Archive for January 4th, 2009

January 4, 2009

Yglesias, right and wrong

UPDATED & BUMPED: Michelle Malkin calls “bullcrap.” (BTW, I give Michael Goldfarb a hard time in this post, written Saturday, but I took his side today against Greenwald, so I it’s not personal. I just don’t enjoy being insulted indirectly. “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining,” to quote the Outlaw Josey Wales.)

PREVIOUSLY: Matthew Yglesias:

There are tons and tons of conservative media outlets, most of them with a web presence, and the web presences of places like Goldfarb’s Weekly Standard blog would be higher if they were breaking interesting news the way ThinkProgress, HuffingtonPost, TPM, Washington Independent, etc. do. What the right lacks are people with the skill to do the job.

Having spent 22 years in the news business, I ought to resent this remark. The problem is that Yglesias’s misapprehension is the fault of the conservative movement, which would rather hire pundits, wonks, P.R. flacks and media consultants than spend a dime on actual journalism.

True story: The day after my January announcement that I was leaving the Washington Times, I got a call from someone at a conservative media outfit who expressed an eagerness to hire me for an opening on their staff. Well, I had another project on the front burner, but I might be willing to talk about something down the line, and he said he’d get back to me. When he did get back to me he said he’d talked to his boss, but the boss wasn’t familiar with my work and would I be willing to take a freelance assignment, sort of as a tryout?

Well . . . no. If you have a job opening on your staff, interview me. But I’m not a raw beginner who needs to prove anything to anybody, and I can get plenty of freelance assignments without kowtowing to your goddamned egomaniacal boss by writing on spec. For that matter, before I’d work for the kind of sadistic bastard who would ask me to do such a thing, I’d go drive a forklift.

Fast forward to March, after my front-burner project had ended, when I found myself sitting around the house asking, “What next?” The Pennsylvania primaries were coming up, so I went online to see if maybe there was a campaign event within driving distance, which there was. I called my friend Wlady Pleszczynski at the American Spectator and was on my way to Greensburg, Pa., the next morning.

I subsequently covered Hillary in Harrisburg, Pa., and in Shepherdstown, W.Va., covered the Libertarian convention in Denver (“best national coverage,” said Dave Kopel), covered John McCain in Pennsylvania, returned to Denver for the DNC, went on the road to cover Sarah Palin in Ohio and Pennsylvania. . . . well, that’s a sample. I also did some reporting and commentary for Pajamas Media and SpliceToday, all the while blogging constantly. But the one thing I didn’t do is offer to write anything for that outfit whose egomaniac boss thought I should take an assignment on spec as a tryout for a full-time job.

This is not just a “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” story. Yglesia gloats that there are no conservatives who know how to do reporting, yet here I am, an experienced journalist with no small amount of Web savvy (I’ve even recently learned FinalCutPro), winning praise for my coverage and — well, where are those conservative organizations lined up to hire me?

In point of fact, at a time when we are told that conservatives should be investing more in reporting, the Media Research Center just did a round of layoffs. The only recent conservative media startup, Culture11, isn’t even interested in news reporting. Well, then, to read Michael Goldfarb complain that “Republicans have no equivalent outlet” to support “a bunch of right-wing Greg Sargents” — making that complaint on Rupert Murdoch’s dime! — is slightly more than mildly ironic.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy reading the Weekly Standard, and they do some good reporting. (Matthew Continetti’s account of the Abramoff scandal was simply the best thing written on that saga.) But am I the only one who sees the inherent contradiction in Goldfarb (a) returning from a gig as a full-time professional partisan operative on the McCain campaign and then (b) complaining of a lack of fierce, independent, take-no-prisoners conservative journalism? The two functions are incompatible. If you want to be a GOP hack, be a GOP hack, but don’t expect me to applaud any of your goddamned lectures about journalism.

UPDATE: Complaints from Red State give John Cole an excuse to revisit the Ben Domenech plagiarism scandal. The most memorable thing to me about that episode was the discovery that Domenech had plagiarized a Salon piece about Britney Spears for National Review Online.

