The 2010 Beatrice Webb Award Finalists Announced!

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I just returned from a junket to Georgia (the country, not the state), a trip which, when you peel away the layers, was ultimately underwritten by the government in Tbilisi. Obviously, the PR companies that handle such trips—and they are, in this case, firms affiliated with both Republicans and Democrats—are paid to make their clients look good in America, though they go to great lengths to include opposition figures and voices critical of the government they represent, and the journalists brought along typically represent a wide range of views. Obviously, they do this knowing that Western writers are generally skeptical people, not likely to trust the word of some droopy-faced apparatchik droning on about the bountiful leek harvest or the Dear Leader's penchant for shooting multiple holes-in-one per round of gold. (Yes, yes. I used the qualifier generally.)

But True/Slant blogger Ethan Epstein notices that the ghosts of Lincoln Steffens and Beatrice Webb were spotted this week in China, inhabiting the bodies of expert-in-everything bloggers Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein. (Yglesias, who once took a junket to Sweden and is constantly telling us free-market types the "truth" about Scandinavia, as revealed to him by his Social Democratic minders, recently blogged about some guy named "Frank Reinfelt," who is said to be Sweden's prime minister.) Epstein notes that the two precocious lefty bloggers were brought to a Potemkin village for China's "displaced." Here is what they saw:

Klein and Yglesias' group was taken to tour a spanking-new village built on the outskirts of the northern city of Dalian. As Yglesias describes it, "back in 2006 the former "village" of rudimentary structures was razed and the government constructed a large and extremely nice park (it's in a very scenic area), reforested the hillsides, and constructed a series of apartment complexes. The former villagers now live in modest but up-to-date structures." But don't worry about the forcibly displaced, Yglesias admonishes us, because, "[w]e spoke to one retired couple who was given four apartments—they live in one and rent out the other three to families who've either moved out to Cha'an from the central city or else moved to the area from less prosperous regions of China. The town's current party boss said he was given five apartments." Klein's coverage on the website of the Washington Post was equally credulous. He informed his audience, "A conversation with some residents revealed that they didn't just get one free apartment in the new building. They got four free apartments, three of which they were now renting out. And medical coverage. And money for furnishings. And a food stipend. And — I'm not kidding, by the way — birthday cakes on their birthdays. Sweet deal."

Jesus. I doubt even John Reed would believe that every Stakhanovite comrade in Minsk got four free tractors and a bag of blinis on his birthday. And if Yglesias knew as much about Sweden as he claimed, he might have recognized this type of propaganda when Jan Myrdal filed his Report from a Chinese Village, celebrating Mao's disastrous Great Leap Forward.

NEXT: From the Vault: Reason Hated BP, Back Before It Was Cool

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  1. Oh wow, no way dude that is just way too cool!

    Lou
    http://www.anon-posting.at.tc

    1. Anon bot is almost down to Dan T levels of tinearedness.

    2. I shall not rest before hearing the sweet death rattle in anonbot’s final, strangled “lol.”

  2. Whenever I think that Yglesias cannot be anymore stupid, he sets another record.

  3. nice article…those two aholes deserve to be written about in articles that talk about howthe US media treated the Great Leap Forward.

    I call’em like I see’em
    Moynihan +1

  4. Klein and Yglesias didn’t ever figure out why they have these extra apartments though.

    It’s to hide the three million Chinese babies that are hidden by their parents every year in order to get around the country’s one-child policy.

    But then again, that would mean that Yglesias and Klein would have to take off their Friedman glasses, and I guess we can’t have that.

  5. Well, good for you Mike being skeptical of the assertions of government officials.

    So what do you think of Israel’s attack on the aid ships bound for Gaza this week?

      1. I’m not arguing against Mr Moynihan’s position on Klein and Yglesias’ credulity. Just wondering if he practices hwat he preaches.

        1. You’re really wondering? Go look at his Twitter feed:
          http://twitter.com/mcmoynihan/status/15195159007

          And you have seen this before, right?
          http://www.capitalismmagazine……?news=2672

    1. I was trying to assert my lack of bias, but you are right Tulpa…we know Moynihan is a Mossad mole.

      He is only doing the right thing here because highlighting tension of China, Russia etc will help the neo-cons make the case for bigger defense budgets.

    2. Tulpa, you’re only skeptical of government officials if they’re not muslim. If the officials are ready to kill on behalf of Mohammed the Pedophile then it’s all good.

