Category Archive 'Blogosphere'

18 Feb 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

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That Skull and Bones balloting box was not actually sold. Apparently, Christie’s withdrew it from the sale late last month, IvyGate reports, after receiving a mysterious “title claim.” The Russell Trust has plenty of lawyers.

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Hot Air (one of the most important conservative blogs) has been sold to Salem Communications. Congratulations and good luck.

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As part of the Carnival celebration, preceding the beginning of Lent, in the Spanish village of Laza, “Peliqueiros” or ancient tax collectors, are portrayed wearing warning cowbells and prepared to beat the villagers with sticks. 39 Carnival photos.

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Stratfor: Tradecraft in Dubai Assassination
3:14 video

18 Dec 2009

Ghost Blogging

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Blogging is surprisingly time consuming. It really does take a few hours to put out a respectable day’s worth of postings, and it has long been obvious to me that super-bloggers who deliver truckloads of articles daily without fail have to be relying on assistance.

There’s nothing wrong with having a support staff (if one’s blog’s revenues support that kind of thing), but in Andrew Sullivan’s case, there seems to be a certain inconsistency, even hypocrisy.

Lachlan Markay blows the whistle on Sullivan.

Remember all those blog posts from the Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan bashing Sarah Palin for employing a ghostwriter? Well, it turns out many of those posts may have been written by…a ghostblogger! Apparently Sullivan’s busy schedule prevented him from writing everything on his site, so, without informing his readers, he employed a few ghostbloggers to write in his name.

Daily Dish readers were surely surprised at the announcement–posted by one of the ghostbloggers on Saturday–given Sullivan’s insistence that his “one-man blog” is “honest” and “personal”. They may have been a bit perturbed to learn, in Ace‘s words, that “half the blog isn’t personal to Sullivan at all, and all of it is dishonest.”

Wrote ghostblogger Patrick Appel,

    As always, it a pleasure to step in while Andrew gets some much needed rest. Guest-blogging is not all that different than my day-to-day activities on the Dish – 24 of the 50 posts currently on the front page were written by me. All the substantive posts are Andrew’s work, but it’s my and Chris’s job to read through the blogosphere and pick out the choicest bits. Andrew edits, approves, and spins what we find, but the illusion of an all-reading blogger is maintained by employing two extra sets of eyes.

“As always”? “24 of the 50 posts”? Ghostwritten posts were hardly an insignificant element of Sullivan’s blog.

Sullivan–or maybe his ghostbloggers–wrote numerous blockquote-style posts bashing Sarah Palin for using a ghostwriter named Lynn Vincent for her book, even referring to “Going Rogue” as “Lynn Vincent’s ‘book'”. Might we call the Daily Dish “Patrick Appel’s ‘blog'”?

08 Oct 2009

FTC Ruling on Bloggers

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Walter Olson, at Overlawyered, responds to the new FTC guidelines on disclosure affecting bloggers.

Come to think of it, I usually link books mentioned using Amazon’s Associates program, but Amazon has not had a sale from one of those in a very long time, as best I can recall. Does that count as disclosing?

Publishers sometimes send me books in hopes I’ll review or at least mention them. I occasionally attend free advance screenings of new movies (typically law-related documentaries) that filmmakers hope I’ll write about. This site has an Amazon affiliate store which has from time to time provided me with commissions after readers click links and proceed to purchase items, though it’s been almost entirely inactive for years. I get invited to attend the odd institutional banquet whose hosts sometimes give away a free book or paperweight along with the hotel meal. I’ve been sent “cause” T-shirts and law firm/support service provider promotional kits over the years, pretty much a waste of effort since I don’t much care for wearing such T-shirts and am not exactly famed for posts that sing the praises of law firms or their service providers.

Under new Federal Trade Commission guidelines in the works for some time, I could apparently get in trouble for not disclosing these and similarly exciting things. In addition, the commission’s scrutiny will extend to areas less relevant to this site, such as targeted Google advertising and results-not-typical testimonials.

Robert Ambrogi at Legal Blog Watch finds it hard to see why the blogosphere has raised such a big fuss about these rules. After all, the rules (to be precise, “guidelines” backed by government lawyers with relevant enforcement powers) make clear that nondisclosure of a single minor freebie will not in itself suffice to trigger liability but instead will be counted “among several factors to be weighed” in evaluating the continuum of behavior by individuals engaging in social media (it seems the rules also apply to Twitter, Facebook, and guest appearances on talk shows, to name a few). FTC enforcers will engage in their own fact-specific, and inevitably subjective, balancing before deciding whether to press for fines or other penalties: in other words, instead of knowing whether you’re legally vulnerable or not, you get to guess.

Olson also quotes Ann Althouse, who identifies the crucial point here quite succinctly.

The most absurd part of it is the way the FTC is trying to make it okay by assuring us that they will be selective in deciding which writers on the internet to pursue. That is, they’ve deliberately made a grotesquely overbroad rule, enough to sweep so many of us into technical violations, but we’re supposed to feel soothed by the knowledge that government agents will decide who among us gets fined. No, no, no. Overbreath itself is a problem. And so is selective enforcement.

What do you suppose are the odds that Obama’s FTC is going to go after Kos for taking “consulting fees” (Kosola) from particular democrat candidates?

17 Mar 2009

Journalistic Lynch Mobs

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People going through today’s American educational system can be assured to have been intensely trained to understand that using crude stereotypes to whip up hatred toward Jews and blacks in order to justify targeting them with public and private persecution is gravely wrong.

