We have a new “Think Again” column called “Conflicts by theRich, for the Rich,” here.
I also did a Daily Beast post on Palin’s defenders on Sunday, whichis here. (Otherwise, I’ve been at the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake which I’ll write about a bit next week.)Meanwhile:
Eric’s obituary for Robert McNamara, (lifted from When Presidents Lie):
A Harvard Business School graduate and the former president of FordMotor Company, McNamara was a figure, even in this impressive company,of unsurpassed self-possession and confidence. The ultimate “can-do”executive, he could reduce any problem presented to him to numericalinputs and outputs. McNamara displayed little patience for doubt, secondguesses, or gray areas. There were problems and there were solutions, period. It was only a matter of putting all the information into the right places andensuring that the answers flew freely to the men who required them.Like Lyndon Johnson, McNamara was also a compulsive liar. He told oneset of stories to one group of people and then turned around andexplained behind closed doors that the opposite was true. On occasion he may have forgotten which version actually represented the truth, and so he found himself defending propositions that, however illogical, enabled him to appear tohave been right all along.
Robert McNamara ran the Department of Defense as if it were thebiggest private company on earth–which in fact it would have been, hadit been private–and thereby ignored much about what was unique to itscharacter and mission. Moreover, McNamara treated the American people withthe same contempt a successful CEO enjoys demonstrating to peskystockholders. They had, in his mind, the right to the information he chose to give them and nothing more. Unfortunately, he ignored the elementary rulethat governs all informational systems: “Garbage in, garbage out.” When itcame time to evaluate the progress of the war he was planning andimplementing, McNamara forgot that he had been fabricating, dissembling, and at times outright lying about the conflict almost from day one. He also neglected to factor in that the intense pressure he placed on the military to providepalpable signposts of progress led many of those who reported to him up and downthe line to fabricate the information they were providing as well. Asearly as March 1962, for instance, British officials were shocked to hear USambassador to Vietnam Frederick Nolting tell them of the pressure he felt todemonstrate results. But human nature being what it is, McNamara came tobelieve his own lies as well as those he inspired others to tell him. Inhis 1999 investigation of the war, Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy, McNamara seems to imply that if he had known the truth about what took place in the Gulf of Tonkin, the United States might neverhave gone to war. But the Secretary of Defense could easily have discoveredthe truth within days of the crisis had he committed himself to doing sobefore advising Lyndon Johnson to embark on a series of rash military andpolitical responses. In fact, the great mathematical mind of the Vietnam War built an entire system on an edifice of information that would not survive eventhe most cursory of audits. The literally incalculable cost of this faultyapplication of systems analysis–and Johnson’s unwitting reliance on it–would soon become evident for all to see.
To Lyndon Johnson, however, Robert McNamara was a kind of guru: the “smartest man” he had ever known, in whose presence you could “almost hear the computers clicking.” Senator Russell spoke of McNamara’s “hypnotic” influence over the president, and Johnson’s aide Harry McPherson would remark, “Johnson promoted McNamara everywhere… No doubt he was trying to win over [the Kennedy people] as his personal friends and supporters.” Johnson even considered creating a prime-minister-like position for McNamara, so that his influence might be felt on all aspects of policy, foreign and domestic. When Senator Mansfield, concerned about the direction the war was taking, advised Johnson to ask “those who have pressured you in the past to embark on this course and continue to pressure you to stay on it” for an accounting, not only for “what immediate advantages it has in a narrow military sense, but [also] where does it lead in the end?” Johnson treated the majority leader’s suggestion as near treason. “I consider Bob McNamara to be the best Secretary of Defense in the history of this country,” was all he would say in reply…
The Dead Weather, by Sal:
Jack White’s new project, The Dead Weather, is about to be releasedafter weeks of hype, TV performances and singles leaking on variouswebsites. Horehound picks up where The White Stripes left off, onlywith twice as many members and White himself talking over the drum kit.Before I go any further, I want to say this about Jack White. I nevergot on the White Stripes bandwagon, but seeing them perform live, mademe realize that Jack White is truly a guitar god. I never got into TheGreenhornes, but hearing them back up Jack White & Brendan Benson as TheRaconteurs made me realize that Jack White can really write some amazingpop tunes and get them delivered with a real rhythm section. And hearingJack White play drums in The Dead Weather made me realize Meg Whiteisn’t even the best drummer in The White Stripes.
