Archive for December, 2008

December 29, 2008

ISRAEL AND HAMAS: So, What Next?

December 29, 2008

MITCH MCCONNELL puts the brakes on the stimulus plan?

December 29, 2008

HMM: And here I thought that “The Great Netroot Betrayal” was merely a tagline.

December 29, 2008

CALIFORNIA UPDATE: “California has seen epic failures of leadership before, but never over such an extended period and at such a perilous time. Because elected leaders can’t agree on a way to fix the state’s finances, California can’t sell bonds for public works projects that would provide paychecks for thousands of people. Schools and local governments are uncertain about state aid, creating a culture of paralysis and wishful thinking that will only make the pain worse later. . . . In an editorial last week, we criticized the governor for making unreasonable demands at a time of ‘Armageddon’ – his words. But Democratic lawmakers deserve at least equal attention. In the face of a $42 billion two-year deficit, Democrats have yet to publicly acknowledge that a reduction in state payroll must be part of the solution.”

December 29, 2008

11 MUST-SEE MOVIES coming in 2009. I wonder how many of those I’ll see. Not many, at least not in the theaters.

December 29, 2008

HEH: “Two years ago, like many somewhat financially literate readers, I was perusing newspapers stories about crazy negative amortization mortgages and exclaiming, ‘What are they, on crack?‘ Now we have our answer.”

December 29, 2008

SARAH PALIN becomes a grandmother.

December 29, 2008

A TRAILER FOR Terminator Salvation, the next Terminator movie.

December 29, 2008

JEFFREY GOLDBERG:

If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.

These aren’t my words — they’re Barack Obama’s. But I attach myself to this sentiment.

Me too.

December 29, 2008

HOUSE PRICES: Still too high? I think so, and I’m surprised at how unrealistic sellers still seem to be. I’m seeing people put houses on the market for 10-15% more than they paid two years ago, when those houses are probably worth 10-15% less. Or worse.

UPDATE: Reader Bob Molyneux writes:

Amen.

My wife and I are in the market for a house in the Duluth, Georgia area and we have seen a ton. So many are junked up–don’t you folks know what a garbage bag is? Are banks really that uninterested in selling foreclosed houses that they make it almost impossible? I don’t know about a buyers’ market but our credit rating is great and our current locked in interest rate is 4.97%, we have money in the bank, and this will be an oldie but goody: a “conventional” loan. Maybe we are picky but I would guess that you are right that the better houses are 10-20% high. The bad houses are 90% high.

Yeah, I think people are still in denial. Don’t know why the bankers aren’t better about prepping these houses for sale.

December 29, 2008

PERRY DE HAVILLAND: Do not expect us to cooperate.

December 29, 2008

AN UNUSUAL VAGUENESS RULING, from the Sixth Circuit.

December 29, 2008

REASON TV on bailouts and the financial crisis.

December 29, 2008

REIHAN SALAM on Samuel Huntington.

December 29, 2008

BIG AFTER-CHRISTMAS MARKDOWNS on jewelry. I don’t think jewelry did that well this year; one of the (7) jewelry stores at our mall actually went out of business right after Christmas.

December 29, 2008

THIS IS INTERESTING: Women Profs Spend More Time on Teaching, Less on Research.

December 29, 2008

BEST QUOTES of the past year.

December 29, 2008

RAHM EMANUEL will resign on Friday. “A special election now must be scheduled to fill Emanuel’s seat in the 5th District, and several Chicago politicians have already expressed interest in the seat.”

December 29, 2008

MARK TAPSCOTT: “Barack Obama will either be the last liberal president of the 20th century or the first Internet chief executive of the 21st century. It will become clear earlier rather than later in his White House tenure which he will be.”

December 29, 2008

A LOOK AT PREGNANCY AND WEIGHT GAIN.

December 29, 2008

“FOR NOW?” ER, MAYBE BECAUSE BUSH IS ACTUALLY PRESIDENT NOW? Obama Defers to Bush, for Now, on Gaza Crisis. But here’s the real news: “When President-elect Barack Obama went to Israel in July — to the very town, in fact, whose repeated shelling culminated in this weekend’s new fighting in Gaza — he all but endorsed the punishing Israeli attacks now unfolding.”

