December 13, 2004

Fisking Juan Cole

I hardly ever - ever - pick fights with other bloggers. But I'm not finished with Juan Cole yet. It's long past time to give the professor from Michigan a double-whammy shellacking.

Yesterday he made up a conspiracy theory (all by himself, this time) about the Iraqi bloggers who write at Iraq the Model.
A related practice has been called by Josh Marshall "astroturfing," where a "grass roots" campaign turns out actually to be sponsored by a think tank or corporation. Astroturf is fake grass used in US football arenas. What Mailander is talking about is not really astroturfing, but rather the granting of some individuals a big megaphone.
He wouldn’t want to let any individuals have a big megaphone. Especially not liberal-democratic Iraqis who don’t hate America like they’re supposed to.
The MR posting brings up questions about the Iraqi brothers who run the IraqTheModel site.
See what I’m talking about?
It points out that the views of the brothers are celebrated in the right-leaning weblogging world of the US, even though opinion polling shows that their views are far out of the mainstream of Iraqi opinion.
The brothers call b.s. on this one, but I don’t know. I don’t live in Iraq. Neither does Juan Cole. We’ll see what happens after the election in January.

But why should it make any difference to the right side of the blogosphere whether or not the Iraq the Model guys are mainstream or not? They are obviously friends of Americans. They share our liberal-democratic values. They helped found the Iraq Democracy Party. They aren't running around bitching about America or cutting off heads. They're the good guys. That's why we like them.

Juan Cole would rather align himself with anti-American Iraqis like the blogger Riverbend. Okay, whatever. But I have no idea why he expects conservatives and centrists to do any such thing. Most people in this world don’t reflexively side with those who hate them. One reason he is in the political wilderness and I’m not is because he does and I don’t.
It notes that their choice of internet service provider, in Abilene, Texas, is rather suspicious, and wonders whether they are getting some extra support from certain quarters.
Well, Lord help us. Someone in America supports liberal Iraqis against fundamentalism, Baathism, and jihad. Ooo, how suspicious. Better come up with a "theory."
Contrast all this to the young woman computer systems analyst in Baghdad, Riverbend, who is in her views closer to the Iraqi opinion polls, especially with regard to Sunni Arabs, but who is not being feted in Washington, DC.
Maybe she’s more in line with the Sunni Arabs. I really don't know. But she certainly isn’t in line with the Sunni Kurds, who conveniently ceased to exist on the left the instant the United States government took Bill Clinton’s regime-change policy seriously.

But anyway. Why on Earth would an anti-American Iraqi be celebrated in Washington? Professor Cole might want to try really really hard to remember which country he lives in and, more important, which country Washington is in. That way he might be slightly less baffled by what happens outside his bubble.

The phenomenon of blog trolling, and frankly of blog agents provocateurs secretly working for a particular group or goal and deliberately attempting to spread disinformation, is likely to grow in importance. It is a technique made for the well-funded Neoconservatives, for instance, and I have my suspicions about one or two sites out there already.
As it turns out, Jeff Jarvis - who was an outspoken supporter of John Kerry - probably helped pro-American Iraqi bloggers, including those at Iraq the Model, more than anyone else. But it's much more fun for a certain kind of person to write off Arabs who support freedom and democracy as pawns in a neoconservative plot. Every time I come across this hystetical knee-jerk formulation my opinion of neoconservatives goes up and my opinion of illiberal so-called "liberals" goes down.

It's no wonder, really, that so many conservatives dismiss liberals and leftists out of hand as self-declared enemies of freedom and democracy. Not everyone on the left is like this, I know. Jeff Jarvis is only one of the more obvious examples of a liberal who's actually liberal. But Juan Cole is the "national security" hero on the left side of the blogosphere. It's not the right's fault that it has come to this.

UPDATE: Ali at Iraq the Model responds to the professor.
[Y]ou'd better focus on something other than Iraq. Talk about Lebanon, or Yemen. Yemen is good! You haven't messed up with a Yemeni blogger I assume? Or if you can't live without talking about Iraq, then keep it poetic. It saves my time and your reputation.
SECOND UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis, bless his bleeding liberal heart, accuses Juan Cole of libel and says he is pond scum.

THIRD UPDATE: Barb O. in the comments section points to Juan Cole's page on RateMyProfessors.com. Some of his students don't like him very much. The person who wrote the top entry says he's "a hypocritical, double-standard spouting apologist for racism and religious fascism."

CORRECTION: The professor linked to a Martini Republic post about "blog trolling" (his characterization.) I didn't read that post so I didn't realize MR came up with this silly conspiracy theory first. Cole didn't invent it, he just repeated it.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 13, 2004 10:18 PM
Comments

Not to mention that Riverbend refuses to name herself, give interviews, or even talk to reporters anoymously over the phone, as opposed to the Iraq bloggers. Why is she anonymous and the "CIA plants" aren't? Who's zoomin' who?

Posted by: Pj at December 13, 2004 10:24 PM

A superb post, Michael. You made the points cleanly and well. I wonder if Cole can comprehend his own writing.

Posted by: Curtis at December 13, 2004 10:53 PM

When you're writing the kind of things Cole has been writing, I don't think you have much chance of comprehending anything.

The guy has drank way, way too much of the Koolaid.

Posted by: Christopher at December 13, 2004 11:13 PM

Bravo, Michael, Bravo!

Posted by: Athos at December 13, 2004 11:41 PM

Yeah, I'm still waiting for that liberal purge Peter Beinhart suggested. It has come to this, indeed.

Posted by: Grant McEntire (jarvis lib) at December 13, 2004 11:43 PM

I'm glad someone's applying the boot to the appropriate body part, but you might want to be a little careful about Cole. Seems like he's quick to rush to threats of lawsuits nowadays.

Posted by: Shana Barrow at December 14, 2004 12:04 AM

Of course, Jeff Jarvis himself gave Cole a pretty painful kick too, so I take back what I said. I'd like to see Cole scream "libel" after this.

Posted by: Shana Barrow at December 14, 2004 12:09 AM

Welcome to the working week, I know it don't thrill you, I hope it don't kill you.....

You've become the fool you railed against. You've become the martyr that you fight aginst and only cause the little space between your ears has been offended by sense.

Posted by: laddy at December 14, 2004 12:24 AM

Huh, laddy?

Posted by: Eric Anondson at December 14, 2004 12:34 AM

Eric,

I had the same reaction. Then I g00gled his post. Looks like lyrics to an Elvis Costello song.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 14, 2004 12:36 AM

Oh no. Not this "fisking" business again! :-)

This intellectually lazy technique involves the use of selective quotations with biased editorial bits in between, suggesting that the author is making some sort of malign, terrible argument...

Throw in a bit of name calling, and one is "fisked".

Of course what Cole actually said is rather mild and not particualarly noteworthy, although he does make some more interesting general comments that touch on the issues of commercialisation, corruption and viral marketing.

Quick, chaps - draw the wool over your eyes! That's better.

Anyway, so carry on with the "fisking" malarkey.

A factual point remains to be made:

"Pond life" or not - Cole knows a great deal more about the Middle East than Michael Totten. Michael Totten would rather indulge in "fisking" games rather than consider the issues more deeply free of personal insult.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 14, 2004 01:08 AM

Benjamin: Michael Totten would rather indulge in "fisking" games rather than consider the issues more deeply free of personal insult.

I'm not the one accusing liberal Iraqis of some sinister plot. Also, you see those articles on the left sidebar of my blog? In most of those I consider the issues deeply. None of those articles are fiskings.

And by the way, I didnn't use "selective" quotes in this fisking. I quoted all of Juan Cole's words consecutively.

Maybe next time you argue with me you can address the content, rather than the format, of the post.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 14, 2004 01:18 AM

Cole does not outline a conspiracy theory, just raises legitimate questions.

I personally do not think that Iraq The Model is paid for by the USA govt or similar arrangement.

But the notion that a political group or agency would fund/encourage sympathetic bloggers is not remotely far fetched, given past actions, irrespective of the truth in this particular case.

That is the wider question posed by Cole, and it's a legitimate one.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 14, 2004 01:25 AM

And by the way, I didnn't use "selective" quotes in this fisking. I quoted all of Juan Cole's words consecutively

Are you trying to say you do not use selective quotes? Of course you do.

Much of "fisking" I have seen is a technique whereby one selects smaller quotes (out of context) with linking passages of biased interpretation, editorial, often to create a caricature of what the orginal author (being "fisked") actually said.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 14, 2004 01:31 AM

Michael, GREAT job of doing "honest" fisking. Benjamin, either show an example of out of context in MJT above, or admit you're wasting attention span.

Two anti-Daschle bloggers were getting paid by Thune's campaign; most top Leftist bloggers were getting paid, in one way or another, by Kerry supporters. It's reasonable to develop better standards. Cole is getting paid by taxpayers -- there should be a way to stop those payments.

For those who won't read Jeff's blog comments:

Great job Jeff -- keep blasting against Cole and those who claim Iraqis who aren't PC (ie anti-American) enough aren't "real" Iraqis.

Hmm, maybe you should look at how Leftists treat black conservative, like Condi and Justice Thomas, who aren't "real" blacks. You might see some similarities in the treatment.

Of course, too bad so many Kerry supporters support this kind of treatment. I call it the Secular Inquisition. And it's the job of secular moderates, like you, to fight it.

(Just like some tolerant Christians have to fight excessively intolerant Christian Fundamentalists -- although where to draw which lines?)

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at December 14, 2004 01:45 AM

“One reason he is in the political wilderness and I’m not is because he does and I don’t.”

Juan Cole is in the political wilderness? No, he is not. Cole represents the mainstream of the national Democratic Party. Have we already forgotten that John Kerry’s campaign also attacked Iraqis who are perceived as friendly towards the United States:

“Mr. Edwards was even more dismissive, stating: "Prime Minister Allawi's trip to the United States was filled with all the wrong lessons, lessons from an administration that just can't seem to tell the truth when it comes to Iraq." The ugliest treatment of all came from Mr. Lockhart, the former Clinton White House spokesman. After the Allawi-Bush press conference Thursday, Mr. Lockhart said that "The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips."

http://washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20040926-094827-2869r.htm

Michael Totten is the political outsider. Sad, but true. Those who ultimately decide who will be the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party consider Totten to be a heretic.

Posted by: David Thomson at December 14, 2004 02:41 AM

The left intelligensia fits Tallyrand's description of the Bourbons: learn nothing, remember nothing.

Posted by: Zacek at December 14, 2004 04:04 AM

Actually, what is interesting about this whole kabuffle is that it simply highlights the fact that Juan Cole has gone off the deep end.

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with Martini Republic has a clear understanding that neither the site nor its operators are the types one quotes in any context other than outright mockery. MR's 'political' analysis amounts to little than a semi-comical mix of Vast Right Wing Conspiracy black helicopter theorizing and misunderstood Marxist cant. They're big on labelling everyone who either holds differing views or are more prominent than they as 'warmongers', 'chickenhawks' or 'warmongering chickenhawks'.

That Juan Cole would uncritically accept Martini Republic as a legitimate source, and repeat, also uncritically, from this source explains to a great extent why Prof. Cole has been quietly dropped over the past several months as a reference source by most of the truly prominent Left/Liberal bloggers.

This is nothing more than the case of one Lefty Whackjob referencing another Lefty Whackjob in an attempt to discredit those they are incapable of debating.

It's just another example of why Republicans win elections...

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at December 14, 2004 04:07 AM

Michael - look on the bright side. At least JC isn't blaming IraqTheModel blog on the Joooooozzzzzz. Not directly, anyhow. So that's an improvement.

As for Martini Republic's presumption that Complex Internet Applications (CIA) is actually a CIA front, based on their acronym...

Well, sure.

But then, Christians in Action (CIA) are probably a nefarious CIA front group too, along with the Chemical Institute of America (CIA), the Commission Internationale d'Aerostation (CIA)(International Hot Air Balloon Association); and most heinously, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), where our deadly ninja chefs, and Wolfgang Puck, trained.

Pathetic.

Posted by: Al Maviva at December 14, 2004 04:51 AM

Cole does not outline a conspiracy theory, just raises legitimate questions.

That's the eternal cop-out to these arguments from the left. Why not just have the stones to argue the conspiracy theory? Coming up with "legitimate questions" to suggest just about anything is a piece of cake.

Posted by: Nathan Hamm at December 14, 2004 05:01 AM

Great post, Michael! Another good way to help fisk Juan Cole is to go to www.ratemyprofessors.com. This is a website that solicits comments from students about their professors. To date, it's evaluated close to half a million professors. To get the full range of comments, you have to join the website--it's like $5 for a year. But even what you can see for free gives more than a soupcon that something funny is going on in Cole's classroom: "...a hypocritical, double-standard spouting apologist for racism and religious fascism."

Posted by: BarbO at December 14, 2004 05:02 AM

So, did Cole ever actually do anything towards that translate-important-political-classics-into_Arabic project he was mooting last year? I sent that prat $50 and never heard anything further about whether or not it was money pissed down the wish-hole.

Posted by: Mitch H. at December 14, 2004 05:49 AM

Al Malviva: At least JC isn't blaming IraqTheModel blog on the Joooooozzzzzz. Not directly, anyhow. So that's an improvement.

No but he is blaming them, or their theoretical ilk, on the Neo-Conservatives, which is Code for the Joooozzzz. So it comes down to more or less the same thing, doesn't it.

Posted by: alcibiades at December 14, 2004 06:19 AM

Benjamin pops up everywhere! As I have siad in response to his posts over at Harry's Place, Cole actually does not present any argument at all.

He simply quotes smears from another blog, adds some spun speculation elsewhere, and leaves it for everyone else to draw conclusions.

It's a blatant smear, and one any academic should be ashamed of.

Posted by: Tim Swift at December 14, 2004 06:22 AM

Juan Cole's Daily post:

Part One: How many Americans were killed today.

(If no Americans, find some Iraqis who were killed.)

Part Two: Prattle on about how some minor event is a prelude to an all-out-Iraqi civil war.

Part Three: Explain how it is all the fault of the Jews (sorry, the "neocons") who want to steal Palestinian land.

Repeat day after day after day....

Posted by: Blue at December 14, 2004 06:29 AM

Cole's indulged in wrongness before, but it looks as if he's escalating.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 06:35 AM

Cole suggested that a majority of Arab Moslems dislike Israel and America's support of same.
He further suggests that Americans due to American support of Israel will occasionally be targeted as a proxy target for Israel, which they can't directly attack.

Take away the hype, and that's what Cole wrote.
Regardless of what one thinks of Israel, how is any of this controversial?

But then you've spent a couple of weeks in Arab countries, and this Cole, what the fuck does he know about the Middle East?

Posted by: Michael Farris at December 14, 2004 06:47 AM

Dunno about you, Michael, but it sure looks to me as if this post addresses the conspiracy-theory lunacy, and not what you're responding to.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 06:58 AM

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, Juan is right, that the brothers are CIA. Why is this bad?
Juan is essentially accusing the CIA of fomenting democracy in Iraq.
This reminds me of Michael Moore's false charge about Bush smuggling out the rest of the bin Ladan family. You know, the folks that were worried that since their brother killed 3,000 Americans, some americans might want some payback and not be too particular about which bin Ladan they whacked? At that time, I was trying very hard to figure out where the bad thing was that was being accused.
Accusing people of doing good things, things that are benefitical to not just this country, but Iraq as well, is not a bad thing to accuse folks of.

Even if Juan's charges are true, it ain't a bad thing for the CIA, or anyone else, to be doing. And the brothers don't strike me as folks who would lie just because they are getting paid. They are doing what they do because they believe in the project. They believe in democracy for Iraq.

I guess in Juan's world, democracy is a bad thing, like smuggling folks who might be targeted by angry mobs is a bad thing. I don't know. I gave up on the left about a year ago.

