Thursday, June 29, 2006

A funny one: Making your boss a public spectacle

I saw this on Reuters and it's a fun tilt at the modern world. Many of us have worked for that one, really annoying ass. You know the one I'm thinking of here. That bomb throwing, foul tempered, know-it-all jerk that will leave no good deed unpunished?

How about the control freak who "wants you to show initiative," but explodes when you do something as radical as going to the bathroom without permission? Remember that one? No way I could work in Corporate America today: This story is a great example:

"NEW YORK (Reuters) - The movie and best-selling book "The Devil Wears Prada" skewer a diabolical magazine editor, the popular blog "Anonymous Lawyer" parodies a top legal firm and a top editor dishes dirt in a behind-the-scenes book at the beauty industry.

All the dirty laundry being aired about less-than-happy workplaces might mean bullying bosses would think twice before berating their underlings. But experts and insiders say none of it will make a lick of difference."

Funny that even in the limelight, some people can't change. That was the part I found curious.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flooding in PA

It's been bad, but I swear I wouldn't have known about it one way or the other. But from what I've seen on the news, I'm glad I don't live anywhere near the river. Lucky me.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Here's one for the books, a 25 minute speech on WLKF Radio by Yours Truly

Now, I've done radio and television interviews a bunch of times. I did a TV interview waist deep in a small inlet. One radio interview I did almost got me stopped at the airport (no kidding), when I got back to the V.I. after I went to Washington to ask the Feds to cut funding to the government until they cleaned up sewage spills everywhere.

But I had a first yesterday when I was set to do an interview on WLKF Radio to discuss Per Contra's petition to the United Nations to get them to enforce resolution 48/104.

Going in, we lost the HOST to a technical difficulty. The board op comes over the phone to me and says: "We have to fill 45 minutes, you're on in 10 seconds." A 10 second warning that I'd have to do a 45 minute monologue! Wow.

Hey, I did 25 minutes without dead air which is a personal best. Then I passed out. Just kidding. I hope the upcoming interviews are easier. Phew.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Per Contra on the Radio this Weekend

Per Contra gets some coverage on the terrestrial radio waves this weekend on two stations in Florida and the lineup for the next few weeks is growing. In July, America Talks with David Zublick will feature an interview about "Honor Killing" and Deeyah.

So if you're in Central or North Florida, within the signal range of WLKF or WSKY, take a listen and hear what PC has to offer. You can get the details in Per Contra's Table of Contents.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Connections between United States' States and Iraq

Just noticed this one, but I can't resist pointing it out. Part of our problem in Iraq is that we have some cultural learning to do. I remember when the war broke out how we didn't have that many people who could speak the local languages.

But I think our media has its own cultural problem. I call it geographicentrism. Everything in the world has to be compared to a US state. Iraq is the "size of California." In this article from AP, US troops are pulling out of an area in Southern Iraq that is the "size of West Virginia." Why not the size of Denmark, or France or Indonesia or whatever other size may or may not fit the description.

I say this for selfish reasons. I'd like a little variety in my news. For instance, "Bomb goes off in city the size of Kathmandu." I'd actually have to go look that one up, but it would be a change. Or how about, "Insurgents operating in an area the size of Swaziland." Again, I'd have to look it up.

Many students today can't even find their own city on a map, much less another state. Why not gear the news to the crowd who's watching? We'd like to see variety.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Honor Killings disguised as suicides

Whether it is to hide the statistics or to keep international eyes looking elsewhere, several honor killings in Turkey have been ruled "suicides." The story, covered in Time Europe, gives some details:

"As part of its bid to meet E.U. standards, Turkey last year approved legislation making "honor killings" — the practice of men killing their female relatives for perceived immoral behavior — punishable by life in prison. But a growing number of female suicides in southeastern Turkey, the country's poorest and most conservative region, this year has raised suspicion that women are now being forced to kill themselves to spare their male relatives a jail term. In the province of Batman (pop. 500,000) hospital records show there have been 31 attempted female suicides this year, already more than last year's total, and five women have died, although the total number of actual suicides is impossible to document."

As anyone who's read this blog will know, I've been keen on keeping the spotlight on this problem since I interviewed Deeyah. The one thing that I find fascinating is that the denial machine doesn't like a light shining in the direction of the problem. That denial machine works for many different reasons and for several different parties.

I've heard the arguments that the problem is overstated and that some are getting a bad rap. Wrong. It is a serious problem and it is spreading through Europe. Denial doesn't make the problem go away. But then again, some don't see it as a problem.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The $64,000 Question: Does Net Etiquette Open the Door to Paid Invective? The Netvocates Conclusion

The question isn't without merit. Consider this analogy: Predators don't eat the bright yellow frogs in the rain forest, because their skin color tells the predator that they're poisonous. What if 999 out of 1,000 frogs that were bright yellow weren't poisonous. You can bet 1,000 yellow frogs would be eaten with only one disatisfied customer.

The accusations hurled at NetVocates may have merit. Mind you, however, the nasty comments on my blog came from two people who were pissed that I said that Al Gore was being hysterical. Check that. They were pissed because I said he was running for President. One called me an idiot and the other said I know nothing about the environment (Not begging his pardon because it isn't needed, but I was a highly skilled environmental advocate who testified in front of several legislative bodies including a congressional committee - I think I might know a little about the environment). The point is, they were to the left and the charges against NetVocates center around them being to the right.

Let's go back to the frogs. If there is only ONE bright yellow poisonous frog, everyone would know who he was and what he was about. In the wetlands of the internet, we just have too damned many bright yellow frogs hopping around. The Columbia Journalism Review had this little piece and I think it's relevant to our discussion. It begins:

"Yesterday, columnist Richard Cohen wrote a piece for the Washington Post entitled "Digital Lynch Mob," about the venomous response he has received from readers after an earlier column criticizing comedian Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House correspondents' dinner.

