The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang. And now, smeared by Fox News and Sean Hannity, as well! Plus, FEARED by Ted Nugent! AND Hated by the Freepers!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sadists On Parade

[Language Warning: If easily offended, please stop reading now. OK, you've been warned. -- HW]

If ever the casual viciousness of the Right were on public display for all to view -- and gape with astonishment at -- it is now. With all the self-awareness of the sadistic boy who delights in pulling the wings off of flies and butterflies, sticking firecrackers in frogs' mouths and bludgeoning prairie dogs to death, the Right is now piling onto the Beauchamp story, having declared victory, so that pussies like Charles Krauthammer can come along and "discover" the story -- as if it weren't all-but-plagiarized on Page A-13 of today's Washington Post:

The Baghdad Fabulist

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, August 10, 2007; Page A13

For weeks, the veracity of the New Republic's Scott Thomas Beauchamp, the Army private who has been sending dispatches from the front in Iraq, has been in dispute. His latest "Baghdad Diarist" (July 13) recounted three incidents of American soldiers engaged in acts of unusual callousness. The stories were meant to shock. And they did....

After some commentators and soldiers raised questions about the plausibility of these tales, both the Army and the New Republic investigated. The Army issued a statement saying flatly that the stories were false. The New Republic claims that it had corroboration from unnamed soldiers. The Weekly Standard quoted an anonymous military source as saying that Beauchamp himself signed a statement recanting what he had written.

Amid these conflicting claims, one issue is not in dispute. When the New Republic did its initial investigation, it admitted that Beauchamp had erred on one "significant detail." The disfigured-woman incident happened not in Iraq, but in Kuwait....

Alas! Krauthammer's descriptive powers fail him. His "After some commentators and soldiers raised questions about the plausibility of these tales..." deserves an "Honorable Mention" in the Palace of Lies' Hall of Shame.

More accurately, the Jingo Monkeyhouse went bugfuck CRAZY, with the shrieking of the chimps at a fever pitch, and feces being flung in all directions. But I don't need to tell YOU that, gentle reader. I've chronicled the "raising of questions" by those "commentators." and the vitriol that's been spewing nonstop for almost a month now. We expect this sort of puling, plagiaristic "me-too"ism from fading roué of the Right Krauthammer. The casual sadism and phony self-righteousness are nothing new, so we turn instead to the Washington Post-owned SLATE "Magazine" (quotations since it only exists online) for this:

I am deeply skeptical about the veracity of Beauchamp's dispatches, particularly the last one, but disinclined to offer definitive pronouncements at this time. Partisans on both sides of the political spectrum seem to harbor no such doubts. Based solely on the content of these dispatches, some were happy to leap to conclusions about the author's veracity without regard for the facts. And as the argument grows louder, each side turns toward the troops, using them to stand in for their own preconceived ideas about this war...

Gee, you think you could bee MORE effete? Stare down your nose at EVERYBODY a little more? (But watch out, your eyes might permanently lock in the crossed position that this article seems written from).

The author is one "Phillip Carter" a fellow who seems to think that standing by, effetely 'tsk tsk'ing that "this isn't cricket, boys" while the witchburning continues in all of its obscene glory. 'Flaccid' is the term that comes to mind.*

[*To be fair, according to his tagline "Phillip Carter, an Iraq veteran, is an attorney with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP and a principal of the Truman National Security Project." One presumes from his prose that he served in the Tea Service Division, enforcing 'extended pinkie' regulations.]

Excuse me, but has ANY literary work of the 21st Century received this kind of microscopic examination and "semiotic analysis" by would-be literary critics, sleuths and folk-with-axes-to-grind? Could ANY author withstand this sort of agenda-driven parsing?

What is most disturbing is that the effete, Olympian distancing, the "I'll only touch this with surgical gloves on" prissiness of the prose is exhibited by BOTH Krauthammer and Carter. Literary Viagra™ seems in short supply -- within the "mainstream media," at least, who are only NOW rousing themselves from comatose somnambulism with a "what's all this then!" red-nosed snort and belch.

A month has passed, idiots. Where were you? (And they wonder why respect for the MSM has fallen to new lows?) The tail wags the dog.

And that's a huge part of this story. This tale was ginned up in the Rightie blogosmear, and, as it emerges into the mainstream, it does so WITHOUT an opposing viewpoint. The Right has all their ducks in a row, and the Left is left to their traditional position on such questions: ducking. (And were taken by surprise as it emerged, fully formed).

Why? Because TNR and Beauchamp aren't PERFECT.* And, therefore can't be defended without long, fey sniffs, a la Mr. Carter, et al, etcetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. They expect us to pussy out, and, fulfilling those expectations, we do.

[Could the Righties live up the standard they push forward? One doubts it.]

For a solid month, now, The Weekly Standard (A News Corporation publication) and Michael Goldfarb's minions -- by whose open soliticitation , the blog-attacks on TNR began, and were then PUBLICIZED in Goldfarb's official TWS blog -- have been stomping on Beauchamp, have been looking under every stone and stoning every dissenter to crucify Beauchamp and The New Republic and its editor Franklin Foer. Indeed, the drumbeat for Foer's firing is so widespread and so insidious, one wonders what girlfriend Foer stole from Goldfarb in a D.C. bar that such a stealth campaign to wreck his career is being pursued.

Because, make no mistake, this whole episode bears the overt stamp of a personal vendetta against Foer by Goldfarb, and an attempt to destroy The New Republic by The Weekly Standard -- which seems odd, given that their audiences overlap not a whit.

Fortunately, one puff of wind in this fartstorm has arisen today, in the form of The New Republic's statement 2 hours ago (as I write this), which attempts to present the other side of a story that no one's willing to even lend creedence to. The sheer weight of numbers (and oh-so-precious sniffers, like Mr. TK and his "disinclined to offer definitive pronouncements at this time" -- who gives a FUCK what you think, pal? Talk about an Olympian overestimation of one's own place in the Universe!) merely confirms what I told you two days ago:

The lie that "TNR lied" is now a "fact" and the piling on has begun in earnest. In this battle for rhetorical "reality," two plus two now equals five, and Beauchamp continues his assignation at the Ministry of Love, while the Ministry of Truth gleefully tears off another gossamer wing.

Here is what the editors of The New Republic wrote in defense:

... we continue to investigate the anecdotes recounted in the Baghdad Diarist. Unfortunately, our efforts have been severely hampered by the U.S. Army. Although the Army says it has investigated Beauchamp's article and has found it to be false, it has refused our--and others'--requests to share any information or evidence from its investigation. What's more, the Army has rejected our requests to speak to Beauchamp himself, on the grounds that it wants "to protect his privacy."

At the same time the military has stonewalled our efforts to get to the truth, it has leaked damaging information about Beauchamp to conservative bloggers. Earlier this week, The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb published a report, based on a single anonymous "military source close to the investigation," entitled "Beauchamp Recants," claiming that Beauchamp "signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods--fabrications containing only 'a smidgen of truth,' in the words of our source."

Here's what we know: On July 26, Beauchamp told us that he signed several statements under what he described as pressure from the Army. He told us that these statements did not contradict his articles. Moreover, on the same day he signed these statements for the Army, he gave us a statement standing behind his articles, which we published at tnr.com. Goldfarb has written, "It's pretty clear the New Republic is standing by a story that even the author does not stand by." In fact, it is our understanding that Beauchamp continues to stand by his stories and insists that he has not recanted them. The Army, meanwhile, has refused our requests to see copies of the statements it obtained from Beauchamp--or even to publicly acknowledge that they exist. [emphasis added]

But those technically correct debate points are meaningless in a rhetorical arena driven by the paranoid fantasies and 'fan fiction' of the true fabulists of this story. Listen to the triumphalism posted at 5 AM (EDT) by the National Review Online:

Embedded Hostility
A case of “Beauchamping.”
By Jeff Emanuel

Baghdad, IraqThe Scott Thomas affair has, for all intents and purposes, come to a close.

Questionable from the very start, the stories penned by the then-pseudonymous Scott Thomas Beauchamp have now been declared false. The New Republic, which published the pieces by the Baghdad Diarist, defended them vigorously when their author came under fire. But according to Mjr. Steven F. Lamb, the deputy public-affairs officer for Multi National Division-Baghdad, “an investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate [his] claims.” ...

Remember what I said? They'll declare victory and move on AS IF the issue were resolved? Well, call me Cassandra. Listen to the patently bullshit "magnanimity" of the "victors" as the Declaration of Victory continues:

What they published was shown not to be simply “inaccurate” or “exaggerated,” but false — and TNR, along with its defenders, went to the mat for it.

The motivation for this is likely not as sinister as some ascribe to TNR — it is highly doubtful that they went to press with a story that they knew to be false, from a source they thought untrustworthy. In all likelihood, they simply found a story that validated their views about the “morally and emotionally distorting effects of war,” which also served as “a startling confession of shame about some disturbing conduct, both [the author’s] and that of his fellow soldiers.” Thinking the source unimpeachable, they ran with it.

A massive part of the problem with TNR and others who seek to run to press with the first available scandal is that, to them, such behavior is the rule in the United States military, rather than the exception (as it is in reality).

Oh, and the tag? Why, this Jeff Emmanuel is Mr. Macho! (And not some faggoty little puke like me):

Jeff Emanuel, a columnist and special-operations military veteran, is currently embedded in Iraq and will be reporting from “Inside the Surge“ throughout August and September.

OK, let's get this straight. WHO says that Beauchamp was lying? The Army. You know, the same Army in which Beauchamp's theater Commanding Officer says that 190,000 weapons that are missing in Iraq are the result of "clerical errors," according to Gen. Petraeus. (110,000 AK-47s and 80,o00 pistols, IIRC).

The same Army who's covering up the death of Pat Tillman by "friendly fire" in Afghanistan with a blizzard of "I don't knows" and this bizarre situation:

Censured general evades subpoena to appear before Tillman hearing
Michael Roston
Published: Wednesday August 1, 2007

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) revealed in a Wednesday hearing that Lieutenant General Philip Kensinger, who was censured Tuesday by the Army for deceiving investigators regarding the announcement of the death of Army Specialist Pat Tillman, has evaded a subpoena issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"General Kensinger refused to appear today," Chairman Waxman said in his opening statement. "His attorney informed the committee that General Kensinger would not testify voluntarily, and if issued a subpoena would seek to evade service. The committee did issue a subpoena to General Kensinger earlier this week, but US Marshals have been unable to locate or serve him."

Whose lawyer, today, sent RAW STORY an email excuse that sounds eerily like what I reported yesterday in "Wrong is Right"? THAT Army is the "credible" one, and The New Republic is the INcredible one? Gee, Righties. What happened to that microscopic parsing? That stratospheric high bar for accuracy? Where did all that skepticism go? Hmm. The Army is lying to congress, stonewalling, has admitted to a cover-up in the death of Tillman, and NOW their leaks and statements (without any details, and with Beauchamp in information blackout) THOSE are credible, but TNR is full of it?

