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Ed Driscoll

The New, New Journalism

You Want to Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

November 4th, 2014 - 4:07 pm

Stop by early and often.

The Antediluvian Ben Bradlee

October 24th, 2014 - 4:47 pm

When Ben Bradlee died on Tuesday, Bob Woodward was quoted as saying that “His passing, in a way, marks the end of the 20th century,” a phrase that cuts in more directions than Bradlee’s superstar protege likely intended. Or as Andrew Ferguson writes in response at the Weekly Standard, “About time:”

Bradlee was complaining that a lot of the fun had gone out of journalism during the Reagan years. The reason, he said, was that “there are so many of these asshole watchdog groups now.”

He was referring in particular to Accuracy in Media, or AIM, a conservative practitioner of the kind of ideological press criticism that is now a common feature of the media world, so greatly enlarged by cable TV and the Internet. These parvenus were crowding his territory, barbarians trying to breach the gates. He and his friends were the watchdogs, goddammit, and the watchdog didn’t need any watchdogs watching it.

But the new order allowed the watchdogs and other buttinskis an audience as large as his own paper’s. It made Bradlee churlish. AIM was founded by an earnest man named Reed Irvine, a sweet, slightly buffoonish drudge whose suit always seemed a size and a half too large and whose pinched appearance made him easily mocked, especially by men whose own suits were bespoke. Irvine’s great mission in life was to expose the pretenses to fairness and disinterestedness of a monolithic press—to “tell it like it was,” to borrow a phrase from the Post’s piece. He was a genuine subversive, nipping at the heels of an establishment that in its vanity considered itself “antiestablishment.”

Publicly, Bradlee called Irvine a “retromingent.” The word describes a kind of animal, one that urinates backward. The insult was funny and revealing in its casual cruelty.

These days their battle—asymmetric as it was—seems so long ago, a dispute from a vanished era. The tributes to Bradlee from his protégés had the same quality, voices assuming the authority of an order that is passing, that has passed away. Now that both men are dead, I hope it’s some consolation to the shade of Reed Irvine to know that, in the effort to dismantle and discredit a corrupt regime, he won and Bradlee lost.

Which is another reminder that neither side of the aisle wanted the smugly self-satisfied MSM to have the final word on the issues, when the World Wide Web began to gather speed in the mid-to-late 1990s.

“In thesis, Pryor argued Democratic dominance in Arkansas caused by reaction to federal desegregation efforts,” Alana Goodman writes at the Washington Free Beacon:

The paper is housed at the University of Arkansas special collections library, which suspended the Washington Free Beacon‘s library privileges earlier this year. Pryor, who graduated from the university in 1985, wrote that the thesis was influenced by his work on his father David Pryor’s 1984 senatorial campaign.

In the essay, Pryor argued that the Democratic Party’s dominance in the state stemmed from public’s need for protection against external threats, comparing this to the Russian people backing Tsarist and Communist governments.

“Arkansas has been invaded unwillingly twice. Once in reality and once figuratively,” wrote Pryor.

“The Civil War provided the real invasion. The figurative invasion took place in 1957 at Little Rock Central High School. That event took a local problem out of the local authorities’ hands. The federal government had again forced its will on the people of Arkansas.”

Read the whole thing. And remember, if Pryor had an (R) after his name, the Beacon’s crosstown rival the Washington Post would be running this story in a continuous loop from now until election day, as they did in the fall of 2006 with over 100 stories on “macaca,” George Allen’s gaffed verbal attack on his ubiquitous mohawk wearing leftwing video tracker, and the numerous stories they published in 2009 to  attack Bob McDonnell, the ultimately successful Virginia gubernatorial candidate over his college thesis. Or the 50+ stories that the Politico ran on Todd Akin in 2012.

Related:A Low-Tech Lynching,” courtesy of Democrat Kay Hagan.

Shot:

In news that must have left my friends at the New York Post — never mind the gang at The Daily Show – with a renewed confidence that ours is a just and beneficent God, the White House has been caught covering up a scandal involving a Cartagena hooker.

The phrase “Cartagena hooker” alone is a mellifluous gift to ink-stained wretches everywhere, but the revelation that the White House reassigned the alleged client of the aforementioned Andean call girl to the State Department’s office of “Global Women’s Issues” is the sort of flourish Tom Wolfe or Chris Buckley wouldn’t dare attempt as satire.