Posted by: Ben at December 14, 2004 07:04 AM

I can with certainty say that Riverbend in NOT located in Iraq. I won't name the city she posts from here in the U.S. but rest assured that she is not anywhere near the Middle East. She can't even speak Arabic.

Posted by: SysAdmin at December 14, 2004 07:34 AM

Nathan Hamm makes a really important and general point, I reckon. "raising questions" is just lazy and cowardly. In this case, MJT is granting much of Cole's implicit theory and asking "is that bad"? I certainly would find current controversies a lot more engaging if people would spell their stories out more fully. More example, I found Farenheit 9/11 boring as hell, because it never really claimed anything specific. Hard to get your teeth into innuendo. For example; "It's all about oil". Well, who exactly are you talking about? And do these people want high oil prices? Low prices? Interestingly, if folks like Moore understood even the rudiments of modern oil and other commodity markets, they could make a very interesting case. You make real $ by knowing where prices are going; up or down is fine as long as you know in advance. Of course, it also works to have Saddam sell you underpriced oil. OK, that is a conspiracy theory as well but it is pretty well laid out by now.

Posted by: gerald garvey at December 14, 2004 07:38 AM

Sure, nice post and all, but have you been accused of questioning Professor Cole's patriotism yet? Only then you will know that you have really made it!

Reading Cole's piece I am struck by the pure weaselishness of it. The veiled accusations, the implied corruption, the assumed conspiracies, and the suggestion of malevolent motivation - and all without a shread of hard evidence. I mean, the fact that the blog is hosted in Abilene is evidence of what exactly? Perhaps the conspiracy that Senator Kennedy spoke about during the campaign? Or is Halliburton involved somehow?

These tactics remind me of the phrase "Have you no decency sir?".

But really, is this the best that the good Professor can come up with? Not to worry then, not to worry.

Posted by: too many steves at December 14, 2004 07:45 AM

Cole and his ilk are in the political wilderness for one simple reason: Kerry lost because swing and other marginal voters realized Kerry and his supporters hate(d) Bush and America more than they hate(d) the terrorists and other enemies of America. Cole's latest rummy rumination only confirms the wisdom of the American electorate.

Posted by: Tim at December 14, 2004 07:51 AM

Juan Cole has a great post today on the absolutely abhorrent policy of annexation pursued by Israel since 1967. On the one hand, the Israelis pretend to want to find a negotiated solution to their conflict with the Palestinians, on the other they can't build settlements fast enough, on the very land whose status that is subject to negotiation. And all this hypocrisy is backed by successive U.S. governments -even though an entire generation of Israeli Prime Ministers have done nothing but deceive the U.S. Where is Michael Totten's indignation when an Israeli warplane drops a bomb in a heavily populated Palestinian urban areas? Israel in the U.S. is the great taboo subject. Speak the truth and you will immediately labeled "anti-semitic". Exactly what Juan Cole is experiencing right now.

Posted by: Dominic Gundisalvi at December 14, 2004 08:03 AM

Tim, I disagree. Certainly, there were plenty of Kerry supporters who literally hated Bush more than they hated the terrorists. But that is a two-way street. Just the other day, Missouri State Representative Cynthia Davis compared liberals to the hijackers of September 11. Commenters on Mr. Totten's page have, in previous threads, stated that liberals are more dangerous to this country than radical Islamic fundamentalists. If it was a realization, it was a one-sided realization that did not take into account political fundamentalism and intolerance on both sides of the aisle, not just one.

But then, the suggestion that almost 60 million people ("Kerry and his supporters") hate America is a tired, but still vile, bit of nonsense. It's always fun to hear someone claim the psychic ability to peer into the private thoughts of tens of millions of people, and then make sweeping judgements and condemnations because they happen to disagree with you over a choice of candidate.

Posted by: Blogtheist at December 14, 2004 08:07 AM

This is what happens when you give an idiot an education. You get educated idiocy.

Posted by: Random Numbers at December 14, 2004 08:12 AM

Micheal has not posted about Isreali's doing bad things in the last five minutes, so it is OK to blame the guy who was shot because he looked Jewish. Did I get all that right?

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 08:12 AM

Blogtheist: Thank you for your constant reminders it is two way street, so we can all be fair and balenced. I am sure some of the victims of 9-11 kicked their dogs. Hence they were not entirely blameless when they were disinigrtated. I just wanted to put that out in case anyone claimed the terrorists were bad people and didn't mention all the bad things the victims of 9-11 did.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 08:16 AM
Speak the truth and you will immediately labeled "anti-semitic". Exactly what Juan Cole is experiencing right now.

Note that doesn't make the converse true: just because you're being labeled an anti-semite doesn't mean what you're saying is true. But you already knew that.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 08:17 AM

Winger,

Thank you for rediculing me. Always appreciated.

There is a world of difference between condemning mass murder, and between equating mass murder with voting for the other party. Too often, from both sides, I tend to hear that. Bush is Hitler! Kerry's a traitor! If you vote for ______, you're a terrorist!

I just get sick of it after a while. But, being a Democrat, it hits a little closer to home when you hear people saying that friends, family, and neighbors support terrorists and hate America because of their voting patterns.

Posted by: Blogtheist at December 14, 2004 08:19 AM

Dominic writes:

"On the one hand, the Israelis pretend to want to find a negotiated solution to their conflict with the Palestinians, on the other they can't build settlements fast enough, on the very land whose status that is subject to negotiation."

That's not hypocrisy, as you claim, but rather an attempt to get the other side to show that choosing the military, rather than the negotiation, option is a mistake.

Israel has uprooted settlements (Sinai) before and given massive amounts of land back (again, Sinai), if they're shown there is good will and the ability to back up promises from a decent negotiating partner. Egypt hasn't even lived up to all their promises (policing/eliminating smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Rafah), but Israel has refrained from doing anything concrete about it.

Strengthening their hand until a partner emerges on the Palestinian side is not "hypocrisy," just because you disagree with the strategy.

I'm actually not a fan of most of the settlements, but it's funny how certain people think that settlements are "aggressive" and "provocative" but suicide bombings, constant incitement of hatred and teaching that "martyrdom" gets you to heaven are not.

Settlements can, and have been, uprooted or exchanged. It happened with Egypt - it's about to happen in Gaza.

But anyway, the Palestinians could have had all of the West Bank, all of Gaza and most of Jerusalem - all controlled by Arabs from 1948 to 1967, but they couldn't give up their dreams of destroying Israel.

Oh well.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at December 14, 2004 08:23 AM

It seems to me that Cole suffers from the same basic problem a lot of Arab Muslims suffer from. When you have a religion (Arabs = Islam / Cole = neo-Marxist liberalism) that promises you will rule the world, and the damn infidels (Westerners and Jews / Neocons and Jews) keep winning, it must be a comfort to have lunatic conspiracy theories that explain it all away.

The good news is, not all Arab Muslims prefer the fantasy world of an all-powerful Zionist-Crusader Entity relieving them of responsibility for their own lives. Some believe their problems are their own fault, which means they can fix things if they want to. They can stop getting the short end of the stick if they just change a few things. The question of democracy in the Middle East hinges on whether there are enough.

Posted by: (the other) John Hawkins at December 14, 2004 08:27 AM

Blog: First of all, I don't know you. I am ridiculing your post, not you. Second, you know what, I just read Tom's post three times and find no evidence he said all Kerry voters support terrorism. You shadowboxing with people who are not here.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 08:28 AM

Wow, we must have read different articles.

What I read from John Cole, was a commentary on a post written by Joeseph Mailander of the Martini Republic. I infered this from obscure comments like:

"Joseph Mailander of the Martini Republic weblog has an extremely important posting on Sunday about the dangers of "blog trolling."

The another cryptic allusion:

"What Mailander is talking about is not really astroturfing, but rather the granting of some individuals a big megaphone."

Of course, as you point out Michael, he goes way overboard by "[making] up a conspiracy theory (all by himself, this time) about the Iraqi bloggers who write at Iraq the Model"...

He says: "The MR posting brings up questions about the Iraqi brothers who run the IraqTheModel site."

I wonder if MR, could refer to Martini Republic? Surely not. As Michael points out... this is all Juan Cole's fault...

Well, unless you bother to click on the link in the story (the one that is at the very beginning...). If you do that (call me insane for clicking on related links), then you find that the Martini Republic is the one that developed the conspiracy theory, discussed blog trolling, accused, in a roundabout way the Iraqi brothers of 'less than honest' intentions.

In fact, the questions about the Brother's honesty, the accusation that they are outside the mainstream, the mention of suspicious ISP's in Texas and the commentary on Riverbend are ALL IN THE MARTINI REPUBLIC ARTICLE.

Not only is Juan Cole not making up conspiracy theories all by himself, he's reporting on and directly linking to the people that ARE making this stuff up.

But, dear gods, let's not have facts get in the way of a good fisking! It's the right of every sanctimonius Blog Captain; to publicly lash, slam and put down someone who doesn't agree with your worldview. It doesn't need to be factual or logical, because it's not like 90% of the blog crew will question the Captain and actually go look at the article themselves.

This is probably the most poorly researched article I've seen from you Michael.

Now, my reality tunnel may be different, but when I read Juan Cole's article it came across a little differently. In my reality tunnel, I read someone who was cautioning against the use of political blog trolling in the future, using the MR story as a backstory. More of a caution 'there may be problems', than an accusation of anything. It seems that he was only repeating accusations made at MR.

I personally agree with him, to a point. Anyone, with any agenda can build a website. They can lie, misquote, astroturf to their hearts content and most readers will never know. Look at companies like Microsoft who have been engaged in this kind of crap for nearly a decade. If you think that it won't eventually be used by the political parties, than you are terribly optimistic or utterly naive.

How many posters here check the backstory before posting to Michael's entries? How many of you ever actually get around to reading the links (and the reference links from them?). Now think about all of the people who read this site and aren't involvbed enough to post. Do you think that they check the sources? Verify? Or do they simply read, agree and move on, with no idea of truth, spin or honest mistakes?

The threat is real. People tend to believe what they read, and the Internet allows anyone to write something and post it on an official looking site. Think about how many Phishing schemes have taken money from naive Internet users.

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 08:48 AM

Sheesh.

Riverbend, originally encouraged to blog by her freind Salam Pax, reported on the Abu Ghraib abuses months before the news broke. She's a great writer, unlike the guys at Iraq the Model. She's anti-Hussein, anti-Baathist, and liberal to the core. And she's quite angry at what's happening to her country, as I would be if I were in her shoes.

Juan Cole originally supported the war, as he had friends who suffered at the hands of the Baathists. Early in the game he thought the regime change was being handled badly, and pointed it out, and has continued to do so. Most of his predictions have borne out, unlike most of the predictions of the hawk bloggers.

"Fisk" these mild statements of his if you must, Michael, but I find this stuff disappointing. It plays to the wingnuts, but I look forward to a change of topic.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 08:49 AM

When I visit my parents (retired members of the Marine community), they like to brag and introduce me as their "pride and joy, and he's a university professor," I've been known to intercept them before they mention the prof part and just say that I work at a research institute (underplaying my title and academic rank).

Though my current address has considerable "intellectual diversity" since it's a bastion of scientists and engineers (the real Reality-Based™ Community, Cole is a textbook example as to why I still do that.

Posted by: Bill at December 14, 2004 08:49 AM

MT,

I think there is something here other than ordinary lefty lunacy. Cole is emblamatic of what has happened to the humanities portion of the academy over the past few decades. Reflexive anti-Americanism, a complete focus on the "other," bowing at the altars of Foucault, Derrida, Marcuse etc and deconstructing not only literature and language, but the academy itself, as well as a willingness to step outside what are, by necessity, increasingly narrow areas of expertise and comment on world events. In doing so, many attempt to convey authority by attaching their title/professorship despite the fact that the event on which they are commenting has little to do with their expertise.

I graduated from a very lefty liberal arts school 20 years ago. So lefty that Spiro Agnew once referred to it as the Kremlin. I still take classes in various colleges from time to time. The level of vitriol, anti-Americanism etc. is shocking, to me anyway. The academy seems fundamentally different to me than it was. It is no longer about honest inquiry, it is now about pushing a specific agenda.

Posted by: spc67 at December 14, 2004 08:55 AM

... make that "(the real Reality-Based™ Community)"

I'll blame it on an MPI bug making my parallel processing go all buggy... :-P

Posted by: Bill at December 14, 2004 08:57 AM
Not only is Juan Cole not making up conspiracy theories all by himself, he's reporting on and directly linking to the people that ARE making this stuff up.

Just as NBC news wasn't deliberately reporting a lie, they were reporting on the people who made the lies up, as if they had an ounce of credibility. Or is it your claim that Cole's actually pointing to the MR fellows as the blog agents provocateurs?

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 08:58 AM

Cross-posted this to Jarvis' rant - this is worse than just libel; Cole is providing propaganda cover to justify the murder of these men. Accusing Iraqis of being secretly funded by a military or intelligence arm of the US government is, in the view of many of the radicals in the Islamic world, sufficient cause to justify a beheading. I know we don't prosecute that kind of thing, but it can't be denounced in strong enough terms.

Posted by: Crank at December 14, 2004 08:59 AM

Slartibartfast,

(nice name ;-) )

Actually, I was pointing out that Michael's claim of "making it up all by himself" is not only Not True, but that Cole never claimed to have made any of it up, and all of it can be found at the MT site.

It's one thing to positively discuss, perhaps even endorse some wild conspiracy theory (though Cole seems to fall just short of endorsement), it's an entirely different thing to "...[make]up a conspiracy theory (all by himself...".

My point was that Michael misrepresented Cole's article, probably because of simple human bias. Nonetheless, most people don't seem to have checked their sources, tending instead to simply accept Michael's interpertation of the article. Now, we know that Michael isn't intentionally trying to sway people with lies, innuendo and the like. However, if Michael, through simple human bias, can misrepresent an article to many people, think about the damage that could be done by someone intentionally trying to be subversive, or trying to run a psy-ops site.

That's exactly what Cole is warning us about.

Rather Ironic.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 09:05 AM

MJT: Why on Earth would an anti-American Iraqi be celebrated in Washington? Professor Cole might want to try really really hard to remember which country he lives in and, more important, which country Washington is in. That way he might be slightly less baffled by what happens outside his bubble.

I worked for a great company once. They had these massive quarterly meetings where they answered any questions submitted by the employees. There were some very harsh questions submitted, and to my surprise they were brought forward and answered honestly. I was very impressed, and the company continues to be a powerhouse with incredible employee loyalty.

Bringing the hard questions and criticisms into the light and dealing with them: honest and courageous.

Celebrating only your fans and rewarding praise while rejecting criticism as "anti-American": weasely, immature, and chickenshit.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 09:06 AM

Tosk: How do we knoe that Cole isn't a Karl Rove agent trying to make others look like paranoid assholes? That is exactly what I am warning all of you about - please shower me with praise.

DPU: Give yourself a pat on the back for your belief in your courage, honesty and maturity.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 09:09 AM

Funny coincidence, this. I posted once on a blog (I don't know if it's a big deal to specify or not, so I won't) disagreeing with the author's enthusiastic support for PETA and its project for scaring kids away from KFC with fake buckets of 'blood.' Before you could say 'Richard Hofstadter,' the blogger was accusing me of being an "astroturfer" and a corporate shill. He posted my IP and asked his readers to trace it and discover my identity. When he discovered that I was posting from Washington, DC, he concluded that I worked for a corporate lobbying/PR firm, based ONLY on this geographical information. He refused to answer any of the facts or interpretations I presented, instead attacking only my presumed identity (by the way, I am not connected in any way to the issue or these or any similar institutions, in letter or in spirit). I finally realized how far from reality this type of person is when he accused me (as a presumed corporate shill) of avoiding debate on the issues by defaming a challenger - exactly what he had been doing to me. The conspiracist mindset goes much deeper than suspicion on a particular issue - it's a completely different epistemology that flies in the face of all reliable systems of discovering truth. If you want to start a conversation, prepare to be an official disinformation agent.