    3. You mean the attack on the flotilla manned by jihadists affiliated with Hezbollah who were chanting, on tape, about their desire for the Israelis to be wiped out in a fashion similar to the way the Arab world’s favorite pedophile, Muhammed, slaughtered the Jews. Are you referring to the flotilla filled with “peace activists” that were quite willing to engage in potentially lethal violence against the IDF members who boarded the said flotilla? Or perhaps you are talking about the flotilla filled with useful idiots who refuse to recognize Gaza is in the shape it is in because it is run by a terrorist gang, with which the flotilla riding jackasses sympathize, whose primary goal is the destruction of the state of Israel.

      The only thing I regret about the whole flotilla incident is that the Israelis only killed ten of the useful idiot terrorist-sympathizing assholes onboard.

      1. You mean the attack on the flotilla manned by jihadists affiliated with Hezbollah who were chanting, on tape, about their desire for the Israelis to be wiped out in a fashion similar to the way the Arab world’s favorite pedophile, Muhammed, slaughtered the Jews.

        So what?

        So chanting about violence means that people should be allowed to kill you?

        There are probably people bobbing their heads up and down in front of the wailing wall right now chanting the more genocidal parts of the Old Testament. Should people rappel down from helicopters and shoot them?

        Are you referring to the flotilla filled with “peace activists” that were quite willing to engage in potentially lethal violence against the IDF members who boarded the said flotilla?

        Tell me, if the IDF breaks into your house tonight, does it make you a violent person deserving of death if you hit one of them with a stick?

        Or perhaps you are talking about the flotilla filled with useful idiots who refuse to recognize Gaza is in the shape it is in because it is run by a terrorist gang, with which the flotilla riding jackasses sympathize, whose primary goal is the destruction of the state of Israel.

        If Israel does one of two things, I will be on their side. They can either completely withdraw from the occupied territories and lift their Gaza blockade – in which case, if the resulting Palestinian state or states takes violent action against Israel, I will be on Israel’s side again. Or they can declare that they are absorbing the occupied territories and granting citizenship to everyone who lives there.

        Either of those actions would wipe Israel’s slate clean in my eyes and I would be on their side again.

        Until they do one of those two things, I basically expect the people they are holding in stateless limbo to rebel against it and resist it.

        1. Israel doesn’t care about your fucking slate.

        2. Tell me, if the IDF breaks into your house tonight, does it make you a violent person deserving of death if you hit one of them with a stick?

          Give up this nonsense. The Turkish ship was running a blockade. It was known to everyone. The ship was warned to stop. Israel had all the rights to intercept the ship.

    1. Heh heh heh heh, awesome.

      1. Isn’t everyone’s “gun” golden???

  6. A reporter believing that the centrally-planned village the officials take you on a tour of is representative of all other villages is like my mom thinking my living room is not strewn with beer bottles just because I clean up when she visits. I bet these two would manage a bit of skepticism if, say, they took a PR tour of BP’s facilities. I can’t imagine how they think the Chinese government can afford to make everyone a landlord.

    1. I can’t imagine how they think the Chinese government can afford to make everyone a landlord.

      Where you went wrong was the “they think” part.

  7. The dear leader shoots rounds of gold?

    Does he have three nipples, too?

  8. OT — Thomas Sowell has a great column today at NRO, including:

    Every year about this time, big-government liberals stand up in front of college-commencement crowds across the country and urge the graduates to do the noblest thing possible ? become big-government liberals.

    * * *

    What I would like to see is someone with the guts to tell those students: Do you want to be of some use and service to your fellow human beings? Then let your fellow human beings tell you what they want ? not with words, but by putting their money where their mouth is.

    You want to see more people have better housing? Build it! Become a builder or developer ? if you can stand the sneers and disdain of your classmates and professors who regard the very words as repulsive.

    Etc.

    1. I love that guy.

    2. Sowell is full of win, as usual.

  9. Michael,

    Why do you keep getting invited to junkets with rogue human rights abusers with decent ties to the US: Israel, Libya, Georgia?

    Have other Reasoners turned down such junkets in the past or is this something new?

    1. Libya has decent ties to the US? Georgia is a “rogue human rights abuser?” I mean, there’s definitely questions about the legitimacy of the last Georgian election, and there’s definitely a history of racism against minority groups, but the only people who think Georgia is a rogue human rights abuser are the russians, and that’s just as a pretext for invading.

