August 20, 2007

Did Miniter Go Too Far?

Richard Miniter wrote a fascinating look at the the Scott Beauchamp-New Republic affair at Pajamas Media today, and it has received many deserved links today. He digs into the story and produces a good look at what happened behind the scenes that led to the massive failure at TNR to stop an essentially false story. Unfortunately, Miniter lets the story get somewhat far afield and highly personal, which calls into question whether Miniter crossed a line in his reporting.

First, though, Miniter points out that TNR had an early warning of what was to come:

Beauchamp’s first article for The New Republic appeared in January 2007 and so far been completely ignored by bloggers and the press.

It describes a neighborhood he calls “Little Venice” in Baghdad that can only be transited by vehicle because of waist-high sewage streams. This seems suspicious to me. I have been to Baghdad a number of times between November 2003 to May 2006. I have never seen (or heard of) sewage flowing down the street higher than the top of anyone’s boot. Yes, there is sewage on the streets in some Baghdad neighborhoods, but it is not waist-deep. If there was, Beauchamp would not have been the first to break the story. Add to that, a neighborhood filled with canals of flowing sewage would require a lot of water in parched land…

In the same piece, Beauchamp writes that one of the vehicles in his convoy had to stop to change a tire. That’s odd for two reasons: most vehicles have run-flat technology and, standard operating procedure would be to tow the damaged vehicle, not change a tire on a sewer-soaked battle space.

That's a fairly new piece of reporting, and a telling event. First, that shows that fact-checking had been deficient on Beauchamp for longer than TNR admits. They claim to have found him credible based on the entire arc of his reporting. If Beauchamp started off as a fabulist, as Miniter suspects from this passage, it refutes that defense entirely. It shows them rather uninterested in potentially ruining a good story by insisting on truth rather than a good yarn.

Unfortunately, this kind of good investigative reporting will likely get lost due to what precedes it in the article. Miniter digs up some rather juicy dirt on Beauchamp, finding one of three ex-fiancees, according to the woman he interviewed. Priscilla, whose last name is never proferred, claims that Beauchamp is a habitual liar who strung her and two other women along before he married TNR editor Elspeth Reeve. Miniter, using only Priscilla's unsubstantiated input, deduces that Beauchamp is manipulative, ambitious, and "has a history of disappointing those around him."

Or do we? Perhaps this is not necessarily a tenet of journalism, but it's fair to say that most people tend to take what ex-girlfriends have to say about ex-boyfriends with a large grain of salt (as well as in the reverse). Getting dumped tends to reduce one's objectivity about a person, and even though Miniter assures us that she "is not consumed by a burning hatred" for Beauchamp, he also doesn't introduce a single other source that confirms Beauchamp actually was engaged to her or the other two women, let alone her other contentions about Beauchamp and Reeve.

Also, while people may find long-range indirect psychoanalysis interesting, especially as conducted through a woman scorned, it really has little to do with Beauchamp's fabrications. Priscilla's assertion that Beauchamp married Reeve to get ahead in his career as a writer is sheer speculation even on her part, and certainly unworthy of serious journalism. Bloggers would get called out on that sort of straightforward assertion. Priscilla is obviously hurt that Beauchamp quit calling her, and Miniter says that he's "repeating this behavior" by not calling the press now. It's silly, gossippy, unsubstantiated, and completely off point. What matters is whether Beauchamp told the truth, and what TNR did that allowed his fabulism to taint their publication.

If Miniter had cut the entire section with Priscilla, this would have made an excellent inside look at TNR's credibility collapse. Instead, this strange personal attack will overshadow the rest of the work Miniter does on the piece.

UPDATE: Bill at INDC Journal has similar reservations. Like Bill, I have no love for Beauchamp and his literary pretensions, but this section runs off the rails.

UPDATE II: Minor edit for clarity, thanks to Kim at Musing Minds.


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» Miniter Pulls A Beauchamp? from RealClearPolitics - Blog Coverage
Richard Miniter has a rather lengthy post today on the scandal revolving around TNR blogger Scott Thomas Beauchamp. In it, Miniter questions the fact-checking staff at the magazine, accuses them of nepotism and even refers to Beauchamp as a possible... [Read More]

Comments (35)

Posted by Scott Malensek | August 20, 2007 12:45 PM

"If Miniter had cut the entire section with Priscilla, this would have made an excellent inside look at TNR's credibility collapse. Instead, this strange personal attack will overshadow the rest of the work Miniter does on the piece."

yeah but....

if the section had been removed, the people who need to read the article the most would dismiss it for some other reason: the author, the outlet, perhaps the adjectives, or something that even remotely sounds like an affirmation of a Bush Admin policy.

