Backtalk, February 28, 2005

Sex, Lies, and Jeff Gannon

Dear Mr. Raimondo,

I am a frequent reader of your articles and admire your writing. In your recent article, you write: “As a gay man, I can’t say that I understand Gannon’s appeal to his clients in the escort business – a 47-year-old male hooker camouflaging himself as a decade-younger faux-butch jarhead?”

Perhaps this is just the point. Here’s a closeted gay man, someone to whom acting has become second nature, posing as a newsman to suck up to conservative Republicans, and also posing as a military man to attract military types for sex. In both cases, the motive is power and money. It occurs to me that this seems to be a leitmotiv in the neoconservative White House, the posing as military types to promote aggressive policies without actually placing themselves in any danger whatsoever. Remember Bush dressing up in the flight suit? And all those chickenhawks like Cheney and Rumsfeld talking tough about attacking enemies wherever they are and for however long it takes? Here’s a culture of macho-sounding old men posing vicariously behind the real soldiers who are dying for this militaristic drag show. I think this is Gannon’s appeal to his clients in the bedroom, in the press room, and perhaps even in the Lincoln bedroom.

~ Rich Mesek

I thought Justin Raimondo’s piece on Gannon and the Plame matter was a particularly lucid description of what both the Gannon and the Plame cases are all about. Congratulations from one who has been at the center of the matter from the beginning. Raimondo has it exactly right when he says this is about a cabal that will stop at nothing, even treason, to maintain its grip on power. If that is not fascism, I don’t know what is.

~ Joe Wilson

All accolades go to Justin and his real journalism. I have noticed how so many people seem shocked – yes, shocked – over the fact that a male prostitute could be given such access to the bowels of Washington, D.C. I am not one of those shocked people. I have written commentary for Antiwar.com, and I am sure some readers of this post have seen my Web site, which is NoAnthraxVaccine.net. If you scroll about halfway down the main page on my site, you will see a picture of an older Washington Times newspaper. Read the headline very carefully. Ex-Republican and former Nebraska state Senator John DeCamp wrote a book discussing CIA/clandestine child prostitution rings designed to compromise and blackmail politicians: The Franklin Cover-Up. Ever wonder why these hacks seem indifferent toward the feelings of their constituencies? The scandal is not that a reporter who moonlights as a male prostitute managed to gain access to the White House despite of his activities. The scandal is that a male prostitute who moonlights as a “reporter” was given access because of his activities. I would like to know exactly who Mr. “Gannon’s” clients in DC are.

~ Mark Anderson

Justin Raimondo is brilliant. … Today I found him on David Horowitz’s blacklist of the “political left.” Other “leftists” on the site include the Ayatollah Khomeini. Can we all pitch in and enroll David in a Poli Sci 101 class? …

~ Cheryl Hutchinson


Outfoxed by bin Laden

Every time I read an article by Roberts I am disappointed that I am not reading the words of a senator, a congressman, or even a candidate. If only those who represent us had his wisdom and courage. One good thing to note, however, is that these concise and unflinching articles are showing up on liberal and progressive sites all over the Internet, and are drawing praise from people who, simply knowing his background, would not otherwise read him. Tells us something, doesn’t it, when liberals like me find the sharpest critic of this god-awful administration to be a conservative ex-WSJ editor. I will not abandon all hope – yet.

~ K. Lowell, Hawaii

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

I very much appreciate this compliment. I have always held politicians and policies accountable regardless of party. Indeed, I gave Bush the First so much criticism that I was removed by White House pressure from the Wm. E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at CSIS that I had held for 12 years. During my 15 or 16 years as Business Week columnist, the editor-in-chief told the staff that I was the most effective critic of Washington that the magazine had. My analysis doesn’t always agree with the left’s or the right’s. When I criticize, it is me speaking, not a political partisan. I try to be informed and to criticize based on fact and sound analysis.


Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005

When I heard that Thompson had offed himself I knew that some would jump at the chance to trash him, but I didn’t expect it from Antiwar.com. Brandon Snider wasted no time in working up a “mad,” but that is the beauty of suicide. One needn’t care what anyone thinks.

At this moment we don’t know why he did it. Maybe it was his health. The decision to skip the pain and degradation of dying is fairly common. Ask any doctor.