Posted by: Nate "The Disinformation Agent" at December 14, 2004 09:10 AM

Hey Slarti, haven't seen you over here before. Welcome to the mosh pit.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 09:10 AM

DPU writes: Bringing the hard questions and criticisms into the light and dealing with them: honest and courageous.

Is that what calling people CIA/Neo-con schills because they use blogspot and he doesn't know what blogspot is?

Honest and courageous. Awesome.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at December 14, 2004 09:11 AM

Winger: DPU: Give yourself a pat on the back for your belief in your courage, honesty and maturity.

Sometimes the snark level in here is so high that it makes everything blurry, so I have no idea what that either meant, or was trying to imply.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 09:12 AM
That's exactly what Cole is warning us about.

Ah. Well, that's all good then. But it brings to mind a Demotivator: something to the effect that maybe your (Cole's, in this case) purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 09:13 AM

Is that what calling people CIA/Neo-con schills because they use blogspot and he doesn't know what blogspot is?

Talk about missing the point...

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 09:13 AM

It notes that their choice of internet service provider, in Abilene, Texas, is rather suspicious, and wonders whether they are getting some extra support from certain quarters.

Riverbend is hosted by a server in California.

That means...what?

Posted by: Mike at December 14, 2004 09:14 AM

Haven't been here for a while, ++!good, but there was a time when I was at least a periodic reader.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 09:15 AM

Mike: California - home to far right-winger and neocon-bushco pawn Arine Schwarzenegger. Nuff said.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 09:16 AM

Nate,

Well said.

Winger,

Sure he could be Karl Rove, and I could be Jesus Christ (A lot of people tell me that I look like him). The point is that you do not know who is on the other side of your network cable. Anyone can make anysite and say anything and the majority of people who read it on the net will believe it, especially if it fits with their preconcieved notions.

Now, if you want to discuss the topic like a adult, instead of tossing snippits of useless tripe at me, then let's get to it. If not, why don't you save your oral droppings for a more appropriate format, perhaps during fingerpainting time, or during cookies and milk time before your nap?

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 09:17 AM

Talk about missing the point...

Whatever, DPU. It's fun watching partisans defend a conspiracy monger.

Jarvis can see through it, thankfully.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at December 14, 2004 09:17 AM

Whatever, DPU. It's fun watching partisans defend a conspiracy monger.

If you had been paying attention, you would have noticed that I'm not defending him. I think that these posts are not up to Cole's usual standard, but I don't think they're worth all the clucking I'm hearing from the gallery.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 09:19 AM
Riverbend is hosted by a server in California.

[JiffyPopBeanie] Hmmmm... maybe she (or he) is a sociology major at Bezerkley working on her (or his) thesis on Gender Symbolism in Food.[/JiffyPopBeanie]

Posted by: Bill at December 14, 2004 09:19 AM

Tosk: Does being an adult mean I can walk around and marginalize people because I claim to be nire smarter and open-minded? If so, no thanks. We get it, everyone has preconcieved notions but you. Well maybe you are a Rove agent and we shouldn't trust your post.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 09:20 AM

If you had been paying attention, you would have noticed that I'm not defending him. I think that these posts are not up to Cole's usual standard, but I don't think they're worth all the clucking I'm hearing from the gallery.

Which would be defending him, except that he's made your job harder this time.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at December 14, 2004 09:21 AM

"I don't think they're worth all the clucking I'm hearing from the gallery."

But here you are clucking along with them. Delicious irony!

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 09:22 AM

But here you are clucking along with them. Delicious irony!

Delicious!! Deeeelicious! Oh, the irony.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 09:25 AM

Winger, the poor sod thsat he is, typed (probably with much difficulty):

Does being an adult mean I can walk around and marginalize people because I claim to be nire smarter and open-minded?

No, being an adult means that one discusses issues based on things like facts. They discuss by exchanging differences of opinion, or opposing ideas, with the hope of comming to some sort of resolution. This is sometimes called communication and I do realize that quite a number of you succesful talking monkeys haven't grasped the higher functions like typing while you brain in engaged or communicating beyond the odd grunt or nationalistic "Ug like Pretty Stars on Flag".

If you would like an example of adult communication, I point you to the wonderful discussion that David and I had on Stem Cell research, here, just a few days ago. If you would prefer to continue to spout the intellectual equivelent of an 8 year old's "Nuh Uh" then I have no more to say to you. Could you possibly try to make at least one attempt at discourse, or am I expecting too much from a poor Thuddite like yourself?

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 09:28 AM

patronizing (adjective) -- (used of behavior or attitude) characteristic of those who treat others with condescension

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 09:31 AM

PS: RAW is a sophist dirtbag and you are a bad parody of him.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 09:32 AM

Winger: P.K.B.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 09:32 AM

One time I went golfing and did nothing but address the ball. This kind of reminds me of that, only it's even less interesting.

I did, however, shoot an all-time low game.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 09:33 AM

Par for the course here, Slarti. This is the place to be if you don't mind an elbow in the eye occasionally if you get to give the same.

And ObWi is the place to go if you actually want some discourse, thanks to the strict posting rules.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 09:35 AM

Public Service Annoucnment from The Invisible College.com:

If you're ever in an argument, you know things are going badly for your side when you have to haul out an old man in a wheel chair because he's the only thing you can knock down.

However, its very funny for everyone else to watch. So it all depends on your goal, the sucessful discussion of information or entertainment, pure and simple "as a hammer to the forebrain" (I miss you Brunching Shuttlecocks).

Toskie

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 09:37 AM

Slarti,

Oh come on, I know you weren't swinging at the ball because you were distracted by some lovely fjords.

;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 09:40 AM

Oh we are having an argument? I thought you were busy patronizing me as being a flag-waving buffoon and that was your definition of being an adult?

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 09:40 AM

Ah, that brought back memories of the Logical Reasoning Fairy. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 09:40 AM

So it all depends on your goal, the sucessful discussion of information or entertainment, pure and simple "as a hammer to the forebrain".

This is not the place to be if you want informative discourse, Rat. And I think you've put your finger on it when you mention knocking down the old man in the wheelchair. Like I said, a mosh pit, and a pretty entertaining one.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 09:41 AM

I am sure Totten is happy how on-topic this discussion is.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 09:42 AM

Once again, you create a straw man: Juan Cole as the representation of everyone who disagrees with our involvement in Iraq and then destroy it. Rather than address the war, which any free-thinking person would have to admit has been disastrous, you simply choose those on the left who are most extreme and pretend that they exemplify all who carry a certain viewpoint. This is about as honest as someone on the left picking out Jerry Falwell, and then denouncing him as a way to denounce Bush. Totten, defend our involvment in Iraq on the merits. You can't, can you??

Posted by: Cincinnatus at December 14, 2004 09:43 AM

Winger, what the hell are you talking about?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 09:43 AM

Winger,

Hey, it always your choice, you can look like a fool, or you can engage in intelligent discussion. I'm more than happy to play either way. Eris is happy when I poke at poor soddish greyfaces like you, my dear Winger, and she's not too upset if I engage in logical discussion on occasion. I'd love to have a logical discussion about Cole's article, or even Michael's interpertation of Cole's article. You unfortunately, have added noting to the conversation. Instead, you simply seem to be spouting what I can only assume you consider to be 'witty remarks'. Alas that your wit is so constrained.

You can discuss, or try to keep up on barb trading. I'm all for discussion, but I'd rather pass on any more barb trading... you know what they say:

"Arguing on The Internet is Like playing in the Special Olympics.

Win or lose, you're still retarded."

Alas, truer words were never spoken (at least not with such disregard for being PC).

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 09:47 AM

"Juan Cole is the "national security" hero on the left side of the blogosphere"

Absurd. Examples please. I read Atrios, Kos, and Drum every day, and have never seen Cole rep'd as a "hero" in any way; in fact, I don't recall any of them really mentioning him at all. We might as well say, "David Duke, hero of the right wing blogosphere . . ."

Posted by: Cincinnatus at December 14, 2004 09:47 AM

Actually Cole's post seems to conflate two different phenomena: Blog trolling in the comments and phony blogging (aka astroturfing). While I disagree with him about ITM, the Daschle v Thune blog shows that there certainly is a danger of blogs posing as third parties who are actually bought and paid for by one campaign. That said, it certainly appears to me that in this regard the "neoconservatives" were far less likely to be paid agents than the "liberals".

Posted by: Pat Curley at December 14, 2004 09:50 AM

Cincinnatus,

Gosh, I'm glad I'm not the only one who hasn't seen Cole called Hero... I thought I'd missed the secret Left-Wing memo.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 09:51 AM

Tosk: Is your condescension adding to the conversation? I think I'll just ignore you.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 09:55 AM

Pat,

I agree. The threat is real, it has already happened and it is likely the Left wing that will use the tool first (those not in power, tend to use the more questionable weapons first). It's not something we can stop, but its better to keep the threat in mind, than blindly accept whatever spews from the blogsphere.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 09:56 AM

I'm way late to this thread, but I just have to address a pet peeve. A couple of folks have pointed out that Cole is a certifiable Expert on the Middle East, whereas Michael is an interested layman. As in,

"Cole knows a great deal more about the Middle East than Michael Totten"

"But then you've spent a couple of weeks in Arab countries, and this Cole, what the fuck does he know about the Middle East?"

To which I say, Who the hell cares?

Look, Cole's status as an expert means that he should be able to win handily an argument on the facts with us non-experts. It does not mean that non-experts have no right to argue with him, and it sure as hell does not mean that he must be right in his interpretations of his doubtless extensive knowledge.

And the quotes I reproduced are no more than an effort to disqualify Michael from having an opinion, because it's just so damned inconvenient to argue with him on the merits.

Posted by: JPS at December 14, 2004 09:58 AM

Is your condescension adding to the conversation?

Nope, it was special. It was just for you my dear winger. Please feel free to ignore me, in fasct try to ignore me before you start posting snark, then you won't get your little digital binky taken away.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 09:58 AM

JPS,

True stated! Often the 'expert' opinion is heavily laced with bias from years of learning. Its often very important to have the experts questioned by the hoi polli. One of my favorite Discordian truths is:

"The silly question, is the first indication of a totally new development."

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 10:02 AM

Toskie baby - even your blatent trolls are lame and unfunny. Nothing worse than a close-minded asshole who pats himself on the back for being so open-minded. For the sake of Totten's bandwidth, I am done with you. Good day.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 10:04 AM

Promises, promises.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 10:06 AM

". For the sake of Totten's bandwidth, I am done with you. Good day."

Whoo Hoo! One less greyface to darken my binary doorstep. Hope you keep that in mind the next time you want to post something innane in response to a post of mine. Add to the conversation or play in the kiddie pool.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 10:07 AM

I guess I'm the only one who has any curiosity about SysAdmin's rather provocative post from 7:34 am. Unless he's referring to her being hosted by a server in CA. But he said "posts from".

Hey Sysadmin - come back and clarify that....

Posted by: Caroline at December 14, 2004 10:22 AM

If he'd wanted to tell, he would have. I'm curious, but only mildly. Considering the Internet's rather unreliable information-to-noise ration.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 10:24 AM

Just as an aside, I worked for the CPA when I was in Iraq and one of my side hobbies was monitoring Iraqi blogs. Until I left, I ended up with the absolutely thankless task of correcting Riverbend's information/disinformation/misinformation (depending on what side of the fence you're on) on the Internet.

She's the kid of a former Ba'athist foreign service officer who still lives in a rather exclusive neighborhood in Baghdad. This explains a lot about why she's anti-American.

She hates us because we ended the Saddam-sponsored gravy train for Ba'athists and their families. You know, the clubs, the discos, the pools, the booze, the 24/7 electricity in Baghdad but nowhere else in Iraq, the good life in general. Now she and her ilk have to make a life just like every other Iraqi, without having it handed to them.

That's just a little inside info for you in case you're wondering why she hates us.

And why you should take a lot of what she says with a huge grain of salt.

Posted by: Major Sean Bannion at December 14, 2004 10:25 AM

s/ration/ratio

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 10:28 AM

Juan Cole reminds me of some of my professors. Living breathing proof of the old saw: "those who can, do; those who can't, teach".
It amazes me that some jerk, who has never earned a cent, is getting attention.

Posted by: Frederick J Aziz at December 14, 2004 10:31 AM

Major Bannion - Thanks for your service, and good point about the hypocrisy of asking "cui bono" only of one side.

As I've pointed out before, Josh Marshall and his friends only object to "astroturf" when it's not on their side.

Posted by: Crank at December 14, 2004 10:38 AM

Major Bannion,

Good information! It's yet another example of exactly the sort of thing that Cole was talking about. Of course, his reality tunnel sees Conservatives using it... but hey, everyone has their own world that they live in ;-).

I would hazzard a guess that we will see this sort of thing from the Left and Right over the next few years.

Don't believe anything you read, ever.

I mean it.

Seriously.

Even this.

Stop believing me, Goddamnit!!

OK thats better.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 10:48 AM

I'm getting the vibe here that both Ratatosk and Winger were beat up a lot during high school. The last time either of them said anything remotely mature or intelligent in a nongrammatical way is far in the past. :(

Posted by: Chaos at December 14, 2004 10:50 AM

Major - that's exactly how she comes across and therefore basically what I had just assumed all along (i.e. end of the "gravy train"). Then double-plus-ungood above described her as "anti-Hussein, anti-Baathist, and liberal to the core". Huh?

Anyway, thanks for the clarification - obviously she is actually in Iraq - and thanks especially for your service! Must sound trite so please imagine it said with a great deal of feeling :)

Posted by: Caroline at December 14, 2004 10:51 AM

The words of the foolish,
and the words of the wise,
are not far apart,
in Discordian eyes.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 10:54 AM

Tosk,

Okay, Martini Republic came up with the theory first. I didn't follow Cole's link. It looked to me like he used MR's comment about "astroturfing" as a launch pad for his own thery. My bad.

That's a nit, though. My post isn't about who came up with the theory, it's about how pathetic and lame the theory is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 14, 2004 11:10 AM

Blogtheist stated: Just the other day, Missouri State Representative Cynthia Davis compared liberals to the hijackers of September 11.

He didn't provide a link and neither did several other lefty bloggers would also touted this meme. However, I did find what may be an exact quote from the New York Times on a lefty blog, which won't be linked because the blog didn't link its source. Assuming the quote is correct and it is indeed from the New York Times, the context of the quote is still missing from any discussions I've seen, including Blogtheist's. However, the quote appears to me to speak for itself, as it appears to have for Blogtheist:

"It's like when the hijackers took over those four planes on Sept. 11 and took people to a place where they didn't want to go," she added. "I think a lot of people feel that liberals have taken our country somewhere we don't want to go. I think a lot more people realize this is our country and we're going to take it back."

As is obvious, Rep. Davis is not comparing liberals to terrorists, only making the comparison that each took other people to a place they did not want to be. Inapt comparison? Possibly, as the terrorists achieved there objectives by illegitimate force whereby liberals typically try to achieve their goals through judicial fiat only after they have been rejected at the ballot box, both methods using only legitimate force to enforce the legislative/judicial outcome. And it may be that Rep. Davis is alluding to the propensity of liberals to use the judiciary to achieve its more unpopular objectives but without context it is impossible to say. But is Rep. Davis literally comparing liberals to terrorists in this quote? Clearly not.

