The "Two Atta" explanation of the Able Danger scandal.

A mostly political Weblog.
Aug. 21 2005 3:19 PM

The "Two Atta" Theory

It might explain the Able Danger scandal.

Edward Jay Epstein describes how Able Danger's data miners could indeed have come up with Atta's name--the "real" 9/11 Atta's name--by cross-checking various databases in fairly obvious ways. Since much of the respectable skepticism of Able Danger centers on the question "How could they have done it," Epstein's effort seems important. ... P.S.:  My own impression is that data-mining is scary-powerful. For years, Amazon.com, using only links suggested by the purchases of its customers, kept badgering me robotically about buying an album by Built to Spill. (The automated progression went something like: 'May we suggest Built to Spill' ... 'You might also like Built to Spill' ...'You're missing a big bet if you don't get Built to Spill' ... 'Buy Built to Spill this instant, you f-----g moron.')  I finally caved and bought a CD by Built to Spill. I love it. .. P.P.S.: Of course, Epstein's speculation assumes the Able Danger data-miners had access to a "list of Arab males who flew to Pakistan in 1999." It's not clear they did, or indeed that anyone had such a list (though I certainly hope they do now). ... 3:12 P.M.

Krugman,  Overfisked! Some bloggers are blasting  Paul Krugman for writing:

Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the [2000] election to Mr. Gore.

Kausfiles says not so fast! Krugman writes "full" recount. That's because there were various permutations of the media recounts, and it made a big difference if you recounted only the 61,000 undervotes (ballots where no preference registered) or if you also recounted the 114,000 "overvotes" (ballots on which more than one preference registered). It's true that the ledes of the relevant MSM stories on the media recounts both emphasized the versions of the recount that would have favored Bush. (Sample: "Florida Recounts Would Have Favored Bush".) But those ledes, while comforting to most Americans who didn't want an election decided by the Supreme Court, were highly misleading. They reflected the undervote-only recounts. The mother lode of hidden Gore votes, it turned out, was in the overvotes, especially ballots of voters who

tried to be extra-clear in their choice and ended up nullifying the vote. They filled in the oval next to a candidate and then filled in the oval for "write-in" and wrote the same candidate's name again.

The discomfiting truth is that, if you also recounted overvotes, the NORC media recount, under several "certainty" standards, showed Gore the winner.

Using the most inclusive standards, Bush actually gained more votes than Gore -- about 300 net -- from the examination of the undervote ballots. But Gore picked up 885 more votes than Bush from the examination of overvote ballots, 662 of those from optical scan ballots.

What's more, there's strong, near-smoking evidence that if the recount had been allowed to proceed overvotes would have been counted (despite the Gore camp's revealingly obtuse, self-defeating focus on the "undervotes"). ... Sorry, J-Pod!  I wish you were right. 2:46 P.M. link

Worthless! I didn't think I'd ever again have to discuss "comparable worth," one of the really bad ideas from the comic book era of interest group liberalism in the Carter years. But John Roberts' opposition to the idea ("staggeringly pernicious") is now being filed under a general "Roberts Resisted Women's Rights" headline. ... The truth is that "comparable worth" shouldn't just be opposed by those on the Right who worry (correctly) that it is "anti-capitalist." It should also be opposed by those on the Left who recognize that it's fundamentally inegalitarian and elitist. ...

Put simply, comparable worth would require that judges adjust market wages for jobs that were historically disproportionately male or disproportionately female. So you have toll collector--a historically male job. It's also an excruciatingly boring job.  Or garbage collector--a smelly job. To compensate for the boredom, or the smell, you have to pay the toll and garbage collectors a little bit more in the marketplace. With "comparable worth," a judge would review the toll and garbage collectors' jobs and notice that they don't require much "skill" and "education" and actually reduce the wage (or the future increase in the wage).