Discover the Nutwork

by Scott McLemee on September 9, 2006

The Path to 9/11 is produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias. This is the network within the ABC network. Its godfather is far right activist David Horowitz, who has worked for more than a decade to establish a right-wing presence in Hollywood and to discredit mainstream film and TV production. On this project, he is working with a secretive evangelical religious right group founded by The Path to 9/11‘s director David Cunningham that proclaims its goal to ‘transform Hollywood’ in line with its messianic vision.”

Plenty more where that came from, here.

Elsewhere

by Henry on September 9, 2006

Two interesting pieces.

First, “Open Democracy”:http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/jahanbegloo_3867.jsp on the release of Ramin Jahanbegloo from prison in Iran. I blogged about Jahangebloo a couple of months ago; he was finally let out, but gave an interview immediately afterwards “admitting” that foreign agents had attended his seminars, that his work could have been useful to attempts to overthrow the government in Iran etc. According to the article, the authorities threatened to confiscate his house and the house of his mother if he didn’t give an interview of this kind, supporting the authorities’ story to some extent (although notably not confessing to spying). Thanks to my friend Carl Caldwell for the link.

Second, this “piece”:http://chronicle.com/temp/email2.php?id=bgFVfxZxmvXc5pXhzpT9BTtMd2s4cHrC by David Glenn in the Chronicle on an academic who’s landed in some controversy because of her book which argues that the progressive movement’s reliance on paid canvassers is hurting it. The Fund for Public Interest Research, which is the organization described in her book, has sent a certified letter to the academic’s department, alleging that she didn’t protect the organization’s anonymity. It does sound as though the academic should have been more careful to protect the anonymity of the organization than she was (although it perhaps would have been impossible to do this properly), but it also sounds as though the Fund’s real beef with her isn’t that the book revealed who it was, but that it was vigorously critical of the organization. The Fund has a pretty dubious “track record”:http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2787/ over issues such as allowing its staff to unionize. For more blogospheric discussion, see “here”:http://www.peterlevine.ws/mt/archives/000883.html, “here”:http://www.peterlevine.ws/mt/archives/000926.html, “here”:http://greg_bloom.mydd.com/story/2006/8/18/111159/225 and “here”:http://larvatusprodeo.net/2006/08/20/unionising-the-idealists/.

The Blair lame duck model revisited

by Daniel on September 9, 2006

Well, now that it looks like Blair has gone, it’s a good time to look back on the performance of the model I made back in April to try and understand the dynamics of the resignation process. I chickened out of making any predictions more specific than “there is some basis for the nebulous feeling that the time has come” and “if he hangs on till September 2008 he will most likely stay on until the next election”, so I don’t think I can claim any bragging rights on the date of departure. However on the qualitative aspects, I think I can claim a decent success.

Recall that the model was based on a “marginal value of grovelling” function for backbench MPs. The idea was that grovelling to Tony might get you a ministerial prize from Tony, but might also get you on Gordon’s shit-list. So there was some time T at which it made more sense to grovel to Gordon rather than Tony, and when that time was reached, Tony would more or less immediately lose the support of the party and have to resign.

I think this fits the qualitiative facts quite well. Blair was holed below the waterline by two round-robin letters from backbench MPs and PPSs, who had been passed over for better jobs in the May reshuffle. My model assumed two possible reshuffles during the life of the Parliament and once Tony had carried out one of them, he had fewer prizes to give out, reducing the value of his grovel function. Allow that nothing happens over the holidays and the September coup can be seen as a fairly immediate reaction to the reshuffle.

But more importantly, the underlying representative agent assumption worked a treat. The final knife was placed by Tom Watson MP. He is a blogger, and thus it is possible to learn quite a lot about him by reading his blog. He has written about his reasons for doing what he did, but I am a long term reader of his blog (I used to enjoy asking questions about postal ballots in the Hodge Hill byelection to see how quickly they were deleted) and as such, I think I can say two things about him with confidence. First, he is a ferocious careerist, and second, right up until the moment he dropped “da bomb”, he was one of the most horrifically arse-kissing Blairites you could wish to meet; if he ever saw a horrific piece of New Labour crap he didn’t like, either he didn’t blog about it or I didn’t read it. In other words, precisely the representative agent of my model. Homo economicus is not aperfect assumption but you’d be surprised how many of them there are out there.

PS: Apologies to all the people I promised a copy of the spreadsheet to; the offer is still there.

PPPS[1]: I have posted a few puerile jokes on the subject on the Guardian website.

[1] There was a “PPS”, but he resigned in protest.