“The Cartagena-Hooker Cover-Up: If the White House would falsify records about this, it can deceive the public about larger issues,” Jonah Goldberg, today.

Chaser:

Via the Daily Surge, I’m using “aide” because I’m not sure what to call this guy. Is he a staffer? Bodyguard? Some jack-of-all-trades policy advisor/goon? Why does Harry Reid have muscle with him when he walks the halls of Congress? And more importantly, per Mattera’s question, how does a humble, longtime public servant like him pay for it? (Conservatives, and only conservatives, have been asking about that for a long time.)

—”Video: Harry Reid aide manhandles Jason Mattera for asking about Reid’s personal wealth,” Allahpundit last night.

Hangover:

THE “MARGIN OF FRAUD” JUST EXPANDED: Supreme Court blocks Wisconsin’s voter ID law. “In a related action, a district court judge in Texas ruled that state’s voter ID law is racially discriminatory and violates the Voting Rights Act. The state attorney general’s office said it would appeal.”

—Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com, last night.

“Think of the Democratic Party as what it really is: a criminal organization masquerading as a political party,” my friend and fellow PJM columnist Michael Walsh wrote in 2009 in the guise of his leftwing alter-ego, David Kahane, to borrow the lede from my post earlier this year on a day when politics and the police blotter were particularly interactive and visible.

Update: And again: “WTF: Oregon’s First Lady admits she had a sham marriage with an immigrant for money,” and as with the Cartagena hooker debacle, there’s an element that’s beyond satire as well:

Vladimir Nabokov, call your office.

Flash: Lois Lerner Breaks Silence!

October 6th, 2014 - 9:26 pm

“Lerner attempted to bust into a neighbor’s home uninvited, in a desperate attempt to avoid answering questions about her involvement in the targeting of conservative groups:

“Could you call the police?” Lerner begs an elderly woman, while pounding on her door. “Please let me in. These guys are with the press and they’re not leaving me alone.” The elderly woman is heard telling Lerner that she just had surgery and was in no position physically to let her in the house.

But that didn’t stop Lerner. She implores that same elderly woman to open up her garage instead.

“It’s almost a perfect proxy for her actions in the targeting scandal,” Mattera said.

“She keeps badgering an innocent woman with zero regard for her wishes. It’s an incredible crystallization of Lerner’s character or lack thereof.”

The natural question the viewer asks, he notes, is, “If she’s willing to barge into a person’s home, how much more so is she willing to barge into a conservative’s IRS records to inflict her personal will?”

Eventually, the elderly woman’s husband sees Lerner’s antics and kicks her off his property.  “Out. Out!” he demanded.

Lener, who has referred to conservatives on talk radio as “assholes” and “crazies,” then scurries through what looks like somebody else’s private property.

Don’t miss this.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Protests Himself

October 3rd, 2014 - 4:06 pm

The brilliant cartoonist Michael Ramirez of Investor’s Business Daily drops by the new Red Eye-style series Flipside with Michael Loftus and explains how he and his editor joined the protest march outside of the awards ceremony for one of Ramirez’s Pulitzers. Click above to watch; Ramirez appears about ten minutes in.

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“Breitbart News says IRS targeted company for audit,” Glenn Reynolds notes today adding, “Who could have seen this one coming,” Glenn adds. “And who could hear this without laughing?”

The agency said in a statement: “Federal privacy laws prohibit the IRS from commenting on specific taxpayer situations. The IRS stresses that audits are based on the information related to tax returns and the underlying tax law — nothing else. Audits are handled by career, non-partisan civil servants, and the IRS has safeguards in place to protect the exam process.”

As Glenn notes, “Nobody believes this anymore. Which is, as I warned it would be, a real loss.” That post went up at 8:00 AM eastern today at Instapundit. It makes for quite a juxtaposition with the opening paragraphs of this post timestamped 1:53 PM EDT today at the establishment left blog on Congress, The Hill

During another grueling hearing on the ObamaCare rollout, the head of the Internal Revenue Service tried to offer lawmakers an assurance about the soon-to-open enrollment period.

“Whenever we can, we follow the law,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health on Wednesday.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who leads the subcommittee, immediately expressed his concern with the remarks.“I encourage you to follow the law in all instances,” Brady said.

Nobody believes they do anymore. Which is indeed a real loss.