But what pisses me off is how his death is already being used to coach us into conformity. “His left-libertarian writings could have had a much bigger impact in the last 30 years or so, if he hadn’t taken himself out of the game.” Sure. This country has been spiraling into an Orwellian police state for 30-plus years. Maybe, as he watched us go through endless drug wars and shooting wars, he was sick of the public discourse “game.” In any case, it was his decision.

One gets the idea that what really bothers the clean-and-sober Brandon is that Thompson didn’t repent and come to the altar of conformity. Why didn’t he go into rehab and come out to lecture us on the evils the state is here to protect us from. He could have made lots of money, the state could take half and spend it on bombs; get your priorities straight, man!

Better yet, he could have “come down off that mountain” and sat next to Matt Drudge at White House dinners. After all, isn’t that what we are expected to do? Join in a “society” that doesn’t really exist. Join in the debate, while this uncontrollable beast that is the U.S. government rampages across the globe. Success is measured by one’s nearness to power and anyone that doesn’t go along is a “nut.”

Finally, his manner of death doesn’t diminish his work (as Brandon believes) anymore than did Hemingway’s. Time will bear that out. For now, it is enough that one man chose to live and leave on his own terms.

~ Ben Jones

Brandon Snider replies:

I didn’t think there was anything beautiful about suicide, but I guess it depends on your point of view. What I was lamenting was his self-inflicted irrelevance. Conformity and relevance are not synonymous, and the very last thing in the world I wanted to see was Thompson as a conformist. What I wish is basically the same as Drudge, that he had come off the mountain and stopped acting like a nut. But, as I said, based on the writing, the act must have stopped a long time ago.


Lethal Weapons: Neocon Groupies

We have someone constantly chasing Marsden around on our board who goes by the name of Dormy2. She has done nothing out of the ordinary on our forum at all, and I have no idea why she is being treated like this.

By the way, Ms. Mercer may have talked to Coulter’s webmaster, but I am the owner of her official forum, and I haven’t heard a peep about this, other than from disgruntled people who want to complain about Marsden. I don’t know her from Adam, other than as a poster under another user name, but as long as she does nothing untoward on the forum, I have no reason to allow just another forum member to be attacked.

I’m really tired of this apparent vendetta against someone who has a small Vancouver radio show and who does nothing wrong while visiting Coulter’s forum. If there’s a problem, you are free to contact me with proof that she’s a female Jack the Ripper or something; otherwise, I’d just find a new target.

~ Anthony B. Ford

Ilana Mercer replies:

This is too rich for words, sir. As I documented in my column, Marsden is a recently convicted stalker. Her résumé boasts another major “achievement”: she attempted to destroy a young man’s life by falsely accusing him of sexual assault and siccing the Canadian sexual harassment kangaroo court on him, in a case that “rewrote sexual harassment policy in Canada.” Marsden has had nothing but positive reinforcement for what she did – she has never paid for what she did to her first victim, Liam Donnelly. But apparently, you, Mr. Ford, think nothing of falsely accusing a man of rape and reaping the publicity therefrom.

By your account, since she hasn’t chopped someone into tiny bits, you consider her a victim of a vendetta.

I wouldn’t worry too much about cleaning up your blogs or chat rooms – like all such forums, those are usually full of unsavory, self-important losers (I am here paraphrasing Miss Coulter, with whom I agree in this respect. See “On the Importance of Boundaries.” She called these bloggers losers who sit around in pajamas all day.). However, I had approached Ms. Coulter’s webmaster (Tom Scerbo) quite a while ago, to ask if she was aware that he had posted on her site columns by this notorious Canadian. Ms. Coulter’s other front man’s response was similar to yours: “We all have baggage, forgive and forget.”

Since I take it you are speaking for Law-and-Order Ann Coulter, I thank you for seconding the official stance of the Coulter Web site with respect to those who violate the rights of others (but happen to be neoconservatives).

You’ll probably be pleased to know that both of you (speaking on behalf of Miss Coulter) are at least as confused about ethics as Bill O’Reilly. He, too, mumbled something about the “personal attacks” on his Canadian commentator. (Of course, he would never have dared ask the opinion of one of the few principled men left on the Canadian Right. Like myself, Kevin Michael Grace has been quick to note the irony of soliciting Marsden’s “opinions,” such as they are.)

Apparently, you all “think” that to document a commentator’s recent criminal conviction and history of aggression against innocent victims amounts to ad hominem.