UPDATE: No free vacation for Glenn Greenwald.

December 29, 2008

GAWKER: Caroline, No.

December 29, 2008

CHRIS DODD’S CONTINUING LACK OF CANDOR:

It was past time months ago for Connecticut U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd to come clean and release documents on two mortgages he received from Countrywide Financial Corp. That it still has not happened is now approaching outrageousness.

Following a meeting in Westport last Monday with Fairfield County labor leaders, Connecticut’s senior senator once again hedged on saying when he would release the documents. Mr. Dodd continues to say the information will be forthcoming but he refuses to say when.

The situation has kept an ethical cloud over the state’s senior senator since the disclosure that he and a colleague appear to have received preferential treatment in 2003 on mortgages from Countrywide Financial, which was later implicated in the subprime mortgage scandals and eventually was taken over by Bank of America. For the mortgages, Mr. Dodd was placed into Countrywide’s “VIP” program, which saved him some $2,700 in upfront costs on the loans and allowed his loan rates to decrease as rates dropped. . . .

Full disclosure is key because Sen. Dodd is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and is at ground zero in the nation’s Capitol in trying to put a stop to America’s economic meltdown.

Indeed.

December 29, 2008

FABIUS MAXIMUS: Some guesses about the economy.

December 29, 2008

MORE ON Caroline Kennedy vs. Sarah Palin.

December 29, 2008

NORTHWESTERN LAW SCHOOL: Unapologetically poaching 1Ls from other schools.

December 29, 2008

ONLINE SALES sucked less than other sales, but . . . . “Online sales held up better than the rest of the retail market during the dismal holiday period, but the season is still likely to go down as one of the worst on record for the traditionally booming e-commerce sector.” At least it’s producing good after-Christmas markdowns.

UPDATE: Zegna at Costco.

December 29, 2008

HEH: “Another memoir hoax, and once again, Oprah fell for it.” She’s a sucker for a good life story, true or not.

December 29, 2008

FROM AUBREY DE GREY, a Google Tech Talk on the Defeat of Aging.

December 29, 2008

TUNKU VARADARAJAN: Caroline Kennedy for Senate: “We Need More Elite in Washington.”

December 29, 2008

IN THE MAIL: Harry Turtledove’s The Breath of God.

December 29, 2008

VIDEO: Political correctness vs. freedom of thought. (Bumped).

December 29, 2008

HMM: Another senior Iranian military official defects.

December 29, 2008

JOHAN NORBERG vs. Naomi Klein.

December 29, 2008

“QUITE SIMPLY, the best commercial ever made.”

December 29, 2008

THE BEST AND THE NOT-SO-BRIGHT: Scientific illiteracy all the rage among the glitterati.

December 29, 2008

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: TV News Winds Down Operations on Iraq War. Hey, they got Obama elected. Why stick around and maybe report stuff that doesn’t fit the narrative?

December 29, 2008

ELIOT SPITZER: not forgotten.

December 29, 2008

DAVID SATTER: “As the murders of Russian journalists go unsolved, there are increasing signs that the impunity of Russia’s contract killers is not accidental. One reason for the lack of progress may be that the law enforcement organs that are responsible for investigating the murders of Russian journalists are actually involved in carrying them out.”

December 29, 2008

YOU DON’T SAY: NBA Player Charities: “Pattern of Mismanagement.”

December 29, 2008

AN OPTIMISTIC VIEW: ‘Stimulus’ Doesn’t Have to Mean Pork. It doesn’t have to, but with this Congress, it’s pretty likely to. . . .

December 29, 2008

NEWSPAPERS PUBLISHING “INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM” spoon-fed from a leftist advocacy group. Hey, times are tough and they get it for free!

December 29, 2008

AN EMINENT DOMAIN SCANDAL IN HOUSTON.

December 29, 2008

OBAMA AS BUSH: Axelrod says Obama admin will push forward tax cuts despite economic crisis. Nobody tell Frank Rich. Plus this: “Asked by Gregory about televangelist Pat Robertson’s praise for Obama’s cabinet selections, Axelrod said Americans needed to begin working together.”

December 29, 2008

CHARLES RANGEL: Powerful – and Under Scrutiny.