Horehound features Alison Mosshart, singer of The Kills. She isvocally similar to Jack White and more times than not, I wasn’t sure whowas singing what. What stands out right away on these sparse but heavytunes, is the drumming. Without Jack White’s unique and almost ham-fistedsmacks on the kit, you’d be left with White Stripes light. That may notsound like a compliment, but Jack White is a fantastic drummer. I amshocked, actually. It is HE who keeps “Horehound” interesting. Theopener, a ripping Gothic blues called “60 Feet Tall,” is a killer andboth singles “Hang You From The Heavens” and “Treat You Like Your Mother”are hook-filled. The rest of the record sounds a bit one-note, as Iprefer substance over style. But this is based on one listen, and I amvery excited about going in again, so that should tell you something.
Name: Dave HigginsHometown: http://quantumsense.wordpress.com/
Hi Eric –
It would have been great if Sarah Palin had disappeared from sightlike other losing Republican Vice Presidential candidates, like BillMiller. Miller quickly became so anonymous he did a “Do you know me?”ad for American Express–and most people probably responded “no.”
Unfortunately, like an extremely annoying advertising jingle youcan’t get out of your head, Sarah Palin just won’t fade away.Now that she’ll be free from those pesky duties associated withbeing governor of Alaska, I expect we’ll be hearing from hereven more often.
So be it. If she’s going to stick around, she’s going to need some sort of theme song. Bill Clinton had Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,” Hillary’s campaign often played Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” and Palin herself briefly used Heart’s “Barracuda” – until members of Heart objected and told her to find another song.
As it happens, there’s another song that would be perfect for Palin: the Donnas’ “Fall Behind Me.” Beyond the fact the opening guitars and drums would get any crowd wound up as she walked on stage, the song seems to be written precisely for her, with lines like:
“I can’t believe she bought it She got too close and she caught it Had a point but she forgot it
“When you skip steps on the way up The gaps have a way of catching up And you can’t cover that with make-up”
Funny how that last line makes me think of lipstick. While all the lyrics seem to fit, the Donnas really sum things up near the end of the song:
“How long is she gonna be around? How long do we have to watch her dumb it down? ‘Cause when it’s cheap it fades fast How long does she think it’s gonna last?”
How long indeed…
Name: Ben MillerHometown: Washington, DC
Mr. Alterman –
With the resignation of Sarah Palin, many in the media are declaringthis the end of any hopes of her running a successful campaign forthe presidency in 2012. Doesn’t this give far too much credit toconservatives and the GOP? Despite her atrocious showing in the 2008campaign, she remained as popular as ever within the party. Despitenot being intelligent, curious, or insightful, she remained at thetop of any 2012 Republican candidate list. And despite not being ableto name a newspaper she read, or remember any case from the SupremeCourt, or even knowing who Hamas is, she has millions of supportersthroughout the country. Are we to believe that her quitting her jobwith seventeen months left will really strike a final blow within the GOPfor this politician who had no business stepping foot in the nationalstage in the first place? I mean, aren’t they just going to forgiveher and say it was the elitist liberal media that forced her to quitanyway. If anything, it might make her more popular down the road.
Name: Stephanie Barnhizer
“Mikey and Me” is very funny. I appreciate that you take us into your”up close and personal” encounter while still maintaining arespectful distance. Many of us have been drawn in to “MJ’s” worldand created our own fantastical versions of it. What we have beenseeing is of our own making. Many of us do not know how to acceptthat “that’s it.”
Name: Daphne Chyprious
Hometown: Springfield, Ill.
I’ve never met MJ. Never even attended one of his performances, on oroff the stage. Were this the greatest regret of my life, I’d beecstatic. However, it doesn’t qualify for “regret” of any kind.
Name: Richard Lindsey
Hometown: Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
Pierce, If you’re gonna try to to correct other people’s Latin (or anyother language), you better get it right yourself. “Vox clamantis indeserto” doesn’t mean “a voice crying out of the wilderness.” Itmeans “the voice OF ONE crying (out) in the wilderness.”
Name: Laura FaethHometown: Superior, CO
Amen to Cheap Trick’s new release, The Latest. It’s a great album,and sonically just tickles my eardrums every time I listen to it.Some songs are haunting, others are ear wormy, but they all sound asyou say, like an album. Rick Nielsen mentioned in one interview thatit’s like three trilogies (three groups of three songs) but he didn’tmention which tunes go together since there are thirteen tracks! Eitherway, it’s great to hear the Rockford dudes sounding so awesome again.