Posted by Rojas @ 12:00 pm on September 30th 2011

By the way…

Brad is getting married tomorrow. Congratulations to him and to his lovely bride Sarah.

One rather suspects that he will not be doing a lot of blogging while gallivanting around the Irish countryside, and the rest of us haven’t been all that active lately, so expect a period of relative quiet for a couple of weeks.

Posted by Rojas @ 7:25 pm on September 28th 2011


“For American exceptionalism to truly deliver hope and a sterling example to the rest of the world, it must be demonstrated, not just asserted. Unfortunately, through our own domestic political conduct of late, we have failed to live up to our own tradition of exceptionalism. Today, our role and ability to affect change has been diminished because of our own problems and our inability to effectively deal with them.”

-Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ)

Posted by Brad @ 10:15 am on September 27th 2011

Quote of the Day

“In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay; they’d remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world; and conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S.

We do not believe that such human rights violation on the part of our government justify what has been done to us: not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments – including the government of Iran – to act in kind.”

—Released hiker Shane Bauer

Posted by Brad @ 3:09 pm on September 26th 2011

Breaking Down the Tea Party

The series of posts today seem almost archaic, don’t they? In any case, here’s one more. Reason polled self-identified Tea Partiers, with a particular eye towards their social conservativeness. What they find more or less hews to what we here have long asserted (as, of course, has Reason): that the Tea Party isn’t very homogenous on the matter. Asked point blank if “government should promote traditional values”, 59% agreed – while 41% assert that “government should not promote any particular set of values.”

Of course, that’s a significant majority – but so to is 41% a very significant minority. The real question (sadly unanswered by Reason) is how that compares to the Republican party at large. My hunch is that the rate would be less social conservative to the party at large. In which case it becomes a case of “see what you want to see”. Is the Tea Party, by being majority socially conservative, therefore a social conservative influence on both the GOP and the political arena in general? Or, by being LESS socially conservative than traditional Republican grassroots, a socially liberal influence on both the GOP and the political arena. Tomato, tomato.

Posted by Brad @ 1:53 pm on September 26th 2011

So What’s Maggie Gallagher Up To These Days?

Now that she’s clearly lost the Gay Wars in pretty much every respect?

She’s starting the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance, which seeks to make sure, in essence, that everybody treats being a bigot as a completely value-neutral proposition. Or, to put that another way, that we not be mean to people who seek to legally marginalize an entire segment of the American population

In her words:

Marriage ADA’s goal is an America where people on all sides of the gay marriage debate feel free to participate peacefully in the democratic process without fear of threats, harassment, or retaliation. I know that Frank is not the only one, because I’m getting e-mails from others who’ve faced similar threats. The goal of too many gay marriage advocates is to isolate, intimidate, and silence Americans who believe that marriage is the union of husband and wife, because children need their mom and dad. Marriage ADA is a response to these tactics of branding civil, thoughtful participation in democracy as hatred and bigotry.

I hope, by creating community, to inspire more Americans to stand up for their rights to preach, teach, and live the idea that to make a marriage you need a husband and a wife. There are too many of us to stigmatize if we stand together.

Here’s the whole interview she did with Kathryn Jean Lopez, which is exactly as hard-hitting and insightful as you might expect. The incident that she pegs this on is one in which a guy that did training seminars for Fortune 500 companies, and on the side writes screeds about how gay marriage is ruining America, suddenly found that those Fortune 500 companies, when made aware of his political activities, didn’t want to do business with him anymore because he didn’t represent the values that they choose to embrace.

This is taken as a grave injustice. And it reminds me of an argument I frequently have with certain kinds of conservatives.

Namely, it’s always amusing to me that those people who seem preoccupied with the wave of “political correctness” are also the ones most likely to whine to all hell the moment treats them like a jerk. They treat PC as a sort of fascist governing state.

In fact, all political correctness means is, if you walk around and offend people, they will treat you like you’re a jerk, so it’s usually best walking around trying to NOT offend people. Nobody is saying you CAN’T offend people by using whatever the hell language you want. But if you do, it’s not a sign of oppression or censorship when people react accordingly. You can LEGALLY call people niggers, for instance, until you’re blue in the face. But, if you do, don’t be surprised if people choose not to do business or hang out with you, or even treat you civilly. You don’t have any right to having your opinions rubber stamped by everybody you come across. “PC” is nothing more than a loaded word for social courtesy. You CAN decided that “African American” is a stupid phrasing. But if you run into a guy who prefers to be called “African American”, you don’t get to make that decision for him, no matter how much you want to. That’s all “PC” means.

