Saturday, November 08, 2008

Life Imitates South Park: British journalist covering Obama caught on camera in drunk, plagiarism rant

Adam Smith, of Birmingham Mail, is YouTube sensation after drunken 'F*ck you' resignation and admitting to copying BBC

Life does indeed imitate South Park.

Turns out you don't have to "go on down to South Park" to see somebody so emboldened by the Obama victory that he tells his boss F**k You!!!

Here's a short video clip from the hilarious post-election episode of South Park, "About Last Night." Obama's victory, mixed with beer, proves enough for Stan's father to muster the audacity needed to curse his boss. [Warning: F-word.]

Meanwhile, the UK TimesOnline reports how Birmingham Mail writer Adam Smith (a/k/a Steve Zacharanda) was captured in a YouTube video outside an Obama victory party (embed video @ 2:50/3:47).

Sometimes, you wake up following a drunken night out and realise you have sent an inappropriate text to an ex-girlfriend or your boss.

And sometimes you realise you have drunkenly admitted to plagiarism to camera, and spectacularly resigned from your job, shouting "F**k you' to your boss.

This is what happened to Birmingham Mail reporter Adam Smith on Wednesday morning, as footage appeared on YouTube of him writing a report on the US election, slumped on a Miami pavement, and barely able to speak.
Must be all that "change" in the air!

UPDATE: Great observation by The Tensor in the comments at ALTHOUSE.

The Tensor said...

My favorite part of the video, hands down (starts at about 1:37)

Q: So what do you think about the election Tuesday, about Obama?

A: I think it's brilliant, because...[five second hazy drunken pause]

A: ...I've met so many women over here and it's brilliant. I am a hard news journalist...

In vino veritas.

8:30 PM

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Coffee Cups and Double Standards

Sarah Palin points out that Starbucks considered it politically correct to put a wrathful quote on a coffee cup because it was said by a prominent liberal Democrat.

They're all atwitter on the left over at the Huffington Post. Sarah Palin received the personal endorsement Shelly Mandell, the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the N.O.W., at large rally in Carson, California.

The left's critique: in accepting the endorsement, Palin recounted "The Quote of the Day" from Madaline Albright that appeared on a Starbucks coffee cup the day before. Palin read it as "There's a place in hell reserved for women who don't support other women."

As it turns out, "The Way I See It #287" quote on the back of the Starbucks cup was "There's a special place in hell reserved for women who don't help other women."

Whether the word "support," as opposed to "help," significantly implies political adherence, as some commentators suggest, I'll leave to the reader. Likewise with respect to Albright's Church Lady-like use of the word "special" to describe a place in Hell.

As Palin said immediately afterward:
Okay, now thank you so much for receiving that well. I didn't know how that was gonna go over. And now, California, let's see what a comment like I just made, how that is turned into whatever it'll be turned into tomorrow in the newspaper.
Lost on the left, however, is the curious double standard and the humorous way Palin was pointing it out. Here was Albright, the highest ranking woman ever in a Democrat administration, being celebrated by Starbucks for invoking more religious fervor and vengeance to support her own version of feminism than Palin has ever mustered on any issue herself. Starbucks considered it politically correct to put Albright's wrathful quote on a coffee cup because it was said by a prominent liberal Democrat

As Palin said, "let's see what a comment like I just made, how that is turned into whatever it'll be turned into tomorrow in the newspaper."

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Best Defense is a Good... Offense?

Predictably, if not logically, Andrew Sullivan left out the other possibility: that our good "offense" got a lot better.

There are logically two - not necessarily exclusive - possibilities: our defense has been getting much better; their offense was over-rated.

And remember this seven-year result of unexplained progress is against a backdrop of supposedly metastasizing enemies and threats that Sullivan has ascribed to Bush policies all along.

Have we misread the world - and over-estimated the threat - even more profoundly than we realize? That is the question.
Indeed Andrew, you have.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Goolsbee Responds and My Reply


Thanks for the comments. Actually the Greenstone paper uses the tradesports probabilities of democrats winning the election to show that the confounding explanation you raise is not the source of the big run up in iraqi bond yields. They wouldn't let me discuss that due to space constraints but you should check out the study.


[I assume by "They" he means the NYT. -EDH]


Thank you for your prompt and courteous reply. I didn't know the Greenstone study was available on the Internet. I've got it now and will review.

You have to admit, the NYT could have found a better place to edit-down your article. As published, it seemed longer than most pieces.

I don't think it was a "leap" for me to look to a "political" explanation for your economic analysis following such a glaring omission, especially given the NYT's editorial stance and the foreign policy position of the candidate you advise.

