Peddling is arguably the most favorite way for contrarians to lob factoids behind enemy lines. Once a door opens, peddlers block it with their foot and dispatch their sale pitches. Peddled talking points seldom matter to the topic at hand, i.e. they’re red herrings, or as I prefer to call them squirrels, because “look, squirrel!,” because the verb squirreling,  and because Rachel.

Responding to the peddler’s talking point only opens other doors. A flurry of squirrels get thrown on the field, exchanges go in many directions at the same time. At best we get constructive brainstorming, at worse a food fight. In any event, the Gods of ClimateBall (tm) rejoice.

Since language is a martial art, peddling can start anywhere and about anything. I recently experienced one with Freedom Fernando, after I dared to retweet a tweet telling that that some were burning food in Brazil. Fernando’s peddling move was his famous “but Venezuela”:

My response abides by the principle: A Squirrel for a Squirrel.  It also conveys that I don’t mind discussing the historical reasons why many South American countries became allergic to the Washington Consensus. I could have pointed out that famines correlated more with mismanagement and political conflicts than ideology, but baiting Fernando with a Marxian source was too tempting. At least twenty-seven tweets followed. There could have been more, but I decided to write this instead.

Fernando doubled-down his peddling by denying that Venezuela had economic sanctions. In return, I cited an official webpage of the US Government describing these. Then it got interesting.

A Think Tank Tie (see the mug face below) chimed in to say that the sanctions did not target Venezuela per se, but individuals. My first response recalled that this point was an ignoratio elenchi:

As if warning against doing business in Venezuela wasn’t a most effective way to put economic pressure on a country. (Many hold that official sanctions are inefficient at best.) As if the Iran sanctions couldn’t affect Venezuela. As if there wasn’t any underhanded ways to expand one’s country’s influence. As if any of this was relevant to my point anyway.

Then it gets surreal: Fernando accuses me of backing up a genocide. A genocide, no less. Qui ne dit mot consent, I suppose, so I reject his accusation and call him on his peddling. Instead of owning it, Fernando doubles down by blaming me for having provoked his peddling!

To show Fernando that I could not care less about ideology, I showed him the historical prices of oil between 2008 and 2014. The correlation between low oil prices and increase in Venezuelian suffering should be obvious to anyone. Our Think Tank Tie resurfaces, moving the goalpost using a “what about question.” I remind him of whataboutism while clarifying that the chart wasn’t meant as an explanation of the crisis:

Our Think Tank Tie then gets personal, which backfires quite quickly since he can’t commit to the crap his think tank peddles. Nevertheless, Fernando’s peddling succeeded. Squirrels were thrown. Nothing got resolved. Everybody left happy.

THE END? No, not at all. Like auditing, peddling never ends.


About Willard
This entry was posted in ClimateBall, Freedom Fighters and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Peddling

  1. Willard says:

    By some ClimateBall magic, Fernando was still peddling as I was writing this:

  2. Willard says:

    Mission accomplished:

  3. Ah, this is dumb. Venezuela’s economic problems are of their own making, by rejecting a market economy.

  4. Willard says:

    > this is dumb

    What is “this”?


    > by rejecting a market economy.

    If only things were as simple:

    The Caracazo, or sacudón, is the name given to the wave of protests, riots, looting, shootings and massacres that began on 27 February 1989 in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, and the surrounding towns. The weeklong clashes resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people, thousands by some accounts, mostly at the hands of security forces and the military The riots and the protests began mainly in response to the government’s economic reforms and the resulting increase in the price of gasoline and transportation.

    Freedom Fighters have a short memory.

  5. > Peddled talking points seldom matter to the topic at hand, i.e. they’re red herrings, or as I prefer to call them squirrels, because “look, squirrel!,” because the verb squirreling, and because Rachel.

    Shortly after this posted, I obtained my own example:

    Not exactly the sort of response one gives when attempting to pass a Turing test.

  6. > What is “this”?

    Your post.

    [My post was about peddling, not Venezuela. – Willard]

    >> by rejecting a market economy.
    > If only things were as simple

    Alas, it really is. V’s problems today are not caused by events from 1989, other than by the way they politically conditioned V itself. V’s present day problems are caused by its current economically-idiot govt.