Posted by: Tongueboy at December 14, 2004 11:12 AM

By the way, Tosk, I've been accused of "astroturfing" and being a paid shill dozens of times myself. I've been accused of being paid by the White House and also by the Mossad. I have no patience for such idiotic nonsense. Absolutely none whatsoever.

I do get paid by Tech Central Station and Blogads, but that ought to go without saying.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 14, 2004 11:12 AM

I do get paid by Tech Central Station and Blogads, but that ought to go without saying.

Illuminati-Bildeberg-Freemason front groups, both.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at December 14, 2004 11:15 AM

Tongueboy,

Here's a link to the article. It's on the second page.

And no, you're right, she wasn't making a literal equation between liberals and terrorists. She wasn't saying liberals=terrorists.

But you're reading of her quote seems to be wildly different from mine. Try this:

"Like Hitler, Bush is a leader of a powerful country. Like Hitler, Bush has gone to war in foreign countries. Like Hitler, Bush has occupied them. Like Hitler, Bush..."

It's just as rediculous, and the intent is equally clear.

Posted by: Blogtheist at December 14, 2004 11:18 AM

Major: She hates us because we ended the Saddam-sponsored gravy train for Ba'athists and their families. You know, the clubs, the discos, the pools, the booze, the 24/7 electricity in Baghdad but nowhere else in Iraq, the good life in general. Now she and her ilk have to make a life just like every other Iraqi, without having it handed to them.

Could you please site the post that made you believe this? I read her regularily, and I haven't seen anything that indicates this.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 11:18 AM

Michael,

That's a nit, though. My post isn't about who came up with the theory, it's about how pathetic and lame the theory is.

Oh come now Michael, your entire post is an attempted fisk of Mr. Cole. You base your fisk on the premise that he developed some crazy conspiracy theory, besmirched the Iraqi Blogger Borthers and was consorting with people that HATED his country.

Everything you attacked was something he was referencing from MR. You fisked the wrong person.

Finally, you didn't even discuss the main point of his post, which was that subversive activity on the Internet, partiucularly with Blogs could become a serious problem.

You're usually a pretty meticlious writer, I don't think you deliberately msirepresented anything... I think you just misread the original article. But, think about how many people read your piece, didn't bother to read Cole's article, let alone the link back to MR... now, how many of them have left with the idea that Cole wrote all of that stuff? Indeed, reading just your post, makes it sound like Cole's article was focused on Evil Government Blogger plants, instead of an article discussing the potential threat of blogger compromise.

It was a good fisk, you should have saved it for a better subject.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 11:25 AM

Ok, I'll bite.

Rat can you clarify in your truth/reality/facts tunnel where Dr. Cole is actually using truth/reality/facts in using IraqtheModel as a poster child for "blog agents provocateurs secretly working for a particular group or goal and deliberately attempting to spread disinformation"?

(At the very least I would hope that a tenured professor would establish if something was in fact true instead of double posting about something that was indeed hearsay at best, total bullshit at worst.)

This is the point of contention and the focus of Michael's post. Instead of sidestepping the accusations and going off on some wild "internet as a political tool" tangent. Let's stay on point, Cole willingly pressed upon using a rancid conspiracy theory in order to support his world view tossing truth/reality/facts aside and echoing statements that should be reserved for cafe's in Iran rather than the hallowed halls of a top-50 American University.

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 11:28 AM

Michael,

I would never believe that you were getting paid by any source that would taint your opinion.

"By their fruits you will recoginize them."

I've always thought you were a pretty high quality 'fruit', err I mean... ;-)

- Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 11:28 AM

What is stupid--I mean downright retarded--about Cole's arugment is it only worries about PRO-AMERICAN propaganda blogs. Does it ever occur to him that Riverbend might be an Iranian plant? Naaaaah. But people familiar with how wars are really fought, would have to be suspicious of all of them.

Look the deeper and smarter point is that you can't trust any of them. GIGO is the rule of the day. Garbage in, garbage out. Too many people will read something written on the internet by some crank and think the masons, in conjunction with the illuminati and the saucer people faked 9-11. And don't go thinking, "well, they have written for a while and has been right for a while, i guess i can trust them." During WWII, for instance, we had a double agent, "Garbo" tell the Germans the true landing site of the Normandy invasion. Mind we didn't have him tell them in time to do anything, but we did have him tell so to build his reputation, so he could better screw the germans later.

50 years from now, we might know the truth about the War on Terror, and whatever it is, i am sure we will be surprised. Not outraged, necessarily, but surprised.

Posted by: A.W. of Freespeech.c om at December 14, 2004 11:29 AM

gibson.,

I never once stated that Cole had any truth or facts on his side. I don;t think.

However, there is a large difference between saying "I believe that Iraq The Model is an evil tool of the CIA" and saying "MR says that...", particularly, if you read the article, when discussing the threat that some political groups may put shills in blogs for 'astroturfing'.

It's not a radical idea, its not crazy wild speculation. Corporations have done it for years, some liberal groups did it this very election season. Could other blogs be compromised as well? Of course they could, you'd be a fool not to accpet the possibility.

My problem with the article was that it was factually incorrect and accused Mr. Cole of making things up that he was directly quoting someone else on. We were nearly 100 posts in before anyone posted that Cole didn't make this stuff up, and instead was quoting it. Every other post on this board that accused Cole of making up conspiracy crap, was uninformed, indeed even misinformed.

That is my problem, not Cole and his Left-Wing tinfoil capped buddies.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 11:36 AM

A.W. of Freespeech.c om,

True Words! Well said!

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 11:37 AM

"Juan Cole is in the political wilderness? No, he is not. Cole represents the mainstream of the national Democratic Party. "

Uh, the National Democratic Party is in the wilderness.

Posted by: M. Simon at December 14, 2004 11:38 AM

Illuminati-Bildeberg-Freemason front groups, both.

You fool! Can't you see it's a massive government conspiracy? Or have they gotten to you too?

Actually, it's the RAND Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people, under the supervision of the reverse vampires.

Posted by: Dave Ruddell at December 14, 2004 11:43 AM

Rat,

Anything is possible, I can and have accepted that. It's also healthy to have some balance and not go diving off after every hair brained idea simply because it's different and presumed possible, especially if it fills in holes left void by facts/truth/logic.

However, I'm not willing to give Dr. Cole the benefit of the doubt when he tries to truncate an increase of disinformation on the blogsphere (as if we didn't know that already) using IraqtheModel as his example (to which he is uncertain) without also referencing the Daschle fiasco where we have established ties to political candidates and paid-for agendas.

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 11:46 AM

Double, happy you read Riverbend's site everyday, I'm so glad to hear it. However you're NOT going to find what I wrote about anywhere on her blog because, as has been pointed out before, she doesn't clue anyone in. My info was gained on the ground in Iraq by people who knew her and of her. It was my business to know. If that's not good enough for you, then not much I can do about it.

Posted by: Major Sean Bannion at December 14, 2004 11:49 AM

gibson,

Well, he's obviously biased, much like most other bloggers. OOne must read it with that in mind. However, the facts (not necessarily the ones he used) support the point he's making. Blogs can and have been the home of shills and astroturf experts. Of course, he will suspect those that write things not in his reality tunnel, while you'll suspect those that disagree with your reality tunnel.

Frankly, this was a failed fisk, formulated from false facts.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 11:54 AM

"My info was gained on the ground in Iraq by people who knew her and of her. It was my business to know. "

Oh dear lord. Why state it then? Why make extreme claims as fact if you have nothing to back it up except the 'word' of a 'Major' who 'was there'.

I don't know you, you might be right, but you might be a fraud. You may be an honest Major, but you may have talked to biased people. If you have no evidence why make the claim? Its unsubstantiated roumer at best, and slander at worst.

Why behave in such a fashion?

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 11:57 AM

"I've been accused of being paid by the White House and also by the Mossad."

Ridiculous! We all know you're paid by Halliburton! ;)

Posted by: Brainster at December 14, 2004 12:03 PM

"...while you'll suspect those that disagree with your reality tunnel."

I never said there was something wrong with suspecting people in which you disagree with by establishing documented truths to support your disagreements. I do, however, have a problem with people spreading half-truths in order to support a theory which as of this writing has only been proven factual between left-wing bloggers and fundraisers in South Dakota.

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 12:06 PM

However you're NOT going to find what I wrote about anywhere on her blog because, as has been pointed out before, she doesn't clue anyone in.

Oh good lord. I'm happy to entertain the thought that she's from a wealthy family, that relatives may have been Baathist or whatever, but I actually thought you had something to back it up.

This is why the blogosphere will never replace mainstream media. Stuff like this falls somewhere between the highschool newspaper and grafitti.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 12:10 PM

DPU: Stuff like this falls somewhere between the highschool newspaper and grafitti.

...and yes, that applies to speculation about funding of hawkish Iraqi blogs as well.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 12:12 PM

"This is why the blogosphere will never replace mainstream media. Stuff like this falls somewhere between the highschool newspaper and grafitti."

Yeah kind of like using "unimpeachable" sources for prime time news stories months before an election.

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 12:13 PM
This is why the blogosphere will never replace mainstream media.

Ummm...hold me back. I'm feeling a CBS moment coming on.

I'll certainly agree that the blogosphere is never going to replace what the mainstream media once was. But the current mainstream media's not going to anytime soon, either.

Posted by: SomeRandomDork at December 14, 2004 12:15 PM

gibson.,

" have a problem with people spreading half-truths in order to support a theory"

I think I read the article a little differently than you (italics mine):

"The MR posting brings up questions about the Iraqi brothers who run the IraqTheModel site. It points out that the views of the brothers are celebrated in the right-leaning weblogging world of the US, even though opinion polling shows that their views are far out of the mainstream of Iraqi opinion. It notes that their choice of internet service provider, in Abilene, Texas, is rather suspicious, and wonders whether they are getting some extra support from certain quarters."

It seems to me that he was quoting an article in order to discuss the threat of blog based political astroturfing. Do you read that differently?

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 12:17 PM

Ah, crap. That last was me.

Accurately signed, though.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 14, 2004 12:18 PM

Yeah kind of like using "unimpeachable" sources for prime time news stories months before an election.

For the mainstream media, screwing up a story like the Rathergate memos is the exception. Passing on half-truths, quarter-truths, and negative-value-truths is par for the course in the bloggerdome. For every Rathergatesque cock-up in the mainstream media, there are a couple of thousand on blogs every day. Instapundit being responsible for half of them, of course, so that drops the average a bit.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 12:23 PM

He is simply pawning off someone's else conspiracy theory in order to make a broader point. If he was trying to make a broader point using established facts that thereby support his claims he'd be better off doing some investigating in South Dakota rather than trolling off some half-truth, would you not agree?

I realize the source and the bias but that doesn't excuse him or anyone from deliberately using half-truths to support a claim, whether the person be of the red or blue stripe.

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 12:25 PM

"For the mainstream media, screwing up a story like the Rathergate memos is the exception. Passing on half-truths, quarter-truths, and negative-value-truths is par for the course in the bloggerdome. For every Rathergatesque cock-up in the mainstream media, there are a couple of thousand on blogs every day. Instapundit being responsible for half of them, of course, so that drops the average a bit."

And millions people probably view Instapundit daily on par with the average 60 min newscast, you know we are comparing apples and oranges. The impact of a Rathergate, I would hope you'd agree, is far more reaching than billsblogspot spreading half-truths about spoiled milk at Starbucks.

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 12:31 PM

CORRECTION: The professor linked to a Martini Republic post about "blog trolling" (his characterization.) I didn't read that post so I didn't realize MR came up with this silly conspiracy theory first. Cole didn't invent it, he just repeated it.

This, no doubt a testament to the blind, insensate wingnut rage with which you misread Cole's blog.

But hey, it played well to the rightwing blogosphere, despite your inability to read and comprehend.

Posted by: Alex at December 14, 2004 12:33 PM

And millions people probably view Instapundit daily on par with the average 60 min newscast, you know we are comparing apples and oranges. The impact of a Rathergate, I would hope you'd agree, is far more reaching than billsblogspot spreading half-truths about spoiled milk at Starbucks.

Absolutely. Just pointing out that one isn't ready to replace the other.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 12:34 PM

gibson.,

I agree that Cole should have used the documented cases of actual astroturfing as evidence of the threat he talked about. I agree that it looks like Cole is biased.

It makes the threat no less real, in fact, one could say that Cole's very article proves his point (a meta-article). His bias is obvious to those that disagree with him. It's not nearly as obvious to those that agree with him. In fact, those that agree with him are likely to post supportive things on his site... much as many of the posters here cheered this article, though factually incorrect.

That's the threat of getting information from the Internet. It goes through the biases of the major news outlets, then it gets run through the biases of the Blogger, then it gets posted on a medium that has been proven to be one of the worst communication tools yet invented. Then it gets run the the bias and filters of the blog reader. On top of all of that, you never really know if the person who posted something is actually that person, or simply posing as something that they are not.

I agree with the meat of Cole's article, I disagree with his choices in examples and references.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 12:36 PM

Rat,

Thank you for clarifying. I'm with you on the salient points of misinformation and the internet. However, I think we'd have to come a long way to knock out bias from our news media, blogsphere, government, etc. In fact I damn near think it would be impossible, a little dose of bias now and again is good in my honest opinion, as long as it parallels my biases of course :)

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 12:41 PM

Despite Cole's invalid speculations here, I still think he's an excellent source of information about what's up in Iraq. I first read of the threat of al Sadr on his site, and some excellent information about the various political groupings there. He's also made some pretty good points about the makeup of the insurgency, and has good suggestions about how to defuse it.

And of course he's biased. So am I. So is our host, and so is every blog that anyone can link to. I read blogs with those biases in mind.

So what's Cole's great crime here? He posted a link to a speculative article about political forces exploiting blogs. Worth a shrug in my opinion, not much else. I've seen far worse speculations in other places that didn't deserve a fisking.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 12:46 PM

gibson.,

ROFL, well said. It seems to me, to be impossible to get the bias out of our own worldview. I can't imagine trrying to remove it from the media, or the populace.

Well, short of full scale reprogramming.

Let's see 2300 Ton of psilocybin in the nation's drinking supply should do it. ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 12:52 PM

Rat, it's not unsubstantiated, OK? It's not a "claim" it's reality. There is actually such a thing as truth that is not backed up by a hyperlink. Go ahead and ask Juan Cole on that score. If that is your only standard for evidence then we can close the internet down now.

I am a source, and you are free to evaluate what I say, along with what everyone else says, when you weigh the potential truth or falsity of what I am saying.

Posted by: Major Sean Bannion at December 14, 2004 12:53 PM

Rat, it's not unsubstantiated, OK? It's not a "claim" it's reality. There is actually such a thing as truth that is not backed up by a hyperlink.

That's not in dispute. What is up for grabs is posting an opinion on a form of media that can't be backed up on that media. Now, for example, I could email you, get the names of your contacts, fly over to Iraq, ask them myself, and try and judge for myself whether they are believable or not. That's how an ethical journalist would do it, along with getting more than one source for the information. But let's face it, I'm not going to, so it's just hearsay.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 01:10 PM

Dear Major,

Stating something in a blog does not make it a fact. It makes it a statement. In order to provbe the statement, we must back it up with facts. You don't need to provide hyperlinks, you don't need to point to quotes on the Daily Show.

Let's take a look at your 'statement':

She's the kid of a former Ba'athist foreign service officer who still lives in a rather exclusive neighborhood in Baghdad.

Well, that seems provable enough. Obviously, the officer has a name, the neighborhood has a name. Those bits of information would support your statement.

She hates us because we ended the Saddam-sponsored gravy train for Ba'athists and their families. You know, the clubs, the discos, the pools, the booze, the 24/7 electricity in Baghdad but nowhere else in Iraq, the good life in general.

This, my friend is speculation, unless you have something to prove it.

