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That Sweet, Sweet Wingnut Welfare


The winger plagiarism battle Rob linked to below is entertaining in its own terms, but I wanted to highlight this remarkable fact:

Boot, who was in Thailand at the time, was hesitant at first and asked for time to think it over. But Rosen was encouraging, offering $4,000, for 2,000 words, more than a week to write, and editorial guidance from Sam Walker, the Journal’s Sports editor.

The context of somebody already having submitted pretty much the same hacktacular argument already makes the $2 a word offer even more amazing. Nor did Boot have the slightest expertise on the specific subject; he needed not only the help of Sam Walker, the Journal‘s Sports editor, but of his RA at the CFR. Yup, Max Boot has an RA to help him write unoriginal op-ed pieces for which he gets paid $2 a word.

If you’ll excuse me, I have an apocryphal cocktail party full of people who shop at Zabar’s to be offended by. The party left me!

…you also have to be impressed that Boot starts off with 3 paragraphs of cliches before getting to his knowingly false and pernicious argument. You can visualize him lying on a hammock while “earning” his 2 bucks a word.

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  • Linnaeus

    “We’re in the wrong fucking game.”

  • Derelict

    If only “the left” had a welfare system like that!

    I would especially welcome one where I as a writer can spew forth on any topic, be devastatingly wrong on every topic, and reap ever-increasing rewards for that.

    • c u n d gulag

      “…be devastatingly wrong on every topic…”

      And loud.
      You forgot loud.

      And obnoxious.

      And supercilious (what a GREAT word, that is!!!).

      • Davis X. Machina

        And supercilious (what a GREAT word, that is!!!).

        Comes from the Latin for ‘eyebrows’….making it even cooler.

        • Really? How fascinating. I can see the super part, and I guess the cilia part, but why? How?

          • Davis X. Machina

            Raise one eyebrow, do your best Mr. Spock impression, and all will become clear….

            • Yeah. I guess. But does that mean that that facial gesture is universally uh.. Univocal? That is still fascinating, in its own way. Is it so old that it was one of those roman cognomen s? Like Strabo or ahenobarbus?

              • Davis X. Machina

                Not a cognomen, so far as I know, but univocal, at least in Latin?

                Hard to say. There are very few occurrences of it — only one in a mainstream author (Seneca).

                So the durability of the word isn’t a tribute to its ubiquity.

                • According to Wiktionary (I know, I know, not a very reliable source) supercilium can also mean a “frown,” which is certainly the expression of supercilious people when looking at the rest of the world.

                  (I couldn’t resist joining a conversation about Latin. I will say that Seneca was, if I remember my history reading correctly, one of the major philosophers read in the Middle Ages, so he may have been seized upon more than others.)

                • Davis X. Machina

                  Found in Seneca’s letters, and not one of the more popular essays, so it’s less likely to have caught on that way.

                  Did it work its way into Italian or French via vulgar Latin, though, who knows? We have so little. Martianus Capella (5th c.) uses the word, and he’s late….

                • Though then again it also isn’t a common word in English, either. I don’t think it made its way into Spanish, or at least was never widely propagated – certainly no author I read in high school ever used it, even when it would have been incredibly appropriate.

                  It’s definitely not a cognomen – I could be wrong here but it seems like the cognomina that had to do with flaws (Brutus, Cassius, Flaccus) eventually gave way to praiseworthy ones, like the Whigs and Tories becoming the Liberals and Conservatives.

                • wjts

                  A quick look at the dictionaries I have lying around shows that there’s a cognate in French, but not in Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish.

          • wjts

            From the idea of arching one’s eyebrows as an expression of contempt or hauteur.

  • TT

    Conservatism in this country has never been a cause or a business, only a racket.

  • Its not what you know, its who has your cel phone number and can call you to offer you 4000 dollars to string together some stuff your researcher looked up. The specs that the WSJ editors gave him read like an SJ Perlemanesque account of a Hollywood movie producer meeting.

    “What we envision is a kind piece that argues that concussion is good for america’s youth, while also arguing that there are no concussions, or not more than they’d get playing shuffleboard, or at any rate the rate of concussions are going down. And we’d like it to be accompanied by John Phillips Sousa music. And maybe a small dog. Think you can work something up like that? by August?”

    • c u n d gulag


      Only, scratch Sousa. Too nuanced.

      Instead, how about Kate Smith singing “God Bless America?”

      • ploeg

        “And call it ‘The Aristocrats’.”

    • mingo

      as a bonus, they can enter their masterpiece in the Bulwer-Lytton contest.

  • Hogan

    “This thing will write itself!”

    That’s one way to put it.

    • Oh you pithy bastard.

      • Hogan

        Are you having autocorrect problems again?

  • herr doktor bimler

    So Boot is recognised among editors as a writer of negotiable virtue, who will lend his sincere belief to any topic they give him? Although the trivial task of dredging up evidence to fit the conclusion is below his dignity so he needs a research assistant for that?

    His parents must be so proud of him.

    • Imagine his in box?

      Need article about polish resistance, WWII. By Friday.

      Interested in writing quick review of history of mustard? Due in August! Sorry for the short notice!