    [Before Maduro there was Chávez, before him there were Freedom Fighters who became as autocratic as what we’re witnessing, and you now switch from responsibility to causality, which might deserve a bit more than invisible hands waving. – Willard]

  7. Martha says:

    Anthony Watts is begging for money again. I don’t get it. He claims that he gets millions of hits and his site is full of ads. He should be making a pretty penny. Watts Up With That?

  8. Roger Jones says:


    I’m amazed that you didn’t invoke the most visible exponent of this art at present when the whole world is playing PotusBall®

    Compared to that Fernando is an amateur, and it was nice of the Stoat to drive by and give his example.

  9. Dennis Just says:

    I hadn’t heard of “peddling” before, but it sounds just like the “rabbit holes” an MBA friend once told me about. Papa Bear Bill O’Reilly was a master.

  10. Jeff Harvey says:

    Ah, William makes it appear so simple. Economic mismanagement. Expunges any US culpability. I am sure he would have said the same thing back in the early 1970s when the US was desperately pushing for regime change in Chile. As we now know, Nixon famously instructed Kissinger to ‘make the Chilean economy scream’ because Allende was seen as a threat to US hegemony in Latin America. Similarly, William would claim that the 6 decade long embargo waged by the US on Cuba has not harmed the Cuban economy, or the siege waged on Nicaragua by the Reagan administration did not turn a ‘model economy for Latin America’ (the words of the Inter American Development Bank) into a disaster. Heck, I will bet that William denies that the sanctions regime imposed on Iraq in the 1990s by the global hegemon and it’s proxies led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the country, despite the views of the two senior UN officials, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck who both resigned over what one of them called ‘genocide masquerading as policy’.

    Let’s cut the nonsense. Of course the US is sabotaging the Venezuelan economy. Anyone who thinks otherwise I believe is in serious need of medical attention.

  11. Joshua says:

    =={ Alas, it really is. }==

    No doubt. Life in a libertarian utopia is simple indeed. There, all dilemmas are binary.

    The real world tends to me somewhat complicated. But that doesn’t have to interfere with Internet economic theory.

  12. Willard says:

    I wouldn’t say our Stoatness peddled much of anything, RJ. It may have been clearer if we witnessed some libertarian claptrap with his dismissiveness. Anything from Hayek would do. Fukuyama, maybe. My favorite would be a friedmanism:

    I’d tell them to look at Norway, which all but solved its energy crisis over the past decade. When I visited Norway in 2002, Mwambe, the cabbie who drove me from the airport, couldn’t stop telling me about how he had to take a third job because of the high cost of energy. I caught up with Mwambe in Oslo last year. Thanks to Norway’s reformed approach toward energy, Mwambe has enough money in his pocket to finally be able to afford a television set for his kids.

    That’s all it takes. Don’t expect to see any solutions as long as politicians insist on playing a high-stakes game of blackjack with one another. America’s got to call a time-out.


    Martha’s not really peddling either. There’s no pretense to connect with anything. It’s more of a drive-by.

    I’m fine with both.

  13. Mal Adapted says:


    Venezuela’s economic problems are of their own making, by rejecting a market economy.

    Oh come on. What society has not rejected a “market and nuthin’ but” economy? Somalia, maybe? And what ought Venezuela, and the USA for that matter, to do about externalities?

    I’m pretty sure you know what’s fact and what’s rhetoric when you type either, William. Which do you think your comment is? You don’t usually grind your Libertarian axe so frankly.

  14. Willard says:


    I wouldn’t go so far as to claim real sabotage, but would suggest that it takes two to tango, more so when the tango lasts a century or so.

    You might like this analysis by Branko Milanovic:

    “Liberal democracy” was in a continual crisis, fighting for its mere survival, buffeted domestically by strikes, wage demands, RAF and Brigate Rosse, and internationally by the challenges of the Third World emancipation and Soviet influence. It fought off all challengers and survived, not because everybody, as the triumphalist narrative would have it, saw that it was a more “natural” system but because it used power and intimidation on the one hand, and superior economic performance for the masses on the other. In 1945, the chances of democratic capitalism winning over the Soviet system were 10% (read Schumpeter), in 1965, they were 30% (read Samuelson, Galbraith and Tinbergen), in 1975, they were 60%, by 1985, they were 90%, and in 1989, it won. So at the end, the system that, up to the mid-1970s, did not even dare mention its name (“capitalism”), because it was used only by the left and only as a term of opprobrium, could openly declare what it was and hyphenate it, dubiously, with the adjective of “liberal”.