Instead of providing proof though you respond with:

However you're NOT going to find what I wrote about anywhere on her blog because, as has been pointed out before, she doesn't clue anyone in

Well, thats convienient. She doesn't tell anyone, no one knows except for the Major. Where did the Major come across this information?

My info was gained on the ground in Iraq by people who knew her and of her.

Ah, rumor and gossip. Well, its good to know where the millitary gets its intelligence from. Did you happen to ask them about WMD's while you were at it?

It was my business to know. If that's not good enough for you, then not much I can do about it.

What kind of arrogant huburis do you posses that leads you to believe that some post signed "Major Sean Bannion" is 'good enough' for any thinking person?

I could post that I am "Major Tom" and I personally wittnessed George Bush raping Iraqi prisoners. There's as much evidence to support that as there is to support your claims.

Don't assume people are unwilling to believe you if they ask for facts. However, posting claims with nothing more than "Cause I said so" is a quick way to get you discounted as a crank. I have no difficulty seeing that you may be correct, but without evidence I'm not (and most people on this blog aren't) going to blindly accept the ramblings of an Internet user.

I did a quick search on you, and found that a Major exists with your name and they were stationed in Iraq, so you get points for that.

I'm not demanding proof, you don't have to provide it... but prepare to be marginalized if you don't back up what you say.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 01:12 PM

Cole appears to be
polishing up his resume for
application to the Village
Idiots annual award. He
appears to be a shoe-in

Posted by: Vulgorilla at December 14, 2004 01:13 PM

Obviously, Mr. Totten is funded by subsidiary of the same military industrial neocon cartel that is funding these two so-called Iraqi brother bloggers. In fact, two college interns funded by R M Scaife wrote all the positive comments about Mr. Totten on this website using a number of aliases and hacking techniques. In fact the word 'blog' is an acronym for Bedeviling Liberal's Onanastic Gripes, and the art of blogging was created wholecloth by a joint venture between the Heritage Foundation and Rush Limbaugh.

Professor Cole sounds just like every other correct thinking academic out there in the trenches. Every day he faces a hard day of peddling obvious tripe to ignorant or disdainful students. That is bad enough, and a hard enough job for any man, excuse me, person. Worse, some of his students are dumb enough to believe his crap and are likely to start their own academic careers that may threaten his in the future.

Forgive the good professor, his life is so complicated. Or punch him in the face. I don't care.

Posted by: Probert at December 14, 2004 01:19 PM

If I were a journalist I'd worry about ethics. Or if I were a college professor, for that matter. But since I'm a guy with an opinion backed up by real world experiences, like you all are, then I get a vote. Feel free to ignore everything I'm saying.

Posted by: Major Sean Bannion at December 14, 2004 01:20 PM

While tripping the Blog fantastic
Comments are enthusiastic,
However, a fact,
from posts won't distract,
and yes, I'm being sarcastic.

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 01:23 PM

...then I get a vote

Oh! I see our miscommunication. I thought this was a place for conversation, and you obviously thought this was where your registered as a member of the electorate.

Thant makes sense. Conversation requires thought, proof and logic, while rfegistering to vote requires a birth certificate.

My mistake.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 01:26 PM

If I were a journalist I'd worry about ethics. Or if I were a college professor, for that matter. But since I'm a guy with an opinion backed up by real world experiences, like you all are, then I get a vote. Feel free to ignore everything I'm saying.

Fair enough, and no offense intended. But expect that if you post something like that, there will undoubtably be other commenters who do not know you that will ask for more information in order to determine for themselves the trustworthiness of the information. Just as I'd expect others to question me if I posted information that could not be verified.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 01:29 PM

"Conversation requires thought, proof and logic..."

I think your getting ahead of yourself Rat, converstation doesn't require all of the above Air America is living proof of this dichotomy.

What I find interesting out of you and DPU is your willingness on one hand to shrug off nonsense used by Dr. Cole to prove his point but stringently blast Major for making his, based on so-called ground truths? After all you've said to Winger in this post it kind of makes you look like, well, an idiot.

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 01:35 PM

Double, OK, you and I are on the same page. All I am saying is, "I was there, this is what I saw." That is clearly not irrefutable evidence, it is one person's view. But it's a valid point of view.

Should I give you proof? Sure, if I could release everything I know without paying a 250K fine and doing 5 years at a minimum security facility I'd surely consider it. What I posted here was a view. It is no different than anyone else's view here also not sumptuously backed up by links and a bibliography.

Let me just say, since no one was reading between the lines, that I really can't go into how I know what I know. Because of that, you're free to disregard what I say. I will also note there are plenty of people here with opinions on both sides who are offering absolutely zero objective evidence for their opinions yet they get to have them too. If you are unwilling to give credence to what I say because I have no reputation with you, that's fine. As I said earlier, not much I can do about that. Don't have a problem being ignored, although I wish it would be with a touch less vitriol.

When I was in Iraq I used to write for Sasha Castel. You can check my posts there from the archives beginning in Ocotber 2003. www.coldfury.com/Sasha/. Maybe that helps establish I was actually there. If you want a more detailed accounting, email me.

Posted by: Major Sean Bannion at December 14, 2004 01:40 PM

gibson.,

Winger never tried to engage in conversation and merely snarked. He gets what he gets. If you look around in the archives, you find that I don't treat non-snarks that way.

Secondly, Major Bannion may have plenty of truth, but without facts, they're worthless. Especially in a situation like this Blog. We don't know if the poster is Major Bannion, Major Payne or Major Fsckup. He is pseudonymous.

I didn't shrug off nonsense from Cole. I pointed out that it wasn't his nonsense. I pointed out that he made some valid points... and I pointed out that I thought he was terribly biased. But, at least I could base that opinion on something somewhat solid. The Major has provided nothing more than pseudonymous statements. Is that what you base the 'facts' in your reality on?

Or do you only care about truth and facts when they conflict with your reality?

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 01:43 PM

Gibson: What I find interesting out of you and DPU is your willingness on one hand to shrug off nonsense used by Dr. Cole to prove his point but stringently blast Major for making his, based on so-called ground truths?

Clearly, you're not paying attention.

Me: Despite Cole's invalid speculations...

Me: And of course he's biased.

Me: ...and yes, that [speculative blog posting ranking being between school newspapers and grafitti] applies to speculation about funding of hawkish Iraqi blogs as well.

Now, if Michael were to fisk Major Sean's posting, I again would say "Why bother?"

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 01:44 PM

Major,

Thank you for the link. Much better. I notice you pop up on goo.gle quite a bit as well.

that 've got some support for your credentials, I'm more than happy to give some creedence to what you say.

Thnaks,
:)

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 01:46 PM

"Double, OK, you and I are on the same page. All I am saying is, "I was there, this is what I saw. That is clearly not irrefutable evidence, it is one person's view. But it's a valid point of view."

DPU doesn't think your viewpoint is valid for as I can gather; (1) he disagrees with you, (2) your not a tenured professor with a appetite for Marxism and anti-semitism.

Now if you'd only change your tone, use unsubstantiated evidence to prove a point, and curse the US government for not hosting a anti-American blogger to a state dinner you'd be just fine.

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 01:46 PM

"Winger never tried to engage in conversation and merely snarked"

NEVER? Somebody's reality tunnel is busted.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 01:50 PM

MjrSB - again, fair enough. I have no problem believing that Riverbend may be from a family with Baathist members, as several postings indicate that she lives in a high-rent district, and that there are former high-ranking Baathists who are neighbours. Not that I have a problem with that, as Zeyad of Healing Iraq is unabashedly pro-American, yet a former Baathist himself, and I regularily read his blog too.

Your remarks about Riverbend being upset about no more discos et al seems a bit harsh. She complains about lack of safety, power, phone service, hot water, etc, but so do all the other Iraqi bloggers. And so would I, given similar circumstances. And being critical of the conditions in Iraq do not make her pro-Baathist or anti-American. The fact that Salam Pax is a friend goes a long way in my books.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 01:54 PM

Winger,

Did you try to engage me in conversation?

I looked back through the comments here and all I saw was snark, snark, some poor wit and more snark. If you would point out where my reality tunnel missed I would greatly appreciate it. I have no problem realizing that I'm as likely to be biased as anyone else.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 01:56 PM

Because of course Major if you weren't popping up on G00gle then your a political hack paid for by GWB's CIA cover group funded by ex-oil executives used specifically to smear the good name of Riverbend, our loving comrade and patriot.

I'm not paranoid, trust me :)

"Secondly, Major Bannion may have plenty of truth, but without facts, they're worthless."

I guess you hold every reporter on the ground in Iraq with the same level of pessimism when your reading stories about what is "really" going on in country, or can you magically check statements made by disgruntaled Iraqis even when you've never been there? Or does the fact that they are hyperlinked give you comfort? Or do they have truth cards issued upon taking the oath of journalist?

In other words, how do you determine, using your massive amounts of intelligence spread so vastly upon this blog, who is exactly telling the truth without actually being there?

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 01:57 PM

Toskie - there will never be conversation between us thanks to your condescending attitude. I save conversation for those whose opinions I respect. I intend to only grunt nationalistically and take cheap shots at your posts whenver possible. You get what you pay for.

Posted by: Winger at December 14, 2004 02:08 PM

gibson.,

Major if you weren't popping up on G00gle then your a political hack paid for by GWB's CIA cover group funded by ex-oil executives used specifically to smear the good name of Riverbend, our loving comrade and patriot.

I'm sorry? I don't use goo.gle as a touchstone, but its useful as a tool. If I hadn't seen the Major's name, I would have thought nothing of it. Since I did, and it directly related to Iraq, then I decided he is more likely to be telling the truth at some level. It's a useful tool, but not muy grail. As for comrade and patriot... I don't even read Riverbend, let alone agree with what she says.

I guess you hold every reporter on the ground in Iraq with the same level of pessimism when your reading stories about what is "really" going on in country.

Umm, yes, in fact I hold every reporter in question. I listen to what they say, examine (to the best of my ability) the supporting facts and then file it away for furthur consideration. If the reporter provides no supporting statements, I'm not gonna believe anything they say.

Do you?!

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 02:14 PM

Winger,

Feel free. Hope you don't trip over your knuckles.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 02:17 PM

You guys do realize that Riverbend is a Shiite hating racist, right? I stopped reading her about the 3ed time she put some stupid anti-Shiite racist propaganda....

I have a hard time reading anyone whose views are so skewed by hate... So why do you guys read her? Are you not concerned that her hate gets in the way of the facts? Or do you simple want to hear the worst possible things just to reinforce your own views?

Posted by: Derek at December 14, 2004 02:18 PM

Ugh ug, flave waving good, arabs bad

Posted by: Mr. Snark (fmr. Winger) at December 14, 2004 02:20 PM

"Do you?!"

Of course you don't - the only critical thinker here is Toskie. Don't believe anything else you read, including him. But I'm just a caveman with a simple mind.

Posted by: Mr. Snark at December 14, 2004 02:21 PM

gives Mr. Snark a nice chunk of raw venesion

Good boy!

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 02:22 PM

Why do you assume I am male? Could it be your sexist reality tunnel? Please repeat Hail Eris 76 times until I forgive you, otherwise you will remain and your present Anal-Focused Level. PS: I know you are a Rove agent.

Posted by: Mr. Snark at December 14, 2004 02:24 PM

what is 'venesion'? Something that Karl Rove gives you?

Posted by: Mr. Snark at December 14, 2004 02:29 PM

Oh you poor monkey boy. I assumed that you were a male because you you placed the title 'Mr.' in front of your name. Now, if you have some sexual identity problems, I'm sure that someone can help you. Don't be scared, there are plenty of Republicans that need some help in that area.

I will pay the pennance and say Hail Eris 76 times.

PS - Rove is backwards for Evor. Evor was a demi-god in Atlantis pre-Sink. Don't tell me that you haven't already figured out that Rove is actually Hagbard Celine in disguise and Discordians have already taken over the Senate, House and the White House. We've had the Pentagon for decades.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 02:35 PM

Derek,

In this chess game, DPU would tell you that IraqtheModel's optimistic attitude about the future of Iraq, something which is severely lacking in both Riverbend and liberals when it comes to conflicts engaged by conservative Presidents, gets in the way of the facts.

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 02:35 PM

"what is 'venesion'?"

It's like venison, except it comes from an Cthonian deer.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 02:37 PM

Ahh, but how do you know that I am telling the truth about being a Mr.? See how gullible you are?

Plus I am not a Republican, but hey you probably think I am bible-thumping Xian too, but that is beause you have very poor and narrow reality tunnels (probably because you are still on the anal-focus stage, meaning your "mind" is focused on feces and feces-related activities.)

Posted by: Mr. Snark at December 14, 2004 02:41 PM

Mr. Snark,

I do not think you are necessarily an Xian. I do apologize for lumping you in with republcians. No one derseves that kind of treatment.

You sure talk about anal things alot. How does that make you feel?

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 02:47 PM

"Now, if you have some sexual identity problems, I'm sure that someone can help you. Don't be scared, there are plenty of Republicans that need some help in that area."

Wow, nice cheapshot. You better watch out you might offend the pandering homosexual wing of the Democratic party, oh wait my bad your a Democrat, you get a pass.

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 02:52 PM

Ok, I'm off to have a wonderful evening with the Missus. Mr. Snark, behave and don't fling poo on the other commenters.

See ya'll tomorrow!

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord
Muncher of The ChaoAcorn
Chatterer of The Words of Eris

POEE of The Great Googlie Mooglie Cabal

and

other stuff

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 02:52 PM

gibson.,

"oh wait my bad your a Democrat, you get a pass."

Ewwwwww!!!!!!!!!

Wash your mouth out with soap!

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 14, 2004 02:54 PM

In this chess game, DPU would tell you that IraqtheModel's optimistic attitude about the future of Iraq, something which is severely lacking in both Riverbend and liberals when it comes to conflicts engaged by conservative Presidents, gets in the way of the facts.

Mindreading, -100 point. Poor mindreading, -200 points.

Actually, while I don't read IraqTheModel (the writing isn't very good), I do read other Iraqi blogs that have a more optimistic outlook on the Iraq situation (Healing Iraq, for example). I'm glad that there are some optimistic views out there to balance the pessimists, but at the same time, I don't get my knickers in a knot about bloggers that have a differing opinion than mine.

Derek -- I don't recall any racist anti-Shi'ite postings by Riverbend. Can you provide a link to them to back up that allegation?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 03:15 PM

Well if that's a double-whammy shellacking, then I don't think the good professor has anything to worry about.

"He wouldn’t want to let any individuals have a big megaphone. Especially not liberal-democratic Iraqis who don’t hate America like they’re supposed to."

Where did he say anything like that?

He didn't. He made an asinine assumption about the website that hosts these two brothers (whoever they are). So, points to Totten: that was an assinine thing for Cole to say. He insinuated that these brothers may have been astroturfing, about which he was evidently wrong. You have him dead to rights on that score.

Big Deal.

His general point about astroturfing remains valid, and I'm willing to bet that he's right about whether the brothers in question are in or out of Iraqi mainstream thinking.

And as for the Right/neoCon tradition of trotting out likely mouthpieces, I mean, give me a break: How many more Ahmed Chalabis do we have to endure before we're allowed to point out that there's a bit of a pattern here? Would you really have us believe that Paul Wolfowitz et all are more credible on the Future of Iraq than is Professor Cole at this point? Yes? Would you like to buy a bridge?

The larger point is that the man (Cole) has an extraordinarily strong record of getting the facts right on Iraq. And he's been especially good at pointing out government lies, frauds, stupid mistakes and wishful thinking. As an American, and as a fan of the American tradition of "government of the people," I'm always glad to have articulate critics who can point out when we're being lied to and manipulated.