December 29, 2008

IT’S AS IF IT’S ALL ABOUT PROTECTING INCUMBENTS: “Eat at Joe’s” is protected speech. “Vote for Joe,” not so much.

December 29, 2008

SHERMAN VS. GREENWALD. “Understand that I am a native of Atlanta, taught from the cradle to hate Sherman as a wicked instrument of the War of Northern Aggression. Nevertheless, he had a point: Those who inaugurate war must be prepared to accept the consequences. Hamas decided to begin bombarding Israel, and continued that bombardment despite warnings. Surely Hamas has no right to complain of the predictable consequences. . . . I would remind Glenn Greenwald of the words of Barack Obama’s spiritual mentor, who declared that the 9/11 attacks represented ‘chickens coming home to roost’ for America. Is it not possible, by the same standard, to see the Israeli attacks on Gaza as ‘chickens coming home to roost’ for the Palestinians?”

Meanwhile, what about the Obama Doctrine?

December 29, 2008

JENNIFER RUBIN: How Do You Fight Obama’s New New Deal? “A trillion dollar stimulus is going to ‘create’ jobs, and the government will ‘bailout’ failing industries (with additional debt funded by the Chinese, so long as they have an appetite for quickly depreciating dollars). If you think this sounds half-baked and suffers from historical amnesia, you are right. Despite the obvious shortcomings with this approach (e.g., it’s never worked before), the Republican Party so far isn’t doing a very good job of coming up with alternatives. Plainly, they don’t like the mounds of debt. And they are skeptical of a gigantic public works projects. But what could be done instead? There are some viable ideas.”

December 28, 2008

MORE Chris Dodd questions? Dodd’s evasiveness has only encouraged this kind of thing.

December 28, 2008

PROGRESS ON GLOBAL WARMING! “Given that we were told we had to immediately cut back on carbon emissions (even before sustainable alternative energies are in place), largely by curbing our lavish energy-dependent lifestyles, why then all the concern about stimuli and global depression? Surely, the world right now is sort of what the radical Gorists wanted to see, since the current cutback in gasoline usage, and general economic slowdown are radically restricting the burning of fossil fuels in a manner that even the most optimistic green utopian could hardly have envisioned just few years ago?”

December 28, 2008

CONDI RICE on voting for Barack Obama.

December 28, 2008

PIRATES 1, INTERNATIONAL LAW 0: “On December 25th, a German frigate off the coast of Somalia, sent its helicopter to interrupt a pirate attack on an Egyptian merchant ship. One member of the Egyptian crew had already been wounded by gunfire, but the German helicopter stopped the attack. German sailors then captured and disarmed six of the pirates. The pirates were then set free. This is because German law only allows the prosecution of pirates who are attacking Germans (or German property.) The Egyptian ship was carrying a cargo of wheat from Ukraine to South Korea. Since World War II, national and international laws for dealing with pirates (which used to mean trying and executing the pirates on the spot) have been discarded. But nothing took the place of those procedures, because it was believed that piracy was no longer a problem.”

December 28, 2008

AN AMERICAN CAROL is now out on DVD this week. (Also Blu-Ray). I saw a pre-release screening back in September and thought it was pretty good, if you like the idea of Michael Moore being the subject of slapstick humor. And, really, who doesn’t? Also, Kelsey Grammer is surprisingly good as George S. Patton. Let’s see if Alex Nunez is right that it will do well on DVD, though I think they should have taken his advice and brought it out in time for Christmas.

December 28, 2008

“PUNDIT” VS. “PUNDINT” — more criticism for the Google-impaired Paul Mulshine.

UPDATE: On the other hand, various readers write that Beutler is wrong about “to the manor born.” Which just shows that you can’t get away with anything in the blogosphere . . . .

December 28, 2008

MORE ON THAT TVA ASH SPILL. Plus, here’s a big link roundup from Jack Lail.

And this seems dumb on TVA’s part: Activists Detained For Taking Ash Spill Photographs.

December 28, 2008

HMM: Emanuel and Jarrett Will Testify, And The Blagojevich Impeachment Trial Will Be Delayed. Hard to see this as good news for Obama.

December 28, 2008

JUSTIN KATZ on Joel Stein’s inability to commit. America, he’s just not that into you!