    There are many studies that seriously try to understand why oil fields and autocracies are so often seen hand in hand. There are also studies that tried to explain the emergence of anti-imperialism rhetoric. There are so many things we could do in a discussion than to shout “but communism!” like Fernando did.

    That being said, I don’t blame Fernando for trying to help resolve the crisis. What’s happening there is awful.

  15. Willard says:


    As I see it, peddlers don’t run their own shows. They’re on the road. Here’s an old comment that recalls some of the history:

    > Willard promised to do so a while ago but never got around to it.

    I actually did, Vinny:

    Basically, it’s using someone else’s claim to peddle your own pet topic, e.g. alarmism. It’s like running with someone else’s squirrel.

    Peddling ain’t that bad, as long as it does not turn into a food fight. And when it does, a pox in all the houses.

    An older instance:

    That’s a peddling trick, AT. You mention someone S and Foxgoose feels anything that involves S is relevant or something. And now that Foxgoose has the feet on the door, he can raise any concerns he wants about your person.

    I vaguely recall of coming up with the concept of peddling when BarryW was around. So the meme must be older than that. If you appreciate peddling, make sure to follow him on the tweeter.

  16. Willard says:

    #ClimateBall strawmen are as resilient as zombies:

  17. Kevin O'Neill says:

    Peddling, by my understanding of past Willard comments, is a sub-species of tangential (at best) arguments often used (by design?) to derail a discussion with the additional constriction that the tangential argument is of a topic near and dear (or at least often used) by the peddler. Fernando and Venezuela is of course a perfect example. WC and regulations or some other facet of libertarianism likewise.

    All roads lead to Rome. In the peddler’s universe all roads lead to the topic of their obsession.

    Fernando’s ‘but Venezuela’ might carry more credence if one has forgotten relatively recent history: Prof. Anthony Spanakos writing in his review of Venezuela Before Chavez: Anatomy of An Economic Collapse

    During the 1970s, Venezuela was the richest country in Latin America. With the region’s highest growth rates and the lowest levels of inequality, it was also one of the most stable democracies in the Americas. But starting in the early 1980s, things fell apart. The nation endured three coup attempts and one presidential impeachment. Per capita growth plunged, and mass protests became the norm.

    Fernando’s is old enough to remember the previous economic collapse so he has no excuse.

  18. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I still find it hard to predict what you think constitutes peddling, Willard. For example, would it be peddling to point out that the tomatoes were dumped rather than burned? I’d put that down as tedious nit-picking myself but there’s no telling with you.

    Or what if I said that, prior to dumping his toms, the evil capitalist tomacrat had given three tons to local good causes and allowed local people to take as much as they liked for animal fodder and that, judging by the photo, even the starving poor wouldn’t have found the remaining 20 tons very appetizing? Peddling or just more quibbling?

    Or how about saying that under the previous, socialist administration the price of tomatoes rose so high that most Brazilians could no longer afford them and that even upmarket Italian restaurants took them off the menu, so that in some ways this story about ‘burning’ excess tomatoes is actually good news (for the masses, if not for evil capitalist tomacrats)? Peddling?

    Your peddling shtick strikes me as being more about closing down debate than saying anything rigorous about debating tactics. [But SkS. -Willard]

  19. Willard says:

    How charming, dear Vinny. In return, please rest assured that I don’t find it hard to predict that you’ll play dumb every chance you’ll have. Note that JAQing off may not go very well with opening up debates and saying rigorous stuff.

    But you’re right: some 3 tons were donated to local charity and livestock. Some 20 tons thrown away. The reason why tomatoes were thrown away is, according to the article, because producers would have lost money processing them. With the current low prices, selling them wouldn’t even cover the fret and man hours required to ship them on the market.

    Which goes on to show that the Reds who scare you to death don’t hold a monopoly in mismanagement. What they do have a monopoly of, in comparison to the bloody socialists, is the lack of means to borrow money if need be, or to go bankcrupt and shovel their problems to otters.

    Your “but SkS” is definitely peddling, and your “but socialist” is more of a tu quoque. Thanks for asking.

  20. > in the early 1970s when the US was desperately pushing for regime change in Chile

    Oh, look! A squirrel.

    > What society has not rejected a “market and nuthin’ but” economy? Somalia, maybe?

    Another squirrel. Or perhaps a badger. No-one runs a pure market economy. But methods of economic management that don’t involve a major market component end up in Venezuela.