I agree he could've done without the section or have made the section more credible and relevent (word limits aside), but in the end, it's a moot debate as the people who need to read that they've been deliberately misled by leftist media seeking the enemy's objectives rather than America's....well, those people just ain't gonna buy it. Easy to live in denial than face the reality for them.

Posted by Tully | August 20, 2007 1:07 PM

Miniter could have done without it, but it's not without some minor evidentiary support. Beauchamp's MySpace page has some choice commentary from Priscilla's sisters, dating back to the breakup and pre-dating Beauchamp's "outing." It starts in about April 25, ten days after Priscilla posted a final love note to him.

Psychodrama on parade. And yes, that theme song for his MySpace is indeed "Pscyho Killer."

Posted by Skip | August 20, 2007 1:07 PM

"Perhaps this is not necessarily a tenet of journalism, but it's fair to say that most people tend to take what ex-girlfriends have to say about ex-boyfriends with a large grain of salt (as well as in the reverse)."

Well, sure. But in this case, the source is named, so we get to take that into account. Consider how the MSM would have used this source. They would have called her "a source close to Beauchamp".

Isn't this better?

Posted by mattb | August 20, 2007 1:32 PM

Here's another reason it may turn out to be newsworthy. Assuming Priscilla isn't lying, what's unclear is just how involved were Scott and Elspeth in January when TNR published his first diary. Did he find his way to TNR without her only to have a relationship rekindled (kindled?) with an old college chum? Seems unlikely. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but considering they were apparently not an item in college or at the time of the first publication, perhaps Elspeth was really the catalyst for the whole thing. [dream scenario - "Hey Franklin, I know this guy from college who's going to Iraq and hates the war. Want me to get him to write some 'war is bad' stuff for us?"] Who can blame a wanna-be writer for falling instantly in love with the woman who gave him his first real gig. And perhaps the only reason she said "yes" to marriage was to keep the stories coming. OK, that last part is a bit far-fetched, but it's something to think about. Maybe Elspeth and TNR had more to do with the generation of the story than falling victim to STB's fabulism. Only exploring that relationship will reveal the answer.

Posted by Edward Cropper | August 20, 2007 2:11 PM

I agree with your position. Even if all that was said is true what difference does it matter if the facts substantiate the falsity of his article.
A person may be a knave and still be an honest and good writer. The facts of the story are what matters. If the writer is a serial killer and his facts are correct
the article has served it's purpose. The researched material on the contents of the article will be the final determination of its accuracy not the integrity of the author.

Posted by Dean Esmay | August 20, 2007 2:56 PM

Bang on right, Ed. This is pure hearsay, from an unverifiable source no less. I was anxious to link the story myself until I saw that, then I said, "Hmmmmm."

Posted by baldilocks | August 20, 2007 2:57 PM

Neither the "Little Venice" issue nor the tire aspect are new pieces of reporting. Both were discussed among some of the milbloggers.

Posted by NoDonkey | August 20, 2007 3:10 PM

This clown no doubt also knew that getting married would get him a raise - the military pays married personnel more than they pay single soldiers/sailors/airmen.

The Navy is rife with E-5 and below sailors who marry just to get their BAQ (Basic Allotment for Quarters - an untaxed allowance) enabling them to live out in town, rather than having to live on their ship/sub.

So it's likely that after this guy calculated his raise during his first engagement, he decided to move forward with his business plan. The writing opportunity was a big bonus undoubtedly.

When's this guy running for the Senate? He'll be a natural.

Posted by Kaitain | August 20, 2007 3:21 PM

Captain, I'm the person who actually helped Miniter talk to Priscilla herself. The connection was made through her myspace which I was able to establish contacts through this system. I'm able to provide full proof to corroborate everything Miniter wrote regarding Priscilla if you have doubts.

Posted by Neo | August 20, 2007 3:25 PM

He[McGee] just got a cease-and-desist order from The New Republic

Beauchamp seems to have already settled up things with the military, so does anybody have any idea what the lawyers for TNR are pretecting TNR from ?

Except for the hit to their (already tattered) reputation, legally to what liability is TNR exposed ?

Perhaps TNR is trying to tie down all the loose ends to the rights of the sequel to "Shattered Glass".

Posted by Larry J | August 20, 2007 3:33 PM

From the article:

Still, McGee isn’t bitter. He thinks he did the right thing and has plenty of good references from prior temp jobs to get a new gig. His interview with was his first and his last. He just got a cease-and-desist letter from The New Republic; he won’t be doing any more interviews.