Good God.

Now, I will reiterate the charge that "Confederate Yankee" (and first recipient of Iraq Central Command emails claiming Beauchamp lied) Bob Owens so "witheringly" attempted to debunk: this sort of focused, agenda-driven story doesn't appear by accident. And, if not by accident, then certainly not without a specific PURPOSE.

And it doesn't enter the mainstream via "military leaks" without the direct complicity of the White House. If only because they'd shut it down, otherwise.

A solid month has been spent on this non-story.*

Is Beauchamp Hemingway? Because that's the kind of literary attention that's been given to his prose. Sadly, a writer receiving that kind of universal, negative acclaim often commits suicide. As a soldier serving as a private in one of the heaviest combat zones in Iraq, if he got killed by, say, one of those AK-47s that are missing, we'd all understand.

These pricks, these would-be defenders of fucking freedom have decided that Beauchamp is "dishonoring" the defenders of fucking freedom, and focus every possible energy at killing the kid. THAT is what we're talking about, after all. Jesus H. Christ what insane and sadistic crap has been focused on him, on his writing, and on his wife. And he's in the fucking Army in fucking Iraq with the fucking Army PISSED off at him.

If Private Beauchamp survives this shit, he will have the biggest balls of anybody who's ever lived. I'm with you, kid. It doesn't matter what you wrote. You never deserved to be treated like this.

And these pricks call themselves "Christians."

Jesus H. Christ.

Let me say that again: this information is not released to the media without the direct complicity of the White House. Oh, there may be "plausible deniability," but in the court of public opinion, I put it to YOU, jurors: Could this transpire without White House approval? Would the fingerprints of anonymous officers and confirmations and the insistence on "secrecy" and "privacy" come from the Pentagon or from the West Wing?

When the malefic muppets of the Right are finally reduced to the hands that moved the lips, the buck stops at the top. Not with Michelle Malkin. Not with Michael Goldfarb or even William Kristol. Not with Charles Krauthammer or with Major Lamb, Colonel Steven Boylan or General Petraeus.

The "frame" is precisely what the White House wants to push, it's a classical "forking attack" (As I noted HERE), pinning Democrats as "defeatocrats" and no one on the Left dare touch it. It was "confirmed" via official Army leaks at the highest level, but is being STONEWALLED by claims of "confidentiality," and concern for the "privacy" of the silenced soldier, Private Beauchamp.

Where did TNR make their mistake?

First of all in "outing" Private Beauchamp (whether by his decision or by theirs). Nothing has come of it, save for attacks on his character, a microscopic analysis of his life, his blogs, and even the accusation that something was "WRONG" because his fianceé (now wife) worked for TNR*.

[*This implicit charge of nepotism was, weirdly, repeated by Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post -- a newspaper who have never had the slightest public problem with the fact that columnist Sally Quinn was sucking Editor Ben Bradlee's COCK while everyone pretended that the office affair wasn't going on, and then MARRIED the sonofabitch and are now the Regal Couple of D.C. Where were the nepotism charges then? Implicitly OR explicitly? If there were any, I sure as hell haven't seen them. And no comment AFTER the couple outed themselves! I apologize if this seems gross, or grotesque, but I would suggest that you take your high dudgeon to Bradlee, Quinn and the Washington Post, whose slimy, sorded business it either is, or else, whose mouth OUGHT to remain shut on such matters. Journalists, I have found, NEVER hold themselves to the same sort of scrutiny that they would hold others to.]

Secondly, by getting TNR to "fact check" and they, stupidly and honorably, admitting to an error of PLACE (which may have been intentional on the writers' part to PROTECT THE perpetrators and the victim), they opened themselves up to amateur literary analysts like Krauthammer who use the "error" as a brush to tar EVERYthing with.

And we must ask: was this an abberration? A fluke? A "weird" story that showed up in the traditional summer's season of slow news days and low readership?

No: this either came from the top (remember, the White House and/or Rove has been in open collaboration with bloggers and talk show hosts -- calling both last week for pow-wows on how to defang the Alberto Gonzales perjury charges), or else it was ENABLED from the top. Keep your eyes on the pea.

As usual, the shells move with bewildering speed.

This is coordinated. This relies on Usual Suspects (Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin, et al). This is being run THROUGH a Rupert Murdoch right-wing rag that happens to be run by a FAUX NOOZ regular, William Kristol, and is aided and abetted by OTHER FAUX NOOZ regulars -- Michelle Malkin, Matt Sanchez, etc.

It covers up the Pat Tillman affair. It provides a smokescreen for the rape-murder convictions of several soldiers regarding a 14-year-old girl, and her family. It raises the red flag of "Lefties don't support the troops!" It silences Beauchamp. At a minimum, it chills TNR, and -- they seem to hope -- gets Franklin Foer, TNR's editor fired (as they are, increasingly and openly calling for).

And while you're at it, Google "Franklin Foer" if you want to see who's being set up to take the fall. (Google news: 200 hits) Hugh Hewitt's lackey Dean Whatsisname even posted this vile piece of tripe three days ago on Hewitt's Townhall dot com blog:

Place Your Bets! Introducing the Franklin Foer Dead Pool!
Town Hall, DC - Aug 7, 2007
SO WHAT ELSE HAVE WE to do but form a Franklin Foer Death Pool?

At this point, I don't care about whether or not Beauchamp was utterly truthful, or pulling it all out of his ass. The response has been disproportionate, unfair, uncivilized and filled with a casual viciousness that makes one question whether these sadists are actually human beings at all, or merely demons from the pits of hell sowing destruction, disease and death.

The death of truth, that is: the "reality by assertion" riff that's killing democracy in the USA. Or, as Tomm writes (reproduced with permission of):

There is supposed to be a "disaster fatigue," where too many catastrophes -- the Utah mine disaster, the Manhattan flooding (which I barely missed during my visit last month), the missing weapons in Iraq (who was in charge? Why, General Petraeus!) -- but the outrage fatigue is greater. We are doomed. Television is again beating the drum for war and persists in refusing to expose the level of filth and malice and evil from these bastards. They go on Fascist Radio to score their points. They organize smear campaigns against ordinary soldiers and translators and other citizens trying to do their jobs.

And meanwhile, power is increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few and fewer and the middle class is wiped out, tuition is unafordable, health care is destroying our morale and misery is rising around us like the temperature at the North Pole as hope evaporates like ice at the North Pole and we are all polar bears drowning....

OK, Krauthammer, why don't you finish this all off with a pissy tagline?

We already knew from all of America's armed conflicts -- including Iraq -- what war can make men do. The only thing we learn from Scott Thomas Beauchamp is what literary ambition can make men say.

Good attack dog; here's your Scoobie snack.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mitt Gott Spin, Truth Gott Zip

"And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."

-- Edgar Allan Poe, "The Masque of the Red Death"

I lied to you, yesterday. OK: No I didn't. But, in the interests of the sort of clarity that our "new media" and "old media" are now addicted to, you can have it both ways, either way, or no way at all. It doesn't matter.

Because, hell, truth doesn't matter. Only spin matters, only assertion matters, only fabulism about fabulists (the new buzzword of the neocons) and can I no longer can see this as a matter of "facts," and "information." Why buck popular opinion?

Rather, it is a literary festival, and should be approached as a literary critic. Fortunately I have the chops for this.

Remember Beauchamp? Welcome to the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Beauchamp, an enormous balloon filled with helium and floated above the adoring fans as the Romney parade passes by. Hugh Hewitt, one of the Mittster's biggest fans (and author of the quasi-official Mitt apologia A Mormon In The White House?) has PERSONALLY weighed in on his TownHall dot com blog (he usually leaves daily posting to lackey Dean Barnett).

Let us dip into the prose stylings of Hugh Hewitt, and ask ourselves the literary question ... well, I'll be back after the blockquote for that:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Romney Ambushed By Anti-War Activist, Abetted By AP, To No Effect

Posted by Hugh Hewitt 6:47 PM

The AP, with lefty bloggers in tow, is trying to make an issue out of an ambush question at a Romney campaign forum today. Rachel Griffiths, a member of the "Quad City Progressive Action for the Common Good" asked the "why are your kids chickenhawks" question: "Thank you so much for being here and asking for our comments and I appreciate your recognizing the Iraq War veteran. My question is how many of your five sons are currently serving in the U.S. military and if none of them are how do they plan to support this war on terrorism by enlisting in our U.S. military? Romney responded:

[video & transcript]

AP left out both the text of the question and all of the italicized comments. Nice reporting, eh?

The Romney campaign quickly released the YouTube video of the exchange, though given the fundamental inability of the chickenhawk meme to move the average American voter, and the widespread rejection of such logic by the uniformed military, it might have been better to let the "controversy" play out a bit as a way of demonstrating how in the bag the AP is to the anti-war fringe.

A question for lefties in love with this meme: Have you denounced The New Republic's and Private Beauchamp's slanders? Have you talked up the virtues of serving in uniform in time of war? Or do you dispute that we are in a war, and find it convenient to focus on alleged war crimes and other misdeeds of the military? Do you accuse the Administration of fighting for oil, or of misleading us into war? Are you tearing down the military and yet condemning people for not serving in it?

Just wondering.

Ah. So BEAUCHAMP is the reason that Mitt's sons aren't serving? Huh?

BRILLIANT argument, Hugh. Now, go and clean your bong. It must be clogged from all the use it got in ginning up THIS weird defense.

But, because this wasn't enough for Hugh -- who probably sobered up, read what he'd written and made a frantic phone call -- evidently, he sent his lackey to post further "logical" arguments to defend Mitt this morning:

Thursday, August 09, 2007
Campaign Update
Posted by Dean Barnett | 10:51 AM

SPEAKING OF CANDIDATES OF CHOICE, it’s been an interesting week for mine, Mitt Romney. Last Thursday, he went into talk show host Jan Mickelson’s studio and engaged in a heated discussion over “the Mormon issue.” I thought Romney came across great in that exchange, and so did most other bloggers and commentators. The YouTube has been viewed over 170,000 times, something that probably makes the Romney campaign very happy.

On a less sunny note, yesterday, at an “Ask Mitt Anything” session, Romney was asked to defend his five sons against the charge that they’re chickenhawks. Romney started out extremely well by saluting our volunteer army and mentioning his niece’s Reservist husband who had just been activated, and then concluded rather clumsily by saying his sons are serving the country by trying to help him get elected president. Generally speaking, volunteering and sacrificing for political campaigns is a noble thing and shows a level of civic involvement that most people respect. But there was something a little off about Mitt saying his sons were serving the country by serving his campaign, especially in the context of discussing military service. Listening to the tape, it seems Romney intended it as a joke and the crowd did laugh. But it wasn’t a particularly good joke, and it definitely was an ill-advised one. It was exactly the kind of comment that the press would replay as a “Gotcha!” moment. (Here’s the entire clip if you’re interested.)

