Fair & Balanced Strategy Analysis At NPR

National Public Radio continued its slide into uselessness this evening with an analysis of President Bush’s “strategy” speech today on “All Things Considered.”

Joining host Robert Siegel in the analysis was the Weekly Standard‘s Reuel Marc Gerecht, who some of you may remember from last summer on Meet the Press when he said “women’s social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy.”

There to “balance” the discussion was George Packer of the New Yorker, who — while critical of the administration’s execution of the war — has been a proponent of the invasion of Iraq from before the beginning.

That’s the limits of the realistic debate about war strategy for NPR. Two guys who both support the war talking about whether staying the course is the way to go. Basically, they agreed that it was. Big surprise.

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Santa Does Not Heart Director

In a DIRECT-L thread (“OT: Christmas testers needed” on 27 November), long-time Director developer Eric Iverson mentioned that he was working on a JavaScript Santa chatbot.

Steve Taylor gave it a try, summing up the hopes of many of us in one funny exchange:

Sample Transcript:

* I’d like Macromedia to pay some attention to Director.
> Lots of children would like Macromedia to pay some attention to Director.

Maybe he should have asked about Adobe.

Rumsfeld’s Australian Filter

Discussing Cong. Jack Murtha’s resolution to withdraw from Iraq on CBS’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer (and guest interviewer Elisabeth Busmiller) this morning, Sec. of State Don Rumsfeld slipped the hook on questions a couple of times by claiming that he’d been in flight from Australia yet was suspiciously cognizant of certain facts (my transcript, I apologize for problems getting Busmiller’s ineffectual delivery down, the official PDF transcript has since been posted):

BUSMILLER: Let me go back to Cong. Murtha. When he called for a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq last week, Scott McClellan, the White House Press Secretary, said that he was endorsing the policies of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Just a few hours ago in Beijing, President Bush seemed to dial back a bit on that criticism and he praised Mr. Murtha as a fine man, a good man…

RUMSFELD: He is a good man.

BUSMILLER: …and so my question is, did the administration go too far in its attacks on Mr. Murtha and the Democrats for criticizing the war?

RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness, I’ve been in Australia. I have not followed the tit for tat on who said what. Murtha’s a fine man. I know him personally, Jack is, and, and uh, we know that. It’s perfectly proper to have a debate over these things, and have a public debate. We had debates during World War II. We had debates during the Korean War and during the Vietnam War, and we’re going to have debates during this war. The important thing is to recognize there are consequences for what you say. The President of the United States has the responsibility to, to provide the direction and leadership, in my view he’s correct and he’s on the mark.

BUSMILLER: Well would you say that he is — he has, uh — he went about the decision to call for a, the, a withdrawal [in] a careful and thoughtful way as the President did? He seemed to be praising Mr. Murtha suddenly.

RUMSFELD: I haven’t seen any of these reports. I’ve been on an airplane flying back from Australia. I just don’t know…

SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think he deserves an apology?



RUMSFELD: I don’t know why, I haven’t heard…

SCHIEFFER: He was called a coward.

RUMSFELD: Oh, he was not. He was not.

SCHIEFFER: Well, that was certainly the implication.

RUMSFELD: Well, I don’t believe he was called a coward. I’m told that the person apologized who quoted somebody else not even mentioning Murtha, so I think your characterization’s probably possibly not fair.

SCHIEFFER: What about when the White House Press Secretary….

RUMSFELD: He’s not a coward, I’ll tell you that.

SCHIEFFER: OK. What about when the White House Press Secretary says he’s aligning himself with Michael Moore the producer of….

RUMSFELD: Oh, come on, I’m not going to get into get into all of that stuff.

Schieffer noticed.

BUSMILLER: I have another question. 60% of Americans now believe that the war was not worth fighting. At what point does lack of support at home affect the war itself?

RUMSFELD: Well, it’s — we have a President who, who knows that the war’s worth fighting — and it is — and, uh, I think that the bulk of the Congress rep, reflected that in the vote. You didn’t see many people Republican or Democrat…

SCHIEFFER: So you got word about that…

RUMSFELD: …just a minute…

SCHIEFFER: …out there in Australia, you didn’t hear about the other part.

RUMSFELD: …you didn’t see many people flocking to Jack Murtha’s position. I didn’t anyway.

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Coded Messages

Coded messages are everywhere, particularly since the publication a few years ago of Dan Brown’s The Bible Code. The Bush administration claimed that Osama bin Laden’s broadcasts after 9/11 might contain secret messages to terrorist cells in the US, as if people intelligent enough to figure out a plan to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon couldn’t find a better way to communicate than the off chance that a videotape in a foreign language might get broadcast on American cable news channels. I mean, you’d have to be an idiot to actually believe that.

But the messages are everywhere, in everything we do apparently. People who are supposed to be leading this country on both sides of the party aisle are so paralyzed with fear about what “message” they’ll send with their actions that they do nothing instead of actually thinking about their next step.

Supporters of continued occupation in Iraq claim many things about the message a US withdrawal would send. In the words of Scott McClellan, for instance:

It would be absolutely the wrong message to send to set some sort of artificial timetable. It would be the wrong message to send to the terrorists; it would be the wrong message to send to the Iraqi people; and it would be the wrong message to send to our troops.

What kind of message is sent, I wonder, when we invade a country on false evidence? What message is sent when we stay in that country once we know the evidence is wrong? What message do we send when tens of thousands of people are killed because of our error?

War supporters have said Osama and his followers would be laughing at the US if it pulled out of Iraq. But would he be laughing if we sent those forces after him instead? Just asking.

