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Recommended Reading

A long, hot, afternoon doing family-type activities at a suburban “Fest” until the tempers of all were frayed. Here’s the recommended reading:

Top Billing!:  Lexington Green“Let the media do the dirty work.”

Great call out  by Lex ! While part of me is aghast at McCain’s Veep choice on the same substantive grounds that cause me to argue that Barack Obama is, aside from being a leftist ideologue, totally unqualified to be President, I have to acknowledge that in terms of pure politics, picking Palin was a brilliant move. The reactive frenzy occurring on the Left over Gov. Palin is one of pure, running in circles, panic. So much so that the Lefty bloggers are already libeling Palin’s children – sad, despicable and more than a little sick.

Catholicgauze – “Georgia-Russia War in Cartoon Maps

Cool examples of retro propaganda visuals.

Coming Anarchy  The Russian Gauntlet is Thrown DownTo Punish or rehabilitate Russia?, Contemplating Georgia, Part 4, Contemplating Georgia, Part 3, Contemplating Georgia, Part 2, Contemplating Georgia, Part I.

A fine series and related posts on the wider geopolitical implications of the Russo-Georgian War by the gents at Coming Anarchy.

Ideas  – “Who is Against Evolution?”

Libertarian economist David Friedman points out that accepting Darwinian evolution squares poorly with dogmatic acceptance of PC beliefs.

Thomas P.M. Barnett Still deeply but closely divided

Swedish Meatballs ConfidentialBrewskies for a Georgia Downed

Secrecy NewsAnxious Governments React to Google Earth

Russia BlogRussia and the West Are Entering the Danger Zone

Wolf Pangloss –  Appreciating Solzhenitsyn: The 1978 Harvard Graduation Speech

Registan (Foust) – Coming Clean with Imperfect Information

An IO post using often bitterly disputed Afghan casualty figures as a crux of the discussiuon. At times, Josh has been known to rattle cages but the discussion he raises here is an important one to be considered. How should USG spokesmen handle such questions that are rife with uncertainty yet demand fast response and protection of credibility ? Speed, accuracy, message  shaping, credibility and OpSec are variables at odds with one another.

That’s it!

11 Responses to “Recommended Reading”

  1. Younghusband Says:

    Re: the Friedman piece. 1) his conception of the Left-Right dichotomy is way to strong. 2) I think he is correct in attributing the notion of evolutionary equality to leftish ideas, however the argument that the left is against evolution is weak. I think there is a wider problem: most regular people do not understand the implications of evolution. That is why Richard Dawkins’s job exists. Furthermore, something like 70-80 percent of Americans identify themselves with Christianity. That means Christians are both on the so-called Right and the Left. As Friedman himself points out evolution "undercuts religious belief by eliminating the strongest argument for the existence of God."  This is an educational problem, not a political ideology problem.

  2. Younghusband Says:

    Oh, I forgot to talk about Palin. I think this was a hamfisted choice by McCain. 1) choosing a woman to try and capture the HillDog vote is such transparent electioneering it has many on the web laughing. I was disappointed in this lame tactic. 2) the fact that she is socially conservative (creationist, anti-abortionist NRA member) shows that McCain is trying to pander too much to the Christian vote, which goes against his character and disappoints me even more. If the thing about her kids is true it shows she is a hypocrite, and not someone I would want taking over the reigns if/when McCain dies.Lieberman would have been a much better choice IMHO:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/us/politics/31reconstruct.html?_r=3&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

  3. Mithras Says:

    Barack Obama is, aside from being a leftist ideologue, totally unqualified to be President

    I think we’re stretching the definition of "leftist ideologue" if it includes a man whose economic policy is to the right of Nixon.  And if he’s "totally unqualified", then was W. some negative value of qualified when he ran in 2000?

    [P]icking Palin was a brilliant move. The reactive frenzy occurring on the Left over Gov. Palin is one of pure, running in circles, panic.

    Pure, doubled-over, laughter.

    [T]he Lefty bloggers are already libeling Palin’s children – sad, despicable and more than a little sick.

