Pipes Cleared

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As rumored here a while back, Daniel Pipes has received a "recess appointment" to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace. This will allow him to serve out the remainder of the 108th congress—about 17 months—but falls short of the four-year seat he'd have gotten if the Senate had approved his nomination. Sez the White House in a terse Friday afternoon announcement:

The President has signed the recess appointment of Daniel Pipes of Pennsylvania to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the United States Institute of Peace. The President nominated Mr. Pipes on April 2, 2003.

Here's looking forward to some newer, more interesting controversy now that this one's over.

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  1. Pipe’s uncritical and total dismissal of conspiracy analysis in his book, “Conspiracy” is anti-intellectual and in it he commits many errors of fact and logic. Also, he uses attacks on conspiracists as a tool to transmit blows agianst those who oppose a Sharon-type agenda for Israel.

    But here is what’s worse and quite frightening considering his influence: from “Conspiracy”…

    “Indeed, conspiracist writings constitute a quite literal form of pornography (though political rather than sexual). The two genres became popular about the same time, in the 1740’s…” (p. 49)

    And then, he goes on to write:

    “The United States has far and away the most complete freedom of expression of all the countries in the world (one survey of censorship calls it “libertarian to the extreme”), so conspiracist ideas banned elsewhere for their violent and noxious qualities find American publishers.” (p. 118)

  2. Oh, I get it. Tim Cavanaugh just wanted to be win the Smartest-Assed Story Headline of the week award from Reason Magazine.

    Pipes Cleared

    ha, ha, haaaah,

    I’m dyin here, hep me out….

  3. Micha, those quotes are frightening in the extreme. I can’t believe you don’t see the implications, which are shadowy, yet pervasive.

    Gotta go now, but remember: I’ll ring four times, hang up, then ring twice…

  4. Micha,

    The denunciation of a claim as a “conspiracy theory,” rather, is a substitute for substance. In response to a heavily documented argument like that of Stinnet in “Day of Deceit,” for instance, one need only bring out the word “tinfoil hat” or “conspiracy,” and there’s no need to address the evidence.

    In fact, if you even suggest in any venue that the state acts to benefit privileged groups, or that its actual motivations are not the same as the ones stated, in almost no time the “tinfoil hat” and “conspiracy” retorts appear reflexively. (I like to call the miniscule time interval a “neosecond.”)

    Pipes seems quite similar, ideologically, to Chuck Schumer, who has in the past proposed legislation to criminalize the dissemination of “unwarranted conspiracy theories” concerning the federal government.

  5. As LB makes clear, most “controversies” these days simply go away if you confine the government to its proper scope.

  6. Micha,
    Pipes doesn’t say the two are just “similar”, he says:

    “conspiracist writings constitute a quite literal form of pornography”

    And, I’m not sure he thinks, as you do, that the U.S. having “a better reputation for protecting speech than most other countries” is a good thing as he cites a survey of censorship that calls our protection of speech:

    “libertarian to the extreme”

    then follows with the observation that our freedom leads to:

    “conspiracist ideas banned elsewhere for their violent and noxious qualities (to) find American publishers.”

    So, if conspiracist ideas are REALLY actual pornography AND have “violent and noxious” content to boot; (an unfair and unscholarly generalization) Well… pornography has been the target of banning attempts, some is banned now, (child porn) Pipes seems to be suggesting that talking about banning conspiracy analysys or at least restricting it would not unreasonable.

    I could be overstating his intentions here but my suspicions were raised because his claim that:
    “conspiracist writings constitute a quite literal form of pornography” is so absurd. He follows the claim with some history, (part inaccurate) but nothing that comes close to lending credence to this bombastic claim. Why is he attempting such a stretch?

    Also, his attack on conspiracy analysis in the book is mostly quite weak, ignoring important elements and much too easily dismissive. Why can’t he be honest with the subject?

    Politics is rife with conspiracy which sometimes manifests itself in intentional misdirection of the public. There is accurate and inaccurate conspiracy analysis but, as Rothbard observed, when we reject conspiracy analysis we forfeit a valuable tool in understanding political reality. When we do so, he also pointed out, that we fail to peruse the question “WHO BENIFITS?” from specific political actions and the ramifications of the answer to that question.

  7. “…Chuck Schumer, who has in the past proposed legislation to criminalize the dissemination of “unwarranted conspiracy theories” concerning the federal government.”

    What?! Incredible! If true, Schumer is an even worse totalitarian then I thought. How many votes did this legislation recieve? Who would vote for such a thing?

  8. i never heard of such legislation. but schumer is that sort of guy.

  9. and in a way, it’s too bad pipes wasn’t blocked cause the headline could have read “pipes kicked.”

  10. pornography has substance – at least, substance enough to force physical and emotional reactions in people. that’s at least as substantial as films, books, tv and even politics.

  11. Two questions have been bugging me since this whole Pipes appointment thing came up

    1. What the hell is the US Institute of Peace?
    2. How much of my taxes are being spent on this jackassery?

    From their website:
    http://www.usip.org/aboutus/index.html

    “The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan federal institution created by Congress to promote the prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts. Established in 1984, the Institute meets its congressional mandate through an array of programs, including research grants, fellowships, professional training, education programs from high school through graduate school, conferences and workshops, library services, and publications. The Institute’s Board of Directors is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.”

    …So it looks like a nice patonage job for academics with friends in high places. The directors get paid about $133k a year.

    Second question: had some problem hunting that down but it looks like the Institute of Peace recieves $15.1 million this year and is allowed to recieve private gifts.

    …so another pointless federal agency that should be shutdown and the earth salted benieth it.

  12. I don’t get it, Rick. What is so controversial about those two Pipes quotes? Conspiracy theories are similar to pornography in a certain sense: both are titillating but mostly void of substance. And the U.S. does have a better reputation for protecting speech than most other countries.

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