2004, when George W. Bush was supposedly the candidate of hard right evangelicals, he did far better than expected in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, where a decent number of middle-class suburbanites—including many Jewish and secular voters—decided that only trigger-happy Republicans intended to take the fight to the terrorists. Now, as Chris Dodd struggles to hold on to his Senate seat, you have Republican Rob Simmons, a CIA veteran, tearing into him for, in his words, sponsoring “an amendment that cut aviation security funding for explosive detective systems that may have prevented Abdulmutallab from ever boarding the plane and putting so many American lives at risk.” Ouch. Whether Simmons’s tough accusations are fair or not—I think they are—they’ll make a powerful 30-second spot. For those who cry foul, try to imagine a world in which the Rahm Emanuel of 2006 refused to use this massive foul-up against Republican incumbents as a matter of principle.

Never let a crisis go to waste.

Andrew in January of 2004:

For the Clintonites, 9/11 didn’t really happen. Everything the Bush administration has tried to do in foreign policy is perverse, neocon imperialism - despite the fact that Bush ran as less interventionist than Al Gore in 2000. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that this administration’s hard line against terror-sponsoring regimes and those developing WMDs was not some ideological plot – but a reaction to events.

But of course, that was before Sully’s great personal schism later that same year, which brought the world a new, if not improved Andrew. Yesterday, his fellow Atlantic colleague Jeffrey Goldberg wrote, “It seems lately that ‘neocon’ has become Andrew Sullivan’s term for any Jew who disagrees with… Andrew Sullivan.”

Meanwhile, as Goldberg writes today, Andrew has a modest proposal to bring peace in our time to the Middle East:

I’m not sure, but I think Andrew Sullivan just called for U.S. or NATO forces to invade Israel and forcibly dismantle Jewish settlements on the West Bank:

Any Israeli government beholden to these people will be incapable of making peace on its own. Increasingly, it seems to me, NATO or US troops will have to intervene on the border to enforce a separation and an end to these settlements for good and all.

I was previously under the impression that Andrew was opposed to further military interventions in the Middle East.

Heh. Perhaps off-again, on-again Obama advisor Samantha Power is ghosting for Sully from time to time.

Update: Or perhaps Zbigniew Brzezinski is sitting in these days.

And You Thought Your Airline Flight Was Bad

December 29th, 2009 - 5:06 pm

Geez, what is it with that Iowahawk, slacking off again for the holidays? Today, I guess so he can visit the family in Cedar Rapids, he has yet another imaginary satiric special guest blogger holding down the fort.

Underwear gnome number one himself, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab:

Lemme ask you: have you ever tried to inject a glycerin detonator syringe into some plastic explosives glued under your nutsack, while you were stoned out of your gourd, in an airplane bathroom, during Lake Erie turbulence, while some stupid hippie is pounding on the door? Take my word for this, it. is. a. mofo. I must have stabbed myself in the junk eight or ten times before I finally got it smoldering. So I stroll out of the loo, real casual-like, with my nuts on fire, and headed back to my seat to blow out the fuselage.

You know what to do next.

Law & Disorder

December 29th, 2009 - 4:05 pm

First the good news:

The “broken windows” theory of crime prevention continues to pay dividends. In sharp contradistinction to the horrors of Detroit we watched last week, Michael C. Moynihan of Reason magazine writes, “New York looks set to again break its own record for lowest number of homicides since the city started (accurately) recording them back in 1963″:

The New York Times has details:

The story line of murder in New York is one that has been undergoing constant revision since 1963, when the Police Department began tracking homicides in a way that officials now deem reliable. (Before then, homicides were not counted until they were solved.) There have been rises — the number peaked at 2,245 in 1990 — and subsequent falls. But there have never been as few homicides as this year.

The city is on track, for the second time in three years, to have the fewest homicides in a 12-month period since the current record keeping system began. As of Sunday, there had been 461; the record low was in 2007, when there were 496 for the entire year.