My initial take on the study is that I still find the data set somewhat stale and abbreviated.

Nevertheless, I'm sorry for any misunderstanding or if my comments impugned your intellectual honesty.

Best regards,


Goolsbee's Obtuse Method of Discounting Progress in Iraq

Should we take note of the fact that Austan Goolsbee, a distinguished economist, totally overlooked the probability that a Democrat might be elected US president next year as one possible discount factor depressing the Iraqi bond market?

Did I mention he’s economic advisor to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign?

Goolsbee posits In the Bond Market, A Bleak Prognosis for Iraq that the global financial markets “have concluded that the long-term prospects for a stable Iraq are very bleak”.

Goolsbee cites the statistical work of Michael Greenstone of MIT who appears to rely on stale data (e.g., “little change in the rate of American and Iraqi military fatalities”) to declare the military surge “since February” a failed effort.

Irrespective of causation, however, both say the market price of Iraqi bonds over time should be a robust proxy indicator of confidence in the future viability of Iraq because bondholders “aren’t politically motivated …All they care about is whether there will be a functioning Iraq in the future such that they will receive their payments.” Recent discounting leads them to conclude that the markets are “pessimistic about the Iraqi government’s chances for survival.”

Yet, even though bondholders are not “politically motivated”, they are motivated by politics. Bondholders chart political prospects to forecast future economic implications. And that's why bonds are a particularly bad metric of recent progress. If bondholders believe a future event, like the election of a Democrat to be president a year from now, could pull the rug out from underneath the government of Iraq, that discount in the value of Iraqi bonds would take place now even if they thought the surge was making progress.

Did these guys even think to chart the fortunes of the “anti-surge” Democrats against the course of Iraqi bond prices?

And mightn’t we view Goolsbee’s NYT piece is an attempt to inoculate his candidate, lest the platform be viewed as an actual cause of lost confidence?

With such spin, dressed-up as dispassionate economic analysis, Goolsbee may have crossed over the line here from “economic” advisor to spin-doctor.

UPDATE: Goolsbee responds: "Actually the Greenstone paper uses the tradesports probabilities of democrats winning the election to show that the confounding explanation you raise is not the source of the big run up in iraqi bond yields. They wouldn't let me discuss that due to space constraints but you should check out the study."

I assume by "They" he means the NYT. Here's a link to Greenstone's 59-page paper.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Both sides now?

Speaking of how the sexes are treated differently, compare the following NutriSystems ads for women and men, and the reactions to them. Maybe you've seen them.

First, the reaction on "" to a NutriSystems ad in which a women brags “now my husband calls me his trophy wife.”
Gretchen: Ugh. What a horrible way to be identified. I do not want my husband to be proud of me for how I look, I want him to be proud of me for who I am and the positive things I contribute to this world. Hello? What woman wouldn’t want that from a man?

Okay, the idea of an actual "trophy wife" is condescending, but to say figuratively that your first wife -- the mother of your children -- looks like a "trophy wife" is complimentary, isn't it?

Now, compare that to the other NutriSystems ad featuring John Kruk, 10-year pro baseball veteran.

My wife gave me one of the best reactions. She told me that since I've started losing weight on NutriSystem, I'm not as disgusting as I used to be (laughs), and that I'm not half-bad looking anymore. So whenever you can get compliments from the wife, something's working.
Can you imagine the reaction to that ad if it featured woman whose husband said she wasn't as "disgusting" as she used to be, and her reaction was to say "whenever you can get compliments from the husband, something's working"?

Need proof of the double standard, here's the exchange about this ad back on "":

Anonymous: Their “men’s” version isn’t much better - all about how their sex life has improved. My favorite quote is “My wife doesn’t find me as disgusting as she used to.” My husband asked, “Does that mean she still finds him disgusting?” Yes, honey, it does. Losing a few pounds doesn’t suddenly mean you’re not a pig
Gretchen: I was going to post about the men’s side of it, too, but didn’t. Thanks for pointing it out.
Thanks indeed!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Perhaps the most insideous business advice ever published

As a "guest columnist" for the Boston Globe, David D'Alessandro, former CEO of John Handcock Financial Services, provides his sage advice to fellow executives "when a management person is unable to fill a key position with an African-American."

Maybe he should have kept the advice to himself. D'Alessandro's solution to The great lie in African-American hiring:

The answer goes something like this. Whenever a job opening occurs and the company is short on African-American employees, the manager is given the following directive: "You will find and hire a qualified black person. I don't care how long it takes. They are out there and you will find one. And by the way, do not hire one who is destined to fail just to fill the slot. I am holding you personally responsible for that individual's success. Your job is on the line if that person doesn't make it." Amazing how quickly managers miraculously accomplish this task. I have tried it many times. Never fails.

