Monday, February 10, 2014

I Did Not Realize

That the long-jump was a Winter Olympic event.

I believe I have detected the smallest, subtlest flaw in the usually-unimpeachable reasoning of Brother Charles over at the Esquire Magazine.

See if you can spot it.

Mr. Pierce starts this piece as follows:
The Snowden Effect, Continued
By Charles P. Pierce on February 10, 2014

In reaction to the revelations by Edward Snowden of the activities of the all-too-human, but curiously error-prone, heroes of our intelligence community...

... So, basically, what do we care if some NSA guys are eavesdropping on old girlfriends, or on the stripper they met the night before in that affluent neighborhood we like to call Out By The Airport, and what do we care where our metadata is being stored.

Meet Tyrone Hayes, victim of surveillance, and also of everything to which surveillance can -- and almost inevitably does -- lead.
And ends it thus:
Read the whole thing. Not only does the Obama Administration, in the person of former regulations chief Cass Sunsteinm come off really badly, but, more important, this is the surveillance state in action, in the daily lives of people far removed from it. These are its fundamental imperatives. This is the timid, backward-looking, docile society it seeks to create. I decline to be blithe about its growth just because Edward Snowden's in Russia and Glenn Greenwald is launching his new venture.
Now based on no prior knowledge of the situation beyond Mr. Pierce's introduction and conclusion, one might fairly assume that Tyrone Hayes was the innocent victim of some nasty bit of NSA chicanery, possibly at the behest of "the Obama Administration".

Read the whole thing here...and the article which Mr. Pierce cites here...and see if you can spot the error.

I'll wait...

Did you spot it?

You're clever, so I figured it wouldn't take you long to notice that, at no point in the article which Mr. Pierce cites is President Obama mentioned.  Nor if the Obama Adminstration generally.

Nor is Cass Sunstein.

Nor is the NSA.

Nor the CIA.

Nor the FBI.

Also not mentioned: the OSS, the MOSSAD and the Geheime Staatspolizei.

Also not mentioned:  KAOS and SMERSH.

What it discussed at great length is a tragic case of private sector spying and reputation sabotage undertaken by a huge, multinational chemical company in an attempt to destroy the credibility of a critic.

But I guess "Tyrone Hayes" and "Syngenta" don't bring all the SEO algorithms to the yard.


JerryB said...

I can't decide which is better. SkyNet or Colossus. Oblivion or enslavement.

Anonymous said...

I did, in fact notice that.
It made me wince. As I always do when seeing CP waste his incredible writing talent defending the two biggest "hacks" of recent times.
It's why I usually skip "The Snowden Effect..continued".
Esquire money must be some pretty damn good money.....

Yastreblyansky said...

I'm sorry to report it looks like Mr. Pierce has been reading the New Yorker article the faster way by reading Kathleen Geier's digest of it, itself fairly long, at That's where Sunstein is mentioned; Geier does not say that Sunstein violated Mr. Hayes's privacy rights by being the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs during part of the time when OIRA failed to regulate atrazine, but then she doesn't say why she mentioned Sunstein at all, so it's just possible that Mr. Pierce thought... no, I guess it's not.

I was kind of sad to find Mr. Pierce challenging the world to provide evidence that Mr. Greenwald was "sellng" NSA documents to "anyone else" besides the Guardian. I left a comment noting the Greenwald byline at O Globo, Le Monde, L'Espresso, Handelsblad, Dagbladet, and NBC (where he was billed over the weekend as "special contributor"); he also supplied Snowden documents for interviews at venues including Sveriges Television, La NaciĆ³n (Argentina), and CBC (Canada), for at least the last of which he was paid even though he had no writing credit. But I think the comment got stuck somewhere.

Unsalted Sinner said...

I never thought Charlie Pierce would end up writing stories that essentially go: "Someone in the world has been spying. Thanks, Obama!" This is a low point for a guy I usually read with great interest.

marindenver said...

I do very much admire Mr. Pierce's talents (although I think you've got the edge drifty) and it has made me sad that he seems to be pandering to the professional left these days often at the expense of rationality. I do think he needs to fill a quota of posts every day and this kind of stuff gets links and hits. I hardly ever comment over there anymore - I guess I've been outed as an Obot. ;-)

Anonymous said...

It's a cautionary tale about what any excessive surveillance will do to a person. The fact that Cass Sunstein was not mentioned directIy shouldn't be a reason to disregard our old pal CP. A quick goggle search turned up this little gem:  

CP could have included the URL, I suppose, especially if you haven't been paying attention to the corporate friendly Obama/ Sunstein tag team. But if you had an ounce cynicism and a bit less Cescan credulity you might not be such a fucking hack.  

Btw, it's curious that you've removed the Ray Bradbury quote. At least your seemingly honest about that part now.

Kathleen said...

@marindenver & @Unsalted Sinner: I agree with you both 100%. I rarely go to his site. The DudeBro Demographic must be catnip sprinkled in the PureProgTrollPress litter box. See! I can be just as incoherent as the SnowBro Trolls that dog our beloved host!

Horace Boothroyd III said...


Did somebody not get his pony?

Chris Andersen said...

This past year a lot of people I respect went absolute batshit insane when fluoridation came up on the local ballot. These were people who were otherwise very sane and rational liberals who quickly reverted to Randian libertarians when it came to putting (this one particular) chemical in our water.

I've learned to compartmentalize my assessment of the rational abilities and just ignore this one side of their personality because, other that that one thing, they are really great people.

I suspect Charles Pierce is the same way when it comes to the NSA.

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed that anybody can distinguish--for the sake of argument--"the Obama administration" and "the private sector." Words do mean stuff from time to time. Once upon one.

Anonymous said...

Me, I snort fluoride for breakfast. It keeps my pineal gland crunchy.