Who really invented ‘Moby’ trolling? Alinsky

In blogosphere slang, a ‘Moby‘ is a particular kind of troll, namely a left-winger who posts right-wing extremist material on right-wing sites in order to discredit them. (This is somewhat distinct from a ‘concern troll‘, who seeks to sow dissension by posing as a concerned supporter.)
The ‘Moby’ species of troll is named after the eponymous electronic music producer, who in February 2004 proposed this tactic and is supposed to have invented it.

James Taranto, however, reminds us the tactic is anything but original.

Food for thought comes from this passage from a Saul Alinsky biography, quoted by David Horowitz:”

College student activists in the 1960s and 1970s sought out Alinsky for advice about tactics and strategy. On one such occasion in the spring of 1972 at Tulane University’s annual week-long series of events featuring leading public figures, students asked Alinsky to help plan a protest of a scheduled speech by George Bush, then U.S. representative to the United Nations, a speech likely to be a defense of the Nixon Administration’s Vietnam War policies The students told Alinsky that they were thinking about picketing or disrupting Bush’s address. That’s the wrong approach, he rejoined–not very creative and besides, causing a disruption might get them thrown out of school.
“He told them, instead, to go hear the speech dressed up as members of the Ku Klux Klan, and whenever Bush said something in defense of the Vietnam War, they should cheer and wave placards, reading “The K.K.K. supports Bush.” And that is what the students did with very successful, attention-getting results.

Keep that in mind if you see/hear/read reports of racial slurs and calls for violence on the part of alleged “Tea Partiers”. Verily, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

UPDATE: Welcome Althouse readers, and thanks for the link!

Instapundit apologizes to prostitutes

Glenn Reynolds:


So, yes, I apologize to prostitutes everywhere for comparing them to Congress. It was a hideously unfair slur, and I never should have said it . . . .

Posted at 9:23 am by Glenn Reynolds

Ouch. In related news, according to a CBS poll (!), public approval of Congress stands at 14%. 76% disapprove. Those of Nancy Peelousy and Dingy Harry Reid stand at 11% and 8%, respectively. Mrs. F2 wondered if the pollsters accidentally sampled the Pelosi and Reid households to even get to these percentages…

Zombie: The real reason why Americans hate universal healthcare (repost)


[I originally published this essay in December of last year, before I started blogging for PJM. I was planning to write a new last-minute plea for sanity as we approach the zero hour for the health care vote in Congress — but I inevitably ended up just re-phrasing the ideas contained in my original essay. So rather than repeat myself, I present below a reprise of what many have said is the one and only essay you’ll ever need to read about universal health care.]

Read the whole thing

Zombie’s argument basically boils down to this: a nontrivial percentage of healthcare expenses are due to unhealthy diet, self-intoxication (tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs,…), high-risk behavior (DUI, dangerous sports, unprotected and/or promiscuous sex,…), cultural habits (deep suntanning, first-cousin marriages,…), and the like. All else being equal, a social libertarian would say “live and let live”. But once we get to foot the bill for fixing the damage wrought by somebody else’s irresponsible behavior, this will turn all of us into the type of nannies every social libertarian loathes. “Freedom to do your own thing” or “protecting you against yourself”: pick one.

The question is not whether Zombie envisages a libertarian utopia. (S)he doesn’t. A person who, through no fault of their own, ends up with crushing medical expenses (accident, genetics dealing a bad hand, or just sheer bad luck) is still dependent on the mercy of strangers, and (s)he realizes that as well as any. (S)he merely argues that the ‘solution’ for this problem will involve a price American society is unable and unwilling to pay — not so much in money as in freedom.

Mickey Kaus to run in Democratic Senate primary

Now here’s a Democrat I could vote for. Jonah Goldberg agrees:

Obviously, I’d prefer a strong conservative Republican over a moderate liberal Democrat as the next senator from California. But Mickey Kaus would provide the sort of iconoclasm the Democratic party desperately needs, particularly in California. If more Democrats were as empirical and tough-minded as Mickey, the country and the state would be in a lot better shape.

Instapundit on religion and spirituality

Glenn Reynolds:

YOUNG VOTERS WANT SPIRITUALITY, BUT NOT NECESSARILY RELIGION. Well, that’s because religion often tells you to do things you don’t want to do, or to refrain from doing things you want to do, while spirituality is usually more . . . flexible.

Obviously, from the context, he means noncommittal, “cafeteria style” spirituality.

Allow me to use a perhaps risqué metaphor: “Young voters want casual ‘hookups’ but not commitment”. Embracing a religion — or deciding to become serious about the one you already belong to — is a lot like committing yourself to one partner and one only. You may be friendly with others — very friendly even — but n the most intimate level you belong to one (or One) only.

ClimateGate update: “up is down” edition

We are clearly living in an era where “up is down and down is up”. Or perhaps cats and dogs will live together peacefully and the lion will lie down with the lamb (without replacing the lamb every day).

In any case, while at… “some other blog” (SOB) ClimateGate was declared a “nontroversy”, none other than… George Monbiot (the original “moonbat”) is calling for heads to roll.

In The Daily W*nkerThe Guardian, at that. Which is now publishing investigative pieces by Fred Pearce that actually ask tough questions about ClimateGate, and extensively refer to ClimateAudit. Have I just walked into a parallel universe?

In related news, the head of Greenpeace UK is calling for the resignation of UN climate chief Rajendra PajeroPachauri.