D'Alessandro's touted practice is disturbing on several levels.

First, Mr. D'Alessandro makes it obvious he views himself as above the task of recruiting African-Americans into his company's employ; that is, it's always somebody else's job.

Second, he has in fact made it a company policy to institute entirely race-based hiring.

Third, he has repeatedly held the employment of one employee "on the line" so that another, presumably of a different racial group, "makes it".

Beside the actual discrimination of the directive itself, doesn't it seems obvious that such a policy would engender inter-racial resentment within the company?

For example, if the presumably non-black managers that D'Alessandro does hire and fire are as shiftlessly expedient as he implies, wouldn't those managers simply structure the workload of the employee of the preferred race so that he or she would not be tested, while moving responsibility to members of the non-preferred race, where accountability could be enforced?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Damn, I Wish I had Brian De Palma on Speed Dial.

He's so going to want to make a movie about this story, right?

Iraqi National Police Break Up al-Qaeda Rape, Terror Cell in Samarra.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Headlines, Spin Jobs and Threat Lumping

Bryan Bender's headline article on the front page of the Boston Globe Analyst counters Bush on Al Qaeda: Says biggest threat is in S. Asia, not Iraq is a good example of how the press tries to spin the news.

Reading his piece carefully, we see Bender doing a "spin job" in order to cobble together a seeming contradiction. A contradiction that was not asserted by the congressional witnesses he cites, but instead by “Senator John F. Kerry, who chaired a similar hearing yesterday of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

Bender fails to identify why it is a contradiction for Bush to say that Iraq is the "main battlefront" (implying there are multiple battlefronts) with al Qaeda. Nor does he say why it should be that Bush’s assertion is inconsistent with the al Qaeda global command center being located somewhere in hinterlands of Pakistan.

For historical comparison, wasn't North Africa at one point the “main battlefront” against Hitler's Germany?

Bender spins the contradiction by engaging in a bit of "threat lumping" (ironically, an accusation made against Bush that he quotes in his piece) of his own.

How does he do it? Bender first “threat lumps” by lumping together for comparison Bush’s characterization of Iraq as the "main battlefront" against al Qaeda with the threat posed by the presence of al Qaeda's global leadership in South Asia. Bender characterizes the latter as the "more immediate threat to the United States."

In making that threat comparison, however, Bender leaves it to his reader to discern that by "immediate threat" he necessarily excludes daily battlefield attacks, mostly in Iraq.

So, while Bender on the one hand “lumps” the relative magnitude of these “threats” together to spin his contradiction, he limits the scope of his definition of “immediate threat” to exclude daily battlefield activity with al Qaeda.

In the end, it’s not clear what Bender really means by “immediate threat” to the United States, evidently he means potential attacks against US interests anywhere but Iraq, or perhaps as limited as attacks on US soil against civilian "soft" targets.

Nevertheless, by excluding daily "battlefront" activity, Bender invalidates the comparison with Bush’s characterization of Iraq as the “battlefront against al Qaeda" that is the thrust of his headline article.

But does that matter once you've grabbed your headline?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More APing of unsourced "intelligence reports"

Need a reason to question another AP report based on a carefully couched description of an "intelligence report" leaked by an "official and others [who] spoke on condition of anonymity because the secret report remains classified"?

The headlines scream: "Classified Report: Al Qaeda at Pre-9/11 Strength."

Certainly an arresting caption, but what does that mean? To be accurate, wouldn't al Qaida have to be operating at a level comparable to their former camp complex in Afghanistan where every year thousands of jihadis casually cycled in and out from many different countries for terrorist training? But is such international travel even possible today?

Sure enough, a jump to the link reveals the following:
U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded al-Qaida has rebuilt its operating capability to a level not seen since just before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, The Associated Press has learned...

Al-Qaida is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago" and has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001," the official said, paraphrasing the report's conclusions. "They are showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States."

Take each phrase separately and together. What does "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001" really tell us? Suppose at its apex, al Qaida's strength on 9/10 was 100%. Now, wouldn't that assertion hold true even if that strength had been reduced by as much as 99% to 1% in 2002, and rose to only 2% since then?

Again, the same holds true for the phrase "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago," doesn't it? For example, say it was 2% in 2006, and rose to 4% in 2007. A doubling in a year. But still not necessarily anywhere near 9/11 strength.

None of this is an attempt to deny a resurgent threat. It just illustrates a continuing propensity on the part of elements of the press and intelligence community to use words that tend to mislead the casual reader and preserve to themselves the maximum amount of wiggle room after the fact.