    You need more data than a single diarist on Kos to lump together "the Lefty bloggers".  Also, hello? Granite countertops? If you don’t catch the reference, then I suggest this isn’t a topic you should be visiting.

  4. Lexington Green Says:

    Thanks, Mark. 
    American politics is always the best game in town, and never boring.   It is major league sports — except with consequences.
    And  as nutty as our system is, it sure beats having the Praetorian Guard picking the emperor, to just select one alternative model … .

  5. patrick Says:

    It’s not just a single Kos diarist; it’s a good chunk of the lefty hack bloggers (including some big names) spreading this smear.  It started more or less the same way as the Obama/Muslim smear but it spread a hell of a lot faster.
    I’m with Barnett on Obama’s foreign policy approach, and I’m not sure that I would call Obama a "leftist ideologue." Likewise, I would not call McCain a "right-wing ideologue", but some of his advisors likely qualify (e.g. Phil Gramm,  Randy Scheunemann) and his VP pick may as well. On the other hand, Obama has ties to people in Chicago (not to mention plenty of supporters in the blogosphere) who more than merit the label of "leftist ideologue."
    I agree with Mark that Obama’s qualifications are pretty thin, but Mithras is right to point out that people with similar qualifications have been elected before (like 8 years ago). Hopefully if Obama wins, his presidency will turn out better than his predecessor’s.

  6. Younghusband Says:

    I made a comment about Palin right after my first comment which still hasn’t appeared. It had a link in it so I assume it is being held for moderation. Basically it was in agreement with Mithras. I thought the Palin pick was hamfisted, transparent electioneering that will backfire. It disappointed me and the Democratic blogosphere is laughing. Furthermore, selecting Palin based on social conservative street-cred just shows how much McCain is moving away from his roots — even more disappointing. Palin’s kid problems, if they are true, are damning. When/If McCain dies while president this inexperienced liar will take the throne. That is the most disappointing at all.is dubious considering the 

  7. zen Says:

    Hi All,
    YH – you weren’t held for moderation – for some reason, your comment was caught by the Akismet spam filter. I’ve restored it.
    I disagree, while Palin is unqualified I don’t think she’s stupid nor do I buy the " just a hockey mom" shtick.  Evidently, she got the better of several much more experienced politicians, including her predecessor and Sen. Ted Stevens in intraparty disputes. I’m not really bothered by leftists laughing – they laughed at Reagan, who then got the better of them ( by Tip O’Neil’s own admission) on most bills that went through Congress and three general elections if you count Bush, sr. for running as Reagan’s heir in 1988. They laughed at Eisenhower as well who actually ran the government with an iron fist behind a genial facade of a befuddled grandfather. It was the intellectual Adlai  back then who was the one without a clue. Palin was picked, IMHO, for her lack of targetable record and to throw off the Obama state by state electoral strategy which was predicated on running against two old white dudes.
    No, what bothers me is that having good political instincts or skills, which I think Palin probably has beneath the public persona she’s created ain’t enough when you are president. McCain could die in office.

  8. Joshua Foust Says:

    Hey Zen, Thanks. How about some more cage-rattling? Palin actually never opposed Ted Stevens.  She used to <a href="http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/09/01/palin_was_a_director_of_embatt.html#more">direct</a&gt; his personal 527 group, and she really <a href="http://www.adn.com/news/politics/story/478749.html">had a hard time thinking</a> him so worthy of corruption charges.

    I’m jus’ sayin’. Moving on, aside from the gratuitous digs Dave Dilegge has thrown at my site, I’m baffled the SWJ/COIN crowd isn’t looking at the problem of Info Ops more seriously. Right now, even assuming every high-civilian casualty claim is the result of Taliban propaganda or pressure, we’re losing that battle as more and more news agencies quote sobbing mothers to claim these numbers of dead.

    That isn’t to say that the U.S. is either innocent or guilty—frankly, we don’t know. But they’ve treated the phenomenon with a weirdly casual attitude (look at often we just happen to <a href="http://www.moonofalabama.org/2008/08/around-the-hind.html">kill 30 Taliban</a>), and the result, after all the repeated promises of  investigations, prevarications, and depressingly often, retractions, is that the U.S. has almost nil credibility in the outside world when discussing its own operations.