Anyway, Maggie Gallagher is gnashing her teeth that, SHOCK, when you are fighting a losing battle to treat an entire segment of the population as sub-humans, people are going to think you’re a jerk, and will treat you accordingly.

Sorry Mags, but just because you live in a free society doesn’t obligate anybody to like you. That’s freedom, baby.

Posted by Brad @ 1:28 pm on September 26th 2011

On the Need for Less Democracy

A Quote of the Day from Former Office of Management and Budget chief Peter Orszag:

To solve the serious problems facing our country, we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.

Essentially, he argues, very explicitly, that deficits, spending, and taxation are too important to leave in the hands of legislators or, by extension, voters. Rather, those powers should be automated or handed by the executive to minions who can simply enact, rather than seek approval (and thus, potentially get disapproved).

Now, I am not going to make the obvious point here. For that, go here. It should be obvious what that obvious point is.

The less obvious point: Dear Republicans. You own this. Make no mistake, by instantiating a governing culture wherein the executive can deem things, on his say-so and according to his definition of what is “vital” to the survival of our republican (be it national security or “economic security”), outside the boundaries of oversight, appeal, and checks and balances, you make possible a culture where the NEXT asshole to take office takes that same philosophy and merely applies it to something different. There is a direct line from “our national security is at stake and we need the flexibility to response to that challenge without the additional hang-up of, you know, laws and shit” to “our ECONOMIC SECURITY is at stake and we need the flexibility” blah blah blah.

All that legwork you put in to see to it that the executive and the executive alone was given carte blanche blank check powers, WILL be used against you. That was the whole point we dissenters kept making time and time again, that the rule of law is there to PROTECT us, and while you may have been comfortable writing that check to President Bush, would you be to President Hillary Clinton? Or, to put it another way, the moment you define legal conscriptions solely as IMPEDIMENTS rather than PROTECTIONS, and the more you dissolve those conscriptions for convenience, the more you unilateraly disarm. If the law doesn’t have to apply in cases where the person in charge thinks something is really really important, you have not actually created a system that serves that important thing – you have just torn down the walls that keep the next guy from defining some other important thing. So the Patriot Act is now used mostly against online gamblers and offline pot smokers, and executive orders, if Orszag had his druthers, apply not only to terrorist threats, but to poor people not getting enough money.

And, of course, lest you anti-Bushies get too smug in reading those last two paragraphs, the obvious extension of that is, if Orszag had his druthers, you can bet that the NEXT next asshole (President Perry?) will use those same systems to make it easier for him to fiat on the stuff HE considers important. Might be America’s credit rating this time, and teh gay threat to families or brown people in our cities the next.

Posted by Brad @ 12:33 pm on September 26th 2011

Music Video of the Tea Party

One of the saddest un-sung casualties of the tea party movement in America is The Tea Party in Canada.

Looks like they’re finally throwing in the towel and considering selling off and, presumably, changing their name. Hard to blame ’em. Because really, the two Tea Partys have nothing in common. Except flagrant and abject racism*.

The Tea Party – Save Me

*just kidding, Canadian libel attorneys!

Posted by Brad @ 12:20 pm on September 26th 2011

Is It Not Worth Mentioning That One of the Tea Party Standard Bearers in the Republican Primary is Black?

You can say what you will about the Tea Party, but since it’s long crystallized into the public consciousness that the Tea Party movement is borne of racism and hate and white male privilege, it should at least be pointed out that the two candidates for Pres who arguably are the MOST a part of the Tea Party milieu are a black man and a woman.

On that front, I do have to second Jay Nordlinger. Again, that’s not the end of the argument, but it is at least a data point worth being conscious of.

Posted by Adam @ 3:59 pm on September 23rd 2011

Kevin Rudd: excellence in retort

I don’t think that anyone will ever beat Paul Keating’s collection of retorts, put-downs and insults but I liked Kevin Rudd’s response to allegations that he’s spending too much on travel as Foreign Minister:

“The first thing I think I’d say on behalf of all foreign ministers is that one of the things we tend to do is travel,” Mr Rudd said.