Obviously this isn’t a big deal. The chickenhawk thing is a Democrat obsession, not a Republican one. And family members, even if they’re involved in the principal’s campaign, are widely considered civilians by everyone except the left-wing blogging community and sometimes Mike Wallace. I’ve never heard a single Republican complain that the Bush twins aren’t in Iraq....

OK. 'Chickenhawks' is meaningless. It's OK to send other people's children (like my son) to die, but you feel no patriotic need to send YOUR children. That's what POOR people are for!

[For more go HERE.]

Again, no debate only smear and slur and insult and belittling. That's where we've come to. The only serious task left is to criticize the literary aspects of the insults. OK: They're not that good. As to being specious, well, they're not too good.

As I noted yesterday, the swiftboating of Private Beauchamp and TNR has moved mysteriously to "fact" without ever becoming fact. Today, the AP piled on (as predicted) and, well, if you cared for the "truth" of the matter, don't worry about it. It isn't your ass on the line. It isn't your home they'll burn the cross on the lawn of. It isn't your family that will be stalked. Go back to sleep. I know I intend to:

New Republic Iraq Stories Questioned
The Associated Press
Thursday, August 9, 2007; 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- A magazine gets a hot story straight from a soldier in Iraq and publishes his writing, complete with gory details, under a pseudonym. The stories are chilling: An Iraqi boy befriends American troops and later has his tongue cut out by insurgents. Soldiers mock a disfigured woman sitting near them in a dining hall. As a diversion, soldiers run over dogs with armored personnel carriers. Compelling stuff, and, according to the Army, not true.

Three articles by the soldier have run since January in The New Republic, a liberal magazine with a small circulation owned by Canadian company CanWest Corp. The stories, which ran under the name "Scott Thomas," were called into question by The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine with a small circulation owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The Standard last month challenged bloggers to check the dispatches.

Since then, Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, has come forward as the author. The New Republic said that Beauchamp "came to its attention" through Elspeth Reeve, a reporter-researcher at the magazine he later married.

I guess I still wonder what that last crap is supposed to mean? That you DON'T get jobs in publishing through WHO you know and not WHAT you know? Thirty-one years in this business belies that bullshit. Publishing is nepotistic as hell, and any writer who would advance this as a "slur" obviously hasn't had their head out of their ass for a long, long time. Besides, with so much to crucify Beauchamp/TNR with, why do they keep harping on THIS meaningless detail? And, more tellingly, HOW is it that the NYT, WashPo and AP stories all feature this fact, minus any context. Two words: Press Release. The AP story even quotes the "news" source of THE WEEKLY STANDARD as if it were some uninterested observer, and not the "official" blog driving the story.

Facts be damned. The story goes on:

The Army said this week it had concluded an investigation of Beauchamp's claims and found them false.

"During that investigation, all the soldiers from his unit refuted all claims that Pvt. Beauchamp made in his blog," Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, a spokesman in Baghdad for the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., said in an e-mail interview.

We are now down to interviewing Sergeants. Long drop from Petraeus' PR/psywar officer, ain't it? (I'm still waiting for my "official" response from the Army, BTW.) The story lurches on ...

The Weekly Standard said Beauchamp signed a sworn statement admitting all three articles were exaggerations and falsehoods.

Calls to Editor Franklin Foer at The New Republic in Washington were not returned, but the magazine said on its Web site that it has conducted its own investigation and stands by Beauchamp's work.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, a spokesman in Baghdad for the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., said in an e-mail interview.

Well, there you go. The AP has resolved the controversy, based on one of their reporters' contact with a Kansas soldier that the Wichita, Kansas AP writer John Milburn knows -- the tag reads "Milburn reported from Topeka, Kan." The story lurches forward, like the undead collection of parts that it is (get the torch, Igor! IGOR!!)

The Associated Press has been unable to reach Beauchamp, and the Army said details of the investigation were not expected to be released. "Personnel matters are handled internally; they are not discussed publicly," said Lt. Col. Joseph M. Yoswa, an Army spokesman.

Bob Steele, the Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values at The Poynter Institute school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla., said granting a writer anonymity "raises questions about authenticity and legitimacy."

"Anonymity allows an individual to make accusations against others with impunity," Steele said. "In this case, the anonymous diarist was accusing other soldiers of various levels of wrongdoing that were, at the least, moral failures, if not violations of military conduct. The anonymity further allows the writer to sidestep essential accountability that would exist, were he identified."

Steele said he was troubled by the fact that the magazine did not catch the scene-shifting from Kuwait to Iraq of the incident Beauchamp described involving the disfigured woman.

"If they were doing any kind of fact-checking, with multiple sources, that error -- or potential deception -- would have emerged," Steele said.

Well, now we have a pompous press guru weighing in. In a fictional note of historical (novel) irony, it was his preincarnation who weighed in, in Seville, Spain on August 8, 1498, regarding Chaim Levi:

If only he'd have accepted Christ and the Holy Teachings of the Church, Torquemada wouldn't be forced to burn him at the stake. Clearly, Levi had every chance to stop this and didn't.

I'd like to thank Sister Toldjah for naming me her "Moonbat of the Week":

8/4/2007 - 2:59 pm
Moonbat of the week: “Harto”
Didn’t have one for the week before, believe it or not, but we’ve got a live one for this week >:)

In response to my link to his post at the Democratic Daily blog about the revelation that TNR screwed up big time with their ‘military blogger’ Scott Thomas, blogger Hart Williams writes:
Your thesis is laughable — that an “internal investigation” reported through a blogger who claims “insider connections” to know the outcome of the investigation before any official information has been released.
Oh, and it clears the Army and discredits Private Beauchamp (who you didn’t believe was a real person when Goldfarb began this witch hunt on July 21?
Sure. THAT’s credible.
Your question is a rhetorical monstrousity. The only persons who “believe” that way are the straw men you’re obviously trying to set up. So let me ask YOU a question:
ince you want to ignore the various ‘military lies to us’ scandals, WHY did you decide to endanger the life of a soldier fighting in the sandbox? Because you didn’t like what he said? Is THAT “supporting the troops”?
Or are you still laboring under the delusion that we’re “spreading democracy” and that endangering MY son because you don’t have an exit strategy, refuse to discuss an exit strategy, and would rather be right and watch more of our soldiers die than admit that this war has been a disaster and end it?
Must be amazing to know it all. Kinda makes you like God, don’t it?
Naw. It’s not about being a “know it all” (we leave that to the Democratic ‘leadership’ in Congress) - it’s about knowing how to spot liberal demagoguery that people try to pass off as being the ‘real truth’ a mile away. Careful, Hart. Yours and the left’s transparency on ’supporting the troops’ is starting to show.

Kinda sad when people who claim to ’support the troops’ in reality are hoping that the negative stories they read about the military are true, and furthermore go out of their way to try and spin them as true, even when it turns out they’re not. These same types of people want us to give accused murderers here at home the benefit of the doubt, but don’t extend that same courtesy to the men and women who put their lives on the line so they can have the right to spout their idiotic, troop-hating nonsense.

Scratch “sad.” It’s actually sick. Very sick.

Well, me being "very sick" and all, no one should mind that Sister Toldjah still hasn't figured out what "Scott Thomas"es' actual name is. After all, she has all the facts. She and her yowling band of baboons have been having quite a bit of fun debating arguments that they've hallucinated I made. You can check it out HERE: Moonbat of the week “Harto” responds. (But please don't bother commenting or defending me in any way. Your words would be wasted on them anyway-- at least the multi-syllabic ones. Enjoy the bar-b-que!)

And, finally, Confederate Yanker and "sore winner," Bob Owens weighs in on The Democratic Daily to "debate" my last post in that polite manner that this whole "Baghdad Diarist" matter has been conducted in (even as he "piles on" to his own story, just in case Beauchamp/TNR hasn't been stomped into the mud completely. I'm honored that he could take time from his busy character assassination schedule to pay attention to l'il ol' moi):

# Bob Owens Says:
August 9th, 2007 at 4:41 am edit


I’m still trying to figure this out. Are you shooting for a sophisticated parody like the guys over at “Blame Bush,” or are you really serious?

If you are serious… well, then I’m a bit concerned for your psychological well-being.

Either way, I’ll reveal my big secret: I made contact with a PAO some months or a year ago (I don’t even remember which one or what the story was), and asked intelligent questions no one else was asking. From that, I was able to network a little bit, with the old, “Captain Smith, I got your name from Major Jones at FOB blah-blah-blah…”

I’ve also been able to contact some civilian contractors, some Iraqi citizens, and some NGO officials and journalists in both countries. That is how I get my info; good old, old school, rubbing elbows and establishing relationships, like reporters have done for decades… but digitally, of course.

You could probably make the same sort of contacts yourself if you were willing to, but it takes a tremendous amount of personal time to do so, and you’d have to stop running the half-baked conspiracy theories in every other post.

Gee, if I was an Army PAO with a full plate of media requests sitting in front of me and a very limited amount of time in my 12-hour day, who do I choose?

Do I go with the the guy who says he knows m buddy Steve and who has a reputation as being fair with what we give him,


Do I respond to the crank that last week accused General Petraeus of running a “rogue operation” and is batty enough to think that the President is running a media campaign through a small blog run from a La-Z-Boy sofa in Raleigh, NC?

Try hard, harto, and you might just see why you aren’t taken very seriously, or why some don’t even know if you’re trying to be taken seriously.

Keep up the great work, “Superfan.”



I love that "respectfully" part. It sort of floats there like an anti-turd in the septic tank punchbowl of rightie discourse. You've got to admit that, after writing a comment like that, it takes a supreme degree of unselfconsciousness to cap the slurs with "respectfully."

Hate to think of what Bob would have said if he WASN'T being respectful. (Or actually knew what that word means).

Mitt Gott Spin. Hugh Hewitt Gott an amenuensis. Harto Gott slammed. Truth Gott zip.


Embedded Journalists and Inbedded Bloggers

[Correction 2PM PDT 9AUG07: Pajamas Media co-founder Roger L. Simon is NOT, as noted below, connected with Powerline. Tip of the Harto Chapeau to J. Rosen.]

This will probably be my last post on the subject of the coordinated attack on The New Republic magazine and Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp by Michael Goldfarb and his employer, the Rupert Murdoch-owned publication, The Weekly Standard.

