Are Breitbart.com’s Standards Falling Down?

Apparently so.

We sent the following message to Breitbart.com today:

Ordinarily, when a book is criticized in the press, it is right and proper that the authors come forward to respond to the critiques presented. The pseudonymous columnist “Hamilton” at breitbart.com has now published what purports to be a critique of our book America 3.0. But to respond to that column, it would be more appropriate to send it to the Land of Oz and ask the Scarecrow to pen the reply. The column is so stuffed with strawmen that a direct reply would require more expertise in that area than either of the authors can properly claim.

“Hamilton” (we respect the actual founder too much to apply his name without quotes to this pretentious hack without cringing) appears to base his entire column on the perceptive review of our book by Michael Barone in the Examiner, recently picked up by realclearpolitics.com. Hamilton seems perplexed as to why Barone, whom he claims to respect, seemed so favorable to the book. Perhaps, (and we are going out on a limb here) it is because Barone actually read the book, whereas it is perfectly obvious that “Hamilton” has not so much looked at a page of it, and actually didn’t read Barone’s summation of it with enough attention to pass a sixth-grade reading comprehension quiz.

Rather, he seems to have used it in a sort of word-association exercise whereby he must have had somebody read words at random from the Barone piece, blurted out the first association that came to his mind, and then constructed a rant loosely formed around the associated words.

It is almost impossible to pick out any sort of coherent counter-argument or critique of what we actually said from what he has written. So we will content ourselves with a few points. If anybody is interested, they are welcome to read “Hamilton’s” column, and then go to the America 3.0 page at Amazon, where substantial amounts of the book can be viewed for free, along with a number of perceptive reviews, and make up their own minds. However:

Hamilton claims we are out to “Balkanize” America, apparently because one of the policy remedies Barone mentions includes making more use of the historical and constitutional process (followed in the statehood of Maine and West Virginia) of allowing large states divide themselves into smaller, more coherent, units. Perhaps he didn’t notice that we are not talking about secession from the United States, (Barone made that perfectly clear, as do we, which he would have seen had he read the book) but about making states more responsive to their citizens. Maine and West Virginia don’t have their own foreign policies today, and there’s no reason to believe any others formed on that model would either.

Like the true hack that he is, he drags out the race card at the first possible opportunity, conflating decentralism with pre-civil-war states’ rights arguments and somehow dragging John C. Calhoun into the discussion, although had he read the book he would have looked in vain for any endorsement of concurrent majorities or praise for the Fugitive Slave Act (which was in fact a rather egregious violation of decentralism). Had he read the book he would have in fact found a substantial discussion of slavery, the legal issues of emancipation, and the role of the Industrial Revolution. All rather favorable to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, in fact.

Most centrally, had he read the book he would have found a substantial discussion of the Arsenal of Democracy, America’s role in World War Two, today’s defense industry, and a fairly detailed program for insuring that the US continue to have a strong and capable defense capability, including a domestic defense industry. We even caution that it won’t be cheap, and explain why, although we also discuss why defense procurement reform is critical to making it affordable at all. We are guilty of saying that the first task of the US is to lead an alliance to maintain the freedom of the seas and skies – something that we are lax at today — and to rethink the scope of our alliances and interventions. We have reasons for that, and “Hamilton” is welcome to critique them, but (and here we run the risk of becoming tiresome) that would require reading the book first.

We are accustomed to finding intelligent, informed, and fair-minded writing at Breitbart.com. We are disappointed to find them publishing something about our book that fails to meet their usual standards. But that would require, at minimum, reading it first.

James C. Bennett
Michael J. Lotus
Authors of America 3.0

UPDATE, July 14, 2013: Today, “Hamilton” has returned to the fray! But … he still hasn’t read the book! So, he is still … talking to himself! He has written a total of 6,300 words in response to a 750 word review — without cracking the 115,000 word book!

We have too many cool things going on to bother with this guy anymore.

UPDATE II: Thanks to this commenter who actually read the book for coming to our defense.

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4 Responses to Are Breitbart.com’s Standards Falling Down?

  1. Pingback: DrTdaxp » Breitbart’s Reviewer of “America 3.0″ didn’t read the book!

  2. Pingback: America 3.0 Still Means the Zeroing Out of America | Sharing Liberty

  3. Mr. X says:

    Unfortunately there appears to be a general freak out going on among GOP ‘hawks’ as their preferred approach in Syria (massively arming Islamists to topple an odious Iranian allied regime) has either not been accepted by a skeptical Congress or has simply failed.

    No one among the GOP base trusts them anymore on NSA surveillance or in terms of basic competency, having built a spying doomsday machine, to prevent hostile powers they claim to protect us against from hacking that very same spying apparatus. Finally even Israel in recent years arguably has been cuckolding them with the Russians behind the scenes, both on UAV sales and by rolling out the red carpet for Putin at the King David Hotel. Ironically the only conservative media outlet that bothered to report on these events was…Breitbart. NR, WSJ, Weekly Standard all pretended no serious Israeli-Russian reproachmont (that preceded the current chill) was underway. Last but not least, the lines between ally and dangerous Islamist/Muslim Brotherhood pols have become too blurred.

    Is Erdogan an Islamist who cracks down on his people and purges his military, or is he a valuable frontline ally against Assad? Or is he both? Such is the absurd state of confusion little more decisive than the adrift Obama Administration that now marks D.C’s neocons in foreign policy. The only thing they can agree on is that Obama has not been aggressive enough but aggression to the end of making Syria safe for the Muslim Brothers has been flat out rejected.

    Even if Netanyahu pushed harder for US intervention against Assad he would face a serious backlash from within his own coalition and Mossad/generals asserting its better to stick with the devil they know in Assad. Such is the ridiculous state of neocon thought that they can hardly out Netanyahu and be better friends of Israel than the Israelis themselves. No wonder they’d rather rant about Jack Hunter in much the same way their counterparts in the Obama worshipping MSM ‘complain’ that Snowden is distracting them from covering Snowden’s revelations and the substance of what the NSA is doing.

    Again if Jack Hunter is the best punch the neocons have against Paul, what the hell are they going to come up with to discredit Ted Cruz, a birther campaign?

  4. Mr. X says:

    Though I just hammered the rudderless GOP neocons and adrift Obama neoliberals above, to bring it back to the book – many libertarians nowadays either imagine a total police state meeting guerilla resistance or alternative a kind of Mad Max scenario post bond market and dollar collapse.

    Truth be told theres been plenty of talk about prepping and localism, but only yourselves, some of the thinkers in the 10th Amendment movement, and Leo Linbeck III have said, ok now what do we do? We can’t after all imagine as some do (no religious offense intended, man knowers not the day of the Lord after 2,000 years or his own time) that we will be Raptured out and no one needs to think state and nationwide about institutions. And we have a third if the population dependent on the fede for their daily bread now! That would seem to preclude any soft landing as opposed to a USS4 1991 crash, hopefully WITHOUT secession.

    So IMO you gentlemen have addressed the great weakness of contemporary US libertarian thought, that order and free markets will not spontaneously arise from the wreckage of the old regime. Think of Russia in the 1990s after Communism collapsed now multiply the population by double and throw in all the infrastructure differences Yuri Orlov pointed out in Reinventing Collapse.

    So credit where credits due you gents have given strong though to how a new Constitutional Republic can be created, not spontaneously generated. The invisible hand of the market works where there is social trust and rule of law but without these things you get gangsterism followed by strongmanism, whether regional or in Russia’s case centralized.

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