    From where I sit, this is a critical failing at the very heart of why we’re slowly losing the hearts and minds battle in Afghanistan. Yet it gets almost no attention. Frustrating.

  9. zen Says:

    Hi Josh,
    Will follow up on Ted Stevens issue – I’ve read that there is bad blood between him and Palin but I will re-check.
    Re: IO/Afghanistan/SWJ
    First, I’ve met Dave, he’s a great guy IMHO and has done a yeoman service  with Bill Nagl in establishing the SWJ. I cannot speak for him or SWJ and I have not followed the back and forth between Registan and SWJ on Afghan casualties in minute detail.  I agree with you that this isue is important and I’m not  surprised that CENTCOM shares the generally schizophrenic approach of the USG toward IO/public diplomacy (my personal and very limited experience with CENTCOM is that their info tends to be rushed out before the whole story is confirmed). But to hazard a guess, on the specific case of SWJ, you favor a style of writing that tends to sting your target and while that can be satisfying and garners attention, it raises the bar in terms getting a constructive dialogue going.   A shame, as Registan is an excellent SME blog as SWJ is an excellent COIN practitioner blog and having content and tacit information flowing back and forth between the two would probably be both productive and useful in this area, given the number of VIPs who are readers.
    More generally, on SWJ and IO:  of the ppl who are regulars at the SWC board, only a small minority are well qualified to speak to IO/Psyops and some of them on active duty or expecting to be in that theater may or may not feel constrained as to what ought to be said there as opposed behind a .mil firewall. For the rest, IO is a sideshow or peripheral to their main interests because there is no bureaucratic "owner" of these activities ( a reason they are "casually weird" and erratic). Matt Armstrong and the gents over at Swedish Meatballs Confidential could probably add quite a list of additional reasons why. As could Whirledview.  Certainly moreso than can I.
    Regardless of the reasons, a better policy on IO/public diplomacy and from that, consistent execution, is something years and years overdue.

  10. Joshua Foust Says:

    Zen, Dilegge is angry that I spent time noting how SWJ pushed an early story of the incident at Shindand quoting only official sources, but did not note any of the follow-up investigations that indicated the first official version of what happened might be wrong. He is also mad I noted him in a long list of other blogs when I was discussing the performance of "big blogs" during the initial phase of the Russo-Georgia War. By his estimation, that means I "love to hate" SWJ, when I really just wish they’d allow other views to enter their analysis.
    Honestly, I’m not sure why he got so angry, as I’ve not made any of my criticisms of his site’s content personal (though I don’t shy away from calling outright distortions or bad analysis exactly what they are). My opinion is, he, and they, all need a thicker skin.
    Onto the broader topic of IO, I eagerly read Armstrong’s work, though I sometimes wish he’d talk more specifically about the current micro-challenges we face on that front (like the growing issue of competing claims of civilian casualties in Afghanistan), rather than theoretical arguments about the value of Smith-Mundt. Then again, he is but one man. The area of IO/PD is in desperate need of more work, more analysis, and much more policy deliberation. I’m glad you share my frustration with our lack of progress on this front.

  11. eddie Says:

    The fact McCain did not vet her competently bodes ill for her. The sheer number of embarrassing details being revealed about her tenure as Mayor and governor (along with apparently being a member of a secessionist party & taping a congratulatory message to them as Governor years later) is very enlightening as to how quickly myths can be deconstructed in politics. (most interesting by the way is the McCain camp’s stupidity in denying charges and then being refuted… as when they claimed she was always against the bridge to nowhere only to be proven wrong less than a day later… the press feels lied to and now smells blood in the water)
    We know a lot of things about her political skill… now we’re learning about that other side. As long as Biden does not act condescending to her at the VP debate, I see her doing but energizing the base in a way that makes the election much closer.
    If they find video or audio of McCain promising to pick a VP that has great experience and is ready from Day 1 (as he was known to answer questions about his age at town hall meetings), this could get even better.
    That the GOP has joined the identity politics crowd is sickening.

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