“And that’s because we discovered a long time ago that most foreigners live abroad…”

I also admired how he dealt with that thing about being ejected from a strip club thing years ago (“I don’t remember it, I was too drunk“).

Posted by Brad @ 3:05 pm on September 23rd 2011

Great Moments in Headline Writing

Poll: Romney leads New Hampshire, Huntsman in third, Perry in fourth

Posted by Brad @ 2:00 pm on September 23rd 2011

McCotter Out

Et tu, Thaddeus?
You didn’t even
have a dogshit joke in you?


List: McCotter, Pawlenty.

Posted by Brad @ 1:32 pm on September 23rd 2011

Quote of the Day

“I’m betrayed, in my view, by not just my wife, but by Neal and the whole gang in Journey.”

—“White House party crasher” and Real Housewives of D.C. star Tareq Salahi.

Layers upon layers of things wrong with America in that one…

Posted by Brad @ 1:26 pm on September 23rd 2011

The Only Thing Less Meaningful In Defining a Party’s Base in Light of a Primary Debate Than a Frank Luntz Focus Group…


Posted by Cameron @ 8:13 am on September 23rd 2011

Thanks again to Pandora

It’s a sign that I should probably pay attention more when I go to thumbs up a song only to find that I’ve already done so. This is one of those songs.

Barnyard Disturbance – Edgar Meyer

Posted by Brad @ 3:01 pm on September 22nd 2011

Quote of the Day

“[Our] interest in the finality of [our] capital judgments is more important than the accuracy of [our] capital verdicts.”

The State of Georgia

Posted by Brad @ 11:43 am on September 21st 2011

“The Tyranny of the Typical”

Jonah Goldberg revisits an old, but very good, fable from Murray Rothbard, in the context of Ron Paul’s point on health insurance in the last debate, and the stunted nature of civic imagination that leads to build-in-prejudices against any attempts to challenge the status quo. I think it’s a point that’s almost intuitive for a lot of libertarians, but not-at-all for those that look at them from the outside as just foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics.

“So identified has the State become in the public mind with the provision of these services,” Rothbard laments, “that an attack on State financing appears to many people as an attack on the service itself.” The libertarian who wants to get the government out of a certain business is “treated in the same way as he would be if the government had, for various reasons, been supplying shoes as a tax-financed monopoly from time immemorial.”

If everyone had always gotten their shoes from the government, writes Rothbard, the proponent of shoe privatization would be greeted as a kind of lunatic. “How could you?” defenders of the status quo would squeal. “You are opposed to the public, and to poor people, wearing shoes! And who would supply shoes . . . if the government got out of the business? Tell us that! Be constructive! It’s easy to be negative and smart-alecky about government; but tell us who would supply shoes? Which people? How many shoe stores would be available in each city and town? . . . What material would they use? . . . Suppose a poor person didn’t have the money to buy a pair?”

In other words, “WHY ARE YOU ANTI-SHOE?!?!”

Posted by Brad @ 11:24 am on September 21st 2011

Rick Santorum v. Google

Rick Santorum blast google for not doing anything about his Santorum problem (heh), claiming that they’re detrimentally impacting the country and suggesting their lack of action is because they have it in (heh) for him.

Google spokesperson advises Santorum on the proper procedure for filing a complaint, which is to contact the webmaster of the offending page (i.e. Dan Savage) and politely ask them to take their content down.

Heh. There’s a certain style of IT humor – drier than the British and more hard-to-detect passive aggressiveness than with women – that I really enjoy.

Posted by Brad @ 8:28 am on September 21st 2011

Music Video of the People’s Republic

New internet viral video sub-genre! Dance-pop slash communist dictatorship mashups!

North Korea Party Rock Anthem

Ain’t no party like a Pyongyang party, ’cause a Pyongyang party is ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY


Posted by Brad @ 1:58 pm on September 20th 2011

In Which Rojas Was Right

In a previous post (I now can’t find), I amused myself and others by making a full-fledged prediction on how the entire 2012 presidential election would turn out. The gist, as I recall, still bears out maybe, but one factor I don’t think holds water any more – that in which Michelle Bachmann is a serious factor in the Republican primary. She’s gone from being one of the frontrunners and an obvious winner of the Iowa caucuses, to polling at 5% nationally, and maybe barely able to survive the calendar year.

