Friday, September 21, 2007

Foreign Policy, The McArdle Way

For all I can determine, "Jane Galt" may be be the greatest "econoblogger" of all time, although the term "econoblogger" makes me think cut-rate, shoddy, or, "You get what you pay for." So let's examine her foray into foreign policy, or world events, or whatever "Osama Bin Laden declares war on Pakistan" is. First, proving once again that the political is personal, she brings her college paramour, Scott, into it. (See brad's item right underneath this'n.) Or was it John, the college boyfriend referred to in "Live fast, die young, leave a good looking corpse?"

Since I just know we would have hit the big time had we not been torn apart by the fickle hand of fate, I suppose I have to thank said boyfriend for saving us both from a life of glamour, hard living, and premature death.

Thank you, John, wherever you are. I think.
Perhaps she had more than one collegiate affair, & just didn't want to use an awkward phrase like "one of my college boyfriends." But w/ us stalking your every word, Megatron, you'd better start watching every one of them. Including "fickle hand of fate." It's "fickle finger of fate," or something else entirely. The concept is alliteration. Maybe one of Megan's readers can look it up for her.

...Oh, yes...makes the political personal...So either this Scott, w/ his brooding anger, was a Bin Laden in the making, or Bin Laden is just some angry college boy who's filled w/ non-specific rage & shooting his mouth off. (By the way, we have a good idea where Ms. McA. stands vis-à-vis the "white male bourgeois power structure," don't we? Or, indeed, any power structure.)

Now Osama has declared war on the government of Pervez Musharraf in the run up to the elections. This would make sense if Pakistan had any sort of reputation for being the sort of stable and open representative democracy whose government could be ousted by grand emotional proclamations. But it seems rather mad in the current circumstances.
If Megan has typing problems, it may be the result of reading problems. From the item she linked to:

Bin Laden declares 'war' on Pakistan in new tape

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden called on Muslims in Pakistan to wage holy war against the government of President Pervez Musharraf in a new audio message issued on Thursday.

See those little squiggly things on either side of the word "war" in the title? They mean something, Megan. We'll let you look it up yourself, you may remember the meaning rather than just resent our telling you.

Ahem. So OBL didn't exactly "declare war," he called on Muslims to wage holy war. And while Pakistan may not be the most stable, etc., gov't., there are open elections, it's just that the military reserves to itself the right of final decision. It Seems To Me™ that the less stable & whatnot the gov't. is, the more likely an OBL fatwa would have some serious effect. A bit more from The Link She Didn't Read™:

In another video released by al-Qaeda's media arm, Bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri also warned that Musharraf would be "punished" over the killing of leading rebel cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi in the storming of the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July.
Pakistan, which became a US ally after the September 11 2001 attacks, has suffered a dramatic upsurge in Islamist violence since the siege and storming of the al-Qaeda-linked mosque, which left more than 100 people dead.
Oh look. There's already a freakin' "holy war" going on. You don't think OBL is just trying to get ahead of the trend here, do you?

But why would Osama do this? Previously, he had a fairly stable arrangement; Musharraf couldn't root him out of the tribal areas for various military and political reasons, and Osama couldn't bring on the Caliphate just yet. [...] Meanwhile, he has just given Pervez Musharraf and any waverers in his government a much stronger incentive to find Osama and his merry band of cave-dwelling madmen.
Musharraf has virtually no control over the tribal areas. If he were able to do anything against Bin Laden, he probably would have, as his "alliance" w/ the U. S. is based on financial incentives & threats made to him post-9/11 by the U. S. gov't.
And here's where Megan makes her biggest mistake. She's willing to dismiss OBL as a "cave-dwelling madman."

This is the kind of overreach that has caused every government that has ever offered him shelter to ultimately kick him out, except for Afghanistan, which didn't have much of a government. Even so, he went and found another government
to kick him out. And where will he go this time? He's running out of lawless quasi-states to hide in.
I don't know the story behind Bin Laden leaving Sudan for Afghanistan (Can Any of My Readers Help Me Out W/ This?™) but the Taliban, however much of a gov't. it may have been, was completely on his side, & lawless quasi-states are the best spot for him. But to equate Bin Laden w/ a crazy frat-boy ("I didn't need behavioral economics to tell me that people don't always act in their rational self-interest.") is foolish. Unfortunately, he is an intelligent, wealthy, person, the head of an organization skilled in propaganda & using the strengths of an opponent against that opponent (let alone the weaknesses of the opponent; note Bin Laden's recent goading of the U. S. into staying in Iraq as long as Bush can get away w/ it) who may be religiously, rather than economically or politically, motivated, but cannot be dismissed as a "cave-dwelling madman."

Gaarrrgh!! Hair hurting again.

