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A year ago Dick

A year ago Dick Armey's longtime political advisor Pat Shortridge was heading up the Majority Leader's Fund, Congressman Armey's leadership PAC. Last Spring Shortridge left the MLF to become one of two senior directors of federal government affairs at Enron. That is to say, one of two people charged with lobbying the federal government on Enron's behalf.

In early December, according to the Majority Leader's spokesperson, Shortridge took a new job in Congressman Armey's leadership office after Enron closed its DC lobbying operation. His title is now "Director of Coalitions."

Also in early December (the Houston Chronicle reported it on December 4th) Congressman Armey told reporters "I think the Enron circumstances are very difficult. My impression is that Enron's business right now is Enron's business."

Im not sure any

I'm not sure any other writers are going to be able to get a big article out of unearthing purloined passages in Stephen Ambrose books. But this may be the exception. According to Nick Confessore's article from early last Fall, Stephen Ambrose has routinely plagiarized the work of ... Stephen Ambrose!

Of course, recycling your own material is one of the perks of being a writer. But as Nick describes what he found you quickly get the feeling that this modus operandi could spill over into recycling other people's prose.

So how has Ambrose managed to sustain this deluge? Partly by hiring a devoted army of research assistants, but mostly by becoming an efficient and unabashed recycler of his own work. Ambrose's chapter in this spring's No End Save Victory collection was, in a previous life, a chapter in Citizen Soldiers--a 1997 book that itself contains bits and pieces from Band of Brothers. The Good Fight, published this May and aimed at the children's market, is essentially a simplified combination of Citizen Soldiers and Band of Brothers. Though Comrades: Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals (1999) is partly an account of Ambrose's relationships with his brothers, father, and pals, it consists largely of reworked passages from Band of Brothers and his previous books on Lewis and Clark, Crazy Horse and General Custer, Eisenhower, and Nixon.
and more to the point ...
He not only makes new books from old books; he makes new op-eds from old op-eds. A devoted Ambrose fan will thus read about how the young GIs "wanted to throw baseballs, not grenades, shoot a .22 rifle, not an M-1" first in D-Day, then again in Band of Brothers, and then again in a cluster of World War II-themed newspaper pieces. Likewise, a passage from Citizen Soldiers about how "they went to school on the GI Bill of Rights, and then they started building the interstate highway system, the St. Lawrence Seaway, the modern corporation," and so forth, turns up again in several columns urging the creation of a World War II memorial and in a piece musing about heroism in the age of political correctness.
Check out Nick's article to see the whole story.

Some bits of info

Some bits of info are just too choice not to share with you. They say so much about this city.

You may remember that back during the Balkan Wars one of the contested spaces was the part of Croatia called the Krajina. This was essentially an ethnic Serb enclave within the borders of Croatia and as you might imagine this became a volatile crisis point in the fighting between Serbs and Croats. In any case, United Nations peace-keepers were sent into the region in the beginning of 1992 to maintain the peace. And did a reasonably good, though by no means perfect, job at it.

For a while, the matter was thus placed in suspense, until 1995 when then-Croatian President Franjo Tudjman gave the UN Mission an ultimatum to leave. Eventually the Croatians rolled in and retook the region with some quite ugly consequences.

But not, it turns out, without a good media strategy!

In an agreement signed on February 24th, 1993 the Washington foreign lobbying shop of Jefferson Waterman International agreed to help the Croatians deal with whatever bad press might ensue from reasserting their ethnic rights in the region. For instance, according to the proposal JWI submitted to the Croatian government, they advised ...

"Should the time come when it is necessary for Croatia forcefully to assert control over Croatian territory currently hosting a United Nations presence, a wave of criticism must be anticipated and countered. The groundwork to justify such actions should be laid now, not after the fact."
also
"A number of articles and individuals have articulated the viewpoint that both Croatia and Serbia are to blame for the current carnage, and that both are conspiring to carve up Bosnia. This viewpoint must not be allowed to go unchallenged."

Even ethnic cleansing needs a good PR campaign.

So whats the deal

So what's the deal with me and Stephen Ambrose?

A number of readers have asked me to explain this earlier remark, which I made in the context of the plagiarism charges against Ambrose ...