"Kapow!" writes Cohen. "Within a day, I got more than 2,000 e-mails. A day later, I got 1,000 more. ... The Colbert messages began with Patrick Manley ('You wouldn't know funny if it slapped you in the face') and ended with Ron ('Colbert ROCKS, you MURDER') who was so proud of his thought that he copied countless others. Ron, you're a genius."

"The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred," adds Cohen. "This spells trouble -- not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era. That's when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated."

There's not much chaff in the piece so it's worth a read. But it's point is that net debate is about as intellectually degenerate as it can be. That makes some sense given the number of kids on the web, but they cannot be solely to blame. Until we raise the bar, the nastiness online will only continue until some god-forsaken bureaucrat somewhere decides to regulate it (think "net neutrality").

Sure, there are spies to the left and the right. But as long as the venom flows freely, it will be difficult to spot them. I'm now officially spent on this topic, so I'll give it a rest. But we shouldn't give courtesy a rest. I think it's necessary to get it back if we ever hope to have a civilized discussion again.

Tags: , , ,

Monday, June 19, 2006

Web spies, your words are being watched, carefully.

Help Me Gauge Your Concern and Answer the simple Question to the Left on this Page. Do you feel threatened by the "Big Brother" tactics of business in cyberspace?

Since last Thursday, I've been talking again about the web monitoring practices of Big Business/Brother. Those who've read my blog over the last week and a half may remember that Chip Griffin, CEO of NetVocates, personally responded to a blog entry I made and I posted his comment, unedited in my blog's main page.

Since then, I've researched and found a mountain of information about business and its practices with regard to internet Monitoring. I've shown you a glimpse of an entire industry of web monitoring, including the frightening language used by some in the industry like Blue State Digital who claim to be able to create "evangelists" for brands, campaigns and who knows what else.

I've shown you a group of bloggers who've felt the pressure of the eyes peering over their shoulder. And it isn't just bloggers, I showed you BRANDSHADOW (TM) who boldly says that message boards can be and ARE monitored.

All of this is important. We take our freedoms for granted. But other people, well armed with information and packing serious cash, understand that freedom plus money equals more power than one small voice in cyberspace.

So I'm asking this one favor, spread the word about this. These companies FEAR BAD PUBLIC RELATIONS. Everything they do for monitoring is designed to prevent bad press. Image is everything. Some bloggers are saying that they've been targeted for nasty attacks.

I don't know who has done what, but I do know that a machine that is designed to counterattack at the first hint of negative press, is a machine that will crush the average person. See for yourself. Copy the information and pass it along.

We don't have the money to compete with any merchants of disinformation or spin. But we do have each other. Please take a moment to answer my question to your left. I will use your answers to decide if I should keep digging.

Thanks for your time. And please, remember to shine a light on these people. They prefer not to be in the spotlight, but it's the least free-minded people can do for them.

Tags:Web spies, your words are being watched, carefully., , , , ,

Sunday, June 18, 2006

gridbuzz gets best sentence rating yet: Netvocates

gridbuzz makes the most succinct statement yet, and I don't think he's overstating the Netvocate/corporate manipulation story:

"If this is true, and I do not see any single reason why it might not be, as the company website explains what they do pretty well, then, I am afraid, the blogosphere is facing a serious threat."

Some people have a knack for nailing it. Nicely done, gridbuzz.

gridbuzz gets best sentence rating yet: Netvocates, , ,

Greenwatch, the conservative "mirror" organization: The Netvocates Saga Continues

Has anyone else noticed the Jerk tagging his posts netvocates, when they have nothing to do with the subject? Well, would you believe that that's yet one more "Strategy" for dealing with growing internet attention that a company doesn't want? It is. And "redirect" is the idea of putting out a counter message.

Like our recent discussions about NetVocates have speculated, there is a counter message. We've been on the "troll" angle. There's another angle as well. How about clouding the issue? Maybe. But the idea of flooding the market with blog entries in support of your company line. Would you clearly announce on each and every blog that "This blogger is a representative of corporation x?

This is where it gets interesting: "IDI develops blogs that allow clients to initiate a dialog with multiple constituencies. Blogs provide a simple, inexpensive way to build a community for messaging, rapid response & brand protection, fundraising, analysis, and a host of other activities." Yes, there is a blog war going on and if you are posting about relevant topics, you are on the front line. You can read the full text here, but another good example is "IDI's Internet Strategic Communications staff provides training, workshops and speakers on both blogging strategies for organizations and training individual bloggers."

Issue Dynamics, Inc. is just one of what I call Blog Mercenaries. That's my designation for what they do. Why spend money and time resources to train "professional bloggers?" Because the keyboard is a powerful tool.

Ever hear of Greenwatch?

What does the "Greenwatch Blog" do: "Monitoring environmental groups, non-profits, foundation & labor unions". You can read their latest post Here.

But there is even more: like this treatise that outlines successful strategies:

"But that doesn't mean our occasional mistakes have to be fatal. As the GM story illustrates, our best protection is the ability to recognize mistakes when they happen and respond in real time.

Let's start with the first challenge: recognizing mistakes when they happen. To me, this is first and foremost a call for smart and serious blog monitoring. If you want to know when you've made a mistake -- or simply when public response to a "correct" decision could turn out to be a problem -- you should use bloggers as your early warning system.

You can use a tool as simple as a personalized Google home page or a Bloglines account to track a range of RSS feeds that will help you monitor your public image. (Just make sure that more than one person in your organization is doing this, so you don't miss an emerging issue.)