    > I will bet that William denies that the sanctions regime imposed on Iraq in the 1990s by the global hegemon and it’s proxies led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the country

    You lose. Will you pay up?

    > Similarly, William would claim that the 6 decade long embargo waged by the US on Cuba has not harmed the Cuban economy

    You lose. The US embargo is stupid. See Timmy:

    > the US is sabotaging the Venezuelan economy

    [Chill. -Willard]

  21. Willard says:

    > methods of economic management that don’t involve a major market component end up in Venezuela.

    It’s more a matter of diversification than involving a major market component, whatever that might mean. For comparison’s sake,

    Alberta’s NDP government is touting a slimmer deficit and employment gains as signs of stability in the province’s stuttering economy even as it concedes shaky oil prices threaten to delay a lasting recovery.

    The deficit is forecast at $10.8-billion this year, according to a second-quarter fiscal update released Monday. That’s down $78-million from previous expectations but still $450-million higher than originally budgeted due to impacts of wildfires earlier this year.

    Without diversification, you end up with an economy that can’t sustain economic shocks very long. But then when natural resources is what you have and all your trade partners want is your oil, it’s hard not to focus on that. Hence the well-known resource curse.

    Being able to borrow money is also a good way to deal with shocks. The Venezuelan government refuses to default its 3 billion payment (i.e. three times less than the deficit of the wealthiest of Canadian provinces) and its population suffers. Again for comparison’s sake, the subprime mortgage crisis was absorbed with a bailout that goes from 700 billion to more than a trillion.

    This should put into perspective the efficiency of invisible hands.

    While I underlined the USA’s century old foreign policy, it’s actually China and Russia that are “partenering” with Venezuela nowadays: both are already owed 50 billion in oil, and Venezuela can’t even have a decent tanker to ship it. The same should be expected to happen with them as any such previous relationship. Nothing pretty should come out of this.

  22. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ‘The Reds who scare me to death’?

    Jeez, Willard. How squirrelly is that?

    (Are you going to let my innocent comma self-correction through or is self-applied Grammar Nazism somehow another proof of my being a right-wing Red-haterfearer?)

  23. Willard says:

    > How squirrelly is that?

    You tell me, Vinny: how squirrelly were your “evil capitalist tomacrat” and “but socialist administration”?

    Your self-correction has already been edited.

  24. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Thanks for (and sorry about) the comma correction.

    My ‘evil capitalist tomacrat’ is a far-from-squirrelly encapsulation of the January tweet that got this whole thing going, to wit: ‘Yet again as prices fall, capitalists burn edible food due to lack of profitability while millions starve.’

  25. Mal Adapted says:


    > What society has not rejected a “market and nuthin’ but” economy? Somalia, maybe?

    Another squirrel. Or perhaps a badger. No-one runs a pure market economy.

    Nuh-uh. You introduced the squirrel by taking the opportunity to tell a Just-So story blaming Venezuela’s economic problems on its “methods of economic management that don’t involve a major market component”. You did that to peddle your “libertarian” ism.

    Every actual economy is a unique mix of invisible and visible hands, along with multiple geographic, historic and other random (WRT management goals, that is) causes at levels from proximate to ultimate. Venezuela’s economic policies may have contributed to its woes, but you have hardly shown they were the sole factor.

  26. Ragnaar says:

    “Millions of protesters flooded the streets of Sao Paulo and other cities, holding signs like “Less Marx, More Mises.””
    So we have capitalists burning food because of low prices. Supply exceeds demand and people are starving. I don’t think they are starving because the price of tomatoes is too high. There’s a breakdown somewhere perhaps with the weather. A real capitalist is going to be against trade sanctions most of the time. A fake one will try to prevent tomatoes being shipped to the U.S. as he grows them in California. I want to blame the politicians in both countries. If the price is too high, it’s the capitalists fault, if it’s too low, it’s the capitalists fault. If the price is just right, they’re not paying a living wage. The capitalist is the punching bag of the left, and the government is the punching bag of the libertarians.

    Someone mentioned Cuba. You made your point. It’s over. Make Cuba great again.

  27. Willard says:

    > My ‘evil capitalist tomacrat’ is a far-from-squirrelly encapsulation of the January tweet that got this whole thing going, to wit: ‘Yet again as prices fall, capitalists burn edible food due to lack of profitability while millions starve.’

