Friday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. A new blog, focused on science and religion.
  2. Wind, waves, or the failed pumps.
  3. Mr Obama’s statements on energy.
  4. Beauty and image.
  5. You could add to that the surprising coincidence that press based polls always show the race tightening as the election nears. Amazing how that coincides with their professional interests.
  6. Well, saying such against Serbians is the approved EU bigotry after all.
  7. Not. Top. Down.
  8. 240mm is big.
  9. Our unbiased media … or perhaps … perhaps they are biased after all.
  10. Of Mr Obama and the financial crises.
  11. Church and state in Poland.

10 Responses to Friday Highlights

  1. 5.You could add to that the surprising coincidence that press based polls always show the race tightening as the election nears. Amazing how that coincides with their professional interests.

    A slightly more innocent thing to consider, when asking people whether or not they are ‘likely voters’, responses right before an election are likely more reliable than earlier.

    In terms of ‘interests’ though, consider that something like 1 out of 5 TV ad dollars are political in swing states. A close race is a huge money maker for the media and for the career interests of reporters.

  2. 11.Church and state in Poland.

    I think this does merit a rethinking of your claim that the protests about the anti-Muslim film was just mere ‘pretext’. The US view of free speech which we can term the ‘ACLU Theory of Free Speech’ is NOT the norm in the Western world. In fact, it hasn’t even been the norm for much of US history. I think to many of the protestors, they grew up in a world where direct, mocking attacks, on an established religion is little different from an actual physical attack on a church and it is difficult to understand the mindset that says on one hand they feel such attacks are bad form but at the same time should be given ample protection as free expression.

  3. 9.Our unbiased media … or perhaps … perhaps they are biased after all.

    Where to begin? That’s not a question for me but for you (you meaning the critics). Huffing and puffing but nothing of substance.

    First, Fox News is, sadly, part of the MSM.

    Second, if Fox did obtain a classified document, what does that have to do with media bias? Clearly obtaining a classified document is a news scoop leaving everyone else out in the cold.

    Third, just like the nonesense over ‘act of terror’ versus ‘terrorist attack’, the substance of what’s quoted in the cable doesn’t contradict anything stated publically. A cable saying security at the consulate couldn’t withstand a coordinated attack is not the same thing as a warning that an attack was pending. Sorry, it doesn’t. I’ll say right now my local town hall couldn’t withstand a coordinated attack, but if tomorrow some terrorist group does attack it you can’t cite this post as a ‘warning’ that an attack was about to happen.

    Fourth, the story makes the claim that this cable demonstrates that either President Obama or Sec of State Hillary Clinton ‘knew’ an attack was coming, yet nothing in the details supports this. YOu have a cable to the RSO (Regional Security Officer), yet the RSO is not sometype of direct line to President Obama or even the Sec. of State (see a description at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_Security_Officer).

    (And the usual lies…such as the false claim that Obama ever blamed the Libya attack on the video)

    The fact is it simply is not plausible to believe that increased security requests are b-lined up to the top of the chain and either Obama or Clinton inexplicably said ‘no’. With that line of partisan attack defeated, the more reasonable question is was the request treated correctly or not?

    To make that assessment one has to ask how many such requests are made, what type of logic is put into allocating security resources etc. Let’s use a simple model. Suppose you have 100 consulates and 200 units of security. One way to allocate might be to give each one 2. But that may be short sighted. The embassy in Canada may not need 2 while the one in Iraq may need more than 2. Let’s say you’re a terrorist group with 3 units. To ‘win’ in an attack at an embassy, you need simply to attack it with more unites than have been allocated to defend it.

    One insight that jumps out here is with 200 units to allocate over 100 consulates, you can’t simply gaurantee every consulate will be safe. You have to be able to guess which one(s) will get attacked and make sure those have more than 3 units there to defend them…which will leave other consulates with less than 3 units and vulnerable if you guess wrong. Here Biden’s criticism seems more apt., cutting the budget for embassy security is likely more at fault. For a rich country the best thing to do is simply fund 400 units of security and make sure every consulate has 4 making it impossible for terrorists to win anywhere unless they increase their units from 3 to 5.

