June 28, 2002

This crap is what Instapundit thinks of as a good hatchet job on Molly Ivins.

June 27, 2002

Psywar

With all the fecund richness that is the Instapundit weblog, the reader may be excused if she never looks beyond it to other features, like the Psywar Update, introduced as The latest ideas for weirding out Ladenites and other people who don't like us. Some of them may be true.

Where Instapundit's frontpage looks seductively reasonable at first glance, this is where the hardcore nuttiness is found. As an example the following extract from a reader suggesting how Hollywood could help the war effort:

If Marianne Pearl and the Pearl family would agree (a big part of me hopes they won't), I would make our own version of a Daniel Pearl murder video. Think Reanimator. When that sick bastard holds up Pearl's severed head, I would have the Industrial Light and Magic guys go to town. Let Daniel Pearl, in a digital version of his own voice, start spewing threats at those a**holes. Have Daniel Pearl say something like "Me and all of my Jewish ancestors are going to haunt you and you sorry ass families. We are going to take your 72 virgins and show them a thing or two. We are going to use our influence in the U.S. to make sure all of you get what's coming to you." Etc. They are a bunch of backwards religious zealots, so this would probably freak them out. I would even go so far to play on their fear and paranoia about Jews using Arab blood for pastries. Let's be outrageous. Let's hint at evil deeds of our own. Let's intersperse the severed head image with images of U.S. firepower. Show them the picture of one of our cruise missiles making a right turn down a street in Baghdad. Let's show them what a Daisy Cutter can do. Let's show them what happens when people f*ck with us.

It goes on like that. A good example of that very special mixture of naivety, outrage, immatureness and dimness that characterises warbloggers. The rest of the entries are marginally more sane, but betray the same kind of thoughts. None of the ideas mentioned are practical, all of them seem to think America's enemies are stupid enough to fall for idiocies like the above. And Instapundit encourages these people...

anticipatory schadenfreude

A reader alerted I.P. Watcher to something she had overlooked in the Circles of agreement entry. I.P. Watcher only commented on the last part of that Instapundit post but it seems the first part is objectable as well:

BRAD DE LONG takes on anticipatory schadenfreude about the economy. (Paul Musgrave says De Long should be the top econoblogger in the Blogosphere, and he is pretty good.)

The piece that he takes down is by William Greider in The Nation, and what Greider seems to hope to get out of 15% unemployment is an end to U.S. "boastfulness."

Though it is true that De Long on the whole argues convincingly against Greider's reasoning there are a few problems with it.

First, nowhere does Greider hope for a recession, the closest he comes is in his closing paragraph, reproduced below in its entirety:

The scandals of Enron et al., unfortunately, must compete with another story--the war on terrorism--that's more exciting, and threatening, than dirty bookkeeping or the looted billions. The two crises are intertwined in perverse ways. The smug triumphalism of Bush's unilateralist war policy could be abruptly deflated by economic events--which probably would be a good thing for world affairs, since Washington couldn't run roughshod over others, but terrible for US prosperity. The financial scandals have provided yet another chilling reason to be wary of the US stock market, and if overseas investors decide to take their money home in volume, the already declining dollar will fall sharply. Credit would thus become suddenly scarce, since our debtor-nation economy relies heavily on capital borrowed from abroad, and such a convergence would trigger an ugly downdraft in the US economy. In that event, the fashionable boastfulness about America, the only superpower, would implode as swiftly as Enron's stock price.

He is not saying "i hope for an economic recession to wipe the smug grin off Bush's face", he's saying that if there's an economic recession it may be good for the world as it means the US could not maintain its current policies but bad for the US itself:

The smug triumphalism of Bush's unilateralist war policy could be abruptly deflated by economic events--which probably would be a good thing for world affairs, since Washington couldn't run roughshod over others, but terrible for US prosperity.

You can disagree with this argument, but you cannot accuse it of being "anticipatory schadenfreude".

Second, nowhere is the figure of "15% unemployment" mentioned in the original article, yet both Instapundit and De Long cite it. Where did this figure come from?

