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« "The Only Viable Reason" | Main | Chock Full Of Space Policy Goodness »

Hit And Run

With regard to Josh Marshall's uninformed hit piece, Keith Cowing makes a good point:

I call this hit and run policy analysis. Here is how it works: the practitioner makes some wildly unsubstantiated comments based on a few microseconds of analysis - usually on a topic about which they know nothing. They then throw in some wild cost estimates to scare folks, link a series of unrelated items together to suggest a trend (or usually a conspiracy), and then end the piece with a global pronouncement. Since the practitioner is a popular commentator and talking head on TV, most people just take him at his word. The net result: a complex issue is left lying by the side of the road in people's minds without ever having a chance to explain itself. The fact that this flimsy analysis appears in a publication that touts itself as being "for and about the U.S. Congress" ought to have a few people at NASA's Office of Legislative Affairs concerned.

At the risk of violating Instapundit's trademark, indeed...

[Update on Tuesday morning]

Welcome to any first-time readers from Instapundit. I apologize for the little foofaraw in the comments section--it's actually quite unusual.

Keith, thank you for the kind and helpful comments on the cat. I'll continue to visit NASA Watch, and to encourage my readers to do the same, for whatever it's worth, because I think that it is a valuable website, but judging from several comments, I do think that you're machine gunning yourself in the foot here.

It would be nice to end this pointless (albeit mild) flamefest and actually have a few comments on the substance of the post.

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 08, 2004 02:03 PM
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Excerpt: Rand Simberg seems to want to leave the space commentary for the "experts," not the pundits. I'm not sure how necessary that is, at least in the public debate. That said, he's right that doing political hit pieces like the...
Weblog: Kalblog
Tracked: February 10, 2004 03:07 PM

Keith makes an eminently good point in his email. One almost, if not always, ignored by non-blogging media.
However, he ignores the biggest meme of such "hit" jobs; when, or if, a response is made it is always "headlined" as "X" defends "Y".
Rumsfeld pretty well reamed the Eurotrash the other day, but everything I saw on his speech was headlined, "Rumsfeld defends".

Posted by Mike Daley at February 8, 2004 07:19 PM

It wasn't an email. He wrote it at NASA Watch.

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 8, 2004 08:37 PM

I get a lot of comments on my blog from people who are enthusiastic about space but do not have a great amount of knowledge about the subject. I don't mind discussing space issues with people like that at all.

But when you get somebody like Josh Marshall who is hostile about space, ill informed and yet still sties to pass himself off as some kind of expert, it leaves me wondering why anybody takes him seriously.

Posted by Mark Oakley at February 9, 2004 08:06 PM

Thanks for correcting my egregious error in the source for Keith's excerpted comments. Needless to say, my comments have lost any hint of interest or validity.
Make your readers feel like assholes, that's the way to go.
You're a very smart guy, with an excellent ability to communicate the things you find important and interesting. I'll keep reading for these reasons.

Posted by Mike Daley at February 9, 2004 09:01 PM

Mike, I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings--it certainly wasn't the intent. I just wanted to point out that the quote (plus other interesting stuff) was available on Keith's website for those who wanted to go there, and to remove any impression that you may have inadvertently left to others that Keith is in the habit of emailing me.

I do think that you need to develop a slightly thicker hide, and not take things so personally. That was a comment that would have definitely been better emailed.

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 9, 2004 09:38 PM

And by posting the ENTIRE comment (without asking) no one need visit my website. Thanks (I think)

Posted by Keith Cowing at February 9, 2004 10:20 PM

Gee, some of you people are touchier than rocket fuel.

Posted by Lee at February 9, 2004 10:28 PM

Keith, I've had you on my blogroll from the beginning (though I apologize for having it down at the bottom--the site's due for a redesign Real Soon Now, which will result in moving the space policy links to a more prominent place). I'd link to NASA Watch much more often in my posts if you had permalinks to your individual posts. As it is, it's a pain for people who come here days (or weeks or months) later to find things there that have rolled down the your page, or off it entirely.

I thought it was a great comment, and wanted to have it somewhere people could find it in the future. If you think I violated fair use, and want me to, I'll delete the post, but to me, the whole point of this business is getting the message out. I do think that quoting you, in part or in whole, will help (in my own meager way) to continue to build your own readership. You know the old saying--as long as they spell the URL right...

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 9, 2004 10:29 PM

Why not pick a few sentences and then tell people where to find the rest i.e

Simple, yes?

If I decide not to go to a blog format, that is my business. If I don't get traffic as a result, oh well.

My readership is constantly growing. I do Space News' weekly readership before lunch every day.

I am not inclined to change anything anytime soon.

Posted by Keith Cowing at February 9, 2004 10:44 PM

Keith, I already explained why.

If I just tell them to go to NASA Watch and read the rest, and they don't see this post for a few days, they'll go to NASA Watch and not know where to find it, and it may not even be there.