Megastats for 20 September 2007:
#of items: A mere six.
First item: 1206 EDT
Last item: 1732 EDT
Late night?

Line Count:
McA: 153
Copy & Paste: 53
Ratio: 3:1

Silliest item:

What a snore
Oh, this takes me back, it does. To the earth shattering booms and irritating whistles, the sleep-deprived nights, the frantic rib-poking, the ever-so-temporary relief. Why is it that snorers can always fall asleep faster than you can?
Well, who was it? Scott or John? Inquiring minds want to know.

Hey, can I turn this into complaints about the poor women who've been merciful enough to put up w/ me over the years?


Anonymous said...

you guys should read that fire joe morgan website. there you will find humor and substance and intelligence. this site manages the miraculous feat of being none of those. it's just cheap laughs without the laughs. the only thing more pathetic is me for actually posting this. ok, back to work.

Fishbone McGonigle said...

jason -

We appreciate the, er, constructive criticism, but I think you fail to note one key difference between the two blogs in question.

Whatever you think of Joe Morgan the broadcaster, you cannot question his accomplishments in the field he talks about - baseball. You can disagree with his points and conclusions as much as you like, but you can't credibly say he doesn't know shit about baseball.

McArdle, on the other hand, is an intellectual dilletante with no actual qualifications (other than being really tall, apparently) to pontificate on economics. She has an English degree and an MBA, which she thinks qualifies her to call out people like Paul Krugman, who (unlike Meg) can list actual accomplishments in the field of economics.

And she's writing for the Atlantic, one of the most important traditionally liberal magazines out there.

This pisses us off. It enrages us, because it's part of a pattern that's been developing for decades. Liberal writers are marginalized and pushed out of high-profile opinion gigs, and are replaced with un- or barely-qualified right wing hacks, for reasons that are never adequately explained. We feel very strongly that this process has greatly degraded the public discourse in this country, and has resulted in a media environment in which liberal voices are simply not heard.

Joe Morgan, OTOH, has no effect on anyone or anything in his gig at ESPN. He is irrelevant.

At any rate, we're still finding our way here, so bear with us. Perhaps some of us are still too blinkered by our anger and frustration, but part of the point of this blog is therapeutic.

(Also, since Meg has banned me for leaving a total of two negative comments on her blog, this is the only place I can really respond to her blather. But that's neither here nor there.)

Anonymous said...

An appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. look it up!
Also, it's a blog. She doesn't even write for the magazine. She has no effect on anything. So save your rage for something important. Like baseball.

Anonymous said...

Also, most journalists don't have actual accomplishments in the field they are reporting on (e.g. science writers are usually not trained physicists) so that criticism seems odd. At any rate, I await your fire Matthew Yglesias site since from what I can tell he is even less accomplished than Megan. Surely you won't give him a pass simply because he won't pop the liberal bubble you've constructed for yourself?

Adam Eli Clem said...

What fishbone said.

Jason, we hope you stick around. Every McArdle blog should have its own in-house knight errant.

What sort of crest tops your helmet? Busted compass? Empty Nyquil bottle? Pics, please.

Anonymous said...

haha, yes I could only be criticizing this blog because I am moved to protect Lady McArdle. I'm actually fairly indifferent to Megan's blog and dislike her writing style. However, I am fascinated by you people so I believe I will stick around.

brad said...

Oddly enough, Meg still hasn't banned me.
Maybe that means I still have a shot.

And tau factor is on the Yglesias beat, Jason. He just hasn't posted too much about him, yet.
We just passed a week old on a blog I made on a moment's passing whim. I'm pleasantly surprised that it's still alive, and that my randomly gathered fellow contributors are doing such a good job of keeping it going.

Fishbone McGonigle said...

Yglesias is on our list too, jason. Not to worry.

Fishbone McGonigle said...

An appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. look it up!

Did I commit one of those?

Even if I did, jason, you should be aware that a lot of Meggie's sycophants don't think an appeal to authority is a logial fallacy - see the comments scattered throughout this thread ( So perhaps you should spend some time educating them as well, since they seem to need it at least as much as we do.

Fishbone McGonigle said...

Sorry, that URL again is:

NutellaonToast said...

Actually, science writers generally have a BS in some physical science. Also, it's their job to act as go-between for the non-scientifically educated and experts in the field so as to make scientific discoveries accessible. They don't pontificate or contribute anything new; as McArdle purports to do.

Also, they generally have learned to use a spell checker.

Anonymous said...

toast, Megan has an MBA. That she is not a practicing economist much like a science writer is not a practicing physicist is the point.

Anonymous said...

fishbone, you committed it when you compared Krugman's credentials to McArdle's, as if that by itself should prevent her from commenting on King Krugman's columns.
I don't really want to spend any time educating her commenters because I find her posts boring, for the most part.