At the very least, you should be checking in daily on RSS feeds that search:

-your organization's name

-the names of your executive team members and public spokespeople. Set up searches on all the commonly used variants and misspellings of each person's name: for example, if your Executive Director is named Jennifer Smith William you should search on "Jennifer Smith William", "Jen Smith" "Jen William", "Jenny Smith Williams" etc.

-the names of all your major projects and brands

-the names of your major partner or competitor organizations, and potentially, the names of their executive team members"

There is an entire structure set up to monitor, spin and redirect the blogosphere. Are you absolutely certain that you're thinking for yourself? You might want to double check those sources from hear on out. Nothing worse than being a lapdog, right or wrong.

Technorati Tags: , , , Greenwatch, the conservative "mirror" organization: The Netvocates Saga Continues

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Tracking and responding to blogs, The ongoing NetVocates drama

In a blog that is spookily identical to mine, you can read about strategies for response.

Now I suspect that some will argue that corporations (citizens in their own right under law), have a first ammendment right to speech. One could even further argue that they should respond. Whatever. Show me a corporation with a conscience not beholden to a bottom line profit margin for the shareholders, and I'll show you a corporation I want speaking.

But the real bottom line is that they have resources that exceed most of any bloggers resources in exponential ways. AND, more irritating than that, the blogosphere is sometimes just a pathetic echo of the corporate/political line on either side of the divide.

Note: If you haven't read my recent entries, this probably looks like a disjointed blithering rant. Shameless plug: for more privacy discussion, read Miriam N. Kotzin's "The Dea[r]th of Solitude." in Per Contra.

But the rumors about Netvocates Hiring "trolls" seem to be founded on the netvocates site. And these actions would explain part of that "echo." Now I wonder how many corporations are using trolls of their own. More to come.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Friday, June 16, 2006

More than NetVocates, Web Spin Doctors want THEIR message out

More than a few people are posting about Netvocates, Like Deconsumption, Peak Energy, Blanton and Ashton's - Article II Section 4, Cybersoc, and many more, just do a Google blog search. There's more to this than meets the eye.

Ever wonder just which version of the story you embrace? After digging into Netvocates, I discovered a deep network of people and organizations dedicated to "controlling the conversation" online and in the media. Consider an agenda item from a Spin Project "SPIN Academy" schedule:

"In the era of blogs and, online communications can serve your organization with cost-effective outreach strategies. Learn how to integrate your email lists, web site and other communications tools to communicate a consistent message. This workshop will cover aspects of strategic online communications, and present case studies of successful efforts in this area."

But the complaints about Netvocates revolve around the intelligence gathering aspect of what they do (And the trolls who people report that seem to tag along, more on that in another post). Enter BrandShadow (TM) - a service that specializes in, well, shadowing. Try these quotes from their site:

"From online news to message boards; user groups to the ever-growing blog landscape; Brand Shadow’s proprietary spider technology conducts online brand surveillance "

"Brand Shadow captures intelligence about how the web speaks about your brand, offerings, customer service and more. The technology performs comprehensive keyword searches across digital text files for any combination of verbiage with brand terms, taglines, trademarks that may or may not be used in the appropriate context."

and on an ominous note:

"Threats will arise no matter what. But rather than be reactive, take a proactive stand and identify possible threats before they become a reality."

But the most open, full frontal service right on Google page 1 is CyberALert which makes these claims:

"To automatically monitor blogs, you specify a customized search profile with your own key words or phrases. CyberAlert's proprietary blog monitoring technology then automatically searches every day to find, "clip" and report new mentions of your key words in hundreds of thousands of blogs each day."

And then -

"The CyberAlert blog monitoring service then delivers to you via e-mail a daily report containing only new citations written by bloggers during the previous 24 hours."

So CyberAlert has you covered. So who is CyberAlert? Read here, but it isn't NetVocates. In fact, Netvocates seems to be only one fish in this aquarium of big brother and corporate America.

I'll post more tomorrow. Just be aware that while some may think NetVocates is a big fish, there ARE REAL sharks swimming in these waters. And they want to monitor, manipulate or control the conversation, depending on the brand and company. They say so. See further blog posts for more information.

More than NetVocates, Web Spin Doctors want THEIR message out

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Case Open Again, Netvocates

Cybersoc has been posting in detail about Netvocates. I first posted about them a week ago and the CEO even commented on my post which you can read here.

But I found some spooky stuff all over the place when I took a second look.

So I've decided to have a look at what other Internet Advocacy groups are out there. The list is intriguing:

Policy Link - Works with groups to focus internet advocacy (specialty areas include broad based internet topics. On the Policy Link Site, I was referred to:

Spin Project - Which aside from the O'Reillyesque overtone in the name, focuses on many advocacy avenues.

One frightening quote came from Blue State Digital: Which categorically lists in its "what we do" section, "Whether you're a company looking to turn customers into evangelists, a candidate looking to win an election, or an advocacy group trying to get your issue noticed, Blue State Digital can provide you with the best technology and strategy to win." - God save us from evangelists (pun intended), whatever their agenda. Don't we have enough blowhard robots already?

Then there are more:

Convio Advocacy - "Convio Advocacy has the online tools you need to increase constituent participation in advocacy campaigns. It helps you gather information about constituents' interests, history of interaction with your organization and other information so you can communicate more relevant information to them." AND "With Convio Advocacy, your organization can quickly generate email and Web site action alert notices for urgent issues. Activists can easily respond to action alerts online, or via fax or mail. Activists also can create, customize, and successfully deliver messages and petitions, as well as forward these messages to friends and family. Convio's legislative databases and delivery technologies ensure that activists quickly identify their target lawmakers and officials and that their messages are rapidly delivered." AND I'm not fond of EMAILS FROM "friends who care."

Capitol Advantage - Your friendly neighborhood web forum wizards (MY DESCRIPTION).