    And my “red scare” is of course a far-from-squirelly encapsulation of pick-just-about-any-of-Fernando’s-tweets.

    But you underline an important ingredient of peddling, Vinny: any hook already present in a discussion is good for peddling.

    Nobody makes a peddler peddle. If everyone owned their peddling, that’d be great.

    If you think my retweets are full endorsements, you should see how many Freedom Fighters I retweet. Fernando did not even took the time to check why I retweeted that tweet. He jumped on me. The Think Tank Tie did not even bother to understand why I mentioned historical sanctions or why I cited Caracazo – he simply went full Tol mode.

  28. JCH says:

    During the days of Chavez a major US newspaper editorial page had an editorial expressing moral outrage that Chavez was building baseball fields – and the nerve… actually equipping them with baseball equipment – so kids of al backgrounds could play baseball.

  29. Willard says:


    Thanks for your understanding and your link.

    Your comment got caught in spam. If this happens often, you’ll need to contact Akismet:

    Hope you don’t need to do so.

  30. Martha says:

    I didn’t mean to say Watts is peddling. I just don’t get why he is pretending to need money. Youtubers with far less traffic are getting rich. It just doesn’t add up.

  31. Martha,
    I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for money. The real problem with WUWT is not that he’s asking for money, it’s that he runs a site that promotes misinformation about an important topic.

  32. dikranmarsupial says:

    It is probably just as well if the Journal of the society doesn’t get off the ground, as I suspect it would just end up as another “Pattern Recognition in Physics” etc. as they would be unlikely to attract reviewers from outside their readership (and hence pal-review).

  33. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    If everyone owned their peddling, that’d be great.

    One Mann’s peddling is another man’s treasure.

    Peddling, ax-grinding, rabbit holing, squirreling, Sean Spicer – these are all taxonomic subsets (whose intersection is not the empty set) of the Great Fallacy of Irrelevance…

    Now if we could all agree on what’s relevant, that’d make ownership great again.

  34. Willard says:

    I’d argue that all informal fallacies carry irrelevant information one way or another, Rev. Many valid inferences do, hence paradoxes of implication. As I see it, fallacies are infelicities of reasoning, while lobbing (thus peddling) may go beyond argumentation as we usually undertstand it. Classification of fallacies is still an open problem.

    Philosophers of law had to think hard about relevance, because evidence E is evidence of some fact F only if E is relevant for establishing F:

    The concept of relevance examined in the preceding section is commonly known as “logical relevance”. This is somewhat of a misnomer: “Relevance is not a matter of logic, but depends on matters of fact” (Haack 2004: 46). In our earlier example, the relevance of the fact that the accused has type A blood depends obviously on the state of the world. On the understanding that relevance is a probabilistic relation, it is tempting to think that in describing relevance as “logical”, one is subscribing to a logical theory of probability (cf. Franklin 2011). However, the term “logical relevance” was not originally coined with this connotation in mind. In the forensic context, “logic” is used loosely and refers to the stock of background beliefs or generalisations and the type of reasoning that judges and lawyers are fond of labelling as “commonsense” (MacCrimmon 2001–2002; Twining 2006: 334–335).

    There are many other things to say about relevance, but that should suffice to explain the following.


    I reminded Fernando of Caracazo because it provides evidence of an autocratic regime that wasn’t chavist. Even if Venezuelans kicked Maduro out, the remedy is far from clear. They just don’t have any money left. Furthermore, the relationship between oil states and democracy is thin:

    Among the petrostates, successful transitions to democracy are rare. Table 3 lists the top ten countries, by oil income, to move from authoritarian to democratic rule since 1945. Venezuela’s 1958 transition is at the top of the list. The next four leading producers to democratize were Russia (1991), Nigeria (1979), Ecuador (1979) and the Congo Republic (1992); but all of these transitions were later reversed. This highlights the unusual quality of Venezuela’s success: since Venezuela’s 1958 transition, no country with more oil income than Mexico in 2000 has become sustainably democratic.

    Michael Ross had to revise his previous conclusions regarding the causation of his claim that oil hinders democracy. The strong correlations on which his work was based are still there, however.

    So as I see it, Fernando’s “but communism” conflates at least two questions: one about democracy, and one about economic efficiency. His peddling trick also omits that not all autocracies are left leaning. There are many examples of autocratic states that are somewhat economy efficient. China holds too much US bonds to dismiss fiscal discipline lightly.