Salon: This is what she looked like when you first saw her: pigtails, Catholic schoolgirl uniform, Lip Smackers baby-doll pink lips. She was a good girl, but suddenly gone bad, having tied her little white shirt in a knot over her Madonna-influenced midriff. She was a 17-year-old babe — in both senses of the word — who already knew too much.

Domenech: Spears first hit the music scene just last year. … Decked out in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform — complete with pigtails, pink Lip Smackers, and white shirt tied in a knot over an exposed midriff — she teased at disobedience, and dangerously tempted the voyeur.

Grant that a thing is what it is, and there are only so many ways to describe Britney’s appearance in her first music video. But the similarities in the space of a single sentence are too much, and the real telltale factor is the reference to “Lip Smackers.” What guy knows the name brands of lip gloss?

Look, it’s one thing to crib quotes or facts from other sources, but . . . you can’t come up with an original description of Britney Spears? I’ve had my share of goofs and gaffes over the years, but that’s a problem I’ve never had.

UPDATE II: John Cole now has buyer’s remorse:

I would like to point out that the point of this post was to mock the notion that the media would not pick a right-of-center pundit . . . not to provide a forum to crap all over Ben and re-visit the plagiarism scandal. . . .
[H]e was always nice to me, and I think is at heart a decent person, so please stop it. I hate pile-ons, and I hate the notion that because someone made a mistake, their life should be ruined. That just isn’t cool.

No, but there are two things you can’t do in journalism: Make stuff up (falsification) and rip stuff off (plagiarism). Plagiarism is a “mistake” in the same sense that car theft is a “mistake” and, as was revealed at the time of his firing from the WaPo, Domenech had been playing Grand Theft Auto since he was in college. Domenech’s reputation as a brilliant young writer — which is the only reason the WaPo would have given a 24-year-old such a prominent position — was based on other people’s work.

Nor was there any plausible excuse for the kind of wholesale plagiarism Domenech did. (Movie reviews? WTF?) It’s useful to compare Domenech’s plagiarism to the Ruth Shalit scandal. What Shalit did was to compile boatloads of Lexis-Nexis research for feature profiles and omit some of the attributions. It was wrong, but once you saw what she was doing, you understood that her crime was mainly carelessness. No such explanation can account for Domenech’s collegiate habit of lifting entire paragraphs from movie reviews.

What Shalit and Domenech had in common was extreme youth, and frankly, this business of wunderkind journalism . . . Look, when Robert Novak joined the Associated Press’s Washington bureau in 1957, he was 26 years old, but he had been a journalist since he was 16 (beginning as a sports stringer for the Joliet Herald-News) and had spent two years at AP bureaus in Omaha and Indianapolis. Novak writes in Prince of Darkness that when he came to Washington:

I was the only AP newsman in Washington less than thirty years old, and there were precious few under forty.

Being a member of the Washington press corps is, or ought to be, an achievement, not a place for rookies just learning their craft. If a 24-year-old wants to cover politics, he ought to be doing it in Omaha or Indianapolis, not the nation’s capital — except maybe covering the DC City Council. I don’t care what your SAT score is; intelligence is not a substitute for knowledge and experience.

I never felt that Domenech’s “life should be ruined,” but (a) wanton, wholesale plagiarism is a career-ender in journalism; and (b) since he was hired by the WaPo specifically to represent the Right, his disgrace was an ugly stain on the conservative movement. Michelle Malkin didn’t hesitate to cut him loose, even though he’d edited one of her books. Milli Vanillis, we don’t need.

UPDATE III: A commenter says, correctly, that John Cole did not specifically reference plagiarism when he invoked Domenech. But it’s like mentioning Stephen Glass or Jayson Blair, isn’t it?

Also, I like and admire Erick Erickson, but he shouldn’t attempt to excuse Ben Domenech, who burnt a bridge that others might have crossed.