What I.P. Watcher makes of this is that Instapundit is sloppy in his fact checking. If he had looked critically at both De Long's post and the original article he would at the very least have noticed the problems with the "15% unemployment" cite and hopefully also that Greider never hoped for a recession. The bigger mistake here was made by De Long, for either being sloppy or misleading in his rebuttal of Greider, but Instapundit should've taken the time to fact check.

June 26, 2002

Free floating accusations

There was a short item in the Washington Post today which said nothing more then:

SAN FRANCISCO –– A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and cannot be recited in schools.

According to Instapundit this is Stanley Hauerwas' fault. No reasons are given.

Circles of agreement

On June 22 Glenn asks:

Is it just me, or is keeping the United States from feeling good about, well, anything, but especially itself the main consistent theme of the Nation crowd? And why is that, exactly?

Random Screeds responds 2 days later:

It's not just you.

As for why that is, well I post on the reasons for that frequently (see just above for another example, and here for a earlier screed), but there was a good sign in a Simpsons episode that pretty much sums it up, carried by a leftist demonstrator, saying "we hate life and ourselves". I donno about all of life (though there is the "voluntary human extinction" movement, but they don't kill themselves), but these people certainly hate the civilization they live in.

Glenn points this out the same day:

I ASK, Ranting Screeds answers. With a Simpsons reference, no less.

Why does I.P. Watcher bother with this frank and free exchange of views? Because it shows exactly the sort of "debate" instapundit s(t)imulates.

Instapundit gets the ball rolling by stating an opinion masked as a question: "The Nation is anti-american". Random Screeds' response though wordy, boils down to "I agree with you". Instapundit then links to this response and doesn't comment.

So what was the point in instapundit pointing out this response if he doesn't comment and Random Screeds' post didn't add anything new? I.P. Watcher thinks it has to do with what some call the "Echo Chamber" effect of the rightwing blogosphere. Strengthen an outlandish claim by constantly repeating it, by linking to others who agree with you, irregardless of whether they or you present any evidence for your claim.

June 25, 2002

Blogosphere update: Instapundit posts a correction, mere hours after I.P. Watch tackled him on this:

LOS ANGELES TIMES UPDATE: A reader points out that the L.A. Times did actually cover the COPS endorsement story on 6/18, only one day after InstaPundit, Simberg, etc. and not a week later as my earlier post suggested.

A reader mmmm?

Advantage: Blogosphere?

When you've read Instapundit for some time you know he likes to flaunt the advantage the "Blogosphere" has over traditional journalism. One typical example was published yesterday:

OKAY, THIS IS BAD NEWS FOR GRAY DAVIS. But it's also bad news for the Los Angeles Times, because this story is dated June 24, but the press release announcing it came out on June 17 -- as noted here that very day -- and I got it from Rand Simberg. Advantage: Blogosphere!

And indeed, Glenn posted a link to this press release the 17th. However, that was all he did:

GRAY DAVIS UPDATE: Davis just lost what looks to be a major law enforcement endorsement to Bill Simon. (Via Rand Simberg).

The LA Times June 24 article he links to on the other hand goes into some detail about the significance of this. It's always easier to quickly link to a press release then to write a piece, even a short piece, about it; the advantage of blogging over traditional journalism is not that spectacular here.

"But wait!" you cry, "It's still seven days after the press release before the LA Times reacted to this press release. That's still far too long and shows how much faster the blogosphere reacts!" Not quite.

First, take a look at the LA Times article: it's not a news article, it's an installment of Patt Morrison's rcolumn. Which appears only on Mondays and Wednesdays. When this story broke, it was a Monday and as columns are rarely written on the day of publication, it's not surprising that it wasn't addressed then. Her Wednesyday column that week addressed Bush recent trip to Europe -something slightly more interesting and important then the California gubernational races, don't you think?

Second, though Instapundit may let you think this was the first time the LA Times paid attention to Davis' losing the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs (COPS)'s endorsement, it wasn't. On June 18, a day after the press release, in a news article called Simon Blames Davis for Rise in Crime Rate LA Times readers are told about COPS' endorsement of Bill Simon:

Simon's remarks at a Burbank hotel were part of a statewide tour by the nominee to trumpet his first law enforcement endorsement: the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs, known as COPS. It had previously endorsed Davis.