Meanwhile, the initial report on the investigation of Michael “hockey stick” Mann appears to be neither a whitewash nor an indictment, but rather a “greywash“.

And in other “settled science” news, British medical journal The Lancet, which for some time has not been the sharpest scalpel on the tray, has formally retracted the paper that claimed a link between vaccines and autism. (Now let’s get rid of the Israel- and USA-bashing thinly veiled as junk science, while we’re at it? One can hope.)

UPDATE: Former science advisor to the UK gov’t David King FRS first attributes ClimateGate hack to foreign intelligence agencies, then backtracks. Puh-leeze…

“Letters to the editor” astroturfer for 0bama caught

Patterico reports on how the same woman, one putative Ellie Light, published fundamentally the same pro-0bama letter in at least 42 newspapers in 18 states plus DC (listing different places of residence for every state). Commenters keep discovering more letters. Sabrina Eaton at the Cleveland Plain Dealer caught her red-handed claiming diverse residences.

Can the 0bama propaganda machine possibly get any more pathetic?!

And kudos to Sabrina — although it is a sad reflection on the state of MSM journalism that journalists can now become praiseworthy merely for doing their jobs. Here is another example — in the NYT no less. (I have some bones to pick with the author, but it’s not a mindless puff piece by any means.)

Zombie: “Soylent pink” on vat-grown meat

Congratulations to my blog-ancestor Zombie on his/her new home at Pajamas Media.

Here is a new article: Soylent Pink: in-vitro stem cell meat on the menu soon. “Vat-grown meat” is of course a staple of sci-fi, for example in the story-universe  created in Lois McMaster Bujold‘s Vorkosigan Series. Zombie actually quotes a 1936 article by Winston Churchill (!) where he predicts the concept.

Zombie wonders if people will embrace the idea. Personally, I definitely would (not pork, of course!). Keeping kosher (which I do, albeit liberally) can be seen as a G-d-given compromise between the vegetarian ideal and a human’s  natural craving for animal protein. Vat-grown meat would be a G-dsend for not just practicing Jews but for anyone who feels guilty about needlessly taking an animal’s life for sustenance yet is left hungry by soy or gluten protein.

There’s also the “glowbull worming” angle, of course. Go read the whole thing!

Looking around, Jan. 5, 2010: depressing op-ed edition

There is an ancient joke about four Jews sitting in a café, discussing the situation. The first three go through various “oy vey”s. Then the fourth (it could have been yours truly) announces that he’s an optimist. The others ask why, if he is an optimist, he looks so worried. He answers: “do you think it’s easy being an optimist?”

Today it’s not being made particularly easy by two depressing op-ed pieces:

  • Former Jerusalem Post editor (before that, Brussels correspondent of the Wall Street Journal) Bret Stephens wonders whether our civilization has become incompetent. Moneygrafs: “a civilization becomes incompetent not only when it fails to learn the lessons of its past, but also when it becomes crippled by them.[…]Our deeper incompetence stems from an inability to recognize the proper limits to our own virtues; to forget, as Aristotle cautioned, that even good things “bring harm to many people; for before now men have been undone by reason of their wealth, and others by reason of their courage.[…] We can be proud of how deeply we mourn the losses of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. But a nation that mourns too deeply ultimately becomes incapable of conducting a war of any description, whether for honor, interest or survival. We rightly care about the environment. But our neurotic obsession with carbon betrays an inability to distinguish between pollution and the stuff of life itself. We are a country of standards and laws. Yet we are moving perilously in the direction of abolishing notions of discretion and judgment. […]One of life’s paradoxes is that we are as often undone by our virtues as by our vices. And so it is with civilizations, ours not least.

In other news:

The original of “0bama shining Palin’s shoes” found

Here is the original picture that was photoshopped by somebody who superimposed the face of Chairman Zero on the shoeshine boy and of Sarah Palin on his customer. (More on that here.)

The usual suspects immediately yelled “raaaaacism!” and of course tried to blame Republicans. The image in fact reminded me not of race, but of the expression “he’s not fit to shine the other guy’s shoes” (cfr. the Hebrew expression: “A is not fit to unbuckle B’s shoe”, which entered the Gospels via Greek). Also, the photoshopped image has apparently been in circulation since the 2008 elections, so I’m at a loss to understand why this is becoming a hot topic now.

One thing it did convince me of: paraphrasing Isaac Asimov, “specious accusations of raaaaacism are the last refuge of the incompetent”.

In the meantime, an alternative photoshop has been making the rounds 😉

Neologism: “nom de bloguerre”

Over at C2, we had a discussion about Facebook, and I blurted out in passing that I did not do Facebook, neither under my real name nor under my “nom de bloguerre”.

“kenneth” and “Lucius Septimius” on the thread seemed to like this spur-of-the-moment neologism. It is really a portmanteau word of “nom de blog” (an established derivative of “nom de plume”, i.e., pen name) and “nom de guerre” (battle name). The main reason why the portmanteau works so well in this case is that “bloguerre” sounds like how a Frenchman would mispronounce “blogger” 🙂

I was sure many others had beaten me to it, but a Google search only revealed three hits on “nom de bloguerre”….

In case you are wondering why I have two “noms de bloguerre”: on C2 I registered as Finally Free, which I picked after joining the Lizard Diaspora. But after I registered this blog, it turned out there already was a “Finally Free” on wordpress.com, with a Christian-themed blog. Thus I became “New Class Traitor”, itself a portmanteau of “New Class” and “class traitor“.