I've been reading his blog pretty regularly for more than a year, and I have never seen him write anything "anti-American." He regularly explains the world view of various groups in Iraq and the region, and their histories, but he rarely endorses them. He's not afraid to condemn barbaric acts no matter who commits them -- Sunni, Shiite, American, whoever. I think he does our country a great service.

Neither do I consider Riverbend Anti-American for that matter. She loathes Bush and his policies, their proved lies and ignorance. And she doesn't like the arrogance of the occupiers. She's said many times that she wishes the Americans would "just go home," but she's never called for brining Jihad to the States or anything like it.

I'm an American and I've never detected any animus towards me by Riverbend. She's no Bin Ladin or Al Zaquari; not by a long shot. She's simply a very articulate chronicler of the war, of which she is clearly a victim.

This story of Cole's that you cite may be one of his felictious posts, but he's allowed a mulligan as far as I'm concerned.

So are you, for that matter.

So how about if we forgive you the dishonest
sleight-of-hand that I cite at th beginning of this comment and call it a wash?

Posted by: john sundman at December 14, 2004 03:18 PM

Michael,

Just wanted to say, great post.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at December 14, 2004 03:35 PM

... "reverse vampires"? ...

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at December 14, 2004 03:36 PM

Michael, I can't remember when I've enjoyed a fisking more. Thanks.

Posted by: GMRoper at December 14, 2004 03:42 PM

double-plus-ungood:>"It plays to the wingnuts, but I look forward to a change of topic. "

Geez. I thought I was reading a wingnut web site. It sure reads like one.

Posted by: Archie at December 14, 2004 04:19 PM

Geez. I thought I was reading a wingnut web site. It sure reads like one.

Nahhh, Michael's a good writer, and has personality to boot. And when you're a centerist, you piss off 50% of the population on alternate days. A tough gig.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2004 04:29 PM

Michael-

Yeah, you've got Ratatosk gloming onto your threads, and that is a pity, but it a fact that he's within 10 miles of me most days.

I could end up waiting in line at the theatre next to the guy and not know it until it was too late. Think about that one...

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at December 14, 2004 04:30 PM

You ignorant fascist slimballs are indeed the scum of the Earth.

Posted by: Eat SHIT PIG at December 14, 2004 05:15 PM

It goes without saying that "Eat Shit Pig" is banned without warning.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 14, 2004 05:23 PM

"His general point about astroturfing remains valid"

Fake but accurate!

Posted by: Jim Treacher at December 14, 2004 05:37 PM

More low stuff from Michael Totten, and the usual hypocrisy:

Barb O. in the comments section points to Juan Cole's page on RateMyProfessors.com. Some of his students don't like him very much. The person who wrote the top entry says he's "a hypocritical, double-standard spouting apologist for racism and religious fascism."

After accusing Cole of the technique of simply linking to slurs and unevidenced accusations, he does PRECISELY the same himself.

Not only that he links to RateMyProfessors.com - increasing the chances that the place will be spammed by people who have never even attended one of his lectures. The site is supposed to be a reasoned assessment by students of THEIR Professors.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 14, 2004 05:50 PM

Benjamin: After accusing Cole of the technique of simply linking to slurs and unevidenced accusations, he does PRECISELY the same himself.

Um, no. Exhibit A in the evidence that Juan Cole is an apologist for racism and religous fascism is his own blog. See my entry from yesterday where I quote him blaming Israel because a guy who "looked Jewish" was murdered by a homicidal maniac in Iraq.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 14, 2004 05:55 PM

So much conspiracy theory. So much demanding of irrefutable facts on the other hand. Aren't we really all a jury of sorts? Isn't there such a thing as "beyond a reasonable doubt?"

And isn't the Scott Peterson trial a prefect illustration of the dilemma? There's no concrete evidence linking him to the murder. There's just a guy having a passionate affair who tells his GF he's widowed and will be free to get together after the New Year and who happens to go fishing the day his wife dissapears and her body just happens to wash up where he was fishing? (even though he rarely fishes and he happened to fish very far from his home).

Yeah - but that conspiracy theory stuff kicks in. Kidnapped by a gang, whatever. But no body and hence no certainty. What is beyond a REASONABLE doubt?

Major Bannion posts with his actual name. He can be g*ogled. I have probably read just 1/2 of Riverbend's posts - but comparing her bitching about the electricity situation etc to so many other bloggers - how long did it take to realize that this was someone who was doing pretty darned well by Suddein? And was now doing comparatively poorly? Put it together with the facts that we know about how privelaged some Iraqis were under Hussein compared to others. Which Iraqis were at risk of disappearing into torture chambers and which were not? Are the former the ones loudly bitching to the west about electricity?

What the Major said about Riverbend quite automatically jives with a hundred other details and as a jury member - I say - only so much doubt is reasonable OK? And we're not sitting on a jury that is making a decision about someone's life. It just seems like common sense. Of course I'm quite open to other evidence as well. But to deny the cumulative evidence that Riverbend is anti-American because she benefited from the Hussein regime makes me wonder why someone would put in that effort?

Posted by: Caroline at December 14, 2004 05:56 PM

Whoops - didn't mean to say no body. Rather no murder weapon. No fingerprints. All circumstantial evidence.

Posted by: Caroline at December 14, 2004 05:58 PM

Michael,

The Martini Republic guys (Alex, specifically) told a flat-out lie about me on my blog. That's the kind of folks they are. Truth means nothing to them.

Too bad you couldn't make it down here for the event.

Posted by: Patterico at December 14, 2004 05:58 PM

Actually, it was Joseph, not Alex, who told the blatant and baseless lie.

Posted by: Patterico at December 14, 2004 06:04 PM

Re Cole's original post - we have the bodies -the brothers from ITM. Fortunately they can actually tell their tale. Enough said.

Posted by: Caroline at December 14, 2004 06:09 PM

"CORRECTION: The professor linked to a Martini Republic post about "blog trolling" (his characterization.) I didn't read that post so I didn't realize MR came up with this silly conspiracy theory first. Cole didn't invent it, he just repeated it."

Kinda like InstaGlenn.

Posted by: penheaded at December 14, 2004 06:46 PM

This is really ugly. Citing something on RateMyProfessors is engaging in hearsay, at best.

In the words of Jon Stewart, "please stop."

Posted by: Bill Trippe at December 14, 2004 07:59 PM

Easy their john sundman, you seem to be foaming at the mouth.

"I'm willing to bet that he's right about whether the brothers in question are in or out of Iraqi mainstream thinking."

Well heck John if your willing to bet, then you must be sure. Then again what opinion poll shall you be using this evening? Or have you braved the Sunni Triangle like the Major collecting facts on the ground?

"She loathes Bush and his policies, their proved lies and ignorance."

Is this her talking or you explaining yourself John? Can you at least provide some evidence of these lies that seem so evident to you but are lost on some 60 million Americans?

"She's simply a very articulate chronicler of the war, of which she is clearly a victim."

Or so you believe, odd really that you'd put so much faith in someone that merely shares your worldview without divulging a single piece of evidence that would suggest who she is, where she is, etc. You seem to be jumping to conclusions like the good ole professor. Oh now I remember, the IraqtheModel gentleman aren't afraid to show themselves behind the IP, don't you wonder why Riverbend has yet to show her's/his?

Posted by: gibson. at December 14, 2004 08:05 PM

Dennis,

That's "kerfuffle". I'm just sayin'.

Posted by: Jim at December 14, 2004 08:25 PM

While talking to someone today who knew nothing about blogs, I used the examples of Iraq the Model and Martini Republic to illustrate the highs and lows the blogosphere has to offer.

At one end of the spectrum, courageous freedom-loving men spreading a message of hope and democracy in a war-torn zone.

At the other, pinheads who lie about other people.

Posted by: Patterico at December 14, 2004 08:30 PM

Patterico: At one end of the spectrum, courageous freedom-loving men spreading a message of hope and democracy in a war-torn zone. At the other, pinheads who lie about other people

That pretty much covers the range.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 14, 2004 08:33 PM

Juan Cole has responded on his blog, avoiding any "informed comment" on his most glaring recent transgression (blindly parroting the "Abilene Service Provider = Suspicious Neo-con/Mossad front theory), and calling his detractors "dittoheads who can't read polls."

And, as usual, he makes a few other slaps in his typical, hystero-pissy manner.

For some reason, he didn't permalink it, so I'm not going to post it here.

It's blogtaining, though.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at December 14, 2004 09:29 PM

Someone should Benjamin "Juan Cole knows more about the MidEast than Michael Totten" that Cole is so ignorant of the MidEast that a simple dentist from Iraq put him in his place regarding Iraqi history, specifically Fallujah.

Doesn't say a lot for Cole's "scholarship", does it?

Posted by: antimedia at December 14, 2004 09:32 PM

antimedia,

In Cole's latest post, there's a little curious, yet for him, typical, caveat in one of his slap - a bit of backtracking, which he will surely call "clarification" or something if called upon.

He writes:

By the way, Sunni Arabs have been celebrating the (limited) resistance against the British in Fallujah during the 1920 revolt for decades.

All of the sudden, it's not just "limited" but "(limited)."

Take that, ITM!

Posted by: SoCalJustice at December 14, 2004 09:45 PM

Antimedia

I am willing to bet a very large sum of money that Cole knows one hell of a lot more about the Middle East than Michael Totten.

Iraq The Model may have "corrected" Cole on various points. But no one is infallable. However deals with one of Iraq The Model's so called "corrections" in his latest post.

I actually disagree with Cole on some points too.
But unlike the immature on here, I respect his knowledge and thoughts on the Middle East, and don't personally insult the guy - that behaviour is immature and pathetic. Totten's use of heresay from RateMyProfessor exposes that attitude and mindset, keeping the debate real low. It reeks of the usual blogosphere stuff - trading insults etc etc.

Cole deals with the issue of Iraq The Model being out of mainstream Iraqi opinion in his latest post citing opinion polls. And of course the election is coming up and that will be proof too - Iraq The Model's party will get a poor result.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 14, 2004 10:28 PM

Is wacky Juan calling Jeff Jarvis a "dittohead" or is he just part of the vast smelly little right orthodoxy?

Posted by: d-rod at December 14, 2004 10:49 PM

Jim-

As a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. I say "Kabuffle", rather than "Kefuffle", because I paid large amounts of cash by the federal government run by Bushitler and the Jewwwws, large corporations that destroy the ozone and unreasonably compensate their senior managements, as well as The Carlyle Group. Although the offer is void where prohibited.

You say "Kerfuffle" because you're right, and I say "Kabuffle" because I am the willing mercenary tool of imperialism. And I have the black helicopter to prove it.

Check Martini Republic and Informed Comment and Talking Points Memo for details, which will be posted once they've finished polishing their beanies.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at December 14, 2004 11:12 PM

Benjamin: I am willing to bet a very large sum of money that Cole knows one hell of a lot more about the Middle East than Michael Totten.

And I'll bet I know one hell of a lot more about it than you do.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 15, 2004 12:00 AM

john sundman,

Saddam was a victim of the war.

Perhaps we need to solicit his views on how much worse things are post war.

LOL

Posted by: M. Simon at December 15, 2004 12:45 AM

Michael Tottten

Well, I took your advice.

I read some of the pieces you have written for Tech Central etc, listed in the sidebar.

In a piece entitled "An Open Letter to the Party of Wilson and Roosevelt" you say:

On September 11, 2001, the United States and House of Saud woke up in an unhappy marriage. The U.S. and most of the world was dependent upon Saudi oil. And Saudi Arabia needed American troops to prevent Iraq from invading. Yet Al Qaeda is primarily made up of Saudis -- 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. Osama bin Laden is a Saudi. The Taliban were a client regime of the Saudis.


Al Qaeda galvanized its supporters by railing against our "infidel" troops on Saudi "holy" soil. We needed to leave, but were trapped. We couldn't appease Osama bin Laden without proving that terror can work. And we still needed to protect Saudi oil from seizure by Saddam Hussein. Though they sat at the heart of the terror axis, we needed the Saudis and they needed us.

There are problems with this passage above. I have highlighted the main problems in bold.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 15, 2004 12:49 AM

After reading the thread at Martini Republic, I left the following (in part) comment:

I had the privilege of meeting Omar and Mohammed Fadhil yesterday afternoon in Palo Alto, CA. I can assure you that not only are they real, they're for real.

Omar and Mohammed indeed are dentists and brother Ali, who remained in Baghdad and is running for office, is a pediatrician.

I had the opportunity to discuss the state of health care in Iraq with Omar, as well as property prices in Baghdad (sky high), restoration of the marshlands (he recently returned from serving in Basra), and whether he favors public or private ownership of Iraq's oil industry (public, in the short-term at least). He exudes maturity and wisdom far beyond his 24 years.

Mohammed, 10 years his senior, is extremely well spoken and a thoroughly charming man. I asked if it is reasonable to expect constitutional guarantees of equality for women and non-Muslims. Mohammed provided a well-measured argument supporting the brothers' optimistic view that whatever form the Iraqi constitution takes, it will guarantee full rights to both groups.

These men demonstrate more dedication to the principles of democracy and individual liberty than 95% of the people who hang around here. Jim Hake's Spirit of America is making a difference to people in Iraq. To whom do you make a difference? Stop flailing about and cursing in the darkness and light a damn candle once in a while.

Iraq is lucky to have people like the Fadhil brothers. America is lucky to have people like Jim Hake. You might ask yourselves who exactly is lucky to have you.

I don't know which in this country is in the sorrier state, higher education or liberalism, but I guess they go hand-in-hand, don't they. And it was a great privilege to meet these men.

Posted by: Kyda Sylvester at December 15, 2004 12:55 AM

whether he favors public or private ownership of Iraq's oil industry (public, in the short-term at least).

It definately will be in the short term. After the election, huge swathes of the Iraqi economy will be sold off. That has already been decided irrespective of the election result. Foreign companies are already in line. They are just waiting until the election is over before they make their move.

The sell off of Iraq's ecomomy to foreign interests will not look good before the election, and may be open to legal challenges. But after? You just watch the sale of the century.

The Iraqi people will have no say whatsoever in the proceedings; that's logical in a commercial sense, they had no financial stake in their liberation - Uncle Sam paying for it 100%, to the tune of $100 billion plus.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 15, 2004 01:07 AM

Wow.

This has got to be the shortest-lived "fisking" in blogging history.

Mike Totten gets spectacularly taken down on his own blog by Ratatosk - for failing to do a simple, elemental piece of fact-checking: click through on a link.

I almost empathise with the MSM critique of blogs sometimes because of nonsense like this. The medium is so fast, it almost invites carelessness. And the drivel posted here went all over the web after being picked up by some big mainstream bloggers.

The classic apologia of Blogdom - "Yes, we make mistakes too, but when we do we correct them" - is here revealed nakedly to be as divorced from uniform reality as some of the defenses proffered by the MSM for their own silliness.

Totten, taken to task by Ratatosk for a profound error, "corrects" himself by placing a footnote all the way at the bottom of his post. But it is really as unapologetic as it is disingenous. No, Cole didn't anywhere claim that the ITM was a CIA front. He said MR had writtten a post about blog trolling in which they said such and such about ITM. He then went on to talk about the phenomenon of "blogtrolling" in general, and its relation to Marshall's "astroturfing".

But Totten justifies his so-called "fisking" with the absurd comment that Cole "repeated" the conspiracy theory.

What a load of crap. Michael, by your standard, YOU YOURSELF "repeated" the conspiracy theory on your blog.

There are better, more honest ways to correct oneself and say sorry. They all start with an honest acceptance that a mistake was made in the first place.

Posted by: Aaron at December 15, 2004 04:38 AM

And anyway Cole's post was very mild... He hardly said anything controversial. I would not have repeated MR's speculation regarding the service provider, but the rest of it was quite bland.