I cast Bachmann more as an Edwards in 2008 figure, rather than a Trump in 2011 one, which appears closer to Bachmann’s apparently entirely fictional electoral strength. Rojas was right. Her illussionary clout appears to be entirely a function of conservatives spinning a globe and landing on the only non-Romney they’d heard of before, and her brief viability seems in retrospect to be entirely a polite fiction spun when it was convenient for the media, and one which collapsed the second they moved on. Seems like we’re getting more and more of those kinds of candidates in the last few cycles.

Anyway, Rojas was right. On this one.

Posted by Brad @ 1:05 pm on September 20th 2011

PETA Decides to Go in a New Direction

And that direction is “pornography“.

Seriously, I know they’ve had some success in the past with risque ads and the like, but this strikes me as a step beyond “marketing ploy” and more towards “weird obsession”.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind.

Posted by Brad @ 8:29 am on September 20th 2011

Ron “Hollywood” Paul

So, in Ron Paul news, not only did Paul win the California straw poll, but apparently Vince Vaughn and Barry Manilow are supporters, and have taken public roles in his campaign.

Posted by Cameron @ 6:58 pm on September 18th 2011

View it in full screen HD

Here’s your stunning video of the day. A timelapse perspective shot from the ISS as it heads down the Pacific coast from Vancouver to Chile. If you pause at around the 13 second mark you can see from San Francisco over to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas down to Los Angeles.

It’s one hell of a view.

Posted by Jack @ 10:57 pm on September 16th 2011

The Frequent Flyer MMORPG

I have been a bit of a road warrior the last five years or so, and during that time I have become fairly competent working to maximum effect frequent flyer and other loyalty type programs. This year it has been a rare flight that saw me seated in other than first or business class, even though I am purchasing all tickets at economy and deep economy coach, and I frequently get upgraded with executive floor access in Starwood or Hilton hotels as well. I have built up a rather large amount of points, allowing me or my wife to make a couple of trips a year at virtually no cost. There is an enormous amount of information out there for anyone wanting to explore a program or improve their use of an existing one, so much so that it can be quite overwhelming. So here is a bit of a primer covering two areas: what you can get out of the programs regardless of you travel pattern, and how these programs are like a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, but in a good way. Let’s start with the latter.

Back in the day I was a pretty heavy MMORPG player, particularly during the Diablo I and II period. I even wrote some articles for the largest Diablo II unofficial website, I quite cold turkey just as World of Warcraft was coming out, thank Dawkins, else I would have spiraled into Trainspotting territory for sure. As any reasonably experienced RPG player can tell you, in a lot of games “things” mathematically “stack” such that characteristics, skills, equipment, effects and tactics produce extraordinary results in a well-planned character. Given entirely equal points for all these things, a knowledgeable player develops an incredible killing machine, whereas the noob will likely create a frail and delicate flower since he is not aware of the near geometric progression of attack speed, damage and defense that the proper “build” will produce. The deeper I got into research and use of my frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, the more I recognized some of these same stacking characteristics. Given equal dollars spent, a novice will fly a number of trips in coach. The expert will have leveraged specials and program design quirks into elite status, multiplied his miles significantly, possibly flying in upgraded seating, have priority access to the plane and security gates, reduced baggage fees, and many other benefits.

Let’s run through an example using the program with which I am most familiar, American Airlines (AA), and to demonstrate that this information is not just for the hard core road warrior, we will assume a rather moderate amount of flying, say 14-18K miles a year consisting of two coast to coast trips and two shorter itineraries. Leroy is a flying noob and has no interest in worrying over FF programs, while Jenkins is mildly obsessed with miles and points. Both have planned trips from Miami (MIA) to San Francisco (SFO), then Miami to New York City (JFK), and later in the year they expect to do these two trips or something very similar again. Leroy books the cheapest flights he can find, flying American to SFO via Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) and one of the discount airlines on both trips to New York. For this he will earn approximately 10,320 total miles with AA, and another 4,360 on the discount airline. With these miles he can do almost nothing. Perhaps, if he plans ahead, he can purchase a one way short distance domestic flight. Perhaps.

