Archive for November, 2012

Whatever one’s views of Generals David Petraeus or John Allen, perhaps the most baffling aspect of this affair is how ignorant of, or susceptible to, these high ranking men are of modern communications technology. Petraeus thought he could hide his philandering emails using shared gmail drafts — avoiding direct computer-to-computer transmissions like traditional email and its digital point-to-point Internet Protocol trail.

This was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, mind you. I had a freshman student in my college communications class tonight give a presentation on Google’s sharing technologies which, apparently, surpassed Gen. Petraeus’ understanding. Woops.

And then there’s Gen. Allen. Who knows what he was doing with Tampa “socialite” Jill Kelley or anyone else in this unfolding soap opera. But over the span of a couple of years, who has time to send 20,000-30,000 pages of emails to anyone? Let alone someone running a war? I have to remind my students to turn off their smartphones and handhelds at the start of class; it appears no one was in a position to tell the head of the war in Afghanistan to spend less time emailing his “friend”  while his soldiers’ lives were on the line. The stereotypes about technology use and age just suffered a reality check with this evidence of Allen’s apparent email obsession and Petraeus’ outright ignorance.


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In the aftermath of the trouncing last Tuesday, some in the media and on the Right are finally beginning to examine the consequences of the conservative echo chamber. I’ve had friends who have been part of the conservative movement for decades complaining to me about this for years, and the chickens are — yes — finally coming home to roost. How far we’ve come from the days when an editor named William F. Buckley Jr. used media, like National Review and Firing Line (a program broadcast on PBS) to provide a forum for informed debate and exchange of ideas.

Insightful analysis here from POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin, and a personal portrait of one loyal GOPer’s personal bubble-bursting experience in the Post. And for reference, Bill Maher has been talking about this (with a literal bubble as a prop) for years.

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After President Obama’s decisive victory last night, the reaction from the conservative chattering class has been fast and furious (to coin a phrase) and they’re all over the map. Starting with Karl Rove’s on-air conspiracy theorizing about stolen votes in Ohio, the bloviators and echo chamber residents — as well as the more thoughtful folks on the right — are at it with a wide array of finger-pointing allegations, none of which seem to include the fact that Americans just plain rejected the Republican message.

Here is the top ten list:

1) Romney wasn’t conservative enough. (Laura Ingraham)

2) Romney was too conservative. (David Frum)

3) Romney needed to reach minorities and broaden the base. (Marco Rubio)

4) White Americans have too much guilt to vote against the first Black President. (Rush Limbaugh)

5) Half of the country likes handouts rather than working so they vote Democratic. (Rush and in turn Sean Hannity)

6) Liberals like Chris Matthews were happy about the hurricane Sandy, which clinched it for Obama — and Chris Christie is a closet Democrat. (Fox News)

7) The entire mainstream media was in the tank and handed Obama his victory. (Rich Noyes)

8) The Romney campaign was inadequately managed. (Peggy Noonan)

9) Wingnuts like Donald Trump highjacked the mainstream GOP message. (Steve Schmidt)

10) The GOP did not rely enough on its “strong bench” of up and coming leaders. (Charles Krauthammer)

This schizophrenic reaction is telling. Another view, which I and some more thoughtful conservatives and students of conservatism hold, is that the movement has fallen apart, lost its intellectual bearings, and needs to right itself or accept its status as a permanently frustrated, disorganized minority.

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