December 28, 2008

A BUNCH OF half-price Blu-Ray discs. Plus, a lot of other DVD markdowns.

December 28, 2008

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Say goodnight, Caroline: How JFK’s daughter flubbed the audition to become the next Senator Kennedy.

December 28, 2008

NEWSDAY: With Rash of Scandals, Trust Is Gone. “In Congress, prominent members such as House Ways and Means chair Charles Rangel, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson are either accused of malfeasance, officially charged with corruption or already convicted. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been accused of multiple acts of corruption, including extorting cash or jobs for filling President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat. All of this is creating a growing sense of mistrust. But then Americans have always been suspicious of big institutions that can exert a lot of power.”

So how about a little more suspicion of government expansion disguised as “stimulus?”

December 28, 2008

MORE ON THOSE UNDERFUNDED / OVERGENEROUS PUBLIC PENSIONS:

Paying the price for pension vote buys:

I am hearing that the City of Santa Ana budget has been cut to the bone, but this summer’s retroactive pension formula bump to 2.7-at-55 is greatly exacerbating their financial woes. This explains why they have implemented a hiring freeze.

So why did they spike their public employees’ pensions?

The short answer is that Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido was facing two challengers this year. So he gave the police and firemen everything they wanted so that they would continue to finance “Team Pulido.” Well, I hope they are all happy now that the city’s budget deficit is spiraling out of control.

Meanwhile, in New York City, it’s a pension nightmare. Plus, in Florida, calls for reform. “Those of us who have seen the values of our own retirement savings fall by a third or more this year can’t help but wonder why such windfalls are generally not available outside government.” (Via PensionWatch).

December 28, 2008

A MACHINE THAT MIGHT save the world. Plus, “Steampunk Fusion.”

December 28, 2008

A SURGE IN MUNICIPAL BANKRUPTCIES? Wouldn’t surprise me. And note the connection to the public-pension crisis: “State and local public employees comprise approximately 12 percent of the U.S. workforce and have an estimated $800 billion or more of unfunded pension liabilities (not counting other post-employment benefits). By comparison, employees in the private or corporate sector make up about 78 percent of the U.S. workforce with an estimated $450 billion of unfunded liabilities.”

December 28, 2008

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Rick Warren, Obama, and the Left. “Mr. Obama’s choice of Rick Warren for the Inaugural’s invocation suggests that he is intent on using the momentum of his remarkable victory to build a governing coalition for the long haul. The silver lining for Republicans may be that the left won’t let him do that.”

December 28, 2008

NEW JERSEY: Pension Fight Signals What Lies Ahead. “Already, Mr. Corzine’s current budget has saved about $1 billion by contributing only half what actuaries said the state should put into the fund this year. The balance of the state’s contribution has not yet been deposited, meaning it could be further reduced to help meet the looming budget shortfall.”

December 28, 2008

EGYPTIANS open fire on Palestinians.

December 28, 2008

EARNESTLY WRUNG HANDS.

December 28, 2008

HEH: Ted Rall: Look for Obama to be as devoted to war as Bush was. Meet the new boss, yada yada. If only these people had been smart enough to read InstaPundit before the election they wouldn’t be so surprised. And if only I had been smart enough to cash in on the t-shirt sales. . . .

UPDATE: Frank Rich will be buying the t-shirt soon, too! “I share these high hopes. But for the first time a faint tinge of Bush crept into my Obama reveries this month.” It won’t be the last . . . .

December 28, 2008

WIRED: Broadband Stimulus Plan: How About Some Data First? That goes for the other “stimulus” plans, too . . . .

December 28, 2008

FROM NIALL FERGUSON a look back at 2009.

December 28, 2008

NETWORK YOUR HOME ENTERTAINMENT with wireless HDMI. Seems kinda pricey to me, but the price is sure to drop.

December 28, 2008

GAWKER: How Many Times Can Caroline Kennedy Say ‘You Know’ in Under a Minute?

UPDATE: “And to think they used to make fun of Sarah Palin, doncha know.”