    This exchange shows Freedom Fighters not paying due diligence to the flow of money.

  35. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Why *did* you retweet the burning tomatoes, Willard? I scrolled back through your Twitter timeline and the reason wasn’t obvious.

    Re peddling, here’s some peddling fodder:

    The tragic fires in Portugal are in an area where 90% of the trees are eucalypts, highly combustible exotics that are apparently known to their opponents as ‘fascist trees’ or ‘capitalist trees’ (though I can find only a handful of examples of the various Portuguese variants of those tags being used online), this being, it is said, partly because Salazar planted and harvested them to pay for his colonial wars and partly because Portugal’s accession to the EEC coincided with a glut of olive oil, triggering a rapid and still ongoing conversion of agricultural land to eucalypt plantations, which are mostly owned and managed (mismanaged, some say) by a handful of large pulp-suppliers, some of which aren’t wholly Portuguese-owned.

    If somebody was tasteless enough to package the still-burning Portuguese tragedy as a story about one of the following…

    (a) climate change

    (b) bad forestry

    (c) fascism (or corporatist nationalism)

    (d) the EU

    (e) multinationals

    …in which circumstances would it be ‘peddling’ to mention one or more of the others?

    For example, if someone said it was an example of climate change when would it be OK to mention forestry or fascism or the EU or multinationals?

  36. Willard says:

    > Why *did* you retweet the burning tomatoes, Willard?

    Because I know people who try to help feed the poor in Brazil.

  37. Willard says:

    > For example, if someone said

    It’s been what, three years now that you’re playing dumb with this, Vinny?

    Here’s my favorite example:

    If Doritos are less evocative to you, replace “Doritos” with “but SkS” or “but alarmism.”

  38. Steven Mosher says:


    Buy bitcoin and hodl.

  39. Nathan Tetlaw says:

    Being Australian, and particularly fond of them I find this: fascist trees’ or ‘capitalist trees’ A bit sad…
    Eucalypts are beautiful and floribund:
    my favourite

    There’s also a ridiculous variety

    But yes the larger ones used for paper pulp can burn very easily. However, I think care should be taken not to smear all Eucalpytus species…. Most don’t explode like the Blue Gum (E. Globulus).

  40. Nathan Tetlaw says:
  41. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Nathan Tetlaw: Fair point. My bad. Not all eucalypts are incendiary fascists. Some are quite cuddly.

    Another correction: These days the big pulp companies own only about 20% of the eucalypt acreage. The rest is mostly owned by farmers or ex-farmers.

    Peddling: The expansion of eucalypt plantations has been encouraged and subsidised by the EU since before Portugal joined the bloc, initially to shrink the EU’s olive oil glut and pulpwood shortage, later to help Portugal meet (massage, some say) its climate change targets.

    Tin-foil millinery: Is it then a coincidence that Euronews, to which the European Commission pays at least £20 million every year to put a ‘European’ (pro-EU, pro-European Commission etc.) spin on world news, was the first news outlet to ascribe the Portuguese forest fires to climate change? (Er, probably, yes.)

    Advertising: Pssst! Wanna buy a tin-foil hat?

    Underpants also available.

  42. Willard says:

    Is that peddling, Nathan?

    That‘s peddling:

    Your Aussie tree reminds me of Lew.

    Did I say Lew?

    Then C13.

    Which reminds me of Inhofe Cheeseburgers:

    Compare and contrast:

    (1) If AGW wasn’t a hoax, why would we need to sell it?
    (2) If CM was any good, why would we need Lew to study it?
    (3) If CM was that bad, why would Dan need to recurse furiously about it?
    (4) If Shakespeare was any good, why would he need Kenneth Branagh?
    (5) If Kenneth Branagh was that good, why would he need Shakespeare?

    And Shakespeare leads us by some serendipity to Freedom Fighters:

    Freedom Fighters. Got to love ’em.

  43. russellseitz says:

    Thank you for the hard sell , but while Brazilian vegetables smolder, the flames in London have a green tinge as well:

  44. Willard says:

    The cold flames of Very Serious Freedom Fighters may never contain much more than the superstructure of their own liberal mind, dear Russell:

    If liberalism has ceased to function as a political faction so much as a censorious regency for capital, then there is little difference, in its view, between left and right — both are id-ish impulses that must be suppressed. The language of irresponsibility and childishness is not just a messaging contrivance but an explicit statement of core values: the trouble with all of these radical politics is that they want to pull society up by the root — and the root, as any adult knows, must be kept firmly in place. The fact that the right receives a larger share of liberalism’s disdain is not a reflection of a larger distaste but simply of the fact that the right happens to be winning. That it might be winning because managerial liberalism has hamstrung progressive impulses is an unthinkable idea, dutifully suppressed.