Anonymous said...

This woman is turning into a cross between the worst aspects of Jerry Seinfeld and Garrison Keillor. But with the worldview of Glenn Reynolds.

Adam Eli Clem said...

Oh, hi, Jason. Just so we're clear, what was it about McArdle's Jena 6 post that prompted this interested response?

The weirdest thing about this story is the black kids "asking permission" to sit beneath the white person's tree. What century are these people living in?

That's the weirdest thing about this story? Wow, dude, where to begin? Many schools, public and private, maintain traditions of exclusivity, most often embodied in unofficial "seniors only" rules. If the black kid sensed that there was something exclusive about the tree, he/she might not have known or assumed that it was of a racial nature. Or, maybe he/she did know that it was a racial exclusion zone, and went to the school's principal to get some back-up before mounting a challenge.

You saw fit to cage "asking permission" in quotation marks, but not "the white person's tree." Were you questioning the validity of the former, but not the latter?

Finally, "these people" sounds a little funny. Could be taken the wrong way. Setting aside analysis of your intentions, the appearance of FUCKING NOOSES on the tree demonstrates that, yes, some people are living in a past century, and remain determined to carry their peculiar institutions into this one.

NutellaonToast said...


but science writers offer no evaluation of scientific research, that is done by the peers of the scientist who publishes.

Megan is evaluating things and supposedly creating new insights, unless blogs aren't opinion based. For that she should either a) have some ideas or b)have some credentials.

which was MY point, that YOU missed.

Anonymous said...

Apologies for the sloppiness with the quotes. Obviously, I don't think a "white person's tree" (see, I can do it!) is any more valid than having to "ask permission" to sit beneath it. And I used the word "weird" for a reason. Because the other things (the nooses for instance) are scary, not weird.
I think you really need to intentionally want to misread my comment to not know that "these people" referred to the town of Jena, not any particular racial group.

M. Bouffant said...

Megan has an MBA. That's not the same as a degree in Econ. And what did she do w/ her MBA? Worked as a copy monkey, which gave her enough spare time to blog so much that she came to the attention of Instapundit, for crying out loud, who brought her to greater prominence. If she were able to act as a go-between, as nutella puts it, & make some sense of the dismal science, I wouldn't mind so much, but she goes on & on about econ stuff w/o really explaining or simplifying any of it, and as you said, you're fairly indifferent to her blog, dislike her "style," & find her posts "boring, for the most part." And most of her non-economic items are just dumb. I used to read Sullivan's Daily Dish, not for his political insight, but because he often linked to interesting things (& Jane Galt) but after a while I got sick of his righteous, moralizing tone. Ms. McA. is just dull & difficult to understand, no matter what she's typing about. It's a blog, it should be comprehensible w/o re-reading.
This, too, is only a blog, but whether she writes for the Atlantic or is just one of their "Voices," she may be read by more people than read the actual magazine. So let us have our fun & waste our time, even if we're not "creating wealth" for our parasitical employer.
P. S., jasonc, aren't you being "immoral" by the glibertarian definition if you are commenting here while you should be "creating wealth" for your master?

Anonymous said...

I would disagree with your characterization of her thinking she is contributing anything "new" to the field of economics. She is taking the work of trained economists and seeing how it works out in the real world. Much as a science writer would take a breakthrough in, say, physics and tell us what the real world implications are.

Anonymous said...

m bouffant-
"Ms. McA. is just dull & difficult to understand, no matter what she's typing about. "
I actually agree with that.
I can't stop you from having your fun (nor would I want to) but can't I have fun too?
I don't know what you mean by your p.s.

NutellaonToast said...

She may not be contributing "new" stuff to economics but she certainly spouts her ideas and interpretations off as if she were qualified to do so. Science writers don't do that. They present facts in a simplified form. They don't say "the implications of this is that we can create such and such device which is morally awesome because of this" they stop at "device" which is a FACT not an opinion. They aren't paid for their opinions and neither should Megan (is this blogs point, I don't agree with them all that whole heartedly. I actually think Megan is the only libertarian I've ever read that has ANY common sense, though certainly not much of it.)

Anyway, my point is that the analogy is rather flimsy. Science writers paraphrase, which is not creating something new (in terms of ideas). Megan analyzes, which is.

Anonymous said...

It's "fickle finger of fate," or something else entirely.
The obvious alternative is "fickle fist of fate", but something about that phrase deters people (only 70 Googlehits). Can't understand it.

Adam Eli Clem said...

I have a fickle fibia. Pops out of place, sometimes. Not painful, but it does make a loud noise when reset.

Anonymous said...

You probably don't want to hear about my fickle fistula.

Adam Eli Clem said...

Fickle fistula? Wow, no, don't want to hear about that. Holes upon holes, wow, no, no thanks.