December 28, 2008

I’M GUESSING THAT THIS WILL TURN OUT TO BE NO LONGER OPERATIVE: Obama’s Net Spending Cut Promise:

Lost in the recent talk of $1 trillion stimulus spending by the next administration is a promise President-elect Barack Obama made to the American people on Oct. 7 in the midst of the presidential campaign. Speaking in front of a live national audience, Obama said: ” So we’re going to have to make some investments, but we’ve also got to make spending cuts. And what I’ve proposed, you’ll hear Sen. McCain say, well, he’s proposing a whole bunch of new spending, but actually I’m cutting more than I’m spending so that it will be a net spending cut.” Obama is hardly the first president to promise to rein in spending, but very few have actually kept their promise to the American people.

I’ll be quite surprised if things turn out differently this time around, though I’d like to be wrong. Time for an Insta-Poll: What do you think?

Will Obama Deliver Net Spending Cuts?
Of course. He wouldn’t lie.
Not a chance.
I’m voting present on this one.
  
pollcode.com free polls

December 28, 2008

WELCOME TO THE PRESIDENCY: Obama bristles as the bubble closes in. It’ll only get worse.

UPDATE: Some sympathy from Tigerhawk.

December 28, 2008

ROGER SIMON: Will the New York Times review my book and do I care?

December 28, 2008

THE G.O.P.: Could it get any worse?

December 28, 2008

“DON’T MAKE THEM LISTEN TO OUR STUFF — IT’S INHUMAN!” Rockers to Press Obama on Music Torture. Best bit: “And the BBC has reported on a particularly insidious practice: using the theme songs from Sesame Street and Barney to break the will of prisoners.” Okay, that is inhuman. At any rate, whatever limits on volume and duration are applied to Guantanamo should also be applied to public concerts . . . .

UPDATE: At least they’re not waterboarding puppies. That Greenwald will stop at nothing. You’d never catch me wasting perfectly good smoothie material abusing puppies like that . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: It could be worse!

MORE: Advice from Rand Simberg: “If you don’t want people to use your music to torment terrorists, then quit making such awful music.”

December 28, 2008

ED DRISCOLL on conflating punditry and reporting.

December 28, 2008

A NEW Carnival of the Recipes is up!

December 28, 2008

GIVING A NEW MEANING TO “PORKBUSTERS:” The return of “feral swine.” Well, if the economy goes down far enough, this is a problem that will take care of itself. . . .

December 28, 2008

KEEPING WARM in “passive houses.” “Using ultrathick insulation and complex doors and windows, the architect engineers a home encased in an airtight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means a passive house can be warmed not only by the sun, but also by the heat from appliances and even from occupants’ bodies.”

December 28, 2008

YOU DON’T SEE THIS EVERY DAY: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit harshly censured Hamas for the current situation in Gaza. “Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit harshly censured Hamas today (27 Dec), placing responsibility for the current situation on Hamas. At a noon press conference broadcast on Egyptian television, he said that Egypt had repeatedly cautioned against continuing the situation and that whoever did not listen (Hamas) should assume responsibility and not blame others. He added that Israel had publicly warned that continued rocket fire would lead to military action.”

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden has thoughts. “It’s a build. George Bush actually made significant progress in that area, facilitating the isolation of Hamas in the Arab world. With a major assist from Hamas itself, of course, as the savagery of this terrorist group became apparent. That could be another promising area of foreign policy for Obama to lift wholesale from the Bush admin. The suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza can be laid directly at the door of Hamas and its murderous policies, with a nod to clandestine support from Iran.”

December 28, 2008

MEGAN MCARDLE AND DANIEL DREZNER discuss the coming global recession.

UPDATE: Virginia Postrel: “You can tell they have jobs.” Well, so does pretty much everyone you see on TV talking about the recession.

December 28, 2008

CHRIS DODD UPDATE: He ought to be afraid to show his face, but he’s not:

Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd came home Jan. 6 to East Haddam to talk over his unsuccessful bid for president and to make clear he was not a candidate for vice president. In June, he was tied to the Countrywide Financial scandal when he was accused of accepting a sweetheart mortgage deal. His reputation took a hit, but he denied guilt and kept up his public appearances, including in a Feb. 25 speech at a Middlesex Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Cromwell, Oct. 10 at a Newington meeting with business leaders, an Oct. 17 lecture to civics students at Middletown High School, an Oct. 27 gathering to hear complaints of the working poor in New Britain and a Nov. 15 speech in Farmington on afterschool programs.