    Like any superego, managerial liberalism is concerned first and foremost with appearances. This explains why, in the face of so much bad policy, liberals are incessantly talking about decorum. Thus, the vulgarity and impropriety of [teh Donald] are more offensive than his policies, the callousness of his collusion with dictators more insulting than the collusion itself (ordinarily, that is done more quietly, and only with governments like Saudi Arabia, which can butcher their own citizens but not threaten American hegemony). Meanwhile, liberal politicians and journalists express frustration with the rude socialists popping up in their Twitter feeds and at their town halls, refusing to respect their elders. It’s all so embarrassing and juvenile, they claim, when what is needed is a sober, adult response to [teh Donald] — never mentioning that the adults were all routed at the polls by this Monster from the Id.

    Bernie would have saved London.

  45. Nathan Tetlaw says:

    “Is that peddling, Nathan?

    That‘s peddling:”

    ohhh Hoges… What a guy…

  46. russellseitz says:

    Willard, the disparity between Emmet Rensin’s fave German philosopher and the last generation to think that way recalls something I said a long time ago- in the NY rather than the LA Times.

    CF Bottom of front page 11-5-1991

  47. Steven Mosher says:

    “He jumped on me.”


    Looks like he butted in on a thread to make a point he judged to be relevant or illuminating.

    We need more conversational controls.

    Twitter is the worse place to have a conversation or dialog. As a medium it has limitations and a reward system that encourages thread jacking, trolling, stealing’s design to prevent dialog and discursive thought. It’s focused on grabbing attention and redirection..

    No good thinker or writer would try to swim against this stream.

  48. Willard says:

    I don’t know who’s Emmet’s favorite philosopher, Russell, but I don’t think any German philosopher has been harmed in the making of the following post:

    Amid a wave of right-wing authoritarianism and Democratic disarray, what should bring hope is that democracy has emerged from deeply hierarchical and repressive societies many times. In the last third of the 20th century, military dictatorships in Spain, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea all were replaced with civilian governments; colonized nations in Africa and Asia broke the shackles of empire. More recently, a host of “color revolutions” found success against autocrats in the places like the Philippines, Georgia, Ukraine, and Burma. And while we are not there yet, the power of ordinary people acting together can never be forgotten. Despite the wave of hate unleashed by the election, despite the plutocratic, antisocial agenda of the new administration, our divided society still has the resources necessary to fight back. If democracy’s success is not as inevitable as it feels in good times, neither is its degeneration.

    Since he doesn’t believe that Bernie would have won and he doesn’t even mention Venezuela, his point should be taken with a grain of salt.

  49. Willard says:

    > Looks like he butted in on a thread to make a point he judged to be relevant or illuminating.

    There was no thread when he peddled, and he “jumped” later on.

    Fernando has a knack for doing this on my tweets every two months or so. When I want to make sure I get another two months of peace, I play squirrel with him until he stops. He usually does – good peddlers try to optimize their peddling time. Once “communism” has been injected, his work was done.


    > No good thinker or writer would try to swim against this stream.

    As you may have already witnessed at Judy’s, I can hold my own in squirrel throwing matches. Also note how I didn’t bite at Vinny’s examples – it would have amplified his “but CAGW.”

    The best way to meet peddlers is to keep your eye on the ball. Peddlers are boringly focused on their talking points. So should any good ClimateBall player, minus the boring part, it goes without saying.

  50. Steven Mosher says:

    “> Looks like he butted in on a thread to make a point he judged to be relevant or illuminating.

    There was no thread when he peddled, and he “jumped” later on.”

    Sorry It doesnt look that way to me, given what you pointed at, But if you retweeted or peddled a tweet that’s how this universe works. You peddle a tweet for whatever reason and others peddle their wares. Its HOW THE DAMN THING WORKS, its a feature, the whole purpose.