January 4, 2009

Greenwald vs. Goldfarb

UPDATED & BUMPED: Ace of Spades weighs in:

The idiot Sullivan even calls Greenwald “fearless” for taking an anti-Israel position which not only won’t lose him any readers, but is common wisdom among the liberal establishment.

Read the whole thing. I borrowed Ace’s shtick today and got an Instalanche with it, so if you don’t read the whole thing, the terrorists win.

UPDATED (AGAIN): Reliapundit delivers a barrage of facts with Black Hawk minigun ferocity.

PREVIOUSLY: Glenn Greenwald today accuses Michael Goldfarb of bloodthirstiness in the death of Nizar Ghayan (or Nizar Rayan, as some have it). Goldfarb’s offending post was not a mindless advocacy of violence, but rather a reflection on the fundamental difficulty of fighting a fanatical enemy:

The fight against Islamic radicals always seems to come around to whether or not they can, in fact, be deterred, because it’s not clear that they are rational, at least not like us. But to wipe out a man’s entire family, it’s hard to imagine that doesn’t give his colleagues at least a moment’s pause. Perhaps it will make the leadership of Hamas rethink the wisdom of sparking an open confrontation with Israel under the current conditions. Or maybe not, and the only way to stop Hamas is to eliminate its capacity for violence entirely. Or Israeli leaders can just try to find a diplomatic solution — as a majority of Democrats apparently favor. It worked so well with the last cease fire.

The notion that the obliteration of Ghayan’s entire family might “give his colleagues at least a moment’s pause” is enough to inspire 1,500 words of Greenwaldian gibberish, including a shot at Glenn Reynolds for displaying a “wretched mindset” by suggesting that the Israelis are “civilized people and not barbarians.” One mercifully brief slice of moonbat pie:

If you see Palestinians as something less than civilized human beings: as “barbarians” — just as if you see Americans as infidels warring with God or Jews as sub-human rats — then it naturally follows that civilian deaths are irrelevant, perhaps even something to cheer. For people who think that way, arguments about “proportionality” won’t even begin to resonate — such concepts can’t even be understood — because the core premise, that excessive civilian deaths are horrible and should be avoided at all costs, isn’t accepted. Why should a superior, civilized, peaceful society allow the welfare of violent, hateful barbarians to interfere with its objectives? How can the deaths or suffering of thousands of barbarians ever be weighed against the death of even a single civilized person?

Wait a minute: Who is ultimately responsible for the plight of Gazans? Has it been non-stop misery since 1967? Or at some point over the past four decades, did the Palestinians in Gaza actually have a better life under Israeli occupation than they have had under Hamas rule?

This war was not caused by any genocidal ambition of the Israelis, but by the genocidal ambition of Hamas. Excuse me for repeating myself:

You cannot negotiate with a shark. To the extent that Hamas represents any coherent political philosophy, that philosophy can be summed up in two words: Kill Jews.

And, to further repeat myself, the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas by a landslide majority. The Gazans fully intended that there should be consequences to their election of genocidal terrorist leaders and their only disappointment is that the consequences are not (yet) what they intended, namely the death of every Jew in Israel.

You will perhaps be surprised (or perhaps not) that Greenwald imagines it is supporters of Israel who need a lecture about “excessive tribalistic identification.” Sending suicide bombers to obliterate Shiri Negari and 18 other passengers on bus 32A — that’s not “excessive,” eh?

UPDATE: “Jihad to its maximum degree” — Right. Like they haven’t been trying hard enough to slaughter the infidels. There is kind of a “Black Knight” quality to this.

UPDATE II: Fausta Wertz has a post showing how the genocidal Hamas mentality has spread to the streets of America. “Death To All Juice!”

UPDATE III: At NRO, Gregory McNeal notes that IAF is delivering phone warnings to targets, compared to the 15 seconds of “Code Red” warnings for Israeli civilians targeted by Hamas:

Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom has related thoughts.