If the attitude of those in power — when in the national spotlight, under oath, being grilled by Congress — is “whenever we can, we follow the law,” why should they expect everyone else to hold a different attitude? Or to put it another way, “You cannot have a viable society where the backbone of the country thinks that following the rules and the law is for suckers and chumps. “

Which is exactly what the head of the IRS, his predecessor, and their boss on Pennsylvania Ave. are saying about — and to — the American public.

Vercotti Brothers

“The company that runs the conservative Breitbart.com news site says the IRS has selected the network for an audit, in a move company executives suggest is politically motivated,” Fox News reports:

A copy of the IRS notice to Breitbart News, obtained by FoxNews.com, asked about the company’s financial information for calendar year 2012.

The IRS asked for a litany of documents, including logs of its receipts and expenses, but also its partnership agreement and a “written narrative” of the business.

Larry Solov, president and CEO of Breitbart News Network said: “We stand ready to cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service on its audit of our company, but this will not deter us in the least from continuing our aggressive coverage of this president or his administration.”

The company was founded by the late media entrepreneur and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.

The main website, Breitbart.com, houses a number of offshoot sites including Big Hollywood and Big Journalism. The website played a key role in breaking the scandal over former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner sharing sexually explicit photos on Twitter.

I’m sure the Economist, which this week is running a cover story on “The Criminalization of American Business,” Bloomberg News and other agencies largely staffed by Democrat operatives with bylines would chalk all of the above up as occurring  “unexpectedly,” despite the fact that Mr. Obama “joked” about siccing the IRS on his political enemies in 2009.

Related: “A senior communications aide to Attorney General Eric Holder seemingly called House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa’s staff by accident and asked for their help spinning new revelations about the IRS scandal, Issa said in a September 8 letter to Holder.”

How the Blogosphere was Won

August 8th, 2014 - 1:10 pm

Congrats to Professor Reynolds for helping to kick off a revolution in journalism. Of course, for purely selfish reasons, my favorite early Insta-post occurred a few weeks after the initial Insta-launch, on September 2nd, 2001

Happy 14th Blog-versary to Kaithy Shaidle!

July 24th, 2014 - 2:05 pm

Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit began in August of 2001. Pushback against the MSM’s formula coverage of 9/11 resulted in the first wave of new blogs arriving shortly thereafter. But a year prior, Kathy Shaidle began her first blog, and has been going strong p***ing off all the right left people strong ever since:

After writing about crazy evil Muslims 24/7 since 9/11, I decided to (mostly) leave that topic to my husband.

Life is too long to read and write about their bullshit anymore unless I feel so inclined.

It’s like how I (mostly) gave up blogging about religion, and turned the original site, RelapsedCatholic, into FiveFeetOfFury.

I can’t foresee what I’ll be blogging about 14 days or weeks or years from now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll still be here (despite the “Death of the Blog” that I’ve been hearing about since, well, about three years after I started…)

Thanks again for sticking around, for reading my stuff at other sites, like Taki’s and PJMedia, and for reading my books (and saying nice things about them.)

Your support amazes me.

It’s always fascinating to go back to what was being written in the late 1990s, 2000, and pre-9/11 2001 to remember how simpler and much more optimistic things seemed back then. (James Lileks’ first Bleats should be placed in a time capsule for what day-to-day life in the late 1990s was like.) Of course, it helped that there was still optimism over how the then-still nascent World Wide Web would transform, well, if not the world, at least how we got our news and pop culture.

Of course, what we didn’t know is that the nightmares that would haunt us in the coming decade were even then being crafted, both internationally:

And domestically:

Not to mention another topic that would dominate the news cycle of the past decade:

Because pop culture had started to fracture thanks to the initial breakup of mass media in the 1990s, that decade never had the feeling of a unified overculture that the 1980s had, and while we were living it, the nineties seemed remarkably chaotic. But today, it’s obvious that 1990s-era nostalgia is rapidly growing. It will be fascinating to watch Hillary Clinton attempt to profit from it, even as she denounces all of the ways her husband’s policies — either on his own, or attempting to steal the GOP’s lunch — made it happen.

Free Salondotcom!