The toll has gone down despite predictions that it would rise in a bad economy — a notion rejected by the city’s police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly. But challenges persist: With the city facing a $4.1 billion budget deficit, the police force — which has been reduced by 6,000 officers since 2001 — may have to shrink further.

And as a result, Bushwick and Bed-Stuy are overflowing with hipsters on fixed-gear bikes, wearing ironic little mustaches, bitching and moaning about the horrid gentrification of Brooklyn, the so-called Disneyfication of Times Square, and how New York used to be so cool, so authentic when you could see Television at Max’s Kansas City for fifty cents and get stabbed in the neck for wandering into Crown Heights dressed like Elvis Costello. Yeah, those were the days.

And some New York liberals actually still think that it was, as Daniel Henninger wrote almost five years ago: 

This past Sunday a New York Times feature in its City section asked famous New Yorkers to identify New York’s golden age. At least four identified the 1970s as the golden age. This is worth notice because in the 1970s banks said New York had spun its credit rating into dross and refused to lend more money to a city whose accumulated deficit reached $8 billion. Today its budget office reports that starting in FY2006, per-annum deficits for three years will be $3.7 billion, $4.5 billion and $3.7 billion. There is a mayoral election this November when we’ll get the opinion of all New Yorkers on the city’s current alchemists. But perhaps we should regard the famous Times’ commentators yearning for the 1970s as canaries in the gold-plated mine shaft.

The actor John Leguizamo: New York in the ’70s “was funky and gritty and showed the world how a metropolis could be dark and apocalyptic and yet fecund.” Fran Lebowitz, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair: The city “was a wreck; it was going bankrupt. And it was pretty lawless; everything was illegal, but no laws were enforced. It was a city for city-dwellers, not tourists, the way it is now.” Laurie Anderson, a well-known New York artist and performer, admits the ’70s were considered “the dark ages” but “there was great music and everyone was broke.”

* * *

Peter Hall, in his magisterial study of history’s great urban centers, “Cities in Civilization,” remarks offhandedly that “not for nothing did New York develop so rapidly after the first subways . . . brought their trains into the center of Manhattan.” The subways, of course, aren’t for the tourists but for unwealthy city-dwellers. Starting in 1970, fires, collisions and derailments routinely wrecked New York’s subways, injuring and even killing passengers. In August 1973, a chunk of concrete fell from the roof of the IRT Steinway tunnel and killed a passenger. A 1975 fire trapped 12,000 evening rush-hour passengers. But the cars were colorful. They were covered with graffiti, celebrated by Norman Mailer in a famously provocative paean to the graffiti painters.

The ’70s golden-agers in the Times story don’t deny what was going on then–but they kind of miss it. The photographer Mary Ellen Mark remembers “it was a time of costume and excitement, a time of youth and great energy.” Caleb Carr, the novelist of old-time New York, thinks the city has been “sterilized by the Giuliani years.” He says that “like a troublesome child taking Ritalin, New York may be more manageable now, but it has also sacrificed its personality.”

These comments raise the question of just what liberalism believes makes a city great or even golden, rather than just . . . interesting.

Of course, despite dramatic improvements in crime prevention in some metropolitan areas, the themes that drove Pat Moynihan’s 1993 “Defining Deviancy Down” essay are still very much on display in America:

A woman and her boyfriend beat her two-month old baby to death on Christmas Eve in Detroit, and the Wayne County Prosecutor suggests parenting classes might help stem the tide of such abuse. While we lose the traditions and practices of civility and self-restraint, while we laugh at the Church as anything more than a sentimental attachment, while we imagine that all the institutions that separated Western civilization from brutal, dirt-grubbing subsistence are capable of being refit to our wants, we maintain, throughout this insanity, an undying faith in the classroom to set all things to rights. Monsters are monsters, it seems, for want of enough lectures.

Incidentally, as Charles Krauthammer noted shortly after Moynihan’s essay, deviancy flows in both directions.