Get Active and Groundspring collect mounds of data to help clients with online advocacy.

And in case you were wondering, yes even the Lord Jesus Christ needs his market demos to get his message out. Uh, I was raised in church and I'm pretty sure that the good lord wasn't checking his poll numbers when he was pissing off Rome. Oh well, You can have a look at, which in the most splendid of ironies, greets you with a popup.

I Stand For, Kintera and Right Click round out the beginning of the list. But there are more, and I'm out of time. I think it's about time we told everyone to stuff their research. I just hope that I have some support spreading the word.

Case Open Again, Netvocates

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Muslims You'll Never See On Television

I'm going to do some shop talking and it's going to include some harsh words for the right wing media, so if that bothers you, then go read something that includes a person willing to take a great personal risk to denounce specific acts of terrorism. I am sick and tired of hearing one right wing clone after another complain that we "never hear Muslim people denounce specific acts of violence." That's bull, and I'm beginning to worry that it may be a symptom of a very large group of media ignoring some important facts.

At one point in my interview with her, Deeyah denounces SEVEN (7) specific acts of terrorism. I've contacted media outlets accross America and the silence in response has been deafening. Not a word from any of them about this courageous woman, willing to risk her life to denounce terror. I've tried everything to get people to see what she is doing. This is sad.

I wonder, if it were terror against American women, whether or not it would still be ignored. I don't think so. I am ashamed of the response in America to such an important gesture. I am seriously rethinking how I feel about what I see, hear and read in America. Read it for yourself and see if at the end you want to sign the petition. I bet you will.

Muslims You'll Never See On Television

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

3AM and profundity

I don't know what it was, but I was just awake. 3AM, a doctor's appointment less than 12 hours distant and I'm thinking about pain, a light shining across the way and a child. Not just any child; one I can't quite remember as though he's mine but I never met him. He's fading, maybe just an emotion from a passing dream.

There's a lady in the light. Her black face masked by the incandescent halo. The mother of god? No, more likely the child. Or is she just as meaningless as the dirty bricks of the building that frame her?

Then there's the pain again. The smell of antiseptic purity, cold, relentless, calculating and inevitable. The science of healing turns the mystic into a martyr for some lost meaning, driven out by reason. The stigmata of the spine and belly and knees, remnants of past glory, drained and lifeless except for the pain.

Somewhere, a colloseum stands dark and empty, save one warrior standing under an arch. The field, dusty and cool, is not the same. Sunset is well gone. Only distant stars remain.

The child fades now. Was he ever there? Like I said, it's 3AM and the good doctor is sleeping. I am not.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Kos backs me up

I said last week that former Vice President Al Gore was back in the running. Kos says that the blogosphere loves Al Gore and many would vote for him. Well, duh.

Of course a couple of anonymous thugs showed up to splatter me, but what I found fascinating was that they weren't splattering me over the post's main point, it was the Al Gore running for president. I only mentioned that in passing in a larger post about Al Gore being hysterical.

So much for wild theories. I think the ex VP wants to drop the ex and v. I could be wrong.

Kos backs Me up

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Worst of the new habits in American Journalism

It is used often by both sides of the idealogical chasm, and it is dangerous to the business:


Unnamed sources, that's what. In my morning browse of the New York Times, I was digging into a story of some significance. Specifically, the story discusses how the Taliban is on the rise again. I want to know about that. The trouble is, halfway through, I run across this troublesome paragraph:

"One international security official in Kandahar, who has several years of experience in Afghanistan and asked not to be named because of the nature of his information, said members of American and Canadian Special Forces units had told him that they were 'not winning against the Taliban.'" Full Story

The trouble with this is that there are few measurable data on the Taliban and I'm certain we don't have an accurate census, so much of the information we receive is based on perception. In this story, in the opening framework, the writer sets a tone for what follows. And she quotes an anonymous source summarizing anonymous soldiers. Hearsay evidence based on speculation (even informed speculation) is just unacceptable.

Good grief, didn't the Times learn anything from their recent reporting debacles? No. The proof is in black and white on my computer screen. How can I trust much else in the story.

Two things:

1) The story most definitely displays a bias.

2) The quote I mention does not aid the story, rather, it aids the bias of the story.

With that kind of reporting, it's difficult to draw a conclusion about the subject being reported, but easy to conclude that the reporter is seeking to support something. I know, I asked a well placed expert on news to speculate and he said that he's heard from reporters who talk to friends of reporters at the Times that the Times reporters are biased. Believe me?

Why not? It's not like my first name is Jason or my last name is Blair.

We really need to get back to the real reporting that every journalist claims to want. It's one thing to quote an anonymous source as a last resort on occassion. It's an entirely different thing to see anonymity held up as a standard. Don't believe me?

Count the anonymous sources you read in different places for the rest of this week. You'll see my point. I hope.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

"Honor Killing" Bloodbath continues

As if you don't have enough reasons to sign the petition asking the United Nations to enforce resolution 48/104, we thought we'd add this week's newest reason.

"'Honor killing' caught on tape:

"A 26-year-old resident of Ramle was indicted in the Tel Aviv District Court on Wednesday on charges of murdering his 24-year-old sister Miriam by stabbing her 29 times.

Basel Abu-Dahal was caught on tape by security cameras at a parking lot of Bank Hapoalim in Ramle two weeks ago. In the footage, he is seen stabbing his sister while passers-by witness the act and do nothing. He is then seen calmly walking away carrying the knife (see images).

According to the indictment, Abu-Dahal, a former felon, stabbed his sister with a 23-centimeter knife. In his interrogation, he admitted to the stabbing, claiming he perpetrated the crime because of what he claimed was the improper way in which his sister had raised her daughter."
Full Story

He stabbed his sister twenty-nine (29) times because he didn't like the way she was raising her daughter. This has to stop. May Miriam rest in peace.