July 16th, 2014 - 7:46 pm

“Twitter Shuts Down Hilarious Salon Parody Account,” Robby Soave writes at Reason’s “Hit & Run” blog:

At approximately 5:50 P.M. EST, it became known that Twitter had shut down @Salondotcom, a hilarious parody of Salon run by The Daily Caller’s opinion editor, Jordan Bloom, and his roommate, Rob Mariani. @Salondotcom constantly tweeted fake headlines that perfectly aped Salon‘s everyone-is-racist-and-Republicans-are-worse-than-Hitler shtick.

Found via Glenn Reynolds — who had his own run-in with the Kafka-esque labyrinthine nature of the Twitter gulag a couple of years ago, and who, despite having over 31,000 Twitter followers and arguably inventing micro-blogging 13 years ago, still doesn’t have a Twitter-verified account.

“In late 2009, Screenwriter Roger L. Simon and filmmaker Lionel Chetwynd sat down with legendary director Paul Mazursky to discuss Hollywood’s penchant for stereotyped portrayals of Jews,” as a segment on PJTV’s Poliwood.

Seeing ‘em Jump

May 20th, 2014 - 6:33 pm

What motivates a person to enter politics? In the midst of an interesting breakdown of his landmark 1970 article “Radical Chic,” as part of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard’s “Annotation Tuesday” series, Tom Wolfe explains one big reason. But first, early in the liner notes, Wolfe first mentions his theory of “Information Compulsion:”

[T]his is my one contribution to psychology: There’s something called “information compulsion,” which makes you feel good when you supply information to someone. You got a few little status points because that person needed what you knew, and you gave it to him. On the other hand, if you’re asked something that you can’t answer, you think, What are you coming to me for?

And with that as background, much later in the interview, interviewer Elon Green asks Wolfe, “Do you think that’s why powerful people, despite it not being in their best interest, will talk to journalists?”

Yeah, I think so. I remember talking once to Abe Ribicoff. When I was a graduate student, they have these weeks where distinguished people come and make themselves available to all kinds of student organizations. We had a little thing called the American Studies Club. During the course of the week, Abe Ribicoff agreed to come. I asked him, very naively, “What is it that motivates politicians? Is it the money, the power? What is it? The publicity?” And he said, “Well, it’s certainly not the publicity. You get so used to it that you just expect it.” And then he said, “Unless you’re an idiot, it’s not the money.” And he says, “You find out that even at the federal level, you don’t really have that much power. There are very few people who you can point to, and say, ‘You do this and you do that.’” But, he said, “The real kick is seeing them jump.” I said, “Seeing them jump?” “Yeah,” he said. “You come into a room and everybody jumps up! Everyone offers you whatever seat you want. If you even hint that you might be hungry, 10 people want to go out and get you something from the restaurant.” He said, “Seeing ’em jump. That’s what it’s all about.” Of course, this was a student organization, and there was no one there with even an interest in publishing it. But he was really letting you in on something there, and you could really get a kick out of your own sophistication, if you say something like that.

Which sums up quite a bit about today’s politicians, and perhaps even our bloated and ever-expanding class of permanent bureaucracy, and their sheer paranoid bug-eyed terror in response to anyone who wished to take that frisson of joy of “seeing ‘em jump” away from them.

Read the whole thing, which in addition to the above conversational detour is quite fascinating, considering the impact of that period on today’s politics is still being felt. Far from divesting themselves of radical chic, Democrats have wallowed in it, to the point where the New York Times runs fawning profiles of former Weatherman Bill Ayers and his kin, former matinee idol Robert Redford recently directed a film in defense of the radical chic, Ayers helped birth Obama’s political career, and the Black Panthers’ namesake successors advertised on Obama’s Website in 2008, and were tacitly defended by his attorney general. And share some fascinating interconnections:

(Part two of that video is here.)

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The Passing Parade Grows Larger

April 23rd, 2014 - 2:20 pm

Ezra Levant of Canada’s Sun News calls it “a riveting collection of stories chronicling the lives of the men and women who helped shape the 20th century,” and he’s right. For a perfect snapshot of what life was like among the overculture – in the media, in pop culture, and in politics in the last and first decade of the new and old millennium, simply read the profiles Steyn has crafted for his Passing Parade. The book is an anthology of his obits, written for National Review, the Spectator (both its UK and American incarnations), the London Telegraph, and until 2007, a monthly staple of the Atlantic. That the Atlantic traded Steyn for a multi-year dalliance with leftwing former Brit Andrew Sullivan is a classic example of ideologically-driven managerial incompetence. The following year, Excitable Andrew assumed the role of America’s Foremost Uterine Detective, and the Atlantic, even after Sullivan left in 2011 for first the Daily Beast and then (at the moment at least) a solo career last year, seemed doomed to live out the epic 86-year old curse of the Boston Red Sox after they discarded Babe Ruth in 1919.