UPDATE IV: The Times of London:

Israeli troops fought heavy battles with Hamas fighters in two densely populated Gaza towns today as the Army sought to split the strip into three sections to cut off the Islamist group’s supply lines. . . .
The Israeli strategy of splitting Gaza into north, central and southern sections mirrors a similar tactic employed when settlers used to come under attack in the strip.
It enables the military to stop Gaza City being supplied from the south, stops Hamas movements and gives troops distinct areas to clear.
Israeli troops also took up positions in the old Jewish settlement of Netzarim which controls the main north-south road.

Hmmm. It’s almost as if the Times were suggesting that Israel’s erstwhile policy of territorial settlement was vital to the embattled nation’s self-defense. Nah, couldn’t be . . .

UPDATE V: A pro-Israel rally . . in France? Somewhere, a French intellectual is muttering to himself, “If only we could have kept the Vichy for another few months . . .”

UPDATE VI: MK Ham: “The Guardian is now eulogizing terrorist leaders in official ‘obituaries’ chock-full of euphemisms and moral equivalence. Not news stories, but obituaries.”

January 4, 2009

Name That Party!

Obama Cabinet Appointee Lightning Round:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state.
“Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact,” he said Sunday in a report by NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell. “But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process.”

Drew M. at AOSHQ notices that the word “Democrat” appears nowhere in the MSNBC report.

UPDATE: Video via Hot Air:

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UPDATE II: MK Ham: “The Obama transition train just keeps on chugging down the tracks to Smoothville, huh?

UPDATE III: Under the bus goes another erstwhile friend of Obama.

January 4, 2009

‘There was a tense moment . . .’

“. . . when Pamela Geller stood up and asked to see Steyn’s birth certificate . . .”

Kathy’s right, Spencer should write funny more often.

January 4, 2009

Boys have cooties

Schools target “dating violence,” which has apparently become widespread:

Texas recently adopted a law that requires school districts to define dating violence in school safety codes, after the 2003 stabbing death of Ortralla Mosley, 15, in a hallway of her Austin high school and the shooting death of Jennifer Ann Crecente, 18, two years ago. Rhode Island in 2007 adopted the Lindsay Ann Burke Act — prompted by the murder of a young woman by a former boyfriend — requiring school districts to teach students in grades 7 through 12 about dating abuse.
Experts say the abuse appears to be increasing as more harassment, name-calling and ridicule takes place among teenagers on the Internet and by cellphone.

“Experts say” — and who can disagree with the experts? Our daughter is 19. When she was a kid, we taught her the most important lesson of life: Boys have cooties.

Why don’t they teach that in schools? That is to say, why don’t schools discourage the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing? Girls especially need to be encouraged to develop a sense of independent identity, so that they don’t fall into the all-too-common teenage trap of thinking that their life is meaningless if they don’t have a boyfriend.

Girls get into abusive relationships because adults fail to teach basic lessons in childhood. Boys don’t hit girls. Ever. This is one of the rules in our house. Our sons know that, however much rough-housing they do amongst themselves, under no circumstances are they allowed to hit their sisters. It is unmanly for a boy to hit a girl, even if she hits him first. And the natural corollary is that no girl should ever put up with a boy who hits her.

Why is it that “experts” say we need special laws and school curricula to deal with an epidemic of “dating violence”?

“Few adolescents understand what a healthy relationship looks like,” [researcher] Dr. [Elizabeth] Miller said.
Adolescents often mistake the excessive attention of boys as an expression of love, she said.

Duh. Where did they get that idea? Whatever happened to dads and brothers chasing off pesky boyfriends? We need traditional values, a la Sonny Corleone:

UPDATE: Pandagon is offended by Sonny Corleone. So was Connie. Michael fixed that problem, though, didn’t he?

January 4, 2009

Israeli air strikes kill cute kittens and Hamas terrorist leaders

But mostly Hamas terrorist leaders:

Senior Hamas terrorist Hussam Hamdan, who was in charge of Grad-type rocket launches into Beersheba and Ofakim, was killed in an IAF strike on Khan Yunis on Sunday afternoon.
Another senior Hamas terrorist, Muhammad Hilo, was also killed in the same airstrike. Hilo was in charge of the Hamas special forces in Khan Yunis.