Please sign the petition.

Photo Credit: Basel Abu-Dahal is seen leavnig the scene of the crime while still carrying the knife in his left hand. Photo: Channel 10 Jerusalem Post

NetVocate Update - Response

I received this comment this morning and I approved it, so you can see it with that post, but to be fair, I've added it here in its own post as well:

My name is Chip Griffin and I founded NetVocates to help organizations better understand and communicate with the blogosphere.

I can absolutely assure you that nobody from NetVocates was responsible for the comments on your blog. First, we never engage in the tone of discussion in those comments. Second, we do not post unattributed commentary.

We do visit thousands of blogs daily -- even new ones -- to help our clients better listen to and understand what bloggers are saying. Bloggers who see in their logs (and note we don't attempt to disguise where we are coming from) should know that it means that people are interested in what they have to say.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this information."

I consider the matter closed - UncleBeal

Humor me for just a minute

In this entry, EVERYTHING will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

Pat Robertson leg pressed 2,000 pounds:

"Did you know that Pat Robertson, through rigorous training, leg-pressed 2,000 pounds! How did he do it?

Watch a video of Pat leg-pressing 1,000 pounds.

Where does Pat find the time and energy to host a daily, national TV show, head a world-wide ministry, develop visionary scholars, while traveling the globe as a statesman?

One of Pat's secrets to keeping his energy high and his vitality soaring is his age-defying protein shake. Pat developed a delicious, refreshing shake, filled with energy-producing nutrients.

Discover what kinds of natural ingredients make up Pat's protein shake by registering for your FREE booklet today!"

And for the record, there WAS a large velvet orangutan smoking a Cohiba on the kitchen counter while I was getting my morning soda today.

Words, Not Fists: Your home for truth and veracity in reporting.

Follow up on Zarqawi the Poker Chip

Ace of Spades has some excellent speculation on the Zarqawi sellout theory. On the idea of Zarqawi being somewhere 18 hours, well, I think it is likely that carelessness may be involved.

We have to be careful not to buy into the propaganda put out on this. He was neither superhuman nor a myth. He is simply a dead man at this point. But I like the detail the Ace of Spades dug into. It is definitely worth a read.

In No Particular Order picks up a ragged thread

I've read a ton lately about some of the ties between "right-wing" white supremacy groups and the terrorists in the Middle East. In No Particular Order has a great post that features some decent speculation. I'm no fan of WorldNet Daily as a source, but the underly works.

Check it out HERE.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Another Inconvenient Truth - NetVocates

I swear I am not making this up, but I thought it was kind of weird the other day when, on my SECOND WHOLE POST IN MY BLOG'S HISTORY, 2 people made nasty comments. It was the footprint I found on my blog AFTER my counter was up that caught my attention. I would never have thought I was worthy of this attention.

I remember telling my friend that it was kind of odd that a nobody (I'm an insignificant microbe in the TTLB ecosystem) would get two comments right off the bat. It was also odd that the comments came about an hour and a half apart and several hours after I posted. What are the odds of a brand spanking new blog with no connections OR LINKS would get two DETAILED COMMENTS spread out over two hours long after I'd disappeared from most of the visible places (where I was a blip to begin with)?


Of course, I did post on Al Gore's new movie, which I (in my humble opinion) consider to be a fantasy romp, not an epic documentary.


Enter "NetVocates". You can see them for yourself HERE. LET ME SAY CLEARLY THAT I DO NOT KNOW IF NetVocates SENT THE FIRST TWO COMMENTS and I am NOT Implying, stating or otherwise indicating that NetVocates or ANY OF IT'S "Like minded" advocates that it recruits, posted ANYTHING AT ANY TIME ON MY BLOG. Of Course, the sissies who did post did it anonymously (what a surprise). I just happened upon their URL on my blog.

There is a company that helps businesses and "clients" monitor blogs. They use "proprietary technology" and expert analysis. A quote directly from their site: "blogs frequently impact an organization and its products and image in uncontrolled and often unexpected ways." Really, you need to read their website.

Their goal? MONITOR, ANALYZE and ACT. They say that they keep an eye on blogs, they then analyze what's being said and FINALLY: "NetVocates then recruits activists and consumers who share the client’s views in order to reinforce those key messages on targeted blogs – and rebut misinformation when appropriate."

Anyway, the footprint came from here (A copy from my stats): Referring URL: / June 8, 2006 / 1:31 PM / I removed the IP because I think that would be dirty pool to post it publicly.

Ever wonder where the vitriol comes from. Maybe it comes from hired guns set out to fight it out. Maybe not. What do you think?

For more information on their business, Netvocates to be reached at:

P.O. Box 3382
Concord, NH 03302

Phone: (603) 717.7128

By the way, NetVocates, thanks for giving me a vahicle to chase some publicity. I'm gonna post this info ALL OVER THE FREAKIN' PLACE. Bless you.

Zarqawi the poker chip?

Amid all of the hoopla surrounding the death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the one element I find most fascinating is that it appears that the U.S. has dropped it's role as casino security and sat down at the high stakes table. The pot on the last hand was a (temporarily) stable Iraq. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (C.S.I.S.) was obviously prepped for this event and have an exhaustive report on many of the implications of Zarqawi's death. [Thanks to Online Springboard for having easy fingertip listings for all of the important think tanks, and every news source on earth(it seems)]

The report they present shows what I think is a fairly balanced look at the issue's factual landscape, though their conclusions - as are anyone else's - are debatable. Get the Full Report. The report begins with an ominous warning:

"There is no doubt that the Iraqi government and US forces in Iraq have scored a major political and propaganda victory by killing Abu Musab al Zarqawi. What is less clear that this victory will have a major impact over time. Its lasting importance depends on two things. The overall resilience of the insurgency in Iraq and how well the new Iraqi government can follow up with actions that a build a national consensus and defeat and undermine all the elements of the insurgency."