Now before proceeding further, it's probably fair to admit that I come to this whole thing already not very friendly to Ambrose - for a number of reasons we can get to later.
Actually, a few readers are pretty damn insistent. One wrote this evening ...
You allude to the fact that you and Steve Ambrose are not on the best of terms but you never spell out why. I am curious to know what may have transpired between you two. Perhaps you are just bitter that he is a nationally respected professor while you are just a career student. The time to come clean about this is now!
Sheesh! That's kind of rough. 'Career student'? Hey, if it were almost ten years since I started a Ph.D. program and I was still only working on the last chapter of the dissertation, then I might be a career student, and maybe pretty hurtin' too. But I've got this whole journalism thing going! So I'm fine with it. And besides I get the parchment in June ... Okay, wait. I gotta center myself ...

Anyway, back to our story. So what's the deal with me and Ambrose? The reader noted above implies there's some sort of competition going on. But how would I compete with Ambrose. Over who's most crotchety? Who's most grizzled? Who's got the gravelliest voice?

Please.

Needless to say, I've never met Stephen Ambrose and have read very little of his academic work.

My beef with Ambrose is that in the recent years in which he has become a household name, he's become a purveyor of a sort of retrograde sentimentalism, the fashionable discontent of the 1990s ... You're never gonna find a generation like the WW II generation and the young'ens these days don't have the fiber! the gumption! to do the work that needs to be done. So I say vote for this feller George W. Bush. etc.

This is no beef with the men who fought and won World War II and liberated the world from fascism in Europe and militarism in East Asia. It's a beef with the cliche I feel Ambrose makes of it. And lessons he draws from it for today.

Just a tidbit.John Shelk

Just a tidbit.

John Shelk, VP of government affairs, American Gaming Assn., and Patrick Shortridge, chief political advisor for Rep. Dick Armey, to Enron Corp., Washington, D.C., as senior directors of federal government affairs.

Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter
May 23, 2001

Just make a note of it.

Am I off base

Am I off base or are you getting the feeling we're talking tip of the iceberg here with Stephen Ambrose? With Forbes.com's unearthing of another apparent instance of misdemeanor plagiarism from twenty-five years ago this is really starting to get ugly.

As regular readers know, schadenfreude is a pretty primary emotion for Talking Points. Happiness, sadness, love, hate, schadenfreude ... that pretty much sums it up.

Still, I'm not enjoying this a bit.

The only positive I can see at the moment is that Mickey Kaus has found a way to leverage this into some more Marina Ein bashing. I mean first General Wiranto (accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor) , then Gary Condit (accused of crimes against self-respect in Washington, DC), what's next? Stephen Ambrose?

Come to think of it, there would be a certain symmetry because Marina Ein claims that words that are hers aren't hers, and Stephen Ambrose claims that words that aren't his are his.

So maybe it would work?

Can we get a

Can we get a credentials check over here? Is Larry Lindsey really an economist? It's sort of hard to figure after his appearance yesterday on Fox News Sunday.

On the show yesterday, Lindsey told viewers that unemployment checks have no stimulatory effect on the economy, no boosting of demand.

Let's go to the tape ...

HUME: I want to ask you about something else Senator Daschle said in this somewhat remarkable speech he made the other day about the economy. He was speaking of the stimulus package proposed by the Democrats.

Quote, "We included unemployment and health benefits for laidoff workers in our plan because, as any objective economist will tell you, it's one of the most effective ways to boost demand and pump money into the economy quickly."

Setting aside "objective," can you think of any economist who would make that argument?

LINDSEY: Well, I think the president, as you know, is very much for health benefits and for unemployment, but not necessarily for the reason the senator said. He's there because these people need help, and that's why we...

HUME: Can you talk about the economic theory, if there is one -- do you know of any economic theory under which health care benefits and unemployment benefits are used to stimulate the economy?

LINDSEY: Our view is that paychecks are what the objective should be here and not simply bigger unemployment checks.

HUME: And the reason for that is what?

LINDSEY: Well, paychecks are what grow the economy. People who are unemployed need help and we're all for that. But unemployment checks don't grow the economy; paychecks do.

Now, Talking Points is no economist, but he had always understood that unemployment checks not only create demand and stimulate the economy (which only stands to reason since you're putting money directly into the hands of people who immediately have to spend it) but that this is the point. Unemployment insurance is intended to be counter-cyclical.

Exactly when the economy is contracting and people are getting laid off you have a roughly proportional, if lesser, amount of money being injected back into the economy. It's a bit like macro-economic shock absorbers. This isn't 'some economic theory', it's Macro-Economics 101.

In any case, I'll stop there, since I'm no economist and I'll run into some error soon enough if I keep going. But maybe Larry Lindsey ain't either. Do we need to take a closer look at the serial number on that Harvard Ph.D.?

PS. Special thanks to TPM reader MP for the catch?

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