Not because I have ceased to be interested in this almost textbook smear campaign, nor because I believe that the blogosmearers' camp has either lived up to the bar height for truth that THEY demanded, nor because I am convinced that any stunning new information has "nailed it" -- as nearly as I can tell, in the epistemological sense of truth, of proof, of facts, the issues still stand at deuce -- but mostly because I get the feeling that you don't give a shit, that progressives don't give a shit, that journalists don't give a shit, and, frankly, because there's nothing I can do to stop this lynching any more than Henry Fonda's character could in 1943's The Ox-Bow Incident, which is what this all reminds me of -- minus, of course, any remorse.

Except that a crime had actually been committed in the movie and book. They just strung up the wrong men. Here, we just have the lynching. (By the usual suspects.) And they are stringing up EXACTLY who they intend to lynch.

Oh, I understand why the pussified mainstream press has ignored the story until today. And I understand why, when the New York Times and the Washington Post declare "game over," the "common wisdom" will now claim that the smear is now "fact."

I learned that lesson with Gary Webb:

On December 18, 1997, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz's investigation found no links between the CIA and the cocaine traffickers.

Webb alleged that the 1997 backlash was a form of media manipulation. "The government side of the story is coming through the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post," Webb stated. "They use the giant corporate press rather than saying anything directly. If you work through friendly reporters on major newspapers, it comes off as the New York Times saying it and not a mouthpiece of the CIA."

James Aucoin, a communications professor who specializes in the history of investigative reporting, wrote: "In the case of Gary Webb's charges against the CIA and the Contras, the major dailies came after him. Media institutions are now part of the establishment and they have a lot invested in that establishment." [Wikipedia]

But, like I said, you don't seem to give a damn, so why should I?

Here's what the New York Times says :

Army Says Soldier’s Articles for Magazine Were False
Published: August 8, 2007

An Army investigation into the Baghdad Diarist, a soldier in Iraq who wrote anonymous columns for The New Republic, has concluded that the sometimes shockingly cruel reports were false.

“We are not going into the details of the investigation,” Maj. Steven F. Lamb, deputy public affairs officer in Baghdad, wrote in an e-mail message. “The allegations are false, his platoon and company were interviewed, and no one could substantiate the claims he made.”

The brief statement, however, left many questions unanswered. Just last week The New Republic published on its Web site the results of its own investigation, stating that five members of the same company as Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, who had written the anonymous pieces, “all corroborated Beauchamp’s anecdotes, which they witnessed or, in the case of one soldier, heard about contemporaneously. (All of the soldiers we interviewed who had first-hand knowledge of the episodes requested anonymity.)”

...Private Beauchamp is married to a reporter-researcher at the magazine, Elspeth Reeve. [NOTE: WHY this is important, I don't know. Kurtz in the Washington Post ALSO seems to find this valuable, indicating, perhaps they're reading the same press releases -- HW].

Michael Goldfarb, the online editor at The Weekly Standard who had initially raised doubt about the columns, wrote yesterday that The Standard had learned from a source close to the Army investigation that ... *

[From NYU Professor of Journalism, Jay Rosen:

In fact, there is a gentleman’s agreement among journalists not to investigate each other’s confidential sources. Whenever I have asked about this, I have never heard a reporter try to justify the arrangement. (I don’t think it can be done) Nor do they deny it. Good question for Howard Kurtz to ask on “Reliable Sources.” ]
And, speaking of Howard Kurtz, the rather gullible "media critic" at The Washington Post chimes in, completing the two-paper trifecta:

Army Concludes Baghdad Diarist Accounts Untrue
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 8, 2007; Page C01

Army investigators have concluded that the private whose dispatches for the New Republic accused his fellow soldiers of petty cruelties in Iraq was not telling the truth.

The finding, disclosed yesterday, came days after the Washington-based magazine announced that it had corroborated the claims of the private, Scott Thomas Beauchamp, except for one significant error.
"An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by Pvt. Beauchamp were found to be false," an Army statement said. "His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims."

But New Republic Editor Franklin Foer is standing his ground. "We've talked to military personnel directly involved in the events that Scott Thomas Beauchamp described, and they corroborated his account," Foer said. The magazine granted anonymity to the other soldiers it cited.

A military official, who asked not to be identified because the probe is confidential ...

Whooh. SOME confidential. Can you say "intentional leak"? Naw. No media manipulation here. Move along. Move along.

Besides the heaping helpings of quotes from Michael Goldfarb (in both newspapers, you'll note), in the story, here's a FAUX NOOZish paragraph in Kurtz' story that neatly accuses TNR through another's words (for you collectors) , AND snarkily revives the old Glass scandal that the blogosmear is HOT to tar TNR with, anew:

The Army probe provides ammunition to conservative critics who have accused the liberal magazine of publishing Beauchamp's "Baghdad Diarist" essays without adequate checking and being too quick to believe that American soldiers would engage in questionable conduct. It also revives fading memories of the magazine's 1998 fabrication scandal involving writer Stephen Glass.

But even Howard Kurtz is uncomfortable with this whole mess (and it's 'confirmation'), so he stages a little "debate," acting as puppeteer:

[New Republic Editor Franklin] Foer said the New Republic had asked Maj. Steven Lamb, an Army spokesman, about the allegation that Beauchamp had recanted his articles in a sworn statement, and that Lamb had replied: "I have no knowledge of that." Before going incommunicado, Beauchamp "told us that he signed a statement that did not contradict his writings for the New Republic," Foer said.

"Thus far," he added, "we've been provided no evidence that contradicts our original statement, despite directly asking the military for any such evidence it might have."

But Weekly Standard writer Michael Goldfarb said: "We have full confidence in our reporting that Private Beauchamp recanted under oath."

It is not clear whether investigators might have pressured Beauchamp into disavowing the articles...

But Kurtz wants us to understand how an inquisition works, so he tosses this charge and this explanation into the Punch & Judy Show:

The Weekly Standard, the conservative magazine that has led the charge against Beauchamp, cited an unnamed military source yesterday as saying that Beauchamp had signed an affidavit acknowledging that his three articles were filled with exaggerations and falsehoods. That could not be independently confirmed, but it is common practice for the subject of an investigation to sign a statement confirming or denying the conduct in question.

And he concludes with the old trick of having someone else come to a conclusion:

Mark Feldstein, a journalism professor at George Washington University, called the Army's refusal to release its report "suspect," adding: "There is a cloud over the New Republic, but there's one hanging over the Army, as well. Each investigated this and cleared themselves, but they both have vested interests."

[NOTE: this is not a 'Fisking' of Kurtz. But considering the "weight" that the appellation 'The Washington Post says' carries, it's worth taking a moment to look at the writing critically. It's still a "he said/she said" story, advanced not a whit, but now is taken as THE GOSPEL, because of the two papers.]

Of course, behind the scenes, the media manipulation continues, now that they've got the brand names to bash with. Here, from Brent Bozell's "Newsbusters" ("Exposing and Combating Liberal Bias in Media"):

New Republic Refuses to Retract Thomas 'Reports'
By Bob Owens | August 8, 2007 - 13:37 ET

In an e-mail message, Mr. Foer said, "Thus far, we've been provided no evidence that contradicts our original ...

Gee. That's funny. Bob Owens, who supposedly received the first Army email from General Petraeus' official mouthpiece, P.R. Officer Lt. Col. (now Col.) Stephen Boylan (but the New York Times and The Washington Post and The New Republic only get Major Lamb, Boylan's deputy) which forms the BASIS of this story, along with Michael Goldfarb's evident pushing in BOTH the media and the blogosphere (remember, he CALLED for this firestorm, back in mid-July). Bob Owens, "Confederate Yankee," calls for, I guess, the public castration of The New Republic by quoting the NYT and WashPo stories -- stories in which he's not mentioned, but of which he was an architect, and Newsbusters has the GALL to talk about "liberal bias"?

So, is Owens a partisan,* or is he a journalist, or is he engaging in media manipulation? None of the above? Or all of the above?

[*A Pajamas Media blogger -- Pajamas Media having been founded by Little Green Footballs' Charles Johnson and mystery writer (e.g. "Fabulist") Roger L. Simon, a Powerline(blog) partner. LGF is proud of his part in a similar smear on Dan Rather. Powerline is prominent in this smear, as were they prominent in MY smearing last month at about the time this whole Beauchamp affair was whipped up.]

But then, Col. Stephen Boylan, General Petraeus' top Public Relations flak answers HIS emails. So he's got to be SOMEbody. (As opposed to the NYT, WashPo and TNR, who only get his deputy Maj. Lamb).

Gee, do you suppose that this campaign was looking for a victim, jumped over me (after finding out that I was "an obscure blogger") and landed on The New Republic? Naww. Or perhaps this was a campaign looking for PR cover for the Pentagon, what with the rape-murder convictions, continued Gitmo controversies, and the Pat Tillman story? You know, if they could push THIS story into the news cycles, it would help obscure the aforementioned scandals? Of course not! That would smack of media manipulation, and, as we all know, NOBODY in the Bush administration engages in active manipulation, disinformation and intimidation of the press. Heaven forbid the very notion! Why, just today, General Petraeus attributed the 190,000 missing weapons in Iraq to "clerical errors. (And "Bookkeeping deficiencies" according to the Washington Post's story on "in an interview broadcast last night on Fox News Radio's 'Alan Colmes Show'.")

But it's kind of strange how we find Brent Bozell's looking-glass version of MediaMatters less concerned with "accuracy" in reporting than in advancing the ball up the field.

The "article" on liberal bias that ends with this tag:

Cross-posted at Confederate Yankee.

The article that reads like the final Affirmative rebuttal in a debate. Except that this hasn't been so much a debate as an inquisition. (Which quotes the NYT and WashPo articles as its PROOF that the case is true. The case that was shoved down the NYT and WashPo's throats, it should be noted.)

[Old Bob's a busy 'journalist' today. In addition to his summation of the Case Against Heretic Beauchamp, he's going after Reuters for 'falsely' reporting a massacre, aided by, mysteriously, Maj. Rob Parke, an Army Public Relations officer in Iraq:

Ho-Hum: Yet Another False Media-Reported Massacre In Iraq

On Sunday, Reuters reported that the scene of a large massacre had been discovered near Baquba:
BAGHDAD, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Iraqi police said on Sunday they had found 60 decomposed bodies dumped in thick grass in Baquba, north of Baghdad. There was no indication of how the 60 people had been killed, police said. Baquba is the capital of volatile Diyala province, where thousands of extra U.S. and Iraqi soldiers have been sent to stem growing violence.

Why did the police have such a hard time providing an indication of how the 60 people had been killed? Probably because there were no bodies to examine.

Via email from Major Rob Parke, U.S. Army:

Bob, This story is false. We have had coalition soldiers looking for the last two days at the locations that IPs reported these bodies. We've asked all the locals in the area and they have no idea what we are talking about. We've gone to areas that might be close, gone to suspicious locations, all turned up nothing.