Jenkins, on the other hand, went full geek and researched a bit on Flyer Talk, the premier source for all things loyalty program. Just to keep it fair, we will assume our man J only just signed up for AA’s FFP, and does not have some previous status that will give him an advantage. But prior to the very same MIA to SFO trip that Leroy took, Jenkins did two things different: he signed up for AA’s “Gold Elite Challenge” and he elected to take a slightly longer route to SFO, flying through Chicago rather than DFW. The Gold Elite Challenge cost Jenkins $140, for which he will be granted Gold status in AA’s elite flyer program if he obtains 5000 points in a 90 day period. (For simplicity’s sake, I am not going to differentiate between points and miles, suffice it to say they are not directly interchangeable terms, but close enough for our comparison). The ORD routing will extend Jenkins flying mileage nearly 1000 miles for the round trip. Given equal layovers, he may very well get to SFO an hour later than Leroy. At the end of the first trip, Jenkins has earned gold status due to his 6080 mile round trip. Jenkins works the same itinerary for the second SFO trip, but elects to spend a bit more and stay with American rather than the discount airlines for the New York flights. Part of that price is offset by the significant number of nickel and dime fees the discount airlines charge that are inclusive in the bigger airlines, such as carry-on bags, checked luggage, drinks, snacks etc. Even so, he still may have paid more, and you can do your own value assessment to determine at what point one should abandon their loyalty airline for a cheaper competition. Here is what happens for our traveller:

1. Since Jenkins is now Gold Elite for the remainder of this year and the next, on each of the remaining three trips he has access to the priority security line at MIA, he boards just after the first class passengers, has access to better, though not upgraded seating (think exit row), certain fees get waived and about a dozen other benefits that may or may not be useful to him.
2. Gold Elite members earn a 25% mileage bonus, so the second San Francisco trip will net him 7600 miles and each New York journey gives him 2725. His total mileage for the year is 19,130 miles, all on American. If he were a Platinum Elite member, the bonus 100%.
3. As a Gold member (heh) he earns four 500 mile “stickers” for each 10,000 miles flown. These stickers can be used to upgrade to business/first class on domestic and Caribbean flights, one sticker for each 500 miles in a leg. Next year he can use these for some of his flights and arrive rested with several Glenlivets in system while Leroy is nursing his anger over flying next to the enormous gentleman in coach and having to pay $7 for a Dewars.
4. As a first time AA member, Jenkins has access to a bunch of one time only mileage bonuses that he learned about on Flyer Talk, such as 500 free miles just for letting liberty mutual give you an auto insurance quote, up to 2500 miles for letting AA send you email about flight specials and offers for a couple of months, and a host of new ones that are constantly showing up on the discussion forums. From these he can very easily expect to score another 6000 or so miles by the end of the year. With over 25K in his AA account, if he is reasonably flexible and plans ahead a bit he can now exchange these for a domestic round trip anywhere in the continental US. American, unlike some airlines, actually has lots of seats available for point redeemers.
5. Jenkins, like every adult needs a credit card or three, and decides that if he is going to use them he might as well get something in return. So he applied for both the Citicard AAdvantage Visa and AMEX. After spending $1500 and $4000 respectively, he was given a 75,000 mile bonus for each card. That’s right, 150K. Shit just got real, yo. This is in addition to the 5,500 in points for the actual dollars spent. If he uses these cards to purchase American Airlines tickets, he gets 2 points per dollar. 65 days later (Citibank restriction), he obtained a Citicard AAdvantage Business Visa for another 75,000 mile bonus after $1500 in spend. The annual fee on all three cards was waived for the first year, and he plans to ask for a waiver in the second year or cancel the cards, which he may do anyway since there are always more offers out there.
6. Jenkins can get ridiculous on this, shifting all of his recurring bills to credit cards, at least for those that accept them without fee, such as his cell phone, internet, cable, electrical, car insurance, and gym memberships. The points pile up, especially when you pay attention and get those end of year 2 miles per dollar spent offers. He can also do all of his shopping, when it is cost efficient, through the American Airlines shopping portal, which grants several miles per dollar spent with certain merchants, in addition to the credit card bonus. He can end the year with close to 300K miles, enough for a bunch of domestic coach flights, or two transatlantic trips in first class with points left over.