That is more or less the assumption of all of the experts I've read with respectable credentials. (I can't, for the life of me, understand the hyperbole on this issue from so many people who understand less than half of the facts.) The gist of the C.S.I.S. study is that several factors will determine the ultimate value of Zarqawi's death. They are:

- Appointing ministers of the defense and interior.

This was done today, literally 5 minutes after Zarqawi was reported dead. Now a fascinating discussion on that was on the Dennis Prager Show today. Dennis' guest, whose name escapes me and who I can't find because Dennis' archive link wasn't accessible to me, laid out a tale of intrigue wherein the Sunni's in Iraq dealt Zarqawi to the Shi'a government in return for the Minister of Defense post. That makes sense, because a reasonable minority leadership would want some control over the defense and military apparatus that could easily be used by a Shi'a majority to get payback for Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.

That the U.S. was able to facilitate that deal by greasing public enemy number 1 in Iraq was gravy for Uncle Sam. Also, it brings to an end the relationship between fairly odd bedfellows Iran and Zarqawi (who killed Shi'as, Iran's dominant sect).

The C.S.I.S. report continues with many other points that will determine the importance of this kill, like:

-"Freeing Detainees and Bringing Sunnis and Ba’athists Back into Government
and the Iraqi Forces"
- on this one, I'd be more careful and tread lightly. It isn't as though they have that good a record.

- "Investigating American 'Abuses'" - being done and effectively so, it would seem. This is critical if the U.S. ever hopes to leverage allies in the neighborhood to bring Iran into compliance with the general goals of peace in the larger global community. Do what we do, get justice and move on.

- "Reaching out to Sunnis"

- "Cleaning Up the Ministry of Interior, Security Forces, Police Forces, and
Guards" maybe the toughest job of all of them

- "Dealing with the Militias and Irregulars"

- "Cleaning Up Baghdad"

- "Appointing the Group to Review the Constitution" this one is critical. Once all parties buy in to the system, the job get easier. Everyone is bound by their own self interest to make the system work.

The report goes on to assess the damage to the insurgency, Al Qaeda and brings into focus the other groups of radicals in play in the region. Which, the report concludes: "As a result, some are likely to escalate even further as their situation becomes more threatened, and may seek to lash out with a new surge of violence because of Zarqawi’s death. It seems almost certain that many cadres and leaders of such groups and cells cannot be persuaded to join the Iraqi government and political process, only defeated. Some non-Islamist extremist groups will remain alienated almost regardless of what the government and other Sunnis do, and will move on to join the most extreme Islamist movements."

This is a long-term project no matter how one views it. That is precisely why I think the end of Zarqawi, when weighed fairly, produces a net positive effect for the war. Time will tell.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Deal him OUT!

Remember way back when the Coalition Provisional Government put together a pack of cards with images of the most wanted from Saddam’s regime? After most in the original deck had been dispatched, in February of 2004 they issued an additional card with the image of Al-Zarqawi. If they were still in use, it’d be time to add another card.

A brief History of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, With Editorial Summary

Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder, Thumbnail/Relevant Facts:

"Jordanian by birth [Zarqawi was born Ahmed al-Khalayleh in October 1966 sic.]... hard facts about Zarqawi's past are few and far between. Hearsay, on the other hand, abounds."

"In 2003, Colin Powell told the UN Security Council that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was, in his very person, the link between Iraq's Baathist regime and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. Zarqawi's dealings, Powell said, proved that Iraq harbored a terrorist network, and mandated preemptive military action against the country. This assertion was later disproved*, but it irreversibly thrust Zarqawi's name into the international spotlight."
*Speculative Assertion

"By his eighteenth birthday, both of Zarqawi's parents were dead. He dropped out of school and soon wound up in prison, not for religiously motivated extremist involvement but for drug possession and sexual assault.

"In early 1989, Zarqawi moved to Afghanistan, hoping to join the fight against Soviet occupation, which by that time was already dwindling significantly. He spent time working in Peshawar, a Pakistani border town known for its illicit black market, and for its bristling Islamic radicalism."

"The most famous attacks connected to Zarqawi are the Amman, Jordan, suicide bombings of November 9, 2005, and the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004. He has also claimed credit for the April 24, 2004, suicide attack on the Iraqi port city of Basra, multiple attacks on Shiite worshippers and Shiite mosques in Iraq, and the videotaped and widely publicized beheading of an American businessman, Nicholas Berg, also in Iraq."

"Zarqawi always kept his face hidden in his communiqués. That changed on April 25[2006], when Zarqawi released a video of himself decrying the three-year 'crusader campaign.'"

"Experts say Zarqawi and bin Laden most likely met in Kandahar, in southern Pakistan, in 2000, though it is possible the two met in Peshawar in the early 1990s. Despite their mutual interests, Zarqawi repeatedly refused to join bin Laden's al-Qaeda group, according to widespread accounts."

"Also, though there is no financial paper trail linking Zarqawi to al-Qaeda, bin Laden has at least nominally welcomed "union" with Zarqawi in videotapes broadcast by al-Jazeera—going so far as to call Zarqawi 'the emir of the al-Qaeda organization in the land of the Tigris and the Euphrates.'"

Zarqawi - The insurgent/terrorist:

Zarqawi statement on Nicholas Berg - Thumbnail

"Praise to Allah who honored Islam with His support, humiliated the infidels with His power, controlled everything with His Command, and tricked the infidels. Prayers and peace be upon the one that raised the banner of Islam with his sword."

"As for you, Bush dog of the Christians, we promise you things that will displease you. With Allah’s assistance, hard days are coming to you. You and your soldiers are going to regret the day that you stepped foot in Iraq and dared to violate the Muslims."

