19 September 2010

Daily Show's "Rally to Restore Sanity"

I'm considering going to this rally. If it's real.

It's close by, on a Saturday, and sounds like fun meeting people whose axes aren't ground so sharp that they can't help but split hairs on every issue!

Besides, we're overdue a couple of hours away from the kids and it's for a good cause!

OK, count us in, but not too late. I've got a lot to do before Monday!

22 June 2010

Is Ron Suskind Ever Wrong?

PBS interview, July 26, 2006:

I've been a reporter for 20 years, and I don't ever get things wrong. That's important in terms of my professional status.
Which Khan?, June 21, 2006
Suskind's information about Khan visiting the United States, and about the CIA being pressed to warn the U.K. about him, is mistaken.
CIA More Fully Denies Deception About Iraq
Ron Suskind's Concoction -- The Way of The World
The Great WMD Conspiracy Theory Unravels

29 May 2010

Honor the Fallen

Remember Me

USASOC, Families honor memory of fallen SOF Soldiers
Army Special Operations honors fallen heroes with new Memorial Wall
Memorial Day: What you can do (CNN)

Memorial Flags at Arlington Cemetery

Soldier's ShrineFm 7-21-13 :: Appendix C :: Section III- Memorial Ceremony

Memorial ceremonies are patriotic tributes to deceased soldiers....

In most cases, the unit prepares a program that may include a biographical summary of the deceased soldier with mention of awards and decorations. The following elements are commonly part of a memorial ceremony:
  • Prelude (often suitable music).
  • Posting of the Colors.
  • National Anthem.
  • Invocation.
  • Memorial Tribute (e.g., remarks by unit commander or a friend of the deceased).
  • Scripture Reading.
  • Hymn or other special music.
  • Meditation (quiet moment for attendees to reflect).
  • Benediction.
  • Last Roll Call. This is a final tribute paid by soldiers to their fallen comrade. It has its origin in the accountability roll call conducted by the unit First Sergeant following combat. Although sometimes painful to listen through, the Last Roll is called with the conviction held by soldiers that all unit members will be accounted for, and none will ever be forgotten.
  • Firing of rifle volleys.
  • Taps.

18 May 2010

There might be signal in the noise ...

If Gwen Ifill interprets Jay Rosen's critique as desiring "more noise, not less; more cacophony and less understanding" I would recommend Ms. Ifill consider James Carey's description of how we should value the press:

Carey thinks we should “value the press in the precise degree that it sustains public life, that it helps keep the conversation going among us.” We should “devalue the press” in the degree that it seeks only to inform us or, worse, “turn us into silent spectators.” [ed: also see The People Formerly Known as the Audience]
I've watched Washington Week and the segments I appreciate the least are the "reasoned, focused, in-depth reporting and analysis" of "the game of professional politics, also called the permanent campaign." I do appreciate reasoned, focused, in-depth reporting and analysis of policy issues and their complexities or ambiguities.
Even if the participants themselves do not frame their activities as a political contest, media figures—the new intermediaries in politics—can show that they are too savvy to be taken in. Unmasking the "real" meaning of events, reporters reveal the attempts of one side or another to gain political advantage over its rivals in the governing process. Translating the campaign "spin" and finding the "hidden agenda" can be Everyman’s badge of political sophistication in the modern media culture.
An Anthology of Journalism's Decline

14 April 2010

Are White House Press Conferences Still Necessary?

Great question at WaPo's Post Politics Hour:

Washington, D.C.: How would you compare President Obama's availability to the press compared with that of his predecessor, George W. Bush?

Anne Kornblut: I don't have the statistics (I'm sure Mark Knoller of CBS does) but Obama feels removed in a way similar to Bush. Obama has done a fair number of one-on-one television interviews, especially when he's had an agenda to push. And I believe he's done more press conferences, and had in reporters for off-the-record sessions. But Bush seemed to enjoy talking to reporters more, off the record, anyway. Or maybe he just faked it better.
Ties in nicely with Reporters reach new levels of frustration with Obama White House.

I have a question: Is this is a classic example of the news media acting as a special interest? For more background of the news media as a special interest, I recommend reading Governing with the news: the news media as a political institution, by Timothy E. Cook:
Thus, the news media may be a political institution, but more like the intermediary institutions of party and interest group than the three constitutional branches of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Yet there is one key distinction between the news media on one hand and the party and interest group on the other: the latter are formed and maintained for the strategic collective pursuit of openly and specifically political aims. The news media (at least since the demise of the partisan press in the nineteenth century) are not. In comparison with the explicit politics of party and interest groups, the news media's politics, power, and impact may well be implicit and hidden, even (or especially) from its own practitioners.
The page for this quote is embedded below:

For the record, Obama's last press conference (primetime live!) was July 22, 2009. It has been 267 days (or 8 months, 24 days) since then. I think the televised-live primetime Presidential press conference has jumped the shark. I haven't missed it. On July 24, 2009, a Rasmussen poll showed 40% Say Obama Has Too Many Press Conferences, 47% Say Number Is Right. Have you seen a recent poll showing the public clamoring for more live primetime Presidential press conferences? I couldn't find any. Is the White House press corps representing the public's level of frustration, or their own? If they are not frustrated on behalf of the public, are they frustrated for other reasons? The health of democracy and (eat your vegetables) public good? Preserving their own occupational rituals and traditions? According to CBS's Mark Knoller, Obama's First Year: By the Numbers
• Of which 5 were formal, solo White House Q&A sessions. Four were in prime time. His last one was July 22, 2009.
• Nearly all of the other press availabilities were joint appearances with foreign leaders at which as few as 1 question was taken by Mr. Obama.
• Predecessor George W. Bush did 21 news conferences his first year of which 4 were formal, solo White House sessions. Only 1 was in prime time.
Two months ago, Obama answers questions submitted on YouTube
President Obama continued efforts to open himself to direct scrutiny from his critics on Monday, sitting for a half-hour of questions submitted to YouTube during his State of the Union address last week.