I can remember, though, a day back in my parochial elementary school when our nun brought in a film projector and told us all about the Holocaust. Scarcifying images of great piles of emaciated bodies being pushed into mass graves by bulldozers, of skeletons lying in piles in ovens, of the pitiful starven and emaciated survivors took the entire class of children through the emotional wringer. How could human beings do such things to other people? more than one classmate demanded indignantly in the subsequent discussion.

Then rang the recess bell. As my classmates filed down the porch steps to the asphalt school yard, the dark atmosphere of the tormented history of Europe suddenly lifted, and, to my own astonishment, first one aggressor singled out a particular class misfit for persecution, then one by one nearly all of my classmates joined in. I marveled at the time that so much enthusiasm for the accepted moral lesson could go hand in hand with a complete incapacity to generalize it.

Editors and journalists employed by major newspapers and television networks are highly paid members of America’s upper middle class community of privilege, but that does not stop them from behaving like nasty school children ganging up on vulnerable victims, or from forming lynch mobs to go after not-necessarily-in-every-case better-paid business executives.

We’ve had a disgraceful orgy of class hatred for days now directed at AIG employees who receive, in accordance with the custom of their industry, large portions of their compensation in the form of bonuses. The bolshevik quarter of the blogosphere and the mainstream media have been deliberately whipping up public indignation by using selective and inflammatory reporting and general ignorance of the bonus compensation system as a basis for stirring up group hatred aimed at Wall Street and the business community as a class.

A trader or division leader in a firm which is losing money may himself, of course, be making his firm all kinds of money, and may be more than amply exceeding his own profit targets. It is not extraordinary or astonishing in the least that in an industry in which bonuses play a major role that, even in times of negative overall earnings, firms may be obligated by contract to pay bonuses to many executives.

The press also doesn’t stop to remind the public that any responsible business organization will first pay its own employees, before it attempts to meet external obligations to creditor or stockholders, or even to Big Brother.

The press and the leftwing blogs are simply cynically manipulating the emotions of the public by relying on false stereotypes and imaginary grievances to stir up envy and hatred which they propose to use to as the mechanism for gaining public support for their own radical, pernicious, and socially and economically destructive agenda of institutionalizing class warfare in public policy.

The American socialist revolution ironically typically features the fat and comfortable bourgeoisie yelling for the blood of the harder-working, less prestigious representative of exactly the same class as himself.

The gleeful tricoteuses at the Washington Post report that the public’s “rage swells,” proud of having whipped the mob into a sufficient fury as to pose actual physical hazard to their fellow citizens.

A tidal wave of public outrage over bonus payments swamped American International Group yesterday. Hired guards stood watch outside the suburban Connecticut offices of AIG Financial Products, the division whose exotic derivatives brought the insurance giant to the brink of collapse last year. Inside, death threats and angry letters flooded e-mail inboxes. Irate callers lit up the phone lines. Senior managers submitted their resignations. Some employees didn’t show up at all.

“It’s a mob effect,” one senior executive said. “It’s putting people’s lives in danger.”

Even so-called Republicans senators, like the egregious Charles Grassley of Iowa, have been unable to resist the temptation to pick on a defenseless target. Grassley is quoted by the Politico suggesting that AIG executives entitled to bonuses should resign or commit seppuku.

American life is growing darker and more dishonest.

11 Mar 2009

Freeman Withdraws From Consideration for Head of National Intelligence Council

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Former Saudi Ambassador Charles Freeman said he was throwing himself under the bus, as a form of protest against the nefarious domination of American foreign policy by the International Zionist Conspiracy.

Washington Post:

Charles W. Freeman Jr. withdrew yesterday from his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council after questions about his impartiality were raised among members of Congress and with White House officials.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said he accepted Freeman’s decision “with great regret.” The withdrawal came hours after Blair had given a spirited defense on Capitol Hill of the outspoken former ambassador.

Freeman had come under fire for statements he had made about Israeli policies and for his past connections to Saudi and Chinese interests. …

In an e-mail sent to friends yesterday evening, Freeman said he had concluded the attacks on him would not end once he was in office and that he did not believe the NIC “could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack.” He wrote that those who questioned his background employed “selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record . . . and an utter disregard for the truth.”

Such attacks, he said, “will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues.” And he said he regretted that his withdrawal may cause others to doubt the administration’s latitude in such matters.

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But, as Greg Sargent reports, Chuck Schumer is trying to take credit for pushing him.

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Andrew Sullivan finds the process interesting. The debate was in the blogs, not the MSM.

There are a couple of things worth noting about this minor, yet major, Washington spat. The first is that the MSM has barely covered it as a news story, and the entire debate occurred in the blogosphere. I don’t know why. But that would be a very useful line of inquiry for a media journalist.

The second is that Obama may bring change in many areas, but there is no possibility of change on the Israel-Palestine question. Having the kind of debate in America that they have in Israel, let alone Europe, on the way ahead in the Middle East is simply forbidden. Even if a president wants to have differing sources of advice on many questions, the Congress will prevent any actual, genuinely open debate on Israel. More to the point: the Obama peeps never defended Freeman. They were too scared. The fact that Obama blinked means no one else in Washington will ever dare to go through the hazing that Freeman endured. And so the chilling effect is as real as it is deliberate.

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Our own original 2/26 posting was one of the earliest.


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