And at the moment, not even Xenu can save them.

For everyone else, check out Mark Steyn’s Passing Parade, finally on Kindle, and updated with numerous obits added since its initial publication in 2006 on dead tree, ranging from Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Eugene McCarthy, to Bob Hope and Alistair Cooke, to Evel Knievel and Tupac Shakur. (The last pair are joined by the leitmotif of Mark quoting the lyrics of Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen.” Coincidence? You be the judge!)

I never posted anything to mark the 12th anniversary of my blog last month, but this Tweet by Rob Nebbell, aka N.Z. Bear, found by Moe Green, sure brings back memories. I’m there at about nine o’clock on the above chart. As for how I made it into the Blogosphere, well, an article I wrote on the nascent Blogosphere, based on interviews with a few of the same folks in the above chart — and written almost the same time as  Rob’s was crafting it — has you covered.

And while my blog is positively paleolithic, if you really want to feel old, just watch:

As I posted in the comments at Ricochet in response to the above video, if you really want to blow the minds of these impressionable tykes, hand ‘em a 12-inch laser disc.

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“Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you,” Flannery O’Connor famously said was her motto, and certainly Kathy Shaidle’s writing lives up to that ideal. As she told me during our new interview, “I grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, being born in the ‘60s, and in those days, it was all about free love and women should be able to have sex just like men and casual sex is great.  And let’s all read Cosmo’s sex tips and ‑‑ and sort of recreate Sex and the City in our actual lives,” the author of the popular Five Feet of Fury Blog, and a frequent contributor to PJ Media, Taki’s Magazine, and other Websites says.

Kathy’s new book, Confessions of A Failed Slut, an anthology of several of her related articles, “is my story of having tried and failed to live up to these social messages that were just everywhere when I was growing up, and finding that deep down, I wasn’t really temperamentally or morally, shall we say, cut out for a life of nonstop, no-fault, casual sex, and just sleeping around and pretending not to care, and doing the walk of shame and all that stuff.”

During our 29-minute interview, Kathy will explore:

● How the Love Boat, that weekly video voyage of the Hollywood damned, caused Kathy to begin seeing the world is “though a Gen-X filter of self-defensive snark.”

● Why Glen Close’s character in Fatal Attraction is “one of the most misunderstood females on film.”

● Why today’s women in rock and pop make the first generation of women in punk rock seem positively chaste by comparison.

● How TV’s Dr. Phil caused a Twitter storm when his show tweeted, “If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her?”

● In a pop culture obsessed with sex, why does it seem like the male metrosexual is so…asexual?

● Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean somebody of the opposite sex isn’t out to meet you: Going undercover in the 9/11-“Truther”-themed InfoWars Internet dating site.

● How to break free of the Nanny State’s crushing group hug.

And much more. Click here to listen:

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(29 minutes and 7 seconds long; 26.6 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 8.32 MB lo-fi edition.)

If the above Flash audio player is not be compatible with your browser, click on the video player below, or click here to be taken directly to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip. Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.

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RIP Noel Sheppard, 53

March 29th, 2014 - 11:05 am

Noel Sheppard was with Newsbusters at its start in 2005, becoming its associate editor. “It must be said that no blogger here was more prolific and more popular. We’ll have more to say in the coming days,” Brent Bozell writes:

Our Noel Sheppard passed away yesterday (Friday) morning at about 5:00 AM. Say a prayer for the soul of a man we’ll all miss professionally, and many, many of us will miss personally as well. Noel was not just a force of nature, he was a very good man.

How quickly this all happened. Just two months ago, Noel wrote about suddenly getting cancer at 53 called “Cancer’s Ray of Hope.” Nine days ago, he wrote us and said he was interested in writing about his “progress” — and he put “progress” in quotes. We were all wishing for better news, and really couldn’t imagine this was a battle that would end this way.

Noel,  a fellow financial planner turned new media maven, lived about an hour from me in Northern California, and stopped by my house once in the fall of 2008 to record a segment for PJTV during its rough-and-tumble very early days. The following year, when Walter Cronkite passed away, we recorded this segment of my Silicon Graffiti video blog together, with Noel appearing via Web camera:

That was in 2009. Never in a million years did I think I would be blogging about Noel’s passing as well, or so quickly afterwards. RIP to a great blogger and media critic.