It would be interesting if people showed up at those meetings to ask him why he hasn’t released his mortgage documents yet — and put the response up on YouTube.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll wonders if the Connecticut Post would pay attention since they admit they’re tuning out complaints about Dodd and Countrywide. Journalism in action!

December 28, 2008

ELISABETH EAVES: “Americans give more to charity, per capita and as a percentage of gross domestic product, than the citizens of other nations. But why?”

December 28, 2008

BRIAN DOUGLAS: Alternative energy vehicles will happen sooner than you think.

December 28, 2008

HEH: “Dave Barry really may not be making this up.”

December 28, 2008

I KNOW HOW I’M BETTING: After Bush, will MoveOn live up to its name?

December 27, 2008

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON, author of The Clash of Civilizations and The Soldier and the State, has died.

Here’s more from Daniel Drezner, who notes that he’s remembered fondly as “a geek with a backbone of steel,” and “a quintessential Victorian man of honor.”

December 27, 2008

WASHINGTON POST: The weakening prospects of Caroline Kennedy.

UPDATE: A reader emails: “Gov. David Paterson intends to use the Kennedy threat to arrange a bailout for New York State. That Senate seat is an F’ing valuable thing, so the ‘reverse Blago’ gambit comes as no surprise.” Hmm. Good luck with that.

December 27, 2008

I WAS OUT OF TOWN when the Roane County dam broke, but Katie Granju has a roundup and — Paul Mulshine take note — blogger Randy Neal was ahead of a lot of Big Media folks on this story.

Meanwhile, for those busy bashing corporate interests, note that TVA, a government entity, is involved here. . . .

December 27, 2008

WELL, I DIDN’T LIKE PAUL MULSHINE’S PIECE ON BLOGGING, but this piece hits a lot closer to the target:

A lot of people have been comparing the Ponzi scheme allegedly run by Madoff to the Ponzi scheme run by the U.S. government, also known as Social Security.

That’s entirely unfair.

To Madoff.

From what I can gather, Madoff at least made an attempt to invest the money he got from early investors to give them the returns he promised. Those investments failed to bring in enough money and the scheme was doomed to fail sooner or later. But if Madoff had been a more brilliant investor, it might have worked.

The federal government, on the other hand, never tried to make the Social Security system work. The feds didn’t invest the money in the market. They took the money that we gave them and lent it to themselves, promising themselves interest. To be paid by themselves.

This scheme is even more crooked than Madoff’s.

I remember John Langbein speaking at the law school a few years ago, saying that if Wall Street tried to do what Social Security does they’d all be in jail.

December 27, 2008

FRANK MUNGER: More evidence of a budding nuke renaissance. Faster, please.

December 27, 2008

MORE PEOPLE ARE BURNING COAL AT HOME, according to this report. We had a coal furnace when we lived in Heidelberg, and as a kid I enjoyed laying fires and stoking it. I suspect, though, that the thrill would have worn off in another year or two . . . .

UPDATE: Some related thoughts: “Environmentalists must surely dislike coal on all fronts; widespread acceptance of coal for home heating makes it more difficult to argue against the fuel generally as an evil, environmental monster. After all, you can’t concede that it’s OK for people to heat their homes with coal but then object to the use of an electric baseboard heater because the electricity is generated from burning coal.”

December 27, 2008

BITES FROM THE APPLE: A roundup of news from the Apple empire.

December 27, 2008

PAUL MULSHINE BLOWS IT. In this Wall Street Journal column, he manages to conflate punditry with reporting (following in Nick Lemann’s footsteps) while simultaneously engaging in a bit of misleading quotage that thoroughly undercuts his point.

My point, as quoted in his column, is that punditry is easy, but that reporting is harder, and more valuable, and not done enough by Big Media. In making the point, I quoted another blogger, whom Mulshine doesn’t identify — because the blogger I quoted was Iraq documentarian and blogger J.D. Johannes, who in fact does real reporting of the sort that Big Media folks all too often don’t. As J.D. comments:

I do not know why Mr. Mulshine did not give my name. If he had, it would undercut many of his statements. A news man of his esteem would have surely googled me and found that I was doing exactly what he says bloggers are not doing and nearly beating a major Hollywood director and billionaire .