Via Memeorandum, with a hat-tip to Ace of Spades for the headline style.

UPDATE: From the Israeli military Web site IDF Spokesperson:

  • Between Israel’s evacuation of Gaza and the election of Hamas (Aug. 15, 2005 – Jan. 25, 2006), there was an average of over 15 rocket and mortar attacks a month.
  • Between Hamas’ election and Hamas’ forceful takeover of the Strip (Jan. 25, 2006 – June 14, 2007), there was an average of over 102 attacks per month — an over 650% increase.
  • Between Hamas’ takeover and the start of the Tahadiya (State of Calm), (June 14, 2007 – June 16, 2008), there was an average of over 361 attacks per month — an increase of an additional 350%.
  • On Nov. 4-5, Israel launched Operation “Double Challenge”, targeting a tunnel Hamas was building as part of a plan to kidnap Israeli soldiers.
  • From the end of Operation “Double Challenge” until the end of the Tahadiya, (Nov. 4 – Dec. 19, 2008) a period of only a month and a half, there were 170 mortars, 255 Qassams, and 5 Grads fired upon Israel’s civilian population centers.
  • Since the end of the Tahadiya (Dec. 19, 2008) until the beginning of Operation “Cast Lead,” (Dec. 27, 2008) a period of little more than a week, there were approximately 300 mortars and rockets fired onto Israel.

Which is to say, Hamas deserved an ass-kicking.

UPDATE II: Utterly predictable Hamas response:

Hamas officials called on Palestinians to rise up against Israel with suicide attacks and vowed to make Gaza “a graveyard” for Israeli soldiers.

Right. Holed up in their bunkers, Hamas leaders vow to fight to the last Palestinian civilian.

UPDATE III: Welcome, Instapundit readers. Professor Reynolds gets an additional mention in the related post, Greenwald vs. Goldfarb.

UPDATE IV: Linked by Lawhawk at LGF. Thanks.

UPDATE V: Thanks to commenter Mike for pointing out the secondary explosions caused by cute kittens in Gaza:

UPDATE VI: Yes, DoublePlusUndead, I am a moron. And, in related news, don’t mess with Sonny Corleone’s sister.

UPDATE VII: Linked by the Smallest Minority and MacsMind. Thanks.

UPDATE VIII: Also linked at Pirate’s Cove, A Blog For All and Random Thoughts. Thanks to all.

UPDATE IX: Linked by The Sundries Shack, which reports that sheep are sleeping easier in Gaza tonight.

January 4, 2009

‘Jane! Stop this crazy thing!’

We are living in the future, it’s just not the future anybody predicted:

When I was a kid, the future was supposed to be filled with flying cars, orbiting space cities and endless free time; instead, we work more hours than ever, drive internal combustion cars on crumbling, congested freeways and endure endless cuts in airline service. Meanwhile, Web searching, handheld GPS systems and online shopping — the technologies that have, in fact, changed our lives — came more or less out of nowhere.

I’m lousy at making predictions. I was one of the first ones to call John McCain’s defeat (see also here and here) but that was Oct. 2, after the McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan, and more than a week after the idiotic Sept. 24 bailout stunt, so there was ample evidence that the election was effectively over. As late as Sept. 22, I’d warned against a GOP panic, although later that same day, Steve Schmidt lashed out at the New York Times, which ought to have been recognized as proof that Schmidt knew the election was over.

But in terms of long-term trends, I’m blind as a mole. After the 2004 election, I had no foreboding of the GOP meltdown that began in 2006, simply because the events that caused that meltdown hadn’t happened and couldn’t be predicted. The Abramoff scandal? The Foley scandal? The blundered mishandling of Social Security reform? The mad push for amnesty? None of that was on the radar in November 2004, and so it was impossible to see the disaster coming.