So here’s a 101 in ethics for neocons: perpetrating aggression against innocent victims is not in the realm of “her personal life” (O’Reilly’s characterization); it’s public, and it’s germane to her credibility in all endeavors.

In any case, the Marsden peccadillo is just more evidence that neoconservatives scoff at all the things conservatives once valued, not least probity and upstanding character.


Rummy Dropped From the Loop?

Here we go again.

As a university professor, I am continuously emphasizing to my students the importance of critical analysis and insightful, active, meaningful reading of sources – not just the light, fast scanning of material that passes for reading in the minds of many undergraduates.

“As a university graduate,” I tell them, “you will be required not just to know things, but to be able to critically assess new information, and you’ll be required to do so quickly and accurately, and pretty much every day of your professional life.”

Last fall, Ron Suskind’s revelations (to me anyway) in the New York Times magazine about the Bush administration’s distrust of the “reality-based world,” with their methods of critical analysis, left me scrambling to explain why the ability to critically evaluate empirical findings in the real world would be a valuable career asset if, after all, the most powerful men and women in the world were determined to “create new realities” rather than understand the current ones. Why would unfettered imagination and determined will not be the only requirements? Now, thanks to Turse and Engelhardt, we learn that ability to keep one of the most powerful occupations in today’s world does not include the requirement of reading of any type.

Is a new “dark ages” descending upon us?

~ Glenn Ward, Ph.D., Department of Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo, Canada


The Neocons’ Devotion to Doctrine

“And while discussing Mr. Bush’s foreign policy during her confirmation hearings, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared that ‘the world should apply what Natan Sharansky calls the “town-square test”: if a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society. We cannot rest until every person living in a “fear society” has finally won their freedom.'”

Oh, I do like the Condi line about the town-square test!

I live in West Sussex, Britain, where if I walked into the town square and uttered the words “Muslim extremists are a threat to Britain,” I would immediately be arrested for incitement to religious hatred!

So Condi and Mr. Bush, when are you going to come and invade the UK and set me free?!

~ Leon Hadar


Just Say ‘No’ to Military Recruiters

Excuse me! No one spit on soldiers returning from Vietnam. That is part of the urban myth that has so divided this country, and that split my generation apart.

I admire much of your writing, but there is no need to lapse into false and misleading hyperbole.

Just as during Vietnam, I support the troops – genuinely support the troops. Bring them home now!

~ Tom Harper


Remember Pearl Harbor

Once again, we read (this time from Christopher Manion) about the “revolutionary consciousness the neocons share with their Jacobin and Trotskyite intellectual forebears requires.”

I just flat don’t buy it. It only makes sense if you think they actually believe their propaganda about “democracy.”

In fact, Bush’s war and the neocon agenda in the Middle East are thoroughly imperialist and reactionary in their goals and realist in their approach. They are driven by greed for resources and profound horror of actual self-determination in the Islamic world.

Witness the neocons’ plan for post-Saddam Iraq put forth in the essay “Securing the Realm,” authored by neocon luminaries such as Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser in 2000. The text of the document nowhere mentions “democracy,” even in reference to Israel. Instead, we hear that Israel, to secure its future, should make a “clean break from the slogan, ‘comprehensive peace'” and instead embrace “a traditional concept of strategy based on balance of power.”

Part of the strategy, as every reader knows, was to depose Saddam Hussein. But the post-Saddam Iraq was not to be democratic. Instead, the plan was to restore the British-installed Hashemite monarchy:

“Since Iraq’s future could affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their efforts to redefine Iraq, including such measures as: visiting Jordan as the first official state visit, even before a visit to the United States. … Were the Hashemites to control Iraq, they could use their influence over Najf to help Israel wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria. Shia retain strong ties to the Hashemites: the Shia venerate foremost the Prophet’s family, the direct descendants of which – and in whose veins the blood of the Prophet flows – is King Hussein.”

How is all this talk of balance of power, and of restoration of monarchy, in any way Jacobin or Trotskyite? The drivel we are hearing about democracy is pure propaganda – intended to be more palatable than public talk of puppet kings installed to control the natives. I simply don’t believe that they believe it, and I’m astounded that anyone else believes that they believe it.

In point of fact, this crew is reactionary to the core. They haven’t proposed anything, or taken any measures, that couldn’t have been hatched over sherry and peacock’s tongue at the Congress of Vienna.

~ Steve Vinson

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