(Or perhaps he did google me and for some reason thought I was not the type to read the Wall Street Journal.)

The hear-say quote, and this particular usage by Mr. Mulshine, is one of the reasons why blogs have succeeded–the core news consumer does not like hear-say quotes and does not want bland executive summaries for the “casual reader.” The core news consumer wants hard news without bias and expert opinion.

Mr. Mulshine’s use of a misleading hear-say quote explains well the demise of his beloved newspaper.

It seems that often when big-media types write about the failings of blogs, they engage in the kind of lazy inaccuracy they condemn. In an earlier column, Mulshine wrote:

Anyone can travel to a war zone and write about it. I would strongly recommend this for any of the critics of the MSM who are seeking to get out the real truth about Iraq. Go for it, guys. War coverage is great fun. One word of caution, though: Don’t lose your heads in all the excitement.

That, of course — as Mulshine should have known then, and now — is exactly what J.D. Johannes does — along with Michael Yon, Michael Totten, Bill Roggio, and others in the blogosphere. Mulshine, meanwhile, brags about having once covered the Toms River Regional Board of Education in New Jersey. That’s worthy work, of course, but if his reportage there was as poor as his work in the Wall Street Journal, then — oh, who am I kidding? “If”?

Anyway, it’s certainly true that bloggers as a class are more competition for careless pundits like Mulshine than for go-getter reporters who find out things that people don’t know, and report them truthfully. It’s also true that those go-getter reporters who put the truth first are pretty scarce in the world of Big Media reporting, and that management shows no sign of wanting more of them, and many signs of wanting attitude-mongers like, well, Mulshine. This is, as I’ve noted before, a dumb business strategy, which explains in part why newspapers are doing so badly. For more on that, see this thoughtful piece by Evan Coyne Maloney. Also, these thoughts from Jay Rosen. And here’s my diagnosis from 2002:

Though webloggers do actual reporting from time to time, most of what they bring to the table is opinion and analysis – punditry, in short. (No surprise here – people have been sharing opinions forever, and may well have an inborn drive to do so. Plus, you can opine without leaving your computer, while reporting hard news is hard work.)

This means that Big Media organizations should still have a strong competitive advantage where actual newsgathering is concerned. The problem is that most big organizations have cut back on newsgathering, treating news as a commodity product to be obtained from wire services while eliminating foreign and regional bureaus. Instead, Big Media organizations decided some years ago that they would focus on “news analysis” and punditry. That’s, well, because you can opine without leaving your computer, while reporting hard news is hard work. (And expensive).

Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked out very well. The move to analysis and punditry was driven, in no small part, by corporate pressures to cut costs, pressures that accompanied the consolidation and corporatization of the news media. . . . But actual information about what’s happening is still mostly the province of professional journalism, and that’s less likely to change. I can imagine a decentralized amateur news service (a sort of Slashdot on steroids) but I think something like that will be slow in coming.

So there you are. Not that this will stop a future Mulshine (or Lemann) from repeating the same errors. Apparently, nothing does . . . .

UPDATE: A comment from Jay Rosen. Plus, once again, I lack fire.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More discussion here.

MORE: Also here.

December 27, 2008

A BAD WEEK FOR PRINCESS CAROLINE: “Caroline Kennedy’s coronation for the U.S. Senate has been disrupted by, well, by Caroline Kennedy. The media is shocked, shocked to learn she’s a political dilettante and a bit foolish.” Well, it’s not as if those are disqualifications for the United States Senate.

And Mickey Kaus says she’s better than Andrew Cuomo: “Caroline may be boring but she does not seem evil!” He notes, however, that there are other people in New York besides the unimpressive Caroline and the thuggish Andrew. Hey, Eliot Spitzer needs a job!

December 27, 2008

ANDREW FERGUSON on the politics of fat.

December 27, 2008

EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT Chip Saltsman and Barack the Magic Negro. Well, okay, not everybody, just people following the RNC Chair race.

December 27, 2008

A BUNCH OF AFTER-CHRISTMAS ELECTRONICS MARKDOWNS, some as much as 70%. It’s amazing to me that you can get a Canon Powershot 770 for $159. I remember thinking it was a big deal when my old 2 megapixel Olympus dropped to that price.