Update: Much more from Noel’s friends and colleagues at Twitchy.

More: A tribute to Noel from Matthew Sheffield, the creator of Newsbusters.

Raaaaaacism Straight Up!

February 17th, 2014 - 7:57 pm

Or the lack thereof, as “Liberals Can’t Name Single Example Of Tea Party Racism” in the above video:

Know why? Because there isn’t one.

In the video [above], liberals are asked if the Tea Party is racist. All of them say yes.

When they’re asked a follow up question to name a specific example, none of them can do it.

Seems rather odd that a protest movement that has supported Herman Cain, Mia Love, Allen West, and Tim Scott, and who are extremely conversant in the works of black pundits such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and PJTV’s own Alfonzo Rachel would be racist, but the media will never ask anyone a specific question to quantify their vague claims. (My favorite is the woman who when pressed sputters that the tea party is racist towards women because of the pro-life stance of many Tea Party members.)

Somewhere, the late Andrew Breitbart, who loved to ask protestors to get specific in their charges, is enjoying the above video, which is reminiscent of his 2010 pushback against the Purple People Beaters of the SEIU:

Presumably, Andrew is also enjoying the expansion of his sprawling namesake Website with yesterday’s editions of “Breitbart Texas” and “Breitbart London.” I wish they’d also launch some version of “Big Education,” which Andrew talked about bringing to fruition in the months before he passed away. Attacking media bias is one thing, but to truly change the culture, the source of the elites’ dominant ideology should be targeted for criticism and pushback as well.

Related: “WHITE SUPREMACIST BACKFIRE – SPLC Needs to Apologize for Anti-O’Keefe Smear,” from Hating Breitbart director (and PJM alumnus) Andrew Marcus today at Gateway Pundit.

Infighting on the Pages of the Washington Post

February 16th, 2014 - 2:42 pm

A staple rule of journalism is “Don’t **** where you eat.” (You can fill in the asterisks with whatever four-letter word you like.) At the New York Times, Maureen Dowd isn’t going to disagree with Paul Krugman, who isn’t going to disagree with Thomas Friedman. It just isn’t done, both out of professional courtesy, and basic survival instinct. The same is true in television journalism — when conservatives pointed out that Dan Rather had cooked the books during the scandal known as Rathergate, his then-fellow over-the-air nightly news anchors Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings both circled the wagons to defend their fellow dino-journalist from those whom they perceived as rabble conservative upstarts.

Last year at the Washington Post, Ezra Klein and his fellow Juicebox Mafiosos at the Post and Slate — still owned by the Post at the time — did attack superstar journalist Bob Woodward on his home turf. The reason was that Woodward dared to point out that the Sequester was the Obama administration’s idea, thereby destroying a key leftwing talking point: that rightwing bomb throwers wanted to shut down the government.  (Only inside the Beltway and on the JournoList is shutting down the government seen as a bad thing.)

But even with that precedent at the Washington Post set by the left, it’s still rather surprising to see the libertarian-themed Volokh Conspiracy blog, having only recently taken the Boeing to become ensconced at the Post, attacking another longtime Post grandee, E.J. Dionne, in a post titled “Dionne v. Hayek,” by Volokh conspirator Todd Zywicki:

Last week, E.J. Dionne Jr. penned a column in the Washington Post that blamed adherence to the tenets of the Austrian school of economics for gridlock in Washington. Well, sort of. He seemed to say that Austrian economics simultaneously was an obscure set of ideas of which no one has heard (except Ron Paul) and is yet powerful enough to provide the rallying cry for the Republican Party in Washington. More important, he says that Austrian economics is troublesome as a practical matter by blocking activist-government Keynesian-style interventions and deficit spending that would spur the economy and bring about greater wealth redistribution, but Austrian economics is wrong as a theoretical and historical matter. (As an aside, listening to the recording of Ron Paul’s speech, it doesn’t sound like he says “We’re all Austrians now.”  He says, “I’m waiting for the day when we can say ‘We’re all Austrians now.’”).

Dionne’s column is problematic in two ways.  First, he completely misrepresents the central argument of Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, which seems to be his central target. Second, he fails to accurately reflect the debate over the historical record of Keynesianism during the Great Depression and in particular the “stagflation” episode of the 1970s, which shattered the Nixon-era consensus on the wisdom of Keynesian economics.