This is a conservative example. Many flyer talk regulars work the system to an extraordinary degree. For the past couple of years and up until very recently, a lot of members have been taking advantage of a quirk in the U.S. Mint’s desire to get silver dollars into circulation. They offered free shipping and allowed you to pay with a credit card. This resulted in a number of FFP fanatics buying thousands of silver dollars every month, and immediately depositing them with their local bank, in effect “churning” their credit card’s spend through half a million dollars a year, giving them half a mil in flight miles. Up until a year ago, Citibank did not seem to have a system in place to prevent a “churn” of their 35,000 mile bonus credit cards, allowing members to apply, get approved, receive, meet a $500 spend, receive their 35K bonus, and cancel the card in three weeks, then do it all over again through the rest of the year. While these types of exploitable holes are getting rarer, the “honest to god not a bug but rather simply part of the business plan” options out there are quite excellent and without risk, at least if you are disciplined with credit cards.

There are five major and many lesser hotel loyalty programs. They award points based upon dollars spent, with bonuses and frequent specials. They award elite status based upon meeting thresholds in either nights or stays. Elite status confers point bonuses, room upgrades, and free amenities. The stacking in hotels can come from a combination of advertised point bonuses, elite membership bonuses, and branded credit card bonuses. For instance, at any Starwood Preferred Guest property, I end up with at least 5 points per dollar spent. 1 for the regular offer, 2 for my elite status bonus, 2 for paying with my SPG credit card. SPG also frequently runs targeted double and triple point bonus offers, and I am usually offered 500 points in lieu of a welcome amenity gift. For instance, at present one Thursday night in a $100 Sheraton yields 1200 SPG points, which I roughly value at $24. Not a bad discount.

Car rental programs work similarly, rewarding membership with upgrades and discount offers. When in Hawaii last year I was merely a newly signed up Thrifty Blue Chip program member with no elite status at all, and yet I had access to a priority line, a ready key and contract at each location, and upgrades on 2 or 3 of our 7 different rentals.

The keys to working these systems I loosely compress into three points:
1. Never fly, sleep in a hotel, or rent a car without getting credit in their loyalty program. Its free shit, man!
2. When possible and economically feasible, concentrate your flying, sleeping, and renting into a primary company and one back up. This will entail a bit of research to determine which programs best meet your travel patterns, and where your value vs. loyalty cut off point is.
3. Utilize the incredible variety of free offers out there to build miles and points in your primary and back up programs.

Posted by Adam @ 10:34 am on September 15th 2011

Johann Hari’s apology non-apology

Johann Hari’s a clever chap, we can probably all agree. He had the excellent judgement to add a link to my questions about Mark Steyn’s numbers into the postscript to an review on Steyn’s book “America Alone: The end of the world as we know it”. He also wrote an interesting article about a National Review cruise, including an interesting disagreement between Norman Podhoretz and the late Bill Buckley which rather echoed the disagreements I and my co-bloggers were having some our erstwhile fellow-travellers in the conservative ranks*.

Hari’s not my cup of ideological tea, and I’ve often found I disagree with everything he says, but I have always found reading him enjoyable nevertheless. Alas, it appears that he has failed into two ways:

  • He took interviewees’ statements from elsewhere — their writings and other interviews — and substituted them into his own interviews with those subjects.
  • He used a wikipedia account in a different name to alter the entries on people he disliked, calling one a “anti-Semitic and homophobic” and another a “drunk”

The issue of transposition of quoted material arose back at the end of June 2011, and Hari blogged in his defence whilst admitting the substance of the allegations. The Independent suspended Hari pending an investigation, which has resulted in an additional four-month suspension with no pay and he has to have journalism training to learn that you shouldn’t take stuff from other material and insert it into your own and pass it off as the result of your own interviewing. Or at least not get caught.

Hari has also written an apology and it is this which has received some attention. Via Scott Matthewman, an allegation (content warning; some of that second blog might not be safe for work, but I paste the content below) of cynicism:

At heart is not Hari’s lack of journalistic education – as his new editor claimed ludicrously last night on Newsnight – but his very low opinion of journalism. You don’t stuff up your interviews with quotes from elsewhere and then pass them off as your own work unless you think that no-one will notice or care. You don’t pinch someone’s name to attack critics on Wikipedia unless you imagine colleagues are stupid. Ease of career passage has bequeathed Hari nothing but contempt and cynicism. His ‘apology’ is a lesson in cynicism.

Toby Young isn’t very impressed, either. In fisking the apology, Young on Hari’s contention that he lifted material in order that the interviewee’s statements be clearer than they were in the interview:

Balls. You just couldn’t get them to say anything as inflammatory or sensational or newsworthy as they’d said before so you took those things they’d said and pretended they’d said them to you. It wasn’t “clarity” you were after. It was personal glory.