"As for you, mothers and wives of the American soldiers, we say to you that we offered the American Administration the chance to exchange this prisoner for some of the prisoners in Abu-Ghraib, but they refused. We say to you, the dignity of the Muslim men and women in the prison of Abu Ghraib and others will be redeemed by blood and souls. You will see nothing from us except corpse after corpse and casket after casket of those slaughtered in this fashion.

'So kill the infidels wherever you see them, take them, sanction them, and await them in every place.'"

Iran ties to Zarqawi:

"Shahwani, the Iraqi intelligence chief, told AFP last week[2004] that he believed Iran, through its embassy in Baghdad, was masterminding an assassination campaign that has seen nearly 20 of his agents killed since the middle of last month.

He said raids on Iranian "safe houses" in Baghdad had uncovered documents linking Iran to plots to kill members of the intelligence service and using the Badr former militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq's (SCIRI) as its tool."

Most recent event prior to death - Release of Video: April 25, 2006

End of History

Aggregate editorial insert: He was a violent, ruthless man, for whom no tears should be shed. The world is a better place today. May heaven grant peace to his victims.

Abu Musab Al Zarqawi 1966-2006, No Rest for the Wicked, Killer of Innocent Men, Women and Children, Convicted Drug Dealer and Rapist.

Jordan may have tipped US on Zarqawi

Here come the unnamed sources. From the AP:

"Some of the information came from Jordan's sources inside Iraq and led the U.S. military to the area of Baqouba, the region northeast of Baghdad where Iraq's prime minister said al-Zarqawi was killed in an airstrike Wednesday night, said the official, who has knowledge of the operation."

This is an interesting twist. Jordan had condemned Zarqawi to death in absentia. One wonders who tipped Jordan.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is Right on Schedule

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the west caved to Iran.

The trouble is, he may believe it.

This will be buried under the Zarqawi story. What an odd coincidence, Iran can keep enriching uranium story appears and two hours later, Zarqawi is dead.

Truth About Iraqis: Did Iraqis give information leading to Zarqawi's death?

Truth About Iraqis: Did Iraqis give information leading to Zarqawi's death? This is an interesting take on the human intelligence situation. Will tuck this one away for future reference.

Wrong side of history

Found this one searching Iraq Posts. One line, but you have to read it to believe it. Maybe on a different day it would make sense.

Oil Prices fall on news of Al Zarqawi's death

Al Jazeera is reporting a drop in oil prices on the news of the death of Al Zarqawi. From the report:

"Oil has fallen 1.7% to below $70 for the first time in two weeks after the death of al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, where crude exports have been curbed by frequent sabotage attacks and instability." Full Story

This is shaping up to be an eventful day.

Al Zarqawi Killed in Air Raid

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's leader in Iraq who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and kidnappings, has been killed in an air raid north of Baghdad - a major victory in the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the broader war on terror. Iraq's prime minister and U.S. officials said his identity was confirmed by fingerprints and a first-hand look at his face." Full Story

I can't seem to get worked up on this. Not a sad bone in my body. The guy killed 700 people+.

This isn't the first time he's been "killed," but this time people on hand are claiming fingerprints and face ID. Is this a "major win" in the war on terror as AP suggests? I'm not sure, but I am wondering about "Humint." It takes sources close to the guy to pin him down for a precision strike.

One has to wonder if maybe the welcome mat is wearing thin for the insurgency. If so, one has to wonder what the long term implications are. AND, if the tide is turning, what implication does this have for Iran? To this point, they've had free reign in Iraq on many fronts, specifically because of the instability caused by Zarqawi.

We'll see.

Iran Ok to Enrich Uranium Per EU 3, US, China, Russia

According to AP, a concession has been made to allow Iran to enrich uranium. Looking for more details. Not sure what the scope of the plan includes.

"European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who presented the offer to Iranian officials this week, said Wednesday that the issue of enrichment would have to be reassessed once talks were completed." Full Story

God help us (literally) if Javier Solana is pitching for the "West." This is a hideous development if Iran is given the green light to keep enriching. If this is "Robust Diplomacy," We're in serious trouble.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Curling up with PMLA

It isn’t every day that I curl up with a volume of the PMLA, (Publication of the Modern Language Association), but when I do it’s because something offered by the Great Gray Lady of the journals catches my eye. (I otherwise cede the GGL title to its rightful owner, the New York Times.) The latest issue’s “Editor’s Column: The First Blow—Torture and Close Reading” was evidently going to be no relief from the din in my mind that echoed the daily news and commentaries.

Rachel J. Trubowitz’ “Body Politics in Paradise Lost” looked like just the ticket. (PMLA, Vol. 121, issue 2, 388-404). Having just finished Paul D. Green’s essay, “Wars of Truth: Areopagitica in the Twenty-first Century,” I was in a Milton sort of mood. But I reached only the second paragraph before finding, “Innovative theories of nationalism from the last ten years or more emphasize the modern nation’s contradictory aspects.” And a few sentences later I found a reference to “Benedict Anderson’s influential notion of the modern nation as a wholly ‘imagined community.’” (389)

That sent me spinning out of PMLA and back to the net to read the review of Anderson’s Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination. Having read that, I considered returning to PMLA, but decided instead to stay plugged in, which brings me here.

The dangers of monolithic thinking

It is quite possible to avert war in the Persian Gulf region if we play smart. President Bush's latest round of "Robust Diplomacy" isn't fantasy land thinking. Consider the clip below from the Arab News. 25 percent of the Iranian population alone are an ethnic minority.

Iran's president (as dangerous as he seems) has his own yard to tend. Here's hoping that there is a diplomatic angle to take with this mess.