Read the whole thing, if only to get to what is perhaps the most damning sentence in Zywicki’s blogpost. As he notes, “it isn’t evident from the column that Dionne has actually read The Road to Serfdom itself, as opposed to just reading commentators on the book who have also fundamentally misunderstood the book.”

As Stacy McCain quips in response, “Liberals Hate Books They Don’t Read:”

Margaret Thatcher famously remarked that the problem with socialism is that, “sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money”. However, we might add, liberals never run out of bad arguments for failed policies.

Meanwhile, Russ Roberts of Cafe Hayek wonders what Dionne has been smoking:

I guess he forget that $820 billion “stimulus” spending. That spending somehow got through the political system despite the obsession conservatives have with Austrian economics. Keynes is dead but somehow, between 2009 and 2012, federal deficits were over a $1 trillion every year. We’ll see about 2013, it may be less. That government spending as a percentage of GDP was only 25% in 2009 and above 24% in 2010 and 2011–the highest levels since WWII–was evidently due to lawmakers being in thrall to Austrian thinking.

If only it were so.

And as Glenn Reynolds adds, “Even with Hayek dead for decades, Dionne is still overmatched.” But what would Hayek himself think about all this? Perhaps his 1975 comments (found via Ace) on leftwing dashboard saint John Maynard Keynes and his ignorance of basic economic principles help to answer that question:

And what does Dionne think about being attacked in his own (virtual) pages? I have no idea, but I think we can all picture the steam shooting out of his ears. But assuming the Volokh Conspiracy aren’t ejected from the Boeing, congrats to new owner Jeff Bezos on allowing actual debate at what once a largely closed-loop system.

I Approve of This Krony Capitalism

February 1st, 2014 - 12:37 pm

Andrew Wilkow of The Blaze interviews veteran TV producer John Papola, the creator of the brilliant “Kronies” video and toys, who previously produced the Keynes vs. Hayek rap videos you may have seen as well. As Papola tells Wilkow, “May these reach more people than kids who have The Road to Serfdom on their desk.” They also suggest that more videos are on the way, with possibly a GI Joe-style cartoon series running on Beck’s The Blaze channel, and/or a follow-up that explores corruption in local government, “The Muni Kronies.”

Papola tells Beck himself in another interview that the goal with the Kronies was to send a message that transcends the canyon-sized left-right divide: “Whatever you think the role of government should be, you certainly don’t want it to be corrupt. The question is, and the center of the debate is, what’s the source of that corruption?”

forgotten_man_graphic_novel_2-1-14-2Speaking of subversive ways to inculcate radical, way out there, lunatic ideas into, as Rush would say, “the yoot of America,” — i.e., freedom, democracy, and small government, Amity Shlaes really buries the the lede in her recent post at Ricochet. It’s titled “The Condescension of Paul Krugman,” but about 12-paragpraphs in, she offhandedly writes:

Despite the anxiety it produced in the private sector, the authorities seemed to relish playing with power. A feud over Dr. Krugman’s favorite area, monetary policy, illustrates this.

Marriner Eccles, the new chairman of the Federal Reserve, preached looser monetary policy. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, by contrast, favored budget-tightening. The Eccles-Morgenthau row infuriated their fellow officials, as artist Paul Rivoche shows in the drawing here, a cartoon picture from our forthcoming illustrated version of my own history of the era, The Forgotten Man (Click on the photograph to see a larger version). The two officials, especially Morgenthau, were more concerned with putting each other down than with what transpired outside Washington as a result of their squabble.

I haven’t read a comic book since I sold off my Batman collection at age 13 (I know, a fortune p***ed away, to borrow an ’80s-era Elayne Boosler leitmotif), but a comic book — sorry, graphic novel edition of The Forgotten Man? Count me in. (To bring this post full circle, after World War II, General Motors once distributed a comic edition of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom — and then a quarter century later, completely forgot the advice they once proffered.)

Click over to Amity’s post at Ricochet to see a page from the upcoming book. For my interview last year with her on Coolidge, her “prequel” to The Forgotten Man, click here to listen.

And finally, if you missed it last week, here’s the original “Kronies” video. Each character also has his own video, online here:

(Via RD Brewer at  Ace of Spades.)