Archive for June 16th, 2009

June 16, 2009

Conor Friedersdorf vs. Dan Riehl

Dan has a link to an hour-plus online discussion he had with Conor Friedersdorf. You can listen to it and try to figure out WTF Conor’s problem is, besides the fact that he is young and had the bad judgment to (a) attend the Columbia University J-School and (b) hire on at Culture 11.

It’s OK, I made bad judgments when I was young. Back in the day, there was less of a downside risk to being a young fool. There was no Internet then, so it wasn’t like nowadays, where every 20-something who can type his own name gets the idea he’s going to solve the world’s problems with a blog.

To imagine what I would have been blogging about in 1986 . . . shudder.

UPDATE: I’m listening to the debate now and a big part the problem is, Conor wants to define conservatism as “what I like,” or, “a philosophy espoused by writers I like.” He cannot separate his admiration of, inter alia, Andrew Sullivan from his own self-conception as “conservative.” It’s fan-boy politics.

Sully is a student of Oakeshott, therefore Conor name-checks Oakeshott. Dreher constantly invokes Russell Kirk, therefore Conor name-checks Kirk. It’s as if Conor has been studying his pledge book in preparation for initiation into a fraternity.

Why is it that none of these “dissident” conservatives can be bothered to read Hayek or Mises? Why do they never seem to take any interest in the basic questions of political economy and limited government? Why must they seek out this conservatism that, they assert, transcends mere politics — a conservatism of “temperament,” as Conor calls it?

Sigh. OK, let me go smoke a conservative cigarette and then I will return to my conservative laptop to listen to more of the debate.

UPDATE II: I’m back. That cigarette had a suspiciously neo-conservative flavor. (“The Jooooz!”) So I’m going to eat a paleo ice cream sandwich while I listen to the next segment of the debate.

UPDATE III: A-ha, Friedersdorf! I just paused the audio at 19:14, as which point you have just accused unnamed others of having an “ahistorical definition of conservatism.”

Q. How much history of conservatism does Conor Friedersdorf
A. A helluva lot less than I do!

As they say in military tactics, your flank is “in the air,” and I’ll drive a goddamned division into that flank.

UPDATE IV: As the perspicacious Professor Donald Douglas points out in the comments, Friedersdorf has attained his life’s goal, blogging at The Atlantic Monthly, just like his hero. As I have often said, the rule in D.C. is never to attribute to ideology that which can be adequately explained by ambition.

Friedersdorf is rarity at The Atlantic. Last time I checked, Megan McArdle was the only non-Harvardian at that notorious snob shop. Perhaps his stint at Columbia J-School was close enough for horseshoes.

UPDATE V: Over at Dan Riehl’s, I congratulate Conor on his ascent to the ranks of The Republicans Who Really Matter. Well played, old sport!

June 16, 2009


The White House press tank corps:

On June 24, Drudge reports, the network will broadcast from inside the White House to air a propaganda special for Obamacare.
Opposing voices will reportedly be excluded. ABC News says “thoughtful” and “diverse” points of view will be allowed. In other words: Shills of all colors!

Why compete to become the most mindlessly pro-Obama network? That’s not news, it’s publicity.

UPDATE: Via Memeorandum, conservative bloggers go ballistic: Riehl World View, Right Wing Nut House, Macsmind, QandO, Atlas Shrugs, Babalú Blog and The Jawa Report.

Remember 2002-04, when the “progressive netroots community” went off on a media establishment they felt were too eager to parrot the Bush administration’s line on Iraq? The problem with reverse-engineering that — which is what conservative bloggers must try to do now — is that during the Bush administration, liberal bloggers had the advantage that 90% of the D.C. press corps had voted for Al Gore and John Kerry.

The hopelessly lopsided partisan commitments of the journalistic elite — try a show of hands in the WH press corps, who voted Republican? — have always been the secret weapons of the liberal blogosphere.

How many MSM reporters (Associated Press, NY Times, CBS News, etc.) ever read Hot Air or Instapundit? And how many of them sympathize? The typical MSM reporter sympathizes with Media Matters, DKos and Crooks & Liars. The typical MSM reporter watches Olbermann every night. The typical MSM reporter thinks Letterman’s jokes about Palin are ROTFLMAO funny.

Most D.C. reporters, editors and producers hate Republicans, and that hatred matters.

UPDATE II: Speaking of hatred — and via Little Miss AttilaPundette highlights the “two-minute hate” technique of the pro-Obama media machine, which includes institutions as diverse as the New York Times and the Comedy Central network.

It’s the uncanny coordination of the messaging that makes the Obama media such an engine of terror to its enemies. This harkens back to the JournoList revelation. Once you understand that there is an actual network Democratic political operatives, liberal policy advocates, progressive bloggers and major media journalists connected via a single communications link, suddenly the modus operandi is no longer mysterious.