Conclusion: the "advantage" the blogosphere has over traditional journalism is brought down from seven to one day, with the LA Times actually writing about the story, instead of just providing a link to the press release, like Instapundit and Rand Simberg did.

June 24, 2002

This is typical. The Washington post has a thoughtful article on racial tensions in a small town, focusing on a racist attack at the local highschool. It's an interesting, somewhat depressing article about what happens when a predominantly white community rapidly grows and as a result becomes more racially diverse. But what does Instapundit do with it? This:

WELL, it's easy to find the most admirable crew in this quote from a Washington Post article on racial troubles at a Maryland high school:

"The cheerleaders hang with the cheerleaders, the jocks with the jocks, the bangers with the bangers, the blacks with the blacks, and the Indians go to class," said Tristen Bryant, an African American. "You stay with your race. That's where you feel comfortable."

Jeez. Maybe if more students were going to class there'd be less time for ethnic tensions.

Which misses the point entirely. Was there nothing else in this article worthy of comment, Glenn?

Instapundit in favor of colonialism

After hearing some rumors that Egypt is seeking to obtain nuclear weapons, Glenn proposes a return to colonialism:

EGYPT IS TRYING TO GET NUCLEAR WEAPONS, according to reports noted by Charles Johnson. And maybe Saudi Arabia, too.

You know, the arguments for a return to colonialism that I so snidely dismissed last fall are looking better all the time. I shudder to think that things may come to such a pass that Ann Coulter will be looked upon as prophetic, rather than deranged.

Ann Coulter is the rightwing scream queen who in the wake of 9/11 ranted that we should invade their [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

On the strength of a rumor, Instapundit now thinks she's right. What more could Instapundit Watcher add?

June 23, 2002

Ho hum. Another warblogger heard off

Said " daddy Warblogs":

Another anonymous blogger is picking through Glenn Reynolds's trash in the hope that among the banana skins and empty cereal cartons he might find incriminating evidence that Glenn has committed the heinous felony of having an opinion that isn't shared by our anonymous friend. I shall be keeping an eye on Instapunditwatch, waiting for the moment at which the Watcher chortles at the 'lockstep conformity' of Reynolds's 'acolytes'; the irony of Instapundit's only 'fan' blog making such a claim will be rich and it will be comic. Watch this space.

Which is a fairly typical warblogger defense. Surely it cannot be Instapundit's lies, lazy research and slander that got Instapundit Watcher's goat, it must have been his opinions.

In Instapundit Watcher's view, everybody is entitled to her opinions, but that does not mean she won't point out when they're stupid, based on uncorrect assumptions or supported by lies and slander.

And no, Instapundit Watcher does not care about Glenn's acolytes. She prefers to battle dishonesty at the source.

Glenn knows of Instapunditwatch, is still clueless

One Bo Cowgill thought it was wise to alert the Great and Powerful Wizard of Blog to Instapundit Watcher's humble little effort:

So I wasn't sure if Instapundit had heard of WarbloggerWatch affiliate InstapunditWatch, a website whose motto is ""Fact checks Instapundit's ass, because he doesn't bother to." So I emailed, and he writes back, "Chortle. As Thomas Ray says: 'Every successful system accumulates parasites.' Natch, it's anonymous."

Instapundit Watcher will let slide the crack about being an affiliate of Warblogger Watch, though she won't deny their efforts helped inspire this site.

More interesting is how Instapundit reacts. He calls Instapundit Watcher a "parasite", which she learned in school is usually defined as a hanger-on, a toady, a sycophant. Instapundit Watcher defies anybody to call her that. That title better fits some of Instapundits warblogging friends, especially the ones with the oh so clever variations on the "-pundit" theme, aka the "I want Instapundit's traffic" crowd.

Glenn also correctly assumes "Instapundit Watcher" is not the name she was born with. Apparently being anonymous is enough reason to dismiss one's arguments in Instapundit's world. How convenient.