Robots, on the march! Mystery Pollster claims to have detected "a sleazy, unethical program of unusual scope." Robotic calls spread information and canvass thousands of voters under the guise of taking a "poll." ... I'm somewhat less outraged by the practice than MP--assuming the information being spread is accurate (which MP suggests may be the case with some of the calls). And if voters freely state their preferences to a machine without getting a promise of confidentiality, don't they know they might be talking to somebody's campaign? Why is conducting an anonymous poll so much worse than, say, writing an anonymous blog? ... In any case, it seems like a significant new technique. ... P.S.: If the robo-faux-polls make "real" polling more difficult and less accurate, is that such a bad thing? ... P.P.S.: It's not "sugging"--"selling under the guise"--either! Nobody's "selling" anything, as far as I can see. ... 2:49 A.M.
"Troubleshooter" Shoots Troubled Shooter: Cheney "troubleshooter" Mary Matalin really knows how to keep herself out of the story, huh? Anything to selflessly make her boss look good:
She also described a vice president, who, she said, was in no condition in the hours after the shooting to speak out himself. ... [snip] "And I said, O.K., this guy is going to be worthless about getting me what I need to help him here,' " ...
No wonder President Bush likes her so much! ... P.S.: If Cheney's initial draft of a "brief statement" was so "bad" that Matalin told them not to put it out, wasn't it her job to draft a better one? ... P.P.S.: Or was something else going on? (Imus to Matalin: "The point is that's insane to tell me and anybody else that it made sense for this friend of his ... to call the Corpus Christi paper.") ... Pure speculation: Cheney hates the regular White House MSM press corps so much he couldn't bring himself to give them this horribly embarrassing story. ... 1:09 A.M.
Free Speech minus ...
A few Western countries have stupid laws, erratically enforced, against denying the Holocaust ... -- M. Kinsley, Slate, two weeks ago.
Not that erratically, it turns out. Austrian prosecutors are asking to increase the three year sentence meted out to (despicable, creepy, infamous etc.) British writer David Irving for violating a criminal statute that penalizes anyone who "denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse" the Holocaust in print "or other media." ... Denying the Holocaust may or may not be the same thing as merely depicting the Prophet, but jailing someone for denying the Holocaust seems like the same thing as jailing someone for depicting the Prophet. The New York Post, shamefully, ran the story of the sentencing under a nyah-nyah headline of "Deny This!" We'll see how the Post'scrack editorial writers reconcile this glee at Irving's imprisonment with their criticism of the administration ("Bushies betray free speech") for having failed to defend in stronger terms the "freedoms that Americans hold dear" in the case of the Danish cartoonists. ... The Anti-Defamation League, also shamefully, limits its criticism to "acknowledging that America's constitutional system bars prosecution for hate speech" before rushing to congratulate the Austrian court for having "sent an unmistakable and important message." I'm afraid it did. ... P.S.: See also Sullivan. ... 10:35 P.M. link
The Times' Sacred Rattner and his "Chinese Wall": Any mention of investment banker Steven Rattner in the New York Times has to be read with intense suspicion--he's a longtime friend and adviser to NYT publisher Pinch Sulzberger and gets featured in the Times with unfailing, gratuitous deference. Even if Sulzberger didn't want Rattner to be treated like a sacred cow he'd still be treated like a sacred cow by editors and reporters who aren't sure what Sulzberger wants. ...
So here was Rattner getting a nice little bit of launch publicity in the Sunday Business section for his new hedge fund. Nothing unusual there! (How do they get these scoops?) What I didn't understand was the part about the "Chinese Wall" Rattner has pledged to erect within his firm. I'm no expert--I barely understand what investment banking is, let alone what constitutes "due diligence," but here's what I think is going on (something that's explained only in the most abstract and unhelpful way by the NYT's Andrew Ross Sorkin):
TODAY IN SLATE
More Than Scottish Pride
Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself.
iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows
The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything
It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.