All this hoo haa. Michael Totten stating that Cole made up a "conspiracy theory" "all by himself this time" is quite erroneous.

Jeff Jarvis loses his cool and calls Cole "pond scum", and accuses him of libel - on the basis of such a mild post by Cole! Cole's retort of "dittohead" is pretty controlled.

HELLO!!

EARTH CALLING JEFF JARVIS!

With supporters like Jeff, no wonder Kerry lost the election!

Posted by: Benjamin at December 15, 2004 05:18 AM

"Major Bannion posts with his actual name."

This is not accurate.

Posted by: FactCheck at December 15, 2004 05:30 AM

Factcheck - you are correct. I rescind that statement. He is in the military, however, and I stand by everything else I said about reasonable doubt....

Posted by: Caroline at December 15, 2004 05:53 AM

Mike Totten gets spectacularly taken down on his own blog by Ratatosk...

Aaron-

You made me laugh so hard I nearly chocked on my Maypo. I am sending instructions at this very moment, via diabolical mind control, to my minions. Expect multiple Rovians at your door to beat you senseless within the hour.

Benjamin-

You know, if you double-shifted at Taco Bell rather than limit yourself to your normal hours, you could work off some of this energy and have enough money for medication.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at December 15, 2004 06:20 AM

Right on Benjamin, David Thompson.

Nathan Hamm: Why don't you have the stones to answer the legitimate questions? Huh, Mr. cop-out?

Posted by: Drew Vogel at December 15, 2004 06:21 AM

Cole spread a moonbat conspiracy theory, with gusto and hearty approval.

Totten ridiculed him for it.

Sophists howled with rage, grasping for anything they could find to deflect the antiseptic light cast upon Cole's moonbattery. Now they run through the town frightening the children with their shrieking that at least Cole didn't make the theory up himself.

Posted by: Jim at December 15, 2004 06:34 AM

Oh, and Dennis, in my family we say "kerfluffle" (with the extra "l"). See, the checks we get from Rove are so very small that that's the best we can do for Bush at this time.

Posted by: Jim at December 15, 2004 06:39 AM

Aha, a "Tech Central" writer. Tech Central: a right wing agitprop website that tries to appear centrist, partly by seeming to focus on geeky issues. Juan Cole is getting mainstream media access and has effectivly countered right wing spin about Iraq and the Middle East. Cole must be de-legitimized, and Totten seems to be doing his part.

Benjamin makes sense and Totten's use of language is quite revealing. No trouble figuring out what's going on here.

A cheap David Brooks imitation, gutter sniping for the VRWC. Keep up the good work, Mike.

Posted by: Jerry at December 15, 2004 07:14 AM

Yessir, Jerry, it's always much easier for you to skip the whole analysis thing and just jump straight to the conclusions, isn't it?

Posted by: jeremy in NYC at December 15, 2004 07:30 AM

MT, Jerry nailed you and your Tech Central VRWC. You're BUSTED!

...Totten's use of language is quite revealing. No trouble figuring out what's going on here.

Nod, wink, 'nuf said. Twitch, jiggle. Jaded, knowing frown.

Posted by: Jim at December 15, 2004 07:31 AM

Jim,

Cole spread a moonbat conspiracy theory, with gusto and hearty approval.

No, Cole referenced a moonbat conspiracy theory, in an article that had a theme of blogtrolling, not of 'moonbat conspiracies'. Cole no more endorsed the moonbat theory than did Michael by referencing it here (except that Cole actually gave correct attributions).

Its sorta scary. I try to keep in mind that we're all about the same, we're all about as honest with ourselves and we're all about as logical. Yet, here we have people rabidly defending a incorrect article. Oh they pull out all of the slurs and hyperbole that they can muster to defend an error. It's sadly what I see happening all over the political system today. No one can say "Whoops, I fucked up". Bush can't look the American people in the eye and say "I was wrong, I'm sorry." Kerry can't look the democrats in the eye and say "I lost this election, I'm sorry. Get over it."

No, we must keep on keeping on. For if you are wrong once, perhaps you will be wrong again!(and we can't have people admiting that they're wrong, can we?) People make mistakes. MJT wrote a great rant, but it's invalid because he misread the article he's fisking. Thats all there is to it. No sophism, no moonbat liberalism, just a plain old fashioned mistake. The article is not defendable. It is based on false assumptions. That, my friends is all there is to it.

Now, consider, if you irrationally and vehemently defend a OBVIOUS ERROR, what else may your brain be fooling you into defending? What other errors could you be accepting because it 'seems' to be right to you? Those who personally don't like Cole or his message are the ones who are defending Michael's article, this is called bias. Sure, its a natural part of being human... but you can work to overcome at least some of it.

I don't read Juan Cole. I don't support him, his ideas or his political party. Zip, Zero, Nada. I completely disagree with his rediculous post about Isreali actions being responsible for Lt. Huffman's death.

However, as someone who has been involved with Internet communications since 1988, I am keenly aware of the threat of Astroturfing. I've seen it done a number of times by companies, city governments and politrical parties. Cole's warning isn't a crazy moonbat theory. Its an accepted practice in the amoral corporate world, do you really think it won't bleed into the standard political weapons cache?

I don't care what your political views are, basic honesty goes a long way in crossing the aisle.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 15, 2004 07:40 AM

Caroline, forgive me if I call something you wrote into question, but wasn't your argument that you could trust the "Major," because he used his real name and could be goog.led?

Now that you find out that he dosen't use his real name and cannot be goog.led, your argument still stands?

Forgive me for using such a nasty insinuation, but I think that you might have drawn the facts from the conclusion.

Posted by: FactCheck at December 15, 2004 08:34 AM

With supporters like Jeff, no wonder Kerry lost the election! Benjamin

With supporters like Cole and Benjamin it's no wonder why Kerry lost the election. Was that "Global Test" spherical enough for you?

Posted by: d-rod at December 15, 2004 08:47 AM

You know, it's funny -- I went over and read Cole's piece, after I read yours, and it's as though we read two difference pieces. Yet I know that you read the same piece I did, because you quoted extensively from it.

See, I don't actually see a conspiracy theory, there. All I see is someone pointing out that certain people have views that are more useful to people in power than other people, and that the people with useful views are the ones that are getting listened to.

That's not a conspiracy. That's a fact of life. I see it every day in my work, I see it every day at the corner bar, and I see it in politics. I find it interesting that you react to it so strongly.

Posted by: eric at December 15, 2004 08:50 AM

Wait...so, is the whole point here that Cole was pointing out the looming threat of astroturfing by insinuating the Martini Republic is indulging in it? I'm confused. I mean, if you're going to use ITM as an example of the astroturf threat, accepting MR's analysis as valid is the first step. On the other hand, since even a cursory glance at their conclusions nearly ensures a case of the giggles, maybe Cole's being more nuanced than I thought.

I don't believe that, but it's really the only workable defense I can come up with. The alternatives all involve Cole being a major bonehead, or Cole being a paid lackey of the Soros media juggernaut, or similar uncomplementary interpretations.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 15, 2004 09:54 AM

Factcheck -

My original post was written in haste. Post haste as it were! I quickly noted that Ratatosk had stated he had g*ogled the Major's name and found a connection to Iraq. As you correctly stated it is not his real name. I know this because he emailed me. However, I also know that he is in fact in the military.

However, going back to what started this - had the Major simply posted what he did about Riverbend, yes I would have been inclined to believe him because the circumstantial evidence indicates to me that Riverbend benefited from the Hussein regime and is bitter that the gravy train is over. That is actually what I had assumed before the Major posted his direct information about her situation. So to disbelieve what he posted I would have to assume that some guy comes on the internet, pretending to have been in Bagdad, making up a bald-faced lie about Riverbend but that just happens to jive with what I have observed in reading her. To what end? And frankly the tone of his post was pretty authentic. Low key. Its obviously all circumstantial. Which is why I brought up the issue of "reasonable doubt", because frankly isn't that alot of what we're going to face on the internet?
On the flip side re Cole's post it seems clearly beyond a REASONABLE doubt to me, that the Fadhil brothers are not CIA plants. Its as ridiculous as thinking that a gang actually kidnapped Laci Peterson with so much circumstantial evidence to the contrary.

Of course given that you post under the moniker factcheck, I doubt this will pass muster with you. But really, I'm pretty much just acknowledging the actual situation we find ourselves in on the web when people are able to post under aliases.

Posted by: Caroline at December 15, 2004 10:05 AM

Besides Factcheck - even MSM print journalism is rife with anonymous sources, man on the street interviews etc. so the whole issue of aliases and whether people are who they pretend to be and what their political agendas are and so forth - and how that shapes our perceptions of reality - is not limited to the blogosphere. I don't accept anything at face value. Its more a matter of continuously putting together different sources of information and deciding where the evidence transcends reasonable doubt. Like a jury does. The political left would presumably have let Peterson off the hook given their penchant for conspiracy theories (Laci kidnapped by a cult in this case....)

Posted by: Caroline at December 15, 2004 10:26 AM

You state with certainty that "Major" "Sean" "Bannion" is currently in the millitary. Could you provide any sort of documentary evidence for such that might exist?

Posted by: FactCheck at December 15, 2004 10:29 AM

However, as someone who has been involved with Internet communications since 1988, I am keenly aware of the threat of Astroturfing. I've seen it done a number of times by companies, city governments and politrical parties. Cole's warning isn't a crazy moonbat theory. Its an accepted practice in the amoral corporate world, do you really think it won't bleed into the standard political weapons cache?

What about internet spelling, grammar and punctuation? Ever been involved in that?

D. Clyde-

You do yourself less credit than usual by carrying on about this. Yes, you caught Michael in a relatively mirror error. Great. You get a cookie. But as usual, the main point flies right past you, and it is the more pathetic because you well aware from you time at Roger's site just how much of a whackjob Joseph Mailander is.

I'll make it short and sweet and use words small enough that you can spell them:

Juan Cole is getting slammed because he chose the path of least resistence, intellectual dishonesty, in an attempt to defend and promote his personal political agenda. Cole had the option to debate the substantive issues related to IraqTheModel, blogging by Iraqis or the full spectrum of Iraqi public opinion regarding the war or U.S. policy. He chose not to do so. Instead, he chose (very much in the manner of Noam Chomsky, by the way) to present the factually inaccurate, paranoid ramblings of a beyond-marginal Lefty Loon as worthy of consideration not, mind you, because those ramblings possess merit, but because they can be used to indirectly impugne the character, knowledge and intent of IraqTheModel as well as all the Americans involved in their visit to the U.S.. Juan Cole, being too chickenshit to directly slander and too stupid to persuade, resorts to innuendo and suggestive distortion in an attempt to fortify his own notions.

There we are. That's what you're defending, Fool, because you can't see the forest for the trees. At some point you really need to sit down, shut up, and give some thought as to what extent you understand the difference between being a squirrel of discord and being a horse's ass.

The distinction may be lost upon you, but it is certainly not lost on us.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at December 15, 2004 10:41 AM

That should be minor not mirror and your not you. Feel free to obsess on it and miss my point.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at December 15, 2004 10:44 AM

Factcheck: well no - I'm not going to forward you the email that clearly showed his identity etc. Actually I already deleted it because I respect the privacy rights of people who choose to post anonymously on the internet. Of course he could have completely made up all of his contact information, rank and so on. But to what end? But maybe if he is still following the thread he will email you and satisfy your curiosity. And of course I could have simply made up the fact that he emailed me and you would never know if he doesn't come back on the thread and post. But of course I could post something under his name. (something that actually happened to me on Drum's site -someone used my name to discredit something I had just posted . I was so disgusted I didn't even bother to reply and I haven't gone back there since). It all kind of comes back to that reasonable doubt issue again. I'm not sure how we're going to get around it.

Posted by: Caroline at December 15, 2004 11:09 AM

Is he a Major? Was he working for the CPA or US Government at the time in question? What division of the service does he serve in?

People have the right to anonymity right up until they try to assert that they were somewhere or that they did something. Then they can either give up that right or cast serious doubt on their assertions. Why does someone who asserts thier official job was to pass information that cast into question what someone else was saying need to disgusie their identity?

Posted by: FactCheck at December 15, 2004 11:14 AM

Yikes, worse than my usual typoriddled rant.

Posted by: FactChack at December 15, 2004 11:15 AM

seems DtP has been skipping his anger management classes again...

Posted by: novakant at December 15, 2004 11:21 AM

Factcheck: The Major posted this earlier. Why don't you email him?

"When I was in Iraq I used to write for Sasha Castel. You can check my posts there from the archives beginning in Ocotber 2003. www.coldfury.com/Sasha/. Maybe that helps establish I was actually there. If you want a more detailed accounting, email me."

Posted by: Caroline at December 15, 2004 11:36 AM

Dennis,

You know, I expected you to push at least one of my buttons, you seem to be losing your touch. Is that the best you could do?

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 15, 2004 11:38 AM

Dunno if I've mentioned this, Ratatosk, but you were spectacular in American Gods. A little squirrely, sure, but that goes with the package.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 15, 2004 11:44 AM

Slarti,

Thanks, I thought you did a bang up job on the fjords in Northern Europe. I don't suppose you still do smaller custom work?

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 15, 2004 11:45 AM

On spec, and when I have time. What'd you have in mind? I can do anything from a small inlet to fractally complex coastline a few dozen miles long, with my current workload and all. Also, it's a bit harder doing refurbishment than new-home construction. So the rates go up a bit.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 15, 2004 11:50 AM

Oh sure, I understand. I was thinking of something small for my backyard. Perhaps just a small inlet from the river.

;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 15, 2004 11:52 AM

DtP: What about internet spelling, grammar and punctuation? Ever been involved in that?

DtP: That should be minor not mirror and your not you. Feel free to obsess on it and miss my point.

<Cringe>

I hereby announce Dennis The Peasant's Law of Punctuation Correctness: When snidely noting typos in a post in order to ignore the point being discussed, that is when you are most likely to make typos yourself.

Corollary: Having obsessed about your debating opponent's typos, you look like an ass when you accuse them of doing the same thing.

NB: all typos in this post are intentional, with ironic and comedic intent.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 15, 2004 11:54 AM

dpu,

Aww, leave poor Dennis alone. He's just obsessing about equine asses again. As long as he doesn't start talking about the field of Ha-Ha or the Chinkle Chankle, we'll be fine.

Perhaps I should examine myself though. DtP certianly know the inside of a horse's ass, pretty well... he might be right.

Hrmmm...

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 15, 2004 12:03 PM

Yeah, "Major" "Sean" "Bannion" certainly did something over at a blog from October on till today. I was shocked to find out the US Military, branch unknown (he declines to say, apparently) was paying him to debunk Riverbend. Domestic Psyops. How informative.

Posted by: FactCheck at December 15, 2004 12:04 PM

Michael,

Consider the following juxtaposition

"Just as the Israelis and their American amen corner helped drag the US into the Iraq war, so they also have inflamed Iraqi sentiment against the US by spectacular uses of state terror against Palestinians."

-- Juan Cole

"There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East - the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States."

-- Pat Buchanan

for concise and dispositive proof of the illiberal nature of so much modern "liberalism".

I'm shocked that this quote of Cole's, issued in defense of Hamas godfather and mass murderer Sheikh Yassin, wasn't more widely condemned at the time.

Posted by: John-Paul Pagano at December 15, 2004 12:08 PM

Oh and Factcheck - (if you're still here) - Come back and let us know what you find out - I mean if the Major's story checks out and all....I mean, with a name like factcheck I hope we can count on you for that...

Posted by: Caroline at December 15, 2004 12:08 PM

Sorry factcheck - I missed that you'd already posted your findings.