Under what legal grounds can the New Republic's lawyers demand that McGee give no more interviews? Aren't they violating his 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech? Wouldn't this be seen as an example of prior restraint? Personally, I'd tell their lawyers to stick their injunction where it'll do some good.

Posted by Captain Ed | August 20, 2007 3:47 PM


I don't think Miniter lied about what Priscilla told him -- not at all. I'm saying Priscilla isn't exactly a disinterested witness, and Miniter doesn't present any corroboration for her allegations. This is just gossip, and it's not even addressing the point of Beauchamp's accuracy or TNR's fact-checking.

Posted by SoldiersMom | August 20, 2007 3:49 PM

It's not just TNR that has problems with truthful reporting. Randall Hoven has a 'Greatest Hits' Media Hall of Shame list.

Funny that in all the misleading/lying MSM reporting, there's not ONE inaccuracy in favor of the military. Not one.

Posted by SoldiersMom | August 20, 2007 3:54 PM

It's not just TNR that has problems with truthful reporting. Randall Hoven has a 'Greatest Hits' Media Hall of Shame list.

Funny that in all the misleading/lying MSM reporting, there's not ONE inaccuracy in favor of the military. Not one.

Posted by Neo | August 20, 2007 3:57 PM

there's not ONE inaccuracy in favor of the military.

Except for the recriminations, the Jessica Lynch colorful “fighting to the death” account, an exclusive for Susan Schmidt and Vernon Loeb of the Washington Post, which was not backed up by any official release by either the Pentagon or the White House, is the only notable example.

Posted by Sharpshooter | August 20, 2007 4:11 PM

"Funny that in all the misleading/lying MSM reporting, there's not ONE inaccuracy in favor of the military. Not one. "

Not funny at all. It's a dodge that certain types hide behind.

My credit card company, for example, makes mistakes about every other month...all in their favor. Same with my cell phone company.

They're always "happy to correct the mistake", but one must wonder how many people ever CATCH the mistakes in the first place?

Point is, there's no penalty for these mistakes. (If there were, the MSM would have been room temperature a couple decades ago).

Posted by Barnestormer | August 20, 2007 4:15 PM

From the article: The Monday after the party, at the magazine's offices, [TNR publisher Franklin] Foer was locked in a long serious conversation with Leon Wieseltier, the bear-shaped intellectual who has run the magazine's literary section with distinction since 1983. They were talking about Beauchamp. Foer couldn't understand why anyone would just make things up.[emphasis added].

So, with that level of skepticism prevailing at the publisher level of TNR, it appears highly likely that the true explanation for TNR's oversight was simply that Beauchamp's original (though apparently edited for taste) narration began with the standard, "Now this is no shit...."

Posted by Neo | August 20, 2007 4:23 PM

The whole idea of whether or not any party is "disinterested" should be left to to reader.

Frankly, the only disinterested parties in this whole "Shock Troops" story are those who have not read anything about it.

I mean .. can you name anyone attached to this story who does not have an "interest" ?

Posted by Sara | August 20, 2007 4:33 PM

It must be very different in the military today than it was when I got married to an active duty Navy man. Since it was war time (Vietnam), I was required to meet with command types no less than 3 times and the Chaplin twice, once alone, once as a couple. I was drilled about my intentions and my background. The Navy took great pains to protect its sailors from women interested in a meal ticket or a ticket to military health care.

And to NoDonkey, if you think the BAQ is worth the other expenses of marriage, you're delusional. We got just a little over $100 extra dollars in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. It would be more believable to say he wanted to marry her because she earned a heck of a lot more money than he makes as an Army private. My husband rose through the ranks to MasterChief, and then to CWO3 (Chief Warrant Officer3) and was in for 26 years. At no time did he earn more money than I did and I was certainly not making big bucks working in newspaper advertising. Military pay sucks.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | August 20, 2007 4:37 PM

Miniter is doing the same thing the other side did when they interviewed all of those ex-girlfriends of Fred Thompson, trying to get some dirt on him. They were never called on it, except in blog-land.

Posted by David | August 20, 2007 4:56 PM

I dunno Captain, I am on the fence here. On the one hand it does smack of tabloid journalism, on the other hand we can judge for ourselves whether the girls testimony is credible enough.

I think at this point, come hell or high water the real victim in this drama is Elsbeth Reeve. I am truly saddened what this sot is putting her through.

Posted by Don Miguel | August 20, 2007 5:19 PM

"