Young on Hari’s implication that some of the criticism is powered by powerful people angry with The Truth about them Hari had previously exposed:

Oh pur-lease. The reason you’ve been put through the wringer by various bloggers and journalists isn’t because they’re the paid lackeys of the military-industrial complex. It’s because you’re a sanctimonious little prig and there are few things in life more satisfying than discovering that people who set themselves up as morally superior to the rest of us have feet of clay.

Young on the implication that a lack of real journalism training was the problem:

the suggestion that all your sins are attributable to the fact that you’ve never had any formal journalistic training is risible. Many, many journalists working for broadsheet papers have never been to journalism school or done a stint in the provinces or worked their way up from the regional news pages, but – somehow – they’ve managed to grasp that making stuff up and creating false identities in order to trash your rivals is wrong. It’s not that you’re ignorant of the rules, Johann. You knew what they were and you broke them anyway.

I particularly like the “I’m so successful, I never had time to learn the rules that bind the little people” excuse, which I shall use at every possible opportunity from now on.

This isn’t as spectacularly bad as the W. Thomas Smith/NRO “The Tank” non-apology, which was also a concerted effort by journal (NRO, represented by Kathryn Jean Lopez) and writer (W. Thomas Smith), but Hari himself is of significantly higher profile than Smith. I assume, in any case, that journalism training comes with a course on apology construction.

I would like to re-emphasise that none of us here at The Crossed Pond would engage in such shameless insertions of other material into interviews. Apart from Rojas, I mean. EDIT: And, apparently, Brad.

EDIT: Also linked from Scott’s blog, background on the wikipedia issue.

*Brad obviously went on to become a Godless freedom-hating Obama-lover, whereas Bill Buckley died. Brad no longer loves Obama but Bill Buckley, alas, remains dead.

Posted by Rojas @ 2:03 pm on September 14th 2011

The GOP’s 2012 game-changer?

Could the GOP defeat Obama in 2012 by having states choose their Presidential electors differently? Mother Jones discusses the implications of the Maine/Nebraska approach as applied nationally.

Posted by Adam @ 12:01 pm on September 14th 2011

He’s just not that into you

But 65 000 phone calls in a year would be hard to match, anyhow.

65 000 is a lot. It’s more times than I’ve had sex with Kate Moss, for example.

Posted by Brad @ 10:35 am on September 14th 2011

A News Story You Will be Seeing Everywhere This Year


My hunch is it will be for “green jobs” what East Anglia was for “climate change research”- which is not to say a huge torpedo, but a meme-making ready-made talking point / shorthand that is going to stick to it, probably unfairly out of proportion to its actual import, but still.

Posted by Rojas @ 7:02 pm on September 12th 2011

Oh, look, another Republican debate liveblog

There are too many of these. And I say that as a Republican debate coach.

Posted by Brad @ 11:56 am on September 12th 2011

“The sad legacy of 9/11 is that the assholes, on each side, won.”

Now that it’s September 12th, a counterpoint:

“What was played out in the weeks after the attacks was the old, familiar battle between force and human imagination, between the crude instruments of violence and the capacity for empathy and understanding. Human imagination lost. Coldblooded reason, which does not speak the language of the imagination, won. We began to speak and think in the empty, mindless nationalist clichés about terror that the state handed to us. We became what we abhorred. The deaths were used to justify pre-emptive war, invasion, Shock and Awe, prolonged occupation, targeted assassinations, torture, offshore penal colonies, gunning down families at checkpoints, massive aerial bombardments, drone attacks, missile strikes and the killing of dozens and soon hundreds and then thousands and later tens of thousands and finally hundreds of thousands of innocent people. We produced piles of corpses in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and extended the reach of our killing machine to Yemen and Somalia. And by beatifying our dead, by cementing into the national psyche fear and the imperative of permanent war, and by stoking our collective humiliation, the state carried out crimes, atrocities and killings that dwarfed anything carried out against us on 9/11. The best that force can do is impose order. It can never elicit harmony.”

Posted by Rojas @ 10:01 pm on September 11th 2011

Rany Jazayerli remembers 9/11

“Tell your wife to take off her headscarf. Now.

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