It's certainly your business how you run your web site, but I don't like to frustrate my readership that way, and I won't. I'm not sure why (or if) you want to frustrate yours, but that's the effect of not having permalinks on each posting.

Again, are you asking me to delete the quote, or were you just asking me why I did it? As I said, I already explained why, and I certainly had no intent to violate your copyright, if you think I did. I will rectify it if you want (though I don't think that it would be in your interest).

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 9, 2004 11:04 PM

And I should add, you're already in a blog format (a series of posts, multiple times a day, most recent at the top, and which roll down the page with time), and have been for years.

You were probably the first space policy weblog, and can be rightfully proud of it. The only thing you're missing is permalinks. Adding them would add immensely to the value of an already very valuable site.

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 9, 2004 11:08 PM

ICES wants me as a keynote speaker. TV interviews are backlogged as are stories for a variety of publications. White House checks the site multiple times a day. Writing a book too.

I am not going to monkey with success. People already find what they need on their own.

And yes, I guess I was space blogging before anyone else was space blogging.

Posted by Keith Cowing at February 9, 2004 11:20 PM

I was going to go visit Keith's site after reading this post, but I see by his comments that Keith is an arrogant jerk. If you believe someone has violated your copyright, Keith, email them privately and ask them to fix it. Or do you not have time for common courtesy, what with the many demands placed upon you by your adoring public?

Posted by John Doe at February 10, 2004 06:34 AM

Geeezz...I came here via Instapundit, but I don't think I'll ever come back. What a bunch of winey babies.

Posted by Ron at February 10, 2004 06:40 AM

John Doe:

I see you come from a long line of people who can't ever seem to post using their real names. Its so easy to snipe when you hide like this, isn't it.

Tsk tsk.

Back to my adoring public.


Posted by Keith Cowing at February 10, 2004 07:04 AM

Yes, it certainly does appear that Keith Cowing is an arrogant jerk, doesn't it?

I am not the person who wrote as "John Doe", but I agree with his sentiments.

PS Let me point out that Mr Simberg didn't cost you any visits to your site by his quote - YOU did. I had no idea that the paragraph he quoted was the entirety of your post until YOU made your smart ass remark. I was in fact planning to hop over to your site to read the comment in full, until you so helpfully let me know that there was no reason to do so. Of course, by seeing the type of person you are, I don't plan on visiting in the future.

Posted by Jim Thomason at February 10, 2004 07:57 AM


Thanks for not visiting NASA Watch. This saves some bandwidth such that someone else can use it.


Posted by Keith Cowing at February 10, 2004 08:06 AM

I think it's time for Rand to send the REAL Keith Cowing the following e-mail:

Dear Keith,

I am writing to inform you that someone - obviously deranged - has been impersonating you in comment posts on my blog. I intend to remove these posts shortly, but would like to offer you the opportunity to send a genuine comment, via e-mail, that I will be happy to post for you.

Posted by Dick Eagleson at February 10, 2004 08:36 AM

If ever there was a good reminder why posting on these blogs is a waste of time this is it. Sorry to have wasted your bandwidth.

I hope your cat gets better very soon Rand.


Posted by Keith Cowing at February 10, 2004 08:50 AM

Ha! This reminds me of flame wars on the old newsgroup systems. "You ass..." " no you are an ass..."

Before the above hissy fit, name calling, and hair pulling I visited Nasa Watch on occasion. No longer...

Posted by Sam Morton at February 10, 2004 08:56 AM

1) I found this site because of Keith and his mention of Rand's Fox columns.

2) I have visited the NASAWATCH page for years now. I have it set as my browser homepage. If you want the scoop first (as recently demonstrated), Nasawatch is the place to get it.

3) My views on the public/private debate lie somewhere between Keiths and Rands so I find both sites of great intrest and visit both sites.

Keith, please stick around. Don't let a few bad blogs and anonymous bloggers color your experiences here unduly. Your opinion adds much to this blog and most of us value it. I encourage you to continue your perodic visitation and commentary.

In many ways, Rands blog site here (for which I am grateful Rand!) serves as feedback to Nasawatch due to the frequent presence of Mr. Cowling. I value that and hope it can continue.

As for the rest who have issues with Mr. Cowling. If you choose to not visit nasawatch, it is so much your loss. I choose to judge Keith on the quality of the entirety of his works. Perhaps Keith's words were not the way I would have chose to address this issue but it is trifling in the grand scheme of things.

Everybody is entitled to have an occasional bad day, myself included. I would be a hypocrite to deny the courtesy of the occasional ruffled feather to someone else when I seek that priveldge for myself.

I don't recall anyone insulting anyone elses paternal pedigrees here so everyone lighten up!

Myself, my skin has been toughened from years of exposure to Acid Mine Drainage so I have none left to ruffle;)

Posted by Michael Puckett at February 10, 2004 03:32 PM

I'm sorry, what was this post about?

Posted by clem at February 11, 2004 09:44 AM

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