      Can you give us a “ten things every parent needs to know?” By next week. Possible topics to follow. Editors suggest:about Barbie, washclothes, iron man three, the holocaust, slumber parties and maybe Stalin? Pretty please?

      • herr doktor bimler

        There’s nothing wrong with living on Grub Street…
        The amusing thing is the reminder that the culture-war cause du jour depends on which editor paid Boot most recently

      • Hogan

        At two bucks a word, bring it on. For me, at least half of it would be lorem ipsum dolor, but who’s gonna know?

        • lorem ipsum dolor

          I think I dated her sister.

      • herr doktor bimler

        It’s more a situation of “Here is the topic, this is the position you will take on it; your RA will cherry-pick any evidence you need; your contribution is to wrap that position in the mantle of Conservatism and turn it into a fundamental, inviolable component of right-wing values.”

    • R. Porrofatto

      What the hell. It’s not like Josh Treviño and Ben Shapiro shilling for the government of Malaysia. Oh… wait…

      • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.

        *cough* Shapiro s/b Domenech.

        • R. Porrofatto

          You’re right. I confused the Plagerin’ Ben with the Virgin Ben. Also, Shapiro shilled for Ukraine, not Malaysia. It’s hard to keep these crooked guys and their puppet masters straight.

  • herr doktor bimler

    So if you submit your work to the WSJ, and the editors really like your concept, they reserve the right to take that concept as the “specific focus” of a piece commissioned from one of their cronies. They will further provide that crony with the fruits of your research (described as “lots of helpful guidance from Sam and others”).

    Intellectual property, how does it work?

  • I was unaware that Max Boot had ever written anything that didn’t have to do with pet neocon causes, like waging war against people who pissed him and his friends off.

    I wonder if he’s ever written a bloody thing about football before. Seems like it would be interesting to know.

    • Scott Lemieux

      He actually started off writing hackish crap about how activist liberal judges are coming to kill your children and steal your car keys before becoming a foreign policy “expert.”

      • Timb

        And, before people like him (he has guest-blogged at Volokh) realized how much they LOVE “activist” judges

    • I think they straight up admit that he didn’t have any background–but that’s about par for the course for a celebrity opinion. Its true for Frank Bruni, isn’t it? And many another–when you have enough name recognition among the punters then of course they are going to hire you to spout off about everything. You really get that sense when you are on the (cough cough accidentally cough cough) NRO email list. They know for a fact that they can’t cram too muchi nto the teaser header and its always the same four or five names pontificating about whatever. This must be very reassuring to the presumed audience. Same reason the network tried to hand Tim Russert’s spot over to his son. It wasn’t so much nepotism as it was brand marketing.

    • Jon H

      If people are getting crippled, Boot is for it.

      Other people, that is.

  • Pingback: Scott Lemieux: That Sweet, Sweet Wingnut Welfare: Noted for August 24, 2013()

  • Pseudonym

    This really is a remarkable peek into the machine that generates conservative opinion journamalism. The WSJ editorial page gets a proposed column from someone writing a book on the issue, and decides it likes the concept but needs to change the supporting logic and facts around. It hires a well-known writer with no knowledge of the issue to give his byline imprimatur to the essay. The writer invents a bunch of facts a priori and assigns a researcher to come up with supporting citations; when said researcher points out the facts (about youth injuries) are in error, there’s no thought to revisiting the premise, because that was never the motivating reason in the first place. The public expression is completely at odds with the internal communication, in which it’s all conservative tropes of grant-grubbing researchers and the nanny state. “Wall St Journal wants me to write a defense of football! Not that I know might about it,” Max Boot writes to his uncredited research associate. And yet it’s the accusation of plagiarism that matters here?

    • Epsilon

      Yes. This.

  • Jon H

    As I posted over at Politico

    Oh come on, Flynn. Man up. Walk it off. Journalism is a real man’s game, not a game for wimps. So you got a little beaten up. Big deal. You want safety, get a wingnut welfare job at a right-wing think tank like Boot has.

  • AF

    Sorry, Boot’s article and Flynn’s article are very different. They’re on the same topic, so the small overlap of some facts presented isn’t surprising.

    Boot references multiple studies, including one from Neurology, and takes the dangers posed by concussions seriously. He notes positively the recommendation of a neurologist that children under the age of 14 should not play tackle football. He writes favorably of increasing protections against such injuries. Ultimately he concludes that the risk posed to those playing lower levels of football (high school, some college) seems sufficiently low to be acceptable.

    Flynn, in an article only 1/5th the size of Boot’s, argues that more people died from lightning strikes than on the football field last year; therefore football is okay.

    I don’t completely agree with Boot, but he gives a fair picture of the facts, and makes a plausible argument. Flynn doesn’t come close to doing either.

    Boot has stated that while he directed his researcher as to the types of research he wanted to see (studies on concussion injuries, etc.), he did all the writing. He’s published his correspondence with his research assistant and with the WSJ; he’s even sent out the drafts of his essay and the research notes used.

    So the post is inaccurate in multiple respects, and a cheap shot at an author who – whatever one might think of his arguments in other areas – to my knowledge has never before been accused of plagiarism.

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