Most of the news stories all say the report stated decomposing bodies which would indicate if it was true, it happened before we arrived. Considering we discovered an Al Qaeda Jail, courthouse, and torture house in western Baqubah, it wouldn't surprise me if there were 60 bodies buried out there somewhere. Bottom line is we have done some extensive looking and found nothing.
This is the second large-scale massacre reported in major wire services in less than six weeks that seem utterly without merit; both Reuters and the Associated Press were duped by insurgents posing as police officers who claimed 20 beheaded bodies were discovered near Um Al-Abeed on June 28.

That was also false.

As we can all clearly see, Bob Owens "private citizen" is a completely independent voice, whose veracity is beyond doubt. Glad to know that Reuters is lying to us. Good catch Bob! Onward.

So, since I'm finished with this story, like you, I will just note that on Sunday, I went to the official Iraq Coalition webpage (Army*) and got the official press contact (a generic address, and not very easy to find on the "press" website) and I wrote them this:

[* For some weird reason the website for the Coalition is a DOT com, registered through Tucows. What? The Pentagon has their own Top Level Domain! (.mil). They INVENTED the bloody internet. So WHY are they paying for a dot COM registered site? What the hell kind of insanity is that?]

from: Hart Williams Aug 5 (3 days ago)
to: cpicpressdesk@iraq.centcom.mil
date: Aug 5, 2007 12:08 PM
RE: Investigation policy

To whom it may concern:

I am a freelance journalist in the USA. What is official policy on releasing the results of internal investigations?


What information can you release to me regarding the investigation of Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp vis a vis a "Baghdad Diary" published in THE NATIONAL REVIEW, and the subject of much press speculation stateside?


H. Williams,

Oddly, unlike blogger Bob Owens, and Michael Goldfarb at The Weekly Standard, I have received no response to my query. I was under the impression, of course, that the U.S. Army responds to ALL media requests in an equitable manner, but I guess maybe blogger Bob Owens and Michael Goldfarb's clearly stated agenda --to punish The New Republic and, oh, now that we know who he is, to crush Pvt. Beauchamp in the press, a sort of "anti-Jessica Lynch" -- more closely conforms to the Administration's agenda than does the modest query of one freelance journalist. That's ungentlemanly of me. I'm sure that Owens and Goldfarb aren't in cahoots with the Pentagon. They've got nothing to hide, and certainly don't manipulate the press as part of their mission.

No reply. Three days later and counting on a "hot" story that the Army recognizes is hot ENOUGH that they've been burning through the tubes of the internets to get their confirmations (that refuse to divulge details) and via anonymous Army sources that the story has been RECANTED.

It is entirely fit and proper that we use the language of inquisition to denote this result. Beauchamp has RECANTED. His statements "exaggerations and falsehoods — fabrications containing only 'a smidgen of truth'," according to New York Times writer Patricia Cohen QUOTING Michael Goldfarb's blog report on his orchestrated and ofttimes self-referential story.

The point being that I was curious as to how come it was that this North Carolina blogger, Bob Owens, was getting earth-shaking emails from the Army officer in charge of ALL embedded media in Iraq, Col. Stephen Boylan? I would have settled for less.

And how come the story has now been shuttled down the chain of command to Public Relations officer Major Stephen Lamb?*

[*See Online Journal's report:

The Pentagon's 'thought police'
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jan 11, 2006, 02:16

The Pentagon's "Media Engagement Team" has set up shop in the region. Its members, consisting of military personnel and contractors approach various publications and ask for an appointment, whereby owners and editors are urged to publish "positive" stories concerning the US military's activities in the area.

On some occasions, the team receives a polite hearing. On others, it is shown the door. I find this Orwellian behaviour offensive on many different levels...

Mostly because you won't hear a WORD questioning the Pentagon in all of this.]

What was the news today? Only a confirmation that Goldfarb and Bob Owens' quoted letters were real, and not forgeries (which, you'll note, I did not question in my prior posts as authentic, even though the sheer concord between the Army emails and the bloggers' agendas EXACTLY coincided.0

Which tells us nothing new, except that the Washington Post and the New York Times have now drunk the Koolaid, and the story has achieved the status of "fact."

NOTHING new has transpired, except that 'anonymous' Army officers confirm, and, perhaps the Goldfarb letter was sent to the New York Times reporter who either confirmed its contents with the official Pentagon Press Officer, or else didn't. (The NYT, remember, has been guilty of journalistic crimes at LEAST as egregious as The New Republic's Steven Glass scandal -- which the Goldfarbs and Owenses are harping on as "proof" of some nefarious intention of TNR to fake stories between 1998 and 2007. )

Howard Kurtz, on the other hand, sounds like a bit like a reporter who's drunk the Koolaid only after his jaws were pried open and a tube shoved down his esophagus. But, with the WRITER of the piece in question SILENCED and unable to defend himself, the debate can now conclude. Fair and Balanced. Balanced and Fair.

Sure am glad that those "Newsbusters" are there to expose and combat bias in the media. Liberal bias, I mean. Good going, Brent Bozell. And I'm glad that Michael Goldfarb can orchestrate a three-week concerted effort to silence, expose, smash and humiliate a young writer serving in the Iraq war. And I'm really proud that a thousand Rightie bloggers can strut and preen and posture and, being the sore winners that they are, swagger into mainstream blogs to bitch-slap non-complicit journalists:

From The Atlantic [Magazine] Online:
The Atlantic Online
Ross Douthat

Of my conversation with Jon Chait this morning - in which I argued that TNR probably shouldn't have run the Scott Thomas Beauchamp pieces, but also contended that the right-wing blogosphere's reaction has often run well over-the-top - Ace of Spades writes:

  • Okay, Ross.You keep earning your reasonable stripes by basically kissing your liberal pals' asses while meanwhile saying nothing at all -- except to the extent you just agree with what your betters have figured out before you did. On the other hand, it gets rather good here. Here Douthat notes what was pointed out to him by the "ludicrous" "Michelle Malkin slash Ace of Spades front" -- namely, that Beauchamp seems to have most likely lied, and not made an "error," in claiming the Burned Woman mockery occurred in Iraq rather than Kuwait -- and Jonathan Chait admits that it does seem reasonable to conclude Beauchamp did not make an "error" but rather deliberately lied. Remember, though, Douthat, who did nothing on this story, is superior to any of us rightwing crazies simply by parroting what we have written.

Equally ludicrous is the amount of attention - thousands upon thousands of words of speculation and vituperation - paid by right-wing blogs to a story that, while interesting and worth investigating, tells us nothing all that significant
about the media except the obvious truth that magazines often run ill-chosen, under-vetted pieces, particularly in the less-frequented pages of an issue, particularly when the author of the piece has a personal connection to someone on staff, and particularly when the subject matter is largely "on author" and therefore difficult to fact-check. (I tried to make this point in the dialog with Chait, but I'll make it again: a lot of people in the blogosphere seem to think that magazines have infinite time and resources with which to fact-check their pieces, when in fact there wouldn't be any political magazines if they all lavished the kind of care on fact-checking that the Atlantic and New Yorker can lavish on a story.) TNR certainly deserved to be called out, by Mike Goldfarb and others, for running a piece that seemed fishy, and nothing that's followed has altered my sense that Beauchamp's tales seemed at least touched by exaggeration. On the other hand, nothing that I've seen has convinced me that he's a Stephen Glass-style fabulist, either, and I don't think that Beauchamp's recantation to his superiors settles anything one way or another; given the threat of court-martial involved in standing by his stories, he seems at least as likely to be lying to his superiors as to be lying to TNR...

[HW note: links and emphasis added]

Media manipulation? Perish the thought. The rightie blogosmear being held to the same bar of truthfulness that their victims are held to? Don't make me laugh.

Like I said, nobody gives a damn. But, if you read "Air On A G-String" you might recall my citation of Jay Rosen's essay "Rollback." The thesis is important here:

No more honest brokers; claims take the place of facts. Disguised by the culture war’s ranting about media bias, these very things are happening all around us today. Limits on what liberties could be taken with the factual record without triggering a political penalty are being overcome.... I should add that rollback intersects with trends in journalism that, as Tom Rosenstiel notes, are promoting a 'journalism of assertion' (cheap, easy, safe) over the discipline of verification (expensive, hard, and certain to spur more attacks as the culture war wears on.)

But now the event has acquired the authority of the printed word (e.g. the NYT and the WashPo) and thus, the battle is over. NOW they crush those that opposed them, and force the editor of The New Republic to walk The Plank.

As the sharks rejoice.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

FISA - Ask The Next Question

There's not any evidence or news here. Just some inductive logic and my mentor's prescription for evolution: "Ask the next question."

Theodore Sturgeon used to preach a little evolutionary trick that he believed created innovation and new discoveries. He even had a little symbol for it: a "Q" with a rightward facing arrow through it. Here's his 1967 Cavalier magazine article explaining it if you're interested further.

Ask the next question

Now, let's apply that to the FISA vote, and see what we come up with.

First, Democrats aren't stupid. (I know you've heard this a lot from Republicans, but it's just an ugly rumor.) They're not naive. And they're not dishonorable,

Second, the congressional Democrats KNEW what they were voting for.

Neither of those propositions are particularly controversial or difficult.

So: WHY did they hand a demonstrated gang of criminals such incredible discretionary (and unconstitutional) power? Especially considering that Alberto Gonzales is the direct functionary exercising this imperial power?

A few have hit on the only logical explanation that makes sense (and, given the partisan nature of the exercise of "justice" as revealed in congressional hearings over the last month, the likelihood approaches certainty):

The Bushies have dug up blackmail material on the congresspersons in question.

OK. Nothing earth-shattering here. You're all still way ahead of me.

But the next question that isn't asked (that Randi Rhodes squeamishly squirmed about on the radio yesterday) is WHAT sort of blackmail was it?

That is where the logical bus has stopped. But I'll ask you to take it just one more stop down the political highway.

WHY do we assume that the blackmail material was dirt on those representatives?

Think of Superman. You can't hurt him. You can' t coerce him. But you CAN threaten Jimmy Olson and Lois Lane. They've used that plot trick literally a gazillion times.

So, too, our congresspersons. Rather that assume that they're "dirty," isn't it just as reasonable to presume that they have friends, loved ones, prominent supporters whose lives AREN'T strictly saintlike? And can we put it past blackmailers to apply pressure in ANY manner that might prove effective?

So: it is an inductive conclusion with a high degree of probability that the FISA vote was coerced at metaphorical gunpoint. The blackmail material need NOT have been on the representatives in question, and it is ignoble of us to be suspicious of them, given who they were dealing with.