    This model, BTW, is also known as the Colonal Blotto game. While it has some gross simplifications….for example it’s not like dozens of Libyan fighters with RPGs can quickly board a plane and fly to Canada and attack the consulate there but it does capture the essence of the problem. In asymetetrical conflict, an inferior size force can increase the opportunities for victory by increasing the # of fronts, or potential fronts. The # of potential fronts may not simply be consulates but any target in the region…..for example visiting VIPs, major Western corporations and their operations, tourist attractions (such as Egypt’s resorts) and so on.

  4. Boonton,

    In terms of ‘interests’ though, consider that something like 1 out of 5 TV ad dollars are political in swing states. A close race is a huge money maker for the media and for the career interests of reporters.

    I think that’s what I said, i.e., the it is in the media/press’s interest to have a close race. But your right, I didn’t connect the ad sales … and was thinking more of media interest … but yes, a close race sells papers and ads. Follow the money.

    Do you think the election will be close tomorrow?

  5. Boonton,

    First, Fox News is, sadly, part of the MSM.

    Yes. And as Tim Groseclose pointed out in his book when you separate Fox News reporting from Fox News commentary their reporting is slightly left of center, but far less biased than the MSM outlets. Just as the WSJ reporting even further left (while their commentary are not).

    Second, if Fox did obtain a classified document, what does that have to do with media bias? Clearly obtaining a classified document is a news scoop leaving everyone else out in the cold.

    Odd then that these sorts of news scoops only occur on not-so-far-left sources.

    Third, just like the nonesense over ‘act of terror’ versus ‘terrorist attack’, the substance of what’s quoted in the cable doesn’t contradict anything stated publically.

    This isn’t the point. In the “act of terror” speech by Mr Obama in the following paragraph he then went on to cite outrage and the need for the West to keep their insults, a reference to the mythical video as-cause-of outrage. He wasn’t pointing this as a act of terror he was covering his bases. I suggest that he knew it was an act of terror, and that the White House had shut down attempts to rescue which wouldn’t play well. So he started then and there the shift that the rest of the WH followed in the following week and emphasized the lie, that this was spurred on by riots and outrage and not a deliberate attack.

    You pretend that Libya is just an ordinary place and that security requests should/would be treated normally. That’s strange seeing that this country had a recent coup that the US was involved in. Would that not be expected to be treated with more attention than a security request from the US Lativan embassy? You’d think so. In fact, if this was a GOP President, you’d be shouting that oversight from the rooftops.

    The other problem is that it looks increasingly likely that the only authority high enough to nix requests for offering assistance was the White House. I think the spin/lies/deceptions involved in not taking responsibility for that is the biggest ethical lapse in this affair that should be laid at the feet of Mr Obama.

  6. Boonton,
    Other way round. A tighter church/state coupling means what looks like a religious protest is more, not less, likely to be grounded in local political not religious concerns, which is my claim.

  7. Yes. And as Tim Groseclose pointed out in his book when you separate Fox News reporting from Fox News commentary their reporting is slightly left of center, …

    IMO bias has so many possible definitions you can design a metric to measure it to produce just about anything you want.

    Odd then that these sorts of news scoops only occur on not-so-far-left sources.

    All news scoops have been in favor of the left POV until this one? You seem to ‘forget’ scoops like the NY Times getting info on Elliot Spitzer that revealed he was spending huge sums of money on high priced escorts bringing down his NY Governorship.

    In terms of a scoop that leaks classified or confidential info, I don’t think any reporters actually break into office buildings to copy papers in the middle of the night. Leaks either come from people inside the gov’t who want to leak something or come from a reporter’s ability to cultivate relationships with sources who will leak to them. In the latter case I think personal career motive trumps ideology. A reporter who develops a reputation for being able to break stories that others can’t becomes a valuable commodity. It seems like a pretty selfless possibility that he is going to sit on valuable leaks when they harm the liberal side and wait around for leaks that help his side.

    This isn’t the point. In the “act of terror” speech by Mr Obama in the following paragraph he then went on to cite outrage and the need for the West to keep their insults, a reference to the mythical video as-cause-of outrage.

    http://www.forextv.com/forex-news-story/full-transcript-of-obama-s-rose-garden-speech-after-sept-11-benghazi-attack

    No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.