The same thing is true of the Obama administration. A lot of my Republican friends seem demoralized, as if there is no hope of effectively opposing The One and his agenda. But I figure there’s at least a 50-50 chance the Obama presidency is going to be a political disaster on the order of Jimmy Carter (or the first two years of Clinton), and thus am quite sanguine about the future. However, the only prediction I’m willing to make is that the Obama economic plan won’t work, because it can’t. Keynesian theory is demonstrably false, and so the one safe prediction is that the economy won’t improve so long as Keynesian policies are pursued.
January 4, 2009

Senator Al Franken

Get used to saying it:

DFLer Al Franken won an impressive share Saturday of what may be the last ballots tallied in the U.S. Senate recount, boosting his unofficial lead over Sen. Norm Coleman to 225 votes heading into a Monday meeting where the state Canvassing Board will certify the final result of the race.
At least two things, however, still stand in the way of Franken becoming Minnesota’s newest U.S. senator: the possibility of a ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court that more wrongly rejected absentee ballots should be counted, and a legal contest that Coleman attorneys all but promised should Franken prevail.

Americans ought to be ashamed that it has come to this. And why did it come to this? Norm Coleman voted yes on S.B. 1629. His NumbersUSA grade is C. So while I am mortified that Al Franken will be a member of the U.S. Senate, I am at least comforted that Norm Coleman can no longer disgrace the Republican Party by voting for open borders.

Hasta la vista, Norm.

UPDATE: A couple of commenters have leapt to Coleman’s defense, with one saying:

I think there is never a good reason to vote for a Liberal…especially this clown.

Well, friends don’t let friends vote Democrat, but that’s not the point. The fact that Coleman was unable to command even a plurality in a three-way race demonstrates, to my mind, the folly of open-borders Republicanism.

An open-borders position won’t win you any extra “swing” votes, while utterly alienating the conservative base. By contrast, a strong border-security position might win over some blue-collar voters who otherwise would either stay home or vote Democrat. So even apart from ideological or moral considerations, border-security is a political winner for Republicans.

Therefore, every defeat of an open-borders Republican like Norm Coleman (or Mike DeWine or John McCain) demonstrates that there is no advantage for the GOP in the pro-amnesty position. It’s not that I want Democrats to win, but if these Republicans don’t want Democrats to win, maybe they shouldn’t have voted for open borders.

January 4, 2009

‘Some things are better than others’

Nelson Guirado says the unsayable:

[W]hat’s happening now isn’t a desire to think of people as on par cosmically or for a legal equality, but a reluctance of people to publicly say that some things are better than others. I imagine that most people who don’t mind same-sex marriage see that it’s dissimilar to opposite-sex marriage in some way, but that they’re intimidated into not saying so (For the first time in history, gay activists were “outing” people who supported exclusive opposite-sex marriage.) for fear of breaking the first leftist commandment: Thou shalt not distinguish. . . .
[S]mart people can say things are different without “hating” and that some things, in fact, are. Men and women are different and it’s legitimate to say so and even set up laws that take that difference into account. Whether a particular distinguishing law is wise is another matter that smart people can figure out. For example: It’s wise to have separate bathrooms. It’s not wise, necessarily, to prohibit women from driving.

Well, we have to give the Saudis some credit, eh? But seriously . . . the leftist fetish for equality is an idol that crumbles at its first exposure to reason. Men and women are different, and in important ways, and I am amazed at the Left’s success in compelling people to pretend otherwise. Nelson is writing in reply to my discussion of the gay-marriage debate:

[S]o many of those who would defend traditional marriage find themselves unable to form a coherent argument, because traditional marriage is based on the assumption that men and women are fundamentally different, and hence, unequal. Traditional marriage assumes a complementarity of the sexes that becomes absurd if you deny that “man” and “woman” define intrinsic traits, functions, roles.

If you are unwilling to contradict the modernist dogma of equality, it becomes impossible to argue effectively against gay marriage. Viva la difference!