I think that this is a classic case of forcing our Democrats to vote horribly, and THEN to sit back and laugh as we pillory the victims for their insane vote.

I have a feeling that THEY know it was insane, too. But they've got to keep their mouths shut. It is in the very nature of the blackmail.

And while that breeds suspicion in US about THEM, I believe it is perfectly logical to accept that they voted in favor of the crazy new FISA law as the lesser of two evils.

And we all know WHERE that evil proceeds from. Let's keep our focus on who the bad guys really are.

One would think, after eight years of Rovian sleaze, that we'd be a little more sophisticated than to say: WHAT THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH THOSE DEMOCRATS? WERE THEY CRAZY?

Well, were they?


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Air On A G-String (part iii)

It is a peculiarity of my muse that whenever vital information is still in transit, she will not allow me to create. I am invariably dumbfounded by her immense wisdom.

I was writing about the state of writing -- the profession -- and journalism -- the profession -- and publishing -- the profession. And, in my wordy way, I was telling you that a job in publications these days was less preferable than a job in the domestic textile industry. And I stalked the oeuvre of the working male writer of the post World War II era -- men's magazines that paid the rent in a guilty 'devil's bridge' to provide 'redeeming social value,' i.e. to keep the publishers and their employees out of jail. (More the former than the latter).

And I was going to tell you why I'd suddenly decided NOT to attend the Willamette Writers' Conference this weekend. But there was another convention this weekend that riveted the focus of the media and the blogosphere, the YearlyKos Convention. And, all weekend, I was trying to explain the dual-pronged smear of The New Republic and the YearlyKos convention through the use of a diabolically conceived forking attack (from chess*), in which a uniformed soldier was "censored" at YearlyKos in the presence of two Army officers for making political speech IN uniform (one officer was retired General Wesley Clark, former commander of NATO) and an anonymous "diarist" for The New Republic was simultaneously -- literally -- silenced by the Army in Iraq, while a "full investigation" was undertaken).

[ * From Chess Tactics: "Knight fork is quite common and confusing to novice opponents as its move is difficult to comprehend."]

And this morning, in the continuing attempt to belittle/besmirch/bedevil dat bad ol' blogosphere, that the well-recompensed Rightie blogosmear terms "nutroots," Jose Antonio Vargas reported in the Washington Post:(I will simply report the relevant language, Vargas DOESN'T actually write like Louis Ferdinand Celine):

A Diversity of Opinion, if Not Opinionators
At the Yearly Kos Bloggers' Convention, a Sea of Middle-Aged White Males

By Jose Antonio Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 6, 2007; C01

CHICAGO, Aug. 5 ... Cooper sees a problem. "It's mostly white. More male than female," says the former high school math and science teacher turned activist. "It's not very diverse."

There goes the open secret of the netroots, or those who make up the community of the Internet grass-roots movement ... the rock stars are mostly men, and many women bloggers complain of sexism and harassment in the blogosphere.

Walking around McCormick Place during the weekend, it became clear that only a handful of the 1,500 conventioneers -- bloggers, policy experts, party activists -- are African American, Latino or Asian. Of about 100 scheduled panels and workshops, less than a half-dozen dealt directly with women or minority issues ... "How many of the women in the audience blog?" asked a panelist.

Nearly three-fourths of those present raised their hands."How many of you get harassed?" [HW NOTE: no indication as to WHO does the harassing, but the implication seems clear] The hands stayed up. They complain of being harassed online for their views on issues such as abortion rights. ... She's black ... She's white. "Yes, this is a problem. A big problem." [she] is part Latina ... and said one reason she came to Yearly Kos was to get an answer to this question: "Why is the blogosphere, which is supposed to be more democratic, reinforcing the same white male power structure that exists?"

Everyone agrees it's a problem ... worried about generating more "inclusion," using the word no less than six times in 15 minutes. "I hate using the word 'diversity.'... The big question is, how do we include everybody?" ... a white blogger ... an African American blogger from Atlanta ... "I was completely surprised -- shocked even. The political blogosphere isn't as white as the people in this convention."

... Blogads Reader Survey found that the median political blog reader is a 43-year-old male who ... judging by the number of middle-aged men who attended one panel after the next here, it's hard to argue with that. ... half-jokingly says that the netroots community is full of "white liberal men," then quickly points out that Moulitsas is part Latino. (The other half is Greek.) "It's important to remember that African American and Latinos already had their alternative media before white progressive bloggers ...

Notice anything there? I invite you to read my slightly re-emphasized version of the same piece HERE. (I've created a special web page just for this post.)

I want you to take a moment and consider that marginalizing, stereotyping and marginalizing on the basis of race, gender and/or sexual preference is NEVER all right.

And while you're considering that, I want to take you back for a moment into the Wayback Machine to a brilliant essay that NYU's professor of journalism Jay Rosen wrote back in 2005, which has, seemingly, come true in spades.

Because, we are talking not only about rhetoric, but about the viability and visibility of rhetoric in the political arena. And its REAL WORLD consequences (including the loss, as you'll see, OF that Real World). These strands will all come together at the end, I promise.

It is called the "Rollback" and I highly advise that you read Rosen's ENTIRE piece. But this much is sufficient for our needs here:

Press rollback, the policy for which [White House Press Secretary Scott] McClellan signed on, means not feeding but starving the beast, downgrading journalism where possible, and reducing its effectiveness as an interlocutor with the President. This goes for Bush theory, as well as Bush practice. The President and his advisors have declared invalid the "fourth estate" and watchdog press model. (See my earlier posts here and here on it.) They have moved on, and take it for granted that adversaries will not be as bold.

The old notion (still being taught in J-school, I’m afraid) had the press permanently incorporated into the republic as one part of the system of checks and balances— not a branch of government, but a necessary, vital and legitimate part of open government and a free society. The First Amendment was interpreted as protection for that part of the system, and this is the grand thinking behind which Judy Miller has gone to jail.

... as Larry Speakes, fomer press secretary to Ronald Reagan, once put it: "You don’t tell us how to stage the news, and we don’t tell you how to report it."

Now, here is the crucial point, the one that needs to be borne in mind as we discuss the state of journalism (part i), the profession of the writer (part ii) and the current marketplace FOR writing (this part):

was getting at in a celebrated passage from his 2004 article in the New York Times Magazine, 'Without a Doubt.' Today it is mocked by the Right as crackpot realism. I think the passage, which adds little to the documentary record since the official who speaks is unnamed, is a parable about recent innovations in executive power.

[author Ron] Suskind, as you may recall, wrote [in the 2004 article in the New York Times Magazine, 'Without a Doubt'] of a meeting with a 'senior adviser to the President,' who expressed his displeasure with an article Suskind had written about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes (one of the architects of rollback.) 'Then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend-- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.' The parable:

  • The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That’s not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'

Today the prosecutor is studying what they do, and there’s no way to roll that back. In a Salon interview after the Times article came out, Suskind (whose sources were mostly Republicans) was asked whether the Bush forces were indeed trying to 'eliminate a national point of reference on facts.'

  • Absolutely! That’s the whole idea, to somehow sweep away the community of honest brokers in America -- both Republicans and Democrats and members of the mainstream press -- sweep them away so we’ll be left with a culture and public dialogue based on assertion rather than authenticity, on claim rather than fact.

No more honest brokers; claims take the place of facts. Disguised by the culture war’s ranting about media bias, these very things are happening all around us today. Limits on what liberties could be taken with the factual record without triggering a political penalty are being overcome. Joseph Wilson interfered with this, forcing the White House to pay a penalty: the so-called sixteen words in the State of the Union speech that had to be withdrawn after his op-ed. So he had to pay. And that’s how rollback, freedom over fact, culture war, and the naming of Valerie Plame connect to one another.... [emphasis added]

That's right. The basis of reality now resides almost exclusively with words. The YearlyKos convention was utterly about words. The coverage (including the sexist, racist, ageist Vargas) is utterly about words. In the "pro" spin and the "anti" spin, we exist in "a public dialogue based on assertion" and "claim."

Am I the only one who sees the shameless irony of the current smear of Private Beauchamp and the TNR by conductor Michael Goldfarb and his gang of blogging goons about the "factual" nature of the reports, and how they're "fabulists"?*

[* UPDATE: This paragraph is cited HERE as "Sigh. So predictable it hurts." See my comment — assuming they don't remove it.]

Why, old Satan himself, the Father of Lies, must be, as Hubert Horatio Humphrey used to say, "pleased as punch."

And what opposes this? Journalists?

They're losing their jobs faster than faster than Okies in a citrus orchard.

Authors? The entire 'mid-list' class of writers (always by far the largest class, from whence best-selling authors tended to emerge after a few books, like, say, John Irving and Steven King, etc.) has been essentially gutted.

Bloggers? Well, OK, but, according to the Vargas version of the Washington Post, they're all middle-aged White males. So that's no help.

Which brings me to WHY I didn't attend the Willamette Writers' Conference. (I didn't attend YearlyKos because it was prohibitively expensive. Jane Hamsher noted on Firedoglake this morning that just her HOTEL bill was nearly $1000.)

I thought I could attend WWC, and I DID have the money in the bank for it. I went to their website, and after swallowing hard at the sticker shock (one day, which was all I intended attending) cost $260. (Which instantly meant that I couldn't pay for myself AND my wife to attend. She's got a book-and-a-half to sell, too, after a publisher and an agent stole two years of her life in getting the manuscript back to her. The agent's letter, revealingly, confirms the "mid-list" author thesis, above.)


I don't know what kind of writing these folks is doing, but that's mighty steep for the likes of me. I've attended scads of science fiction conventions, a World Horror Convention, World Fantasy Convention and others -- none of which cost that much for the entire convention! But this conference had two other nasty little surprises:

One: out of 33 "literary consultants" (agents and editors) 26 were women. One, in fact ,came from a press that ONLY publishes women. (Ironically, I have a feeling that did some press try to send a representative that ONLY published White males, they would be politely disinvited from the event):

... a senior editor at ** Press, publisher of women's nonfiction books, written for women, by women. ** Press is fueled by the radical thinking and daring work of its authors, and its list includes books on women's health, parenting, outdoor adventure and travel, popular culture, gender and women's studies, and current affairs.

Of course, 'taint no big thing to YOU. You don't exist in a profession in which blatantly discriminatory policies, the specific targeting of stereotypes and the EXCLUSION of entire classes are perfectly legal and acceptable.

It's sort of like the way the movie industry is run, which I note is EQUALLY discriminatory in the OTHER direction! (Why do you think that minorities have still made so little penetration into Hollywood)

Of 26 "film consultants" listed, only 7 are women. Given the weird numbers, both ways, I have to interpret it based on what I know of both industries: My agent in New York through the 1990s (until he was indicted by Elliot Spitzer -- don't ask) often bemoaned the utter takeover of the New York publishing industry by women. (He used rather more crude terms.) Now before you get upset with me, please recognize that he KNEW what he was talking about: he had started in the 1960s, and had discovered several male best-selling authors (whom I won't name here).