Jon Henke figured this out three years ago, really, and employed a phrase, “the eyes of the influentials” to describe what is at stake. It is not in my interest to explain everything I’ve deduced in the past three years based on Henke’s insight, but let me say this: Offline private communications that the public never sees are as important as the stuff headlined at Drudge.

Think about that. Think about it hard. Because you can’t beat what you don’t understand.

UPDATE III: RNC chief of staff Ken McKay sends a letter to ABC News, gets a lame, snarky response.

A suggestion for Mr. McKay: How about you kick whoever’s ass needs to be kicked in order to get an actual live blog on the RNC Web site? It hasn’t been updated in 32 days.

Personnel is policy, and this business of assigning important communications operations to clueless do-nothing losers has got to stop.

UPDATE IV: Speaking of kicking ass, Jimmie Bise bloggregates the story at

UPDATE V: Welcome (again) Instapundit readers! Maybe he’s trying to make up for the Allah-hate, but if Professor Reynolds keeps this up, Dr. Helen might become suspicious. At any rate, speaking of elites . . .

UPDATE V: Be sure to read down to the comments for good stuff like this from a Methodist pastor:

Is ABC still owned by Disney? Do they still do Fantasy World?

Yes, and soon they’ll be promoting their new ride, “ObamaCare,” which involves a lot of standing in line . . . it’s scary, but not exactly a thrill.

June 16, 2009

Corzine’s Last Chance Power Drive

Bloggregating the N.J. election at Jersey’s about to pass a $1 billion tax increase — nice round number, one billion — Republicans are hopeful and the White House is worried.

“It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap . . .”

June 16, 2009

On relentlessness

You can’t beat a man who refuses to admit defeat. You can kill a man like that, but you cannot defeat him otherwise, because he has gotten it in his mind to keep fighting, whatever happens.

Sunday I had a phone conversation with Cynthia Yockey in which she calmly and cheerfully explained that she was going to get David Letterman fired. Republicans are too willing to take that kind of abuse, Cynthia said, but she comes out of the gay-rights movement, and they don’t roll that way.

We talked a while, but the main thing I took away from the conversation was Cynthia’s determination to fight a one-woman campaign against Letterman. Even if no one else joined her anti-Letterman crusade, she would fight on alone. As long as it takes, whatever it takes, she has envisioned her goal, and intends to achieve it.

Dave has pissed off the wrong lesbian.

The novelist Tito Perdue once said to me, “How many Spartans would it take to bring down America? Ten thousand? One thousand? One?”

What Tito was trying to express was the vast difference between the softness of modern decadence and the adamantine hardness of the ancients. Those Spartans who died at Thermopylae were so much tougher than the average American of 2009, it’s almost like talking about two entirely separate species.

Nevertheless, there are those rare few who emulate the ancient virtues, who accomplish great things not because they are more talented or more intelligent or more fortunate, but simply because they are truly determined and pursue their aims relentlessly.

“One of the basic principles of military strategy is to reinforce success. If you see a man who fights and wins, give him reinforcements, and bid others to emulate his success.”

It was hardly surprising when Cynthia said of Letterman’s latest apology, “Too little, too late.” She intends to make an example of him, so that others may learn from the example.

That is the basic relentlessness necessary to success. She will keep fighting however long it takes, and what Cynthia needs is reinforcements.

UPDATE: CBS has already lost an advertiser and plans a protest rally today at 4 p.m. in New York. (H/T: Frugal Cafe.) And here’s the part where I agree with Dan Collins that Letterman was engaged in “intentionalism” a la Goldstein.

Outrageous over-the-top humor — been there, done that. But I’ve never done it on national TV with a multimillion-dollar contract, eh? And I actually like Dave Letterman.

This isn’t about that. It’s about “don’t f*** with us.”

UPDATE II: Heh. Seems like Instapundit’s down with the Don’t F*** With Us Coalition.

UPDATE III: Let’s get medieval on him!

June 16, 2009

Panetta and Cheney on the spin cycle

by Smitty (h/t Memeorandum)

Stacy suggested a glance at the farce du jour flap between the CIA director, Leon Panetta, and (in)famous former VP, Dick Cheney. Jane Mayer in the New Yorker gives us The Secret History. We are instructed that

Dick Cheney delivered an extraordinary attack on the Obama Administration’s emerging national-security policies. Cheney, speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, accused the new Administration of making “the American people less safe” by banning brutal C.I.A. interrogations of terrorism suspects that had been sanctioned by the Bush Administration. Ruling out such interrogations “is unwise in the extreme,” Cheney charged. “It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness.”

Cut to Panetta’s office:

Panetta, pouring a cup of coffee, responded to Cheney’s speech with surprising candor. “I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue,” he told me. “It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics.”