The online news conference of sorts follows the president's 90-minute Q&A with Republican House members at their retreat last week, which was broadcast live on cable outlets. Both were examples of the White House attempting to demonstrate Obama's willingness to listen to voices outside his party after last month's Democratic loss in the Massachusetts Senate race.
So, what's the problem? Why do we need a 90 minute, primetime-live!, press conference with President Obama? Does this ring true to you?
It’s certainly pretty unarguable that reporters often — even usually — do not get frank or revealing answers to questions at White House pressers, or any press conferences for that matter. Obviously, you still have to ask the question — but for an actual journalist, the question is just the beginning, even when it’s not answered. Even more so if it’s not answered. What Milbank seems to be telling us, though, is that he entirely expects not to get an answer. But that’s okay, because what really matters is asking the question. He doesn’t say, “Not surprising. But it’s still important that the questions are asked, and asked again, and again, and again, until they are answered.” His job is done once the question is asked, no matter what the answer is, or whether there even is an answer.
My initial reaction, when the press complains about not being able to ask the President questions, is "Why waste his time, your time, and most importantly, my time?" If President Obama doesn't want to grant access to the press, get out of the White House. Cover the White House from the outside instead of being insiders. Skip the background briefings. Why is "embedded journalism" controversial unless it is being conducted within the White House?

Press airs grievances to Gibbs
Ed Chen, a White House correspondent for Bloomberg News who is president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said he asked for the meeting “to clear the air because in my 10-plus years at the White House, rarely have I sensed such a level of anger, which is wide and deep, among members over White House practices and attitude toward the press.”

30 March 2010

Information Assurance as a Service and Abstracting Complexity "Away"

The State of the Internet Operating System

We are once again approaching the point at which the Faustian bargain will be made: simply use our facilities, and the complexity will go away. And much as happened during the 1980s, there is more than one company making that promise. We're entering a modern version of "the Great Game", the rivalry to control the narrow passes to the promised future of computing.
In the world of Information Assurance, there is a strong desire from application and service developers to "abstract away" the complexities of security. Think of this in terms of Security-as-a-Service or an Information Assurance Framework in the cloud. This can be accomplished for difficult security functions, such as handling X.509 certificates using Server-based Certificate Validation Protocol (SCVP) and PKI Resource Query Protocol (PRQP). The complexity is "removed" from the relying party to the trusted Validation Authority. Given the difficulty and risk associated with different certificate validation implementations by relying parties (some implemented more securely than others), this abstraction of complexity "away" from relying parties to a trusted Validation Authority run by an "expert" has advantages. The security experts create and control the security context in which applications will work.

It also means that the relying parties have made a "Faustian bargain" with the security experts that take "on the pain of managing complexity" and end up "with a powerful lock-in."

11 March 2010

The Next "Credit Crisis"

Preliminary Analysis of the President’s Budget

Under the President’s budget, the cumulative deficit over the 2011–2020 period would equal $9.8 trillion (5.2 percent of GDP), $3.8 trillion more than the cumulative deficit projected in the baseline.
Budget Deficits for Dummies
Deficit Schmeficit ...
Crunching Numbers with Different Results

06 February 2010

Mocking the Punditsphere

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Blogs Must Be Crazy
Daily Show
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Political HumorHealth Care Crisis
I'm shocked, SHOCKED!, to learn the punditblogs use over-the-top rhetoric when describing the pundustry (or punditsphere). Thank goodness Stewart has rounded up the usual suspects!

03 January 2010

Predictive Intelligence

The Fortune-Teller's Credibility


Iraq's a lost cause? Ask the real experts

When it comes to the future of Iraq, there is a deep disconnect between those who have firsthand knowledge of the situation—Iraqis and U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq—and those whose impressions are shaped by doomsday press coverage and the imperatives of domestic politics.

Is Iraq a Lost Cause?
Allow me to juxtapose the doom and gloom assessment of the New York Times with a different perspective.
The Arithmetic Of Failure
Iraq is a lost cause. It's just a matter of arithmetic: given the violence of the environment, with ethnic groups and rival militias at each other's throats, American forces there are large enough to suffer terrible losses, but far too small to stabilize the country.

The Chris Matthews Show
May 13, 2007
Ms. TUCKER: Chris, look for a revolt from active duty generals if September rolls around and the president is sticking with this surge into '08. We've already heard from retired generals, but my Atlanta Journal-Constitution colleague Jay Bookman has lots of sources among currently serving military officers who don't want to fall by the wayside like the generals in Vietnam did, kept pushing a war that they knew was lost.

MATTHEWS: So on duty, in uniform, they will criticize?

Ms. TUCKER: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Whoa, that's something.
The Road Home
It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.

Meanwhile, Back In Iraq

Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer awarded $75,000 to investigate media’s role in war