He had married, and relocated to the Midwest with his partner/wife, who, upon their divorce took most of the agency business, and he moved back to NYC to resume his career, which had been grievously harmed by NOT living in New York. (Little tip to those of you looking for agents: if you wanna do films, the agent BETTER live in LA, and if books they'd better live in NYC. Painful experience has confirmed that agents living elsewhere lose that little "edge" that comes of not being able to take the Industry schmucks to lunch. FWIW.)

He was astonished at how much a stranger in a strange land he'd become in just a couple of years. The entire staffing of most of the publishing houses with which he was familiar with were now women. And, he confessed to me on more than one occasion, they were openly hostile to men's interests in books. I've heard it theorized that at some point publishers decided that since w0men had become the majority buyers of books, they should tailor the market to them, and the "men's" fiction and interests categories have been steadily dwindling since the late 1970s.

But even knowing that, I wasn't prepared for the sticker shock of so many women and so few men in publishing. Film? Well, I lived in Hollywood for a decade and a half, and I know how MCP the business is. And the disparity in the number of men and women among the "film consultants" is EQUALLY appalling. There is no excuse for it.

I have spent my lifetime (pre- and post- "progressive") absolutely committed to the equal rights of all humans, be they men, women, black, Native American, Hispanic, Gay, Lesbian, all of the above, none of the above, etcetera. It has always been a core value for me (even after my mother, who taught me the progressive ideals of equality and meritocracy turned her back on them to become an extreme Fundamentalist bigot).

In good conscience, I would not attend, whether I was the target of this prejudice or not.

Now, to be fair, there were a FEW crossovers between the two sets. But even one of the male literary agents wrote this in his "mini-bio":

[He] is looking for breakout mainstream, highly commercial women's fiction, horror, suspense/thrillers and selected commercial nonfiction projects right now.

There is no point in repeating the soul-crushing avalanche of WOMEN ONLY language in the mini-bios. Now, the only two novels that I have in print, Christina's Hideaway and Christina's Craving ( as "Blakely St. James") were written AS a woman, and in first-person female, -- and are currently selling used on Amazon dot com USED for $49.98 and $63.65 today, respectively, although I've seen them as high as $200USD+ on Amazon dot UK -- so I don't have a problem with producing reverse-George Sand novels, but at this point, to WHAT point? I would like to think that after half a century I might be valued for something other than my fictional vagina and breasts. Just ONCE, you'd think, they might let me write a book as a man.

So, when Vargas wrote his vile little slam against White Males in the Washington Post this morning, I wasn't all that surprised. Just glad I hadn't begun writing this post on Sunday, which was when I'd INTENDED to do so (so that I wouldn't deny the WVWC and "business." Even while I found their prices exorbitant and their practices vile, there's no point in harming anyone with one's words if one doesn't have to -- a bit of advice that Michael Goldfarb at The Weekly Standard OUGHT to take to heart.)

But, even then, at an absurdly high price and with a female bias against my writing (which is not exactly a new experience for me, professionally, alas), I was STILL willing to bite the bullet. Until I got to the last portion.

You see, they "sell" time for you to "pitch" your project to these consultants. You can pick five "one on one" encounters, and multiple "group" encounters (where you pitch in front of a room full of similarly predicamented ... er, "writers").

For only $15 a shot, in addition to your conference fee.

And the sad thing that hit me (remember that I'm a former contributing editor to OUI and PLAYERS) was that the price was more or less what you'd pay for a lap dance in any strip joint around LAX. You'd get about the same amount of time, and the stripper would be just as "interested" in you as the "literary consultant" ....

They'd more than likely be most interested in how many five dollar bills were stuffed in their metaphorical g-strings.

Which brings me to my final point.

As I have noted before, this battle, this political war is a war of words. Whoever has the best words wins, and, at least since the limousine arrived for Ted Sturgeon at the Philadelphia World Science Fiction Convention in the early 1960s, wealthy Republicans have been more than willing to pay and pay well for good writing. For professional rhetoric for their professional orators. I've written the story elsewhere, and if not, perhaps I'll tell it some time in future.

But the important point is this: The reason that the Right is kicking "We The People's" ass politically is because they nurture, pay and recruit writers -- the best writers they can find. And they pay them well. They pay them for Rightie books, for Rightie columns, for Rightie speeches. Hell, they even pay Rightie bloggers and Rightie trolls.

There was a time in the 1990s that every daily posting on the Heritage Foundation's website seemed to "mysteriously" show up as a special order speech that night on CSPAN, all paid to writers from "charitable" donations, written off and completely deductible, just like the Red Cross, or the March of Dimes.

Only, in this case, it's the March of Slimes. Since you and I have to make up the difference in taxes, it's almost like WE were paying for the Rightie speeches.

The full explication doesn't concern us here. What does concern us is this:

"Progressive" writers are starving because nobody's paying them. The whole "men's magazine" market dried up and nothing took its place in a literary sense. (Knight Magazine, back in the mid-1960s was publishing Jacques Cousteau back when the mainstream wouldn't touch him as some kind of conservationist kook; there were many others).

And Rightie writers have a vast wealth of sources to tap for funds (pun intended).

I noted a year ago in "Objective Journalism" (part I and part II) how the biggest Rightie publisher uses a foundation (one of the judges is Robert Novak) to pre-pay young journalists to write long pieces and features on spec (the publisher gets first right of refusal) for publication in the greater media. WorldNetDaily's founders, fresh from the disastrous collapse of The Sacramento Union financed their own "Vince Foster Murder" investigation to the tune of five and six figures' worth of "charitable" dollars from the "Western Journalism Center," and their investigator founded NewsMax in 2000.

Indeed, WorldNetDaily came OUT of the Western Journalism Center, as their tax returns have noted in black and white.

As Darrell pointed out in an earlier comment on the origins of Pajamas Media, "The Matt Drudge of Porn," Luke Ford was originally hired as a blogger before his background disqualified him. But they were paying, and he was willing to Rightie Blog for Hire.

Virtually the entire Clinton impeachment came out of endless Richard Mellon Scaife dollars being poured into investigators and writers, and even the underwriting and subsidizing of The American Spectator to disseminate the information.

Get it? They PAID for their writing, and they have results to show for it.

There is no Progressive equivalent. We do NOT pay for our writing, and have damned little to show for it. Meantime, journalists and their support personnel are being fired at an incredible pace (see part i, The Write Stuff). As Jay Rosen points out: we are being moved into a "real world" in which ALL that matters are the words, and we're losing that battle because we neither honor nor pay for our own words.

So, if you're a middle-aged, White male progressive author, there is evidently no point in going to YearlyKos, and no point in going to the Willamette Writers' Conference: they don't want you. And nobody's going to pay you, either. Because Progressives and Liberals DON'T HONOR THE WORD or the wordsmith.

Progressives think that rhetoric is as natural as breathing, and they don't NEED writers. Especially writers like me ... just like the New York publishing houses.

What does this mean?

I guess it means that I probably can't afford to blog anymore -- certainly not much more. And until I can come up with a business model that allows me to survive, and/or publish one of the seven books that are in the can,* but can't seem to find a publisher for, I don't know what to do.

[* I gave myself the freedom in 2004, just this once, to write the way I wanted to write, without editorial interference, and some great things have transpired, but it has brought in not a thin dime over half a million words. You heard me: five hundred thousand words. Plus. But then, I know: I'm obviously a crappy writer. Right? Sure.]

The state of the profession sucks. I have blogged, pro bono, since early 2004, and wrote on my website before blogging began. But I really can't afford to give it away for free any more. I can't afford health insurance. We were thrown under THAT bus last year, after fighting to keep our heads above water for over a decade and accepting worse and worse and worse health plans. Now, nothing.

The red ink is piling up, and if some catastrophic illness were to appear right now, it would probably be "Game Over." Because writers like me were supposed to invest "up front" for the royalties that would tide us over in our old age. But if there isn't any place to publish, then the effort was merely wasted.

The Right pays its writers. And its track record since 1964 speaks for itself.

Until the Left starts doing so, we can expect the endless smear campaigns and the rhetorical frameups to continue ... UNOPPOSED by our side. Except by the endless amateurs of the DailyKos variety, who spend as much time backbiting as they spent biting back.

Do you hear me, Lefties?

And I sure as hell can't afford to stuff five dollar bills in the g-strings of "consultants" in return for literary lap dances.

I've still got a scintilla of pride, even if they don't. And I don't cotton to prejudice and bigotry against ME anymore than you do against YOU. Fair's fair. And "equality" means just THAT.

And that's why I didn't go to the Willamette Writers' Conference last weekend.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Burke's Law

The New York Times reports this morning:

Bush Signs Law to Widen Legal Reach for Wiretapping
Published: August 6, 2007

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 -- President Bush signed into law on Sunday legislation that broadly expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without warrants.

Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law said that its impact went far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed to gather information about foreign terrorists. They said seemingly subtle changes in legislative language would sharply alter the legal limits on the government’s ability to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the United States.

They also said that the new law for the first time provided a legal framework for much of the surveillance without warrants that was being conducted in secret by the National Security Agency and outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that is supposed to regulate the way the government can listen to the private communications of American citizens.

'This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program,' said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington, who has studied the new legislation...

Edmund Burke famously stated "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

He was wrong. The proper quotation SHOULD read:

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for Democrats to oppose it."


Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Assault on Beauchamp, KOS, Reason, et al

Was the West Wing of the White House the originator of this multi-pronged attack against a private serving in combat in Iraq?

Bob Owens, the current torch-bearer in The Weekly Standard's* blogger-cum-editor Michael Goldfarb's orchestrated attack on The New Republic, is now getting to the real meat of the crucifixion: bloodying and perhaps destroying The New Republic -- who will have to, at a minimum, either fight back against this swiftboating, or else sacrifice editor or editors. One is named in today's "exposé" -- horrifically reminiscent of what they did to Dan Rather (Little Green Footballs, who led that charge, is in on this one, HERE). From the Confederate Yankee (sic, I believe he means "Yanker"):

[*owned by Rupert Murdoch]

It's quite interesting that in publishing the findings of an investigation in which the magazine's very reputation hangs in the balance, that The New Republic somehow forgot to cite the names and positions of the experts who corroborate their magazine's printed claims. Typically, the providing of such information is viewed as lending credibility to the organization attempting to defend itself.

Fortunately for The New Republic, I was able to find one of their experts, and the conversation I had with her was enlightening, to say the least.