Let’s put down a few recent historical markers, and then explore the rest of the New Yorker article:

  1. Princess Pelosi famously questioned the veracity of the CIA on 14May.
  2. Cheney’s “extraordinary attack” was delivered on 21May.
  3. Frank Rich stirred the pot in the New York Times on 30May: “Who Is to Blame for the Next Attack?”
    (Um, Mr. Rich, the people who carry out the attack will be the responsible ones. Modern liberals are challenged by the concept of causality.
  4. Mayer’s piece is dated 22June.

Mayer’s article serves as an overview of both the CIA and Panetta’s career, from a modern liberal perspective, and affords a few chuckles.
The strain must be substantial for Panetta:

Since January, the C.I.A. has become the focus of almost daily struggle, as Obama attempts to restore the rule of law in America’s fight against terrorism without sacrificing safety or losing the support of conservative Democratic and independent voters.

Tip for Mr. Panetta: do not confuse leadership with running a popularity contest. If you sacrifice doing what is legal and necessary to do your job in order to curry favor with Jane Mayer, conservative Democratic, or independent voters, then you are a sorry piece of work. For example, consider the non-display of vertebrae in the case of the preceding nominee for CIA director, John Brennan:

…was pressured to withdraw. Critics accused Brennan, who had been a top agency official during the Bush years, of complicity with the torture program. (A friend of Brennan’s from his C.I.A. days complained to me, “After a few Cheeto-eating people in the basement working in their underwear who write blogs voiced objections to Brennan, the Obama Administration pulled his name at the first sign of smoke, and then ruled out a whole class of people: anyone who had been at the agency during the past ten years couldn’t pass the blogger test.”)

One is tempted to speculate on the half-life of a Jane Hamsher confronted with the responsibility of being CIA Director. (A mildly crazy speculation, until you consider occupants of other offices.)

The record of outsiders taking over the C.I.A. is mixed. John McCone, a California shipping magnate who ran the agency in the Kennedy and Johnson years, is often cited as being among the most successful directors; having been trained as a mechanical engineer, he was skilled at assessing threats posed by both conventional and nuclear weapons. But other outsiders have been met with intense hostility. James Schlesinger was named C.I.A. director by President Richard Nixon after heading the Atomic Energy Commission. Given instructions to “get rid of the clowns,” Schlesinger dismissed or forced into retirement more than five hundred analysts and a thousand clandestine officers. He faced death threats, and his tenure lasted six months. In 1995, President Clinton appointed John Deutch, who had previously served at the Pentagon. Deutch tried to improve the oversight of clandestine operatives after evidence surfaced that an agent in Guatemala had covered up two murders. Deutch was reviled by many operatives, and he left the agency after eighteen months.

I honestly don’t know, but I wonder if this corresponds to reductions in HUMINT capabilities that are alluded to in recommendation #31 of the 9/11 Commission. But I don’t wonder too much, as such speculations, they say, lead to ulcers.
Mayer relates a series of accusations of criminal activity (torture, misleading intelligence) as fact. If Mayer’s facts are correct, then the CIA and both the Bush and Obama Administrations stand guilty of felonies and violations of international law for various degrees of complicity. Note to Mayer: confine all negative statements to the Bush Administration–no blue on blue!
Mayer does neglect to mention rendition, which the Obama Administration will employ, just so long as everyone gets cupcakes and stuff. In other words, as with all post-modern conversations, whoever owns the definitions owns the narrative.
The article briefly profiles other senior CIA officials, and delves into the torture memo controversy. Then, details of extraordinary rendition, and psychological torture based upon “learned helplessness”. We are told that

Lawsuits against abusive contractors remain a possibility, and any one of them could expose a line of authorizations leading directly up the chain of command at the C.I.A., and into the Bush White House.

The article is well-written, if skinny on references to heavy accusations. Cheney figures lightly in the introduction to the New Yorker article. CNN nevertheless picked up the ball, and got Panetta to opine through a spokesman that he “does not believe the former Vice President wants an attack,” but rather that Cheney was “expressing his profound disagreement with the assertion that President Obama’s security policies have made our country less safe. Nor did he question anyone’s motives.”
Fox News worked to defuse the situation:

After the CIA director apparently told The New Yorker that he thinks the former vice president is crossing his fingers for another attack on America, Cheney said Monday he hopes his “old friend” didn’t really say those words.

So, what can we learn from this?

  1. Between Jane Mayer and Leon Panetta there has been a communication malfunction.
  2. Communication malfunctions sure do drive news cycles.
  3. Jane Mayer can:
    • Use the word “torture” 33 times in a 7,500 word piece
    • Call the CIA everything but an organization dedicated to defending the country, and
    • Avoid mentioning Princess Pelosi and her accusations of CIA duplicity a single time.

What a piece of work. One is reminded of something Dan Akroyd used to say to another Jane some decades ago.