  51. Steven Mosher says:

    “The best way to meet peddlers is to keep your eye on the ball. ”

    the whole point is that a scene can have many balls, sometimes the glint on the ball is more interesting than the ball, sometimes the shadow the ball casts is more interesting, sometimes
    who threw the ball or who is catching the ball is more interesting. In fact one of the most delightful things about conversation is that it is more than just talking about the ball.

    Put another way. If you want to have dialectic aimed at uncovering a mutually agreed upon version of the truth, twitter aint the place to have it. It’s more like a digital version of the dozens, or a college bull session. Only killjoys would analyze it to death. Dont be that guy.

  52. Willard says:

    > But if you retweeted or peddled a tweet

    The two ain’t the same, as my RT wasn’t in response to another tweet. Peddling happens in response to other tweets. Threading matters.


    > the whole point is that a scene can have many balls

    Of course. I should have said “one’s own ball”. One might have more than one, I suppose. But I won’t write “ball” in plural in that sentence.

    A ball is simply a communication objective. We all have our communication objectives. They conflict. Exchanges have more than one topic too. They too conflict.

    The important point, here, is to be able to recognize how an exchange can become dominated by an adverse and repetitive technique that exploit these traits. How to defuse peddling depends on this.


    > Its HOW THE DAMN THING WORKS, its a feature, the whole purpose.



    Should have reminded me to check back GBTC yesterday.

  53. Steven Mosher says:

    “The two ain’t the same, as my RT wasn’t in response to another tweet. Peddling happens in response to other tweets. Threading matters.”

    Sorry a RT is by definition a response to a tweet and it had an ambiguous conversational objective..don’t be alarmed if some jumps on you. Repetitively pointing out the repetitive tactics of others is not an innocent move in the game. In fact it’s right up there with spell checking twitter. Almost spergy.

  54. russellseitz says:

    Here’s the Emmet Retsin money quote Willard left out :

    When history is meant to be over and a single political faction begins to conceive of itself as the permanent manager of a static world, then that faction ceases to be political in the ordinary sense. Politics, in its classic incarnation, is the art of deriving an is from an ought; the point, as Marx famously said, is not to describe the world but to change it. But if the world is as it ought to be already and the essential task is to maintain it — that is, to police the circumscribed boundaries of permissible behavior and ideas — then those tasked with that maintenance must conceive of themselves as acting above politics itself. They become a superego, beyond the libidinal whims of any faction and dedicated not to some alternative vision of the world but to resisting all impulse toward alternatives.

  55. Willard says:

    > Sorry a RT is by definition a response to a tweet

    Not in the sense of being a reply to a tweet.

    Don’t be sorry for conflating stuff on purpose.

  56. metzomagic says:

    Heh. Foxgoose and BarryW mentioned in the one breath by Willard up-thread. Been a long time since those handles surfaced in these parts. Must be no Stephan L papers needing retracting nowadays.

    Have to say while I’m here… a lot of stuff in the Mintpress News article regarding Venezuela rang true. But holding up Russia as an an example of a country that has stamped out their oligarchy problem rings more than a bit hollow. Isn’t Putin the richest person in the world by a longshot with money he stole from his own people? The only reason he’s ostensibly clamping down on the oligarchs there is because he already got his, and he’s trying to make sure no one else does the same.

  57. Willard says:

    > [H]olding up Russia as an an example of a country that has stamped out their oligarchy problem rings more than a bit hollow. Isn’t Putin the richest person in the world by a longshot with money he stole from his own people?

    Of course it rings hollow. For starters, it misses the idea that somehow, petrodollars and power change people, e.g.:

    In September 2000, I left American academia to take over a research team with functions broadly similar to those of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office. I had high expectations for Chávez’s government and was excited at the possibility of working in an administration that promised to focus on fighting poverty and inequality. But I quickly discovered how large the gap was between the government’s rhetoric and the reality of its political priorities.

    Soon after joining the National Assembly, I clashed with the administration over underfunding of [the program] which had been created by Chávez to coordinate the distribution of resources to antipoverty programs. The law establishing the fund included a special provision to ensure that it would benefit from rising oil revenues. But when oil revenues started to go up, the Finance Ministry ignored the provision … When my office pointed out this inconsistency, the Finance Ministry came up with [a] creative accounting gimmick … [whose] effect was to direct resources away from the poor even as oil profits were surging.

    Francisco Rodríguez was very well placed to see that chavism’s doctrine and actions did not always reconcile.

  58. Michael 2 says:

    I love the Wondermark comic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s