The Historical Difference Between Republicans and Democrats

In his “Oregon’s Trails” column this week (“Dirty deeds shaped early Portland, too”), Oregonian writer John Terry reminds us that despite its reputation as a progressive state, Oregon has suffered from its share of corruption and perfidy through the years. It’s a theme that’s been explored by many writers for decades, most notably by Stewart Holbrook in the mid-20th century.

Terry’s column contains a quote for the ages from progressive Democratic governor Oswald West, who took office in 1911 at the age of 37 and championed the initiative and referendum system, women’s suffrage, worker’s rights, and temperance. He wasn’t blinded to the faults of his own party (italics indicate a section Terry cut, presumably for space considerations, brackets indicate Terry’s additions for clarification):

The prevailing prices [for bribing politicians] were four thousand [dollars] for Republicans … and three thousand for Democrats — such prices became common knowledge. As a Democrat I always resented this unjust discrimination and when once I asked a political kale purveyor how they justified the discrimination he said, “As a rule the Republicans occupied a higher social scale.”

BrainBench Presses Out Test for MX2004

Curious about your own knowledge of Director’s ins and outs? BrainBench Employment Testing is looking for beta testers for their Director MX2004 online exam.

Be warned: you do have to go through a two-stage registration process. You get something like an hour for each question (at least in the beta) and you’re encouraged to offer comments on the quiz. There are 20 questions.

According to the folks at BrainBench, high scorers (max is 5) are sometimes contacted to be “cleaners” who help get the test finalized (and get paid $400).

I took about 20 minutes to whip through and got a 4.4, but I had to sort of rush through the last few questions because I was late for a meeting. I’m humbled because I’ve heard others managed to get 5s, but I’ll have to console myself with old memories of my win at “Who Wants to Win Gary Rosenzweig’s Stuff?” at the 1999 UCON (I’ve been told that you can retake the beta test to increase your score, if you wish).

Turning the Timetable

One of the pushback points for administration apologists on the matter of setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq — apart from its “emboldening the enemy” — is that withdrawal advocates would have lost World War II or the American Revolution with their wimpy ways. They claim that America “stayed the course” in those previous conflicts and that if they hadn’t, they would have lost them as well.

There’s a significant difference between those wars and Iraq, of course. In the American Revolution, The Continental Army and state militias were fighting on their home territory, to drive out the British occupation. There was nowhere for them to go; withdrawal was not an option.

In World War II, after some major early setbacks and a slow start, there was significant — albeit very costly in terms of human life — progress throughout the war. Within a year of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Allied forces had invaded North Africa and there were significant naval battles in the Pacific theater. The island campaign and the invasion of Italy came in the second year after the attack.

The third year of American involvement in the war included D-Day and McArthur’s return to the Philippines. By the fourth anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the war was over. The Allies had occupied Germany and Japan. There was no resistance.

There was no need for a timetable in World War II. Steady, bloody progress was made. There were certainly setbacks, but there was never the multi-year grind that the Bush administration has created in Iraq.

November 17th marks the 975th day since the Iraq invasion. It will be the 954th day since the fall of Baghdad. If the Roosevelt administration or its military command had been so incompetent as to get boggeed down in one place for two-and-a-half years, people would have been asking about their plans, too. Instead, they managed to fight a major two-front war — some might call it a world war — from start to finish in just over three-and-a-half years.

Multiuser Server Redux

The pricing strategy of the Flash Media Server 2.0 (formerly Flash Communication Server 1.5) brought out some comments that elicited sympathy and bitter recognition from me, including
this one from Stefan Richter at FlashComGuru

The good news is that there still is a free Developer Edition which allows for a maximum of 10 connections, regardless of bandwidth consumption.

There will be no Personal Edition anymore and this may disappoint some users. However the Professional Edition (still priced at US $4500) is now unlimited in bandwidth. This is great news for high bandwidth applications such as streaming high quality video.

But – and it’s a big but – the Professional Edition is also limited in the amount of connections it can accept simultaneously. The limit is set at 100 connections.

While this is a positive change for streaming video applications (the Flash Media Server Pro Edition can push more video than the FCS Pro Edition could if you base it on an average size stream) it is a severe blow for anyone running Flash Media Server as a game server, utilizing shared objects and generally low bandwidth games – this includes myself. 100 connections will basically mean that I can no longer use Flash Media Server for serving games. It will simply become unaffordable if I want to serve 300 to 400 users at once – it would mean stacking 3 to 4 Pro Licenses totalling US $18,000… For these kind of deployments I am better served (no pun intended) sticking to FCS 1.5 for the foreseeable future.

Flash — unlike Director’s now unsupported Multiuser Xtra — doesn’t have the option of creating direct connections to other IP addresses. Messages between computers have to go through a server of some sort, and FCS/FMS is the only option Macromedia offers to do that (there are a couple of third-party tools).

Of course, since the demise of the Shockwave Multiuser Server in 2001, the Flash Communication Server has been the option Director developers have been sold as a replacement — despite its not really doing the same types of things that the SMUS did — you’d think that someone at Macromedia would have tried to avoid a similar trajectory with a Flash product. (And don’t get me started about Generator!)

It Isn’t Going to Be Warner

At least not for me.

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner was on Face the Nation this morning, where Bob Schieffer asked him if he would have voted to authorize force in Iraq. Warner said this:

But I think the Democratic Party ought to get over refighting how we got into the war and, again, continue to press the president on what he hopes to do in terms of how we will finish the job.

and this:

I think we ought to focus again how we finish the job, not go back and refight how we got there in the first place.

This is a strategy that fails to hold public officials accountable for their actions. I’ll give Warner a point for saying “not all the senators had all the information,” but if glossing over potential criminal acts is his plan to get to the White House, he doesn’t deserve to be there.

Crossposted to Daily Kos