TEHRAN, 29 May 2006 — Four people have been killed and 43 others injured in northwest Iran during protests over a cartoon in a government newspaper deemed insulting to ethnic Azeris, a police official was quoted as saying yesterday.

The report came as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused his country’s “enemies” of trying to provoke ethnic unrest while asserting the alleged conspiracy would be defeated...

and continues

...There have been a number of reports of rioting by ethnic Azeris in the northwest after a government-run newspaper published the offensive cartoon, which depicted an Azeri as a cockroach.

Ethnic Azeris, concentrated in northwestern Iran, account for some 25 percent of Iran’s population. The judiciary has shut the paper and arrested the artist and editor responsible.
Full Article.

This also shows that overplaying some things (remember the cartoon riots last year?) can come back to haunt the ones that play the game hardest. Tolerance is the key, and if you don't extend it to others, the beast you create may bite you.

Many thanks

Thanks to the crew at The Muslim Question for posting about Deeyah. This is a talented and brave artist who has exposed new ideas about violence in the world of radical Islam.

You can get involved with helping Deeyah on her crusade to stamp out violence by signing the petition. It won't end the violence, but it will help to expose more of it. Sign today for a safer tomorrow.

An inconvenient discussion about inconvenient "truth"

I remember when we finally set up the Van Halen concert. Ok, so it wasn't Van Halen; it was an "environmental expert." Uh, well he wasn't really an "environmental expert" as much as he was this guy from West Virginia who more than less embodied every conceivable negative stereotype of the flunkie from the 60's. He was revered by some for his "connection with the earth" and he was about as much of a scientist as I am a petite Geisha.

He did, however, help me to establish the "3 rules" I use to determine whether or not someone is serious about the environment, or if they are substituting "Mother Earth" for their lack of religious centering or trying to cash in for political gain. In case you are wondering how I know, I used to do this for a living, as this link will demonstrate.

Rule Number 1: The subject must be open to discussion.

Christians will not waiver on whether or not Jesus is God. To them, the subject is not open to discussion. That makes their belief a matter of faith. To Al Gore, the subject of global warming is not open to discussion. And worse he makes little to no sense when he elucidates. Try this paragraph:

"The scientists are telling us that what the science tells them is that this - unless we act quickly and dramatically - that Tucson tied its all-time record for consecutive days above 100 degrees. this, in Churchill's phrase, is only the first sip of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year until there is a supreme recover of moral health. We have to rise with this occasion. We have to connect the dots. When the Superfund sites aren't cleaned up, we get a toxic gumbo in a flood. When there is not adequate public transportation for the poor, it is difficult to evacuate a city. When there is no ability to give medical care to poor people, its difficult to get hospital to take refugees in the middle of a crisis. When the wetlands are turned over to the developers then the storm surges from the ocean threaten the coastal cities more. When there is no effort to restrain the global warming pollution gasses then global warming gets worse, with all of the consequences that the scientific community has warned us about." The complete load of, I mean, speech.

I don't have time to break that down, but about 80 percent of it has nothing at all to do with global warming and the part that does makes no sense. Why? It isn't science or reason, it's faith, and probably a little posturing for that Iowa campaign kickoff.

Rule Number 2: The more flagrant the hysteria, the less serious the problem

On this one, I know because I used to engage in hysteria. As a reformed hysteric, I know that often the intention is good - much like the pavement on the road to hell - but the result is awful (if you scream and flap your arms enough, people start to ignore you). Al Gore would have to work hard to be more hysterical. Now the emotional trick with this is to keep an even keel in your voice, stay on message and dismiss as wrecklessness or callousness any dissent. Sort of like "I'm here to save your children, while others would simply let the bus go over the cliff."

Never mind that the bus is on the plains and the kids got off in Missouri.

What makes Al Gore so frightening is that he comes across as a man with zero fear on the subject of being labelled hysterical. If he truly does not fear repercussions, then he has lost it. He's gone over the edge. I am a firm believer in environmental realism. Global warming is a problem. But if I'm going to get hysterical, it'll be over something like this.

(This is the inviolable one)Rule Number 3: Where there is smoke, there is another agenda.

What makes global warming so attractive to a politician? The fact that it's going to kill a lot of us? No. Fish species depletion and rapidly dwindling biodiversity in the earth's oceans may starve many before the earth turns into a desert. OOOOOH, you got me, right? That's happening because of global warming. Nope. Overfishing.

Is it that global warming is coming on faster than we can adapt to it? Nope. Wait, it's that it is inevitable if we don't change what we're doing. Nope. We could stop driving tomorrow, shut down every C.F.C. producing menace used by people and the earth may still heat up. We don't know.

What makes global warming so attractive to a politician is that it is a matter of opinion. I mean pretty much damn near every facet of the subject could be interpreted in a different way. It's the same reason I prefer humanities to geometry. Geometry is cut and dried.

And the beauty of an opinion is that with the right mix of emotion, manipulation and emphasis, it can beat out someone else's opinion. A fact is just a fact and if it doesn't support my position, then it's a liability. The facts don't support the hysteria on global warming.

A few corporations are polluting rivers and anything else they please while our politicians turn a blind eye and scream "It's getting awfully hot outside."

I'll let Mr. Gore off the hook on this when he steps up and calls (BY NAME) 10 corporations on their savage effect on the environment. He won't do it. We should press him on it. He won't do it because it takes money to win. Win what? Ask Mr. Gore. I doubt he'll lay his left hand on the Bible, raise his right hand and swear that he'll not run for office in 2008 and that all of this is completely altruistic. There are serious environmental problems out there and this is no time for men who invented the internet to be distracting us from them.

Yeah, there's dire global warming. It's the net effect of a bunch of hot air.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hi there

Ok, this is the first post. Nice to meet you. I'll be around.