      1. Isn’t Qaddafi playing ball with the US these days? Not to mention that American tolerance of transvestitism has increased substantially.

    2. I may accuse MM of many things, but I would never accuse him of turning down a junket, such an act of moral sentiment is absolutely repulsive especially to expect of a journalist.

      Sure, the Israelis had a handler in place who simply looked up Reason Magazine when he found out MM was his detail, assumed the editors were a bunch of drug crazed Libertarians, and then he tailor made a story of Hamas gunmen chewing ecstasy to pass by time on their guard duties to give MM something juicy to report, but the dude got free booze out of the junket, and that is the important thing.

      R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Free booze from the government of Israel. That deserves a salute.

      If Kim Jong Il offered to pay the airfare, the booze and meals, I’d say, ‘fuck yeah, I’m gonna get to see that giant rabbit and probably eat him, too!’

      1. Alan,
        The “Israeli handler” was a journalist from the liberal newspaper Haaretz. But that would kill your hilarious joke, I suppose.

    3. Putting Israel in with Libya immediately shows you for the idiot you are.

  10. Amazon pricing for the linked book “Report from a Chinese Village”:

    1 new from $215.36 33 used from $1.75

    Looks like the sort of pricing model you’d expect from the The Great Leap Forward.

    1. It’s interesting, because in theory Amazon and the internet in general should have had a great leveling effect on used book prices. In some ways they have, but there are still a great many outliers, offered by the clueless or the greedy/tricky, perhaps counting on someone who thinks the most expensive copy is the best one. It’s not unusual to see prices for identical books vary by 10x or more.

      1. The companies that list the 10x price books don’t actually own them.

        They are playing a database game where they harvest all other used listings and re-post them at a giant markup.

        If anyone orders one of their books, they order it from someone who actually owns it and has it drop-shipped.

        It’s a business model built on human stupidity and sheer brute force. If you list every book known to man, someone will be stupid enough to buy one. If you have a million books listed, 50 or 100 people a day will be stupid enough to buy one. And if your only investment is in code to harvest and re-post the listings, and a mail client to automate the re-ordering process, you collect money for essentially nothing.

    2. That’s probably because no one in their right mind has taken care to keep it in new condition.

      Also, the $1.75 is just the lowest price among the used copies — that one may have highlighting on every page and reek of curry. Most of the used copies are likely to be higher in price.

  11. Looks like we now know whom Walter Duranty was reincarnated as.

  12. I am continually amazed that anyone takes Yglesias seriously on anything or even bothers to mention him. He has to be the most idiotic blogger active today. The guy is a complete and utter moron.

    As for Klein, his statement that opposing Obamacare is tantamount to mass murder should have resulted in him being ignored in perpetuity.

    1. I never read Yglesias, but you’re telling me he’s dumber than Klein? That’s a bold statement. Klein, who once claimed that health care was immune from rationing. Someone has since explained the definition of “rationing” to him, though.

  13. I think Klein borrowed a copy of the “Walter Duranty Book of Style” from Sean Penn to aid him in writing his report.

  14. Ezra’s face annoys me. Maybe it’s just because he’s 26, and the idea of anyone paying a 26 year old kid to write about Important International Stuff annoys me – I don’t care what their political persuasion, 26 year olds don’t know shit about Important International Stuff. (You don’t have to get off my lawn. Just don’t try to discuss economics or politics with me until you’re 30.)

    Maybe it’s because he looks like every Model UN delegate I’ve ever wanted to punch.

    Or maybe it’s because every time I see his picture, I remember that he equated opposition to Obamacare to mass murder, and I’m enraged anew that people read this twerp and take him seriously.

  15. I wonder if Klein and Yglesias got all excited about their fortune cookies too.

    “Dude! This one says I’m going to be prosperous through thrifty piety! Awesome”

  16. droning on about the bountiful leek harvest

    Go on… *eagerly waiting for more of the story*

  17. Yglesias and Klein have proved me wrong – I can no longer say that they are incapable of doing anything but blindly regurgiatating propaganda directly from the Center for American Progress. Good job broadening your horizons guys!

    1. To be fair regurgitating propaganda from the Chinese government is an improvement.

  18. ‘Member back when Doonesbury was funny, and Roland Burton Headly first showed up at Walden? “We give you our word of honor that we represent a national trend.”

  19. And libertarians wonder why they garner no respect?

    Maybe if they matured beyond ten years old…

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