In a response posted on August 3rd, [Major Renee D. Russo, Third Army/USARCENT PAO at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait] stated:

Mr. Owens,

We have received other media queries on the alleged incident, but have not been able to find anyone to back it up. There is not a police report or complaint filed on this incident during that timeframe. Right now it is considered to be a Urban Legend or Myth.

I am still researching the incident and will have to get back with you later with any new developments.

This statement was viewed by many as quite problematic for the credibility of The New Republic and Beauchamp; not only had they been put in a position where they felt compelled to retract a key element that established the tone of narrative in "Shock Troops"--and one that fatally undermined Beauchamp's premise that the horrors of combat had caused him psychological trauma, as he had not yet been to war--it also cast serious doubts on the claimed event having occurred at Camp Buehring as well, or perhaps at all.

After publishing the information above, that the Beauchamp story is "considered to be an urban legend or myth," I asked Major Russo if she had been contacted by Franklin Foer or any other reporter or editor from the New Republic attempting to verify their new Camp Buehring claim.

Gosh! Too bad the Confederate Yanker can't live up to his own high standards of truthiness, but that's not the point. Having erred in their claims that the soldier in question did not, in fact, exist, they press shamelessly on, perhaps needing a coordinated attack to smokescreen this, reported today:

By Ryan Lenz
Associated Press

Sunday, August 5, 2007; Page A14

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., Aug. 4 -- A soldier convicted of rape and murder in an attack on a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family was sentenced Saturday to 110 years in prison, with the possibility of parole after 10 years.

The sentence was part of a plea agreement ... Spielman, 23, of Chambersburg, Pa., received the longest sentence of four soldiers who have been convicted. Three other soldiers pleaded guilty under agreements with prosecutors for their roles in the assault and were given sentences ranging from five to 100 years... The case stemmed from the March 12, 2006, rape and slaying of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, 14, and the killings of her parents and sister in Mahmudiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.

Or, this, from today's Salem (Ore.) Statesman-Journal:

Anyone who joins the Armed Forces gives up a lot and risks a lot. That certainly was true for Pat Tillman, who left a lucrative career in the National Football League to join the Army Rangers.

Tillman was killed by his fellow Rangers in Afghanistan in 2004. Three years later, his family still is trying to find out what really happened.

Their fight is America's fight.

In the days after Tillman's death, the military placed him on a pedestal, lauding him as a courageous hero in battle against the Taliban and awarding him the Silver Star -- while concealing what actually took place that day. ... Was this a homicide, not a tragic accident?

Three bullet holes in Tillman's forehead indicated that he was killed by M-16 fire from only 10 yards or so away, according to Army documents obtained by The Associated Press.

There was no evidence of a Taliban attack -- or any enemy fire -- on Tillman's unit. The very placement of his platoon should have raised suspicions.

Medical examiners tried to get the Army to investigate his death as a crime. The military initially stalled, finally conducted a criminal inquiry and declared that Tillman died of accidental friendly fire.

The irony in all of this, is that the Rightie blogosmear has been hounding The New Republic over a story in which the anonymous Baghdad soldier, outed and exposed to the hazing of the locker room, to fragging, to the displeasure of his chain of command via the blogosmear's yowling, delineates THREE incidents that the Righties insist OUR soldiers couldn't have possibly engaged in:

  1. The taunting of a disfigured woman

  2. A soldier's macabre play with the skull of a dead child

  3. A humvee driver running over dogs for fun

That's nothing close to the friendly fire death of Pat Tillman, nor of the horrific rape and murder of a FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL and then the murder of her family in their home. So I guess I don't understand what all the outrage was about. Our soldiers rape and murder underage girls. What's so "scandalous" about running over dogs? Unless, of course, it's another disinformation scam. Like the "uniformed soldier" at the YearlyKos convention, which has made it to the front page of DailyKos, and has become the "controversy" that the selfsame Rightie bloggers (many of whom teleconferenced with the White House last week, to coordinate) intended.

And it's an astonishing "burden of proof" to lay on TNR, when every blogger who has attacked has severe-to-unbelievable credibility problems of their own.

It's the same strategy -- using more sophisticated means -- that they used to hamstring the Clinton White House, and, therefore OUR governance for eight years. (Aided and abetted by The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, among others.)

Without asking "Freedom Rapture," since I have no way of doing so, I'll quote from his/her comment on my DailyKos posting yesterday on the concerted smear of YearlyKos that's simultaneously under way.
  • I noticed the attack spearheaded by Drudge

    (from "FreedomRapture"):

    These guys are fanatical. I noticed Drudge was hyping the story and then Malkin and all the other nuts went berserk. First they literally threatened Beauchamp's life. Now they want to lionize this Bush soldier for violating UCMJ. No doubt gay porn star Matt Sanchez will join in soon enough.

    Sadly, the right-wing own the media framework simply because people respond to hate. I could find a homeless hispanic immigrant living under a freeway overpass, and he could be hyped up to join these freaks because racism, scapegoating, and prejudice are so juicy and invigorating. The whole Right-Wing blogosphere is buzzing with delight at the confrontation and the soldier is going to be featured all week on FOXnews.

    Why the hell can't our side get dirty like these Republican pigs. I'm telling you, it's the only thing to combat their viscousness. (sic) We have got to get black ops specialists, propaganda geniuses, and dirty-tricksters. The Repukes will win again and again and again because they know how to slime someone in an instant. I will never forget what they did to Howard Dean - over one goddamn weekend - over an enthusiastic holler. Unbelievable!

    by FreedomRapture on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 08:50:57 PM PDT

    • You're prescient, but late

      (my reply)
      Matt Sanchez jumped in with both feet, traveling to FOB Falcon (?) the base that Beauchamp is at. While Beauchamp had been stripped of cel phone, internet or any ability to communicate with the outside world, Sanchez was interviewing soldiers there, putting video on his BRAND NEW blog site (Mattsanchez.com) switched over from http://mattsanchez.blogspot.com/ on July 1, and was touted on ALL the Pajamas media sites, Malkin, Malkin's "HOT AIR," etc. and, I'm fairly sure, on FAUX NOOZ.

    • (from mattsanchez.com):
      July 31, 2007

      After a helicopter ride around Baghdad, this afternoon I arrived at Forward Operating Base Falcon, where the mood was somber. The Army has begun an official investigation into The New Republic articles of the "Baghdad Diarist", Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp. Officials at the Army Public Affairs Office (PAO) pointed out that until the initial allegations are investigated, there will be little or nothing to add to what has already been pubicly released. Still many questions about facts, accountability and credibility remain.

      Update: Nice to see how others report the story,

      The Weekly Standard

      Michelle Malkin at Hot Air

      Michael Goldfarb of The Weekly Standard* (owned by Rupert Murdoch), you will recall, STARTED and has orchestrated the attack on The New Republic, as their fellow print media have stood by, dumbly, in the way that all television newsmen and newswomen stood by and watched Dan Rather crucified.
      First they came for Bert and Ernie

      and I said nothing
      because I was not a Muppet.

      Then they came for Tinky Winky
      and I said nothing,
      because I was not a Teletubby.

      Then they came for SpongeBob
      and I said nothing,
      because I was not an asexual cartoon sea creature.

      Then they came for me
      and there was no one left to speak up.

      — Bugs Bunny (attributed)

      Will the KOSsacks do the same? Or continue to belie their name?

      Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one. -- Thomas Carlyle

      by harto on Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 01:02:56 PM PDTPermalink

The disinformation attack is finally, laughable, when you consider that two years ago FAUX NOOZ won an appeal of a jury award to two reporters who were fired for REFUSING TO FABRICATE FACTS!

Fox News Continues Persecution of Reporters Who Exposed Network Lies on Monsanto's rBGH

(TAMPA) ... After a five-week trial in 2000, a jury decided unanimously that [fired reporter] Akre was fired solely because she threatened to blow the whistle to the FCC the broadcast of a false, distorted or slanted news report. The panel that found in Akre's favor awarded nothing to [fired reporter] Wilson who represented himself at trial.

The Fox appeal was largely on an argument that it is not technically illegal for a broadcaster to deliberately distort the news on television.

See? The New Republic doesn't HAVE to print the truth at all, if it doesn't want to. Fox has proven THAT in court. TNR can, legally, say anything it damned well pleases unless it prints libelous or other actionable material (e.g. "wilful malice"). Get that? The facts DO NOT matter. So it's a question of ethics. And thems what gots none OUGHT to keep their cake holes shut about thems what do.

As Rightie Blogosmear current torch-bearer Bob Owens proves. Who will bear the torch next? And how soon before Michael Goldfarb CITES this latest posting on his Weekly Standard blog? (The serpent, as I've noted, loves to bite his own tail.)

But, finally, this is all about coordination, and I've got to ask this, in light of Bob Owen's seemingly-cozy relationship with the Iraq military public relations machine, and in light of the endless cross-linking of this whole, artificially whipped up firestorm: Was the West Wing of the White House the originator of this multi-pronged attack?

Who would have read the New Republic's piece, had this tempest in a teapot not been whipped into a fine froth by Michael Goldfarb at The Weekly Standard? Because it "didn't 'smell good' the first time we* heard it." Unquote.

[*The "we," one presumes, being Twain's editorial tapeworm: Goldfarb wrote the words. But FAUX NOOZ regular William Kristol IS the editor of The Weekly Standard, so he might be the actual tape worm. And we all know how completely disconnected FAUX NOOZ is from the White House, what with Tony Snow being the press secretary after serving as a FAUX NOOZ anchorman, and undoubtedly to serve as one AGAIN after he's either fired or Bush leaves the White House.]

Since Michael Goldfarb undoubtedly knows jack shit about serving in combat, one presumes that the smell was detected by his masters as a means of deflecting attention from Tillman and the rape/murder of a teenaged Iraqi girl. No! Our soldiers don't do that kind of Abu Gharib, Guantanimo Bay stuff. This soldier's a FAKE! OK. He's real. But he's a LIAR! OK, the ARMY PR officer serving under General Petraeus tells Rightie blogger Bob Owens the the formal investigation turned up NO soldiers who were willing to tell the Army that they'd committed the crimes (under Army rules) delineated in the anonymous Baghdad Diary.

That's every bit as credible as the principal of your high school questioning the football team about the "mooning" incident. Do you really think that any of them would do other than deny everything? And do you think Beauchamp is now in physical danger for his life in combat in Iraq? Because that's where Goldfarb's plea for this firestorm has put him.

Did the White House initiate this attack on The New Republic?

Because that would mean that a private in the army, serving in combat, is being bitch-slapped (back door) by the White House so that it can "get" The New Republic magazine, like they "got" Dan Rather at CBS News.

Or do you believe that Little Green Footballs was acting completely on his own in muddying the waters about George W. Bush's shameful dereliction of duty during the Vietnam War?

Didn't General Patton get in trouble for something like this?