    But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers. These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity. They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.

    We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.

    Thank you. May God bless the memory of those we lost and may God bless the United States of America.

    Good try but not quite. You may be thinking of another paragraph buried much earlier on in the speech, but not at the beginning where you’d usually put your rhetorical focal points:

    Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

    Only problem with your argument is:

    1. Nothing about the video is cited here.
    2. While one might assume the video might have motivated the killers, Al Qaeda is on record fighting a war of explicit religious intolerance against the US and their stated tactic is to try to use terror attacks to provoke a religious war between the West and Islamic states…presumably so Muslims could unite under a common banner. Al Qaeda rejects the Western consensus for religious tolerance after centuries of Catholic-Protestant and Protestant-Protestant fighting and oppression.

    You pretend that Libya is just an ordinary place and that security requests should/would be treated normally.

    The Blotto model applies even if you limit your range to just Libya. OK you have 200 units of security, the most threatening terrorist group likely has no more than 3. The rule is an attack is won by whatever side has the most units in that particular front or place. Are you saying this was our only front in Libya? There were no other viable terrorist targets? Unlikely since we know a CIA safehouse also came under attack that night so we have multiple sensitive points in Libya and that number expands when you consider allies like the UK, Italy, and France probably also have consulates, embassies, and other sensitive points.

    Would that not be expected to be treated with more attention than a security request from the US Lativan embassy?

    Do you have evidence that the Lativan embassy requested extra security and was quickly approved? Again one must ask how was security allocated among all points of interest, how was the set of all security requests addressed.

    The other problem is that it looks increasingly likely that the only authority high enough to nix requests for offering assistance was the White House

    Except you forgot there was no actual ‘nix’. It’s increasingly likely that a request was made to the Regional Security Officer who balanced that among many requests and either said no or didn’t act on it. It’s *highly unlikley* that everyone in the chain said ‘yes give Libya more security officers’ and from on high Obama or Clinton swooped in to personally micromanage the allocation of dozens of people in a force of thousands or tens of thousands.

    If that’s your case then the memo you need to find is not someone requesting (actually it’s not even a request but a statement) more security, and the Regional Security Officer saying yes and then getting word from Clinton or Obama reversing that decision.

    Other way round. A tighter church/state coupling means what looks like a religious protest is more, not less, likely to be grounded in local political not religious concerns, which is my claim.

    And what does the church get from a tighter church/state coupling? Well in Russia the Orthodox Church gets a license system where other churches have to get licenses from the gov’t and foreign non-Orthodox churches get lots of limitations put on their activities. It also seems to get some ability to limit free speech when its criticism of their religion (i.e. screaming at a concert ‘the Bible is full of lies’ can get you prosecuted but a priest who asserts ‘secular humanism is a church of lies’ isn’t subject to criminal prosecution).

  8. 10.Of Mr Obama and the financial crises.

    The post is about the stimulus bill. The financial crises was TARP and that was under Bush. Nothing really of substance in the post anyway.

    Do you think the election will be close tomorrow?

    Popular vote yes, electorial vote less so. I’ll say Obama will win the popular vote by more than 0.5% but not more than 1.0%.

  9. Boonton,

    IMO bias has so many possible definitions you can design a metric to measure it to produce just about anything you want.

    Yes. But … it’s almost impossible to conceive of a metric in which today’s media isn’t clearly biased … and that is why Mr Groseclose spends a considerable amount of time discussing and quantifying what he means by bias and how he measures it.

    Interesting, that’s not the speech you linked the last time. Odd that.

    Are you saying this was our only front in Libya?

    Googling, We had a liason office in Tripoli and a consulate in Benghazi. It’s unclear why reports of increasing security risks for months would be ignored.

    Do you have evidence that the Lativan embassy requested extra security and was quickly approved?

    Don’t be silly. The point is that unlike the rest of the world, Libya was recently destabilized and had a revolution/coup. Security requests from places that have had little upheaval might be treated differently than those without. That is not exactly relevant. The point is that there were warnings, but hindsight is 20/20. The scandal isn’t the mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. The scandal is the cover-up and deflection.