"Yeah, "Major" "Sean" "Bannion" certainly did something over at a blog from October on till today. I was shocked to find out the US Military, branch unknown (he declines to say, apparently) was paying him to debunk Riverbend. Domestic Psyops. How informative"

Did you try emailing him?

And actually I'm not sure what you mean - to debunk Riverbend. To debunk her where? On a counterblog? What is "Domestic" Psyops? He said he was in Baghdad.

Sorry to be a knucklehead. But I guess now I'm kind of curious.

beats what I'm supposed to be doing at work today :)

Posted by: Caroline at December 15, 2004 12:16 PM

"beats what I'm supposed to be doing at work today"

I wonder how much productivity companies lose due to political blogging?

I know mine loses at least some... on occasion ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 15, 2004 12:22 PM

JPG: I'm shocked that this quote of Cole's, issued in defense of Hamas godfather and mass murderer Sheikh Yassin, wasn't more widely condemned at the time.

Um, I read the linked Cole article. I can't find any defense of Yassin in it. Is the link incorrect?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 15, 2004 12:40 PM

Not just political blogging - surfing period. How can the internet not be having an impact on the bottom line? Hey - thanks for the ethics check. Now that I'm feeling a tad guilty I'll run along...

Posted by: Caroline at December 15, 2004 12:41 PM

Above, "Major" "Sean" "Bannion" says that, and I quote:

Until I left, I ended up with the absolutely thankless task of correcting Riverbend's information/disinformation/misinformation (depending on what side of the fence you're on) on the Internet.

The US DoD defines psychological operations (PSYOP) (JP 1-02) - Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator's objectives.

Domestic Psyops would be the same thing, distributed mainly in America, say, via a far-right blog, like, for instance, Sasha Castel, a far-right blog. The "Major" says that he was paid to debunk Riverbend. He did so for a domestic, US audience. "Domestic" "PsyOps".

Posted by: FactCheck at December 15, 2004 12:42 PM

Have you emailed Major Bannion yet, "FactCheck"? You see unusually reticent about doing that, for a guy who ostensibly wants to get his facts straight.

Oh, and lose the scare quotes; they are SOOOO 2003.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 15, 2004 12:52 PM

"FactCheck" you're really reaching here aren't ya?

At several points here you've proven you don't know mucxh about the internal workings of the military and/or your government. It has nothing to do with your intelligence but you're opinions on what I did in Iraq are ignorant. Ignorance being defined as "lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified" which is clearly the case here.

I can pull a quote from the internet too, like you just did on PsyOps. But if you lack context, and you do, then it doesn't pass for an informed opinion. I offered my email address above, email if you'd like to take this up so you I can clear up any questions you might have.

I made an understated comment here and it has taken up entirely too much space in this thread. Geez, get over it. Man, even Ratatosk and double-plus-ungood seemed to get what I was saying after a bit even if they didn't agree with me and even if they view me as a dubious source. Which is fine with me. Take me with a grain of salt if you don't buy my post.

Posted by: Major Sean Bannion at December 15, 2004 12:53 PM

Double-plus,

When I made the comment to which you are responding, I believe I was conflating two articles that form my impression of Cole viz. Israel. -- the one I linked, and this one. Re: the "defense" of Yassin, consider:

Everyone should be clear that murdering Yassin bestowed no operational advantage on Israel. Yassin was in the political and religious wing of Hamas. He did not plan or carry out tactical terrorist actions, though he certainly approved of them as a form of national liberation struggle (on the other hand he did sometimes talk of trying to achieve a 100-year truce with Israel; that aspect of this complex figure is gone, opening the way for a new generation of violent young men to come to the fore in Hamas, with no restraint whatsoever on their thirst for vengeance). Yassin was an old half-blind man in a wheel chair. Israel could have arrested him and tried him anytime Sharon chose. Sharon could even have had him executed after a fair trial, staying within the bounds of the rule of law. Who could have objected to a terrorist being tried and sentenced? To take him out, using American missiles, was just a fancy way of murdering him, destined to produce more hatred against the United States at a time when we don't need that. It is a form of state terrorism, designed to instill terror in a civilian population. Sharon is nothing more than a mafia don who rubs out other mafia dons, and doesn't care how many innocent women and children get sprayed by the machine gun fire (were Yassin's 7 companions all guilty of capital crimes? How would we know without a trial?) The lot of them belong in jail.

I've opened a can of worms here, because the point of my comment was not to debate the warp and weft of Cole's defense of a mass murderer of Jewish men, women and children, but rather to demonstrate the convergence of Pat Buchanan's rhetoric circa 1991 and that of many illiberal "liberals" today.

But now that I have drawn attention away from the substance of my point, I will clarify my secondary comment about Cole. As you can see clearly from the second article I quote, Cole is not a direct supporter of Hamas or anti-Jewish terror. He is, however, an apologist through moral equivalence for Hamas, and a purveyor of rather ahistorical analyses and uninformed comment. Consider alone his muting in the passage above of Yassin's crucial and obvious role in Hamas' long career of murder and religious fascism. What this bespeaks, as well as Cole's pointed characterization of Yassin's death as "murder", fills loudly the void left in his writing by his supreme indifference to Jewish suffering.

Posted by: John-Paul Pagano at December 15, 2004 01:06 PM

Major,

The only reason I questioned you was because your statement had no supporting evidence.

I fully expect that quite a number of blogs, will one day be exposed as Astroturf site.s. Riverbend is likely one of them, I am not trying to defend it.

In fact, the only blog I'd be surprised to find supporting an astroturf campaign is this one. And I know thats only because I'm biased and 'I Like Mike'.

I think you'll find people much less hostile if you speak in certianties, only when you can produce evidence to support your claim. For example, you could have said "From what I saw in Iraq, I think blah, blah, blah." No sane people would have quibbled (or me, for that matter).

The Internet is full of Majors and Generals and Corproals who are willing to tell you all sorts of things, but when asked for evidence, will respond "I can't give that out", "Thats classified", etc.

I now deal with people who tell me that they're ex-millitary, based on experiences with a great co-worker, who I was privledged to work beside in a security consulting job. He was an ex-Navy Intel, and anytime something millitary would come up, he was surprisingly quiet. When I once asked him (half jokingly) if Eschalon and Tempest were real, he looked at me, looked away and said "Don't ask me questions like that."

Once, he told that you can tell which ex millitary guys were exaggerating because they're the ones that tell you information, then tell you that the sources are 'classified'. His rationale was that "You Don't Talk About Classified Stuff. Ever. Never. No Way." Especially, if you were dealing with it on a daily basis.

Don't get me wrong, he talked all about some of his experiences (flying over Iraq with his legs under a breakaway desk... if they ejected it would break away, and break his legs in the process). He also mentioned the fact that Arabic naval intercepts often had the sounds of farm animals in the background. This was due to the long period of time at sea without female company.

I didn't ask for evidence on that one.

I don't accuse you of anything, only wanted to post the reason why I questioned your post. I hope you uinderstand.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 15, 2004 01:15 PM

Anything you might want to say to correct me via Email you should feel free to post up right here, because I certainly would. So, make me less ignorant - tell me exactly what you were tasked to do in Iraq, and who taksed you to do so. Show us that you weren't being paid for domestic PsyOps.

Assuming you are army, please tell us your MOS amd rank. Here, I'll make it easy on you. Just verify you are 37F. Thanks.

Posted by: Hipocrite at December 15, 2004 01:17 PM

"At several points here [FactCheck has] proven [he] don't know mucxh about the internal workings of the military and/or your government."

This statement is in error.

Posted by: Hipocrite at December 15, 2004 01:30 PM

JPG - He calls Yassin a terrorist, and questions the wisdom of blowing him up (along with a number of other people who were near him) rather than arresting him and putting him on trial. I don't see how that can be interpreted as "defending him."

You mention his indifference to Jewish suffering, yet I can see no evidence of that either. He has repeatedly expressed his support for Israel's existence and self-defense, and condemned terror attacks, so I'm really not sure how you're reading this stuff into his postings.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 15, 2004 01:32 PM

Ratatosk-

This really isn't about pushing buttons. It runs more along the lines of coherent thought as it relates to both you and Juan. Point missed again.

DPU-

What made you decide to be Ratatosk's human shield? Other than the obvious, that is.

And please note the paragraph (that's the thingee with the words in it) about Juan Cole, which was the point.

I'll be the first to admit I didn't make the school's typing team, nor did I get invited to the Spelling Bee, but even I know there are only 2 "r"s in "its"...perhaps it was untoward to point that out to your pal.

Novakant-

Classes? I'm too well adjusted for classes.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at December 15, 2004 01:32 PM

Dennis,

In that case you should stick to pushing buttons, because coherent thought is apparently out of your reach.

By the way, dpu was making fun of you, not acting as a human shield. Besides, I think that when the enemy is throwing Pop Rocks, a human shield is unnecessary.

But, the Pop rocks are good. I don't know how you knew that Watermellon was my favorite.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 15, 2004 01:44 PM

Cole quoted from MR as a springboard for his own ideas. Rather as if George Will quoted a Ku Klux Klan article as a starting point for a scholarly essay. Not plausible on the face of it. Absurd. He made himself a fool from the very start.

And what idiots would try to make such stupidity sound rational? Who are you?

Posted by: Cole's bane at December 15, 2004 01:44 PM

Cole's bane:

Bane your missing the point, its about the "larger" issue of astroturfing and the use of unproven conspiracy theories as evidence of the phenomenon. If only you could shed your biases you'd be able to realize this.

Best of love,

Ratface

Posted by: gibson. at December 15, 2004 01:55 PM

Ratatosk - I gotcha, Tosk. No harm. Not a problem.

Hipocrite - Not a 37F. Know what a 59A is? I offer up my email because too many people are hit and run posters. It's the best I can do to try, someehow, to offer a good faith gesture that I am not one of them. For another reference you can ask Al Maviva (he posted above me and he also writes for Sasha Castel) for a blurb. He's seen me in the flesh. Look, I really don't think this is the right forum for me to post my credentials and I feel I've taken up too much time here. I That's why I said to email me.

Posted by: Major Sean Bannion at December 15, 2004 02:08 PM

hipocrite/factcheck,

Get over your online chest pounding and email the guy if your so curious.

Posted by: gibson. at December 15, 2004 02:12 PM

You know, with all this talk of conspiracies and double-blind psyops, my family did some checking up on me--they wonder how I, a lifelong liberal, could have turned into a "chickenhawk" so soon after 9/11 (remember, all those people killed?). Come to find out, my retirement check is mailed from an address near WASHINGTON, D.C. (Bushiterland), and is deposited AUTOMATICALLY in my checking account every month. No biggie you say? But wait, there's more. Their monthly newsletter carefully calibrated WITH A SECRET CODE!! Careful, or you too may turn you into a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!!

Posted by: PJ at December 15, 2004 02:19 PM

Too funny, PJ. Did you write this book?.

Posted by: Major Sean Bannion at December 15, 2004 03:03 PM

off the clock, guilt turned off....

Major - welcome back. And imagine that with a big smile ++:)

Could I ask you one question though - on the (what passes for the internet) record? For WHOM were you supposed to correct Riverbend's information/disinformation/misinformation? For Iraqi's? (obviously that doesn't make sense - since they would have their own evidence about the reality in Iraq) For Americans? I don't recall seeing a Riverbend "counterblog". And frankly Major - with all due respect - I'm not sure you were too successful at it, given the left's apparently wholesale embrace of Riverbend. As far as the right - Bush had them from hello....

Posted by: Caroline at December 15, 2004 04:23 PM

"Too funny, PJ. Did you write this book?"

I can't say...

Ya know what I mean wink?

Posted by: PJ at December 15, 2004 04:49 PM

For whom was the CPA. Riverbend was spouting off with completely bogus crap -- at least in her early days, I don't read her anymore -- and I offered actual information.

I was completely UNsuccessful at it. I did not have a blog dedicated to this although on my own time (translated as off duty and with my personal computer) I have more than a few rants over on Sasha Castel. The official effort was the same exact thing public affairs officers do - provide info. No propaganda, no disinformation, only verifiable facts. Only info ops and psyops guys get to do propaganda and I wasn't one of them (although I worked closely with them). Post-conflict even the psyops guys switched to information dissemination as a primary function since there wasn't much to do in the way of "hearts and minds." Go read "Iraq Travelogues" over at www.mullings.com and you might pick up that sense.

Mostly my effort was monitoring posts and emailing her directly and offering actual facts about what the Coalition was doing. I offered Zeyad at Healing Iraq the same service and he accepted but remained cautious about posting what I offered, which he did on rare occasions. Riverbend never replied, and never so much as hinted on her site that she was being supplied with the other side of the story.

Can't convert the converted I guess.

Posted by: Major Sean Bannion at December 15, 2004 05:26 PM

Well Major - you confirmed what I already pretty much knew from "circumstantial evidence" - namely - that the US sucks at propoganda (and propoganda control). Meanwhile propoganda is outrageously rampant in the Muslim world, and even in Europe - where the media is largely state controlled. Simultaneously, we in the US kvetch endlessly about the "old media" and the "new" media - and rules of evidence - as we well should. But perhaps we should take just a moment to pause and compare the quality of the "juries" overseas.

"off the clock, guilt turned off" (me)

This is not accurate.

If factcheck wants to live up to his name, I suggest that in one year's time ( i.e. one year after the term "blog" became (in)famous) - he check out how many marriages dissolved over political blogging. Geez - you'd think we were indulging in pornography or something.....

Posted by: Caroline at December 15, 2004 06:24 PM

This is not surprising. Many Middle East "experts" such as Juan Cole have studied Arab culture for so long that they begin to pick up attributes of it. Something very common in the Arab world are conspiracy theories. They're rampant and taken extremely seriously. It seems Cole is just doing the same.

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Posted by: Michael Grele at December 24, 2004 08:32 AM

The interesting thing is that Mr. Totten doesn't address the central issue. Are these guys being paid for by US Taxpayers money? Yes, its impossible to prove they are not -- but a think the question deserves serious thought. Now, whether paying these guys is a good thing is a second issue -- just like the Western money going to the Ukraine right now. I would say its not a good thing, just as I would say that Chinese money financing a pro-Clinton group in the late 1990's was not a good thing.

Now that I think of it, its even worse. Having been to 'Iraq the Model' a few times, it is clear that the target audience is not Iraqi's -- we have plenty of propaganda outlets targetting them already. No, Iraq the model is there to keep an educated and highly political segement of the American populace onboard this failed campaign. That is if they are CIA funded, or even funded by one of the 'pro-democracy' quangos, they are propaganda targeting us, seeking to manipulate US public opinion with US taxdollars. And that is just plain wrong.

Posted by: Mitch Young at December 25, 2004 08:32 AM

"It's no wonder, really, that so many conservatives dismiss liberals and leftists out of hand as self-declared enemies of freedom and democracy."

Yep.

Many pulled the same stunts during the cold war and did their best to explain away anything the USSR did.

Posted by: Thomas at December 28, 2004 10:32 AM

Posted by: (the other) John Hawkins at December 14, 2004 08:27 AM

"It seems to me that Cole suffers from the same basic problem a lot of Arab Muslims suffer from. When you have a religion (Arabs = Islam / Cole = neo-Marxist liberalism) that promises you will rule the world, and the damn infidels (Westerners and Jews / Neocons and Jews) keep winning, it must be a comfort to have lunatic conspiracy theories that explain it all away."

Good post but I think you may have it backwards.

Marxism and islamo-fascism (well, any fascism) are conspiracy theories at their core. Like Pipes argued, Marxism is based on the concept of a business conspiracy. Generic fascism worries about more powerful nations (the plutocracies). So, IMO, failure does not cause it.

Even in the face of victory these types will persist in seeing conspiracies and probably murdering a lot of people based on these paranoid thoughts. See Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot….

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