    Except you forgot there was no actual ‘nix’.

    The request reached the CIA. The CIA denied vetoeing it. Who’s left? What? Do you need evidence of the denial to realize it happened? You wouldn’t if Bush was President. This isn’t a “more security officers” request that was denied. It was a request to shoot mortar teams and act to support those being attacked during the attack. That request was denied at the highest levels. Nobody in the mainstream press is asking why. Odd that.

    And what does the church get from a tighter church/state coupling?

    It’s not clear a tighter coupling is the choice of or benefits the churches. That isn’t the point. The point is you logic is backwards. What you (based on your perceptions of loose church/state coupling) is a religious protest is just a movement for local political support, which to you looks like religious “outrage.” Demonize the outsider (be it US or a Jew) is a long standing tactic. Apparently you have selective memory of such things.

  10. Yes. But … it’s almost impossible to conceive of a metric in which today’s media isn’t clearly biased

    Really? Hows that?

    Interesting, that’s not the speech you linked the last time. Odd that.

    I googled Rosegarden transcript on Libya. Was there more than one? The transcript was dated 9/12 so it was almost certainly the first official statement by the President after the incident.

    Googling, We had a liason office in Tripoli and a consulate in Benghazi.

    And a CIA Safehouse also, and that means we probably have multiple CIA Safehouses but don’t expect google to give you an easy list of all of them. And the question isn’t how many diplomatic offices we have in Libya but how many ‘fronts’. A terrorist organization would likely consider the consulates of allies to be valid targets, the places where VIPs are staying, even headquarters of international institutions and any large international corporations in Libya. So it’s not just two places in Libya to worry about.

    And it’s not just Libya. There was an attempted attack on the Egyptian embassy (granted that might have been more of a riot action but same problem) and in Pakistan Embassy row would have been attacked by rioters if the Pakistani military didn’t keep them out of it.

    It’s unclear why reports of increasing security risks for months would be ignored.

    Now you’re changing your charge, you alleged that a request for increased security wasn’t ignored, it was rejected and only the President or the Sec. of State could reject it. Yet even the memo your source is citing isn’t actually making a clear request for additional security!

    The point is that there were warnings, but hindsight is 20/20. The scandal isn’t the mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. The scandal is the cover-up and deflection.

    And yet you can’t articulate what was covered up or deflected. Don’t feel bad, your standard bearer seems to have the same problem.

    The request reached the CIA. The CIA denied vetoeing it. Who’s left? What? Do you need evidence of the denial to realize it happened?

    1. You haven’t produced evidence of a request. Writing a memo saying “this facility can’t handle a coordinated attack” is not a request. It’s a passive statement written with the intention that it might provoke some higher up person to request additional resources.

    2. Requests have to be approved, they don’t have to be vetoed. A request (or in this case suggestion) can be made and sit forever in beaurcratic limbo. Since no one actually said directly “no I’m not allocating more resources to you, I think I need them elsewhere” then everyone can honestly deny vetoeing it. Long story short the problem with your latest version of this case is you’re asking who made a veto when you haven’t been able to locate any evidence that a veto even existed!

    It was a request to shoot mortar teams and act to support those being attacked during the attack.

    Now you must be talking about something else besides the memo you linked too….since I doubt someone is going to write a long memo about their facility being unable to withstand a coordinated attack *during a freaking attack*! They are more likely going to scream ‘sos we are under attack!”. From the report the attack was over quickly with the building burned to the ground and the ambassadore carried to a hospital by a sympathetic group of Libyans. A modest sized building would not stand long against a coordinated attack with RPGs. At that point it was unlikely the carrier hundreds of miles away had the time to assemble a team let alone put a request for authorization thru to Washington.

    It’s not clear a tighter coupling is the choice of or benefits the churches.

    The Russian Orthodox Church, I understand has been around for some time…even longer than Microsoft! They no doubt embrace tighter coupling with the gov’t because it is to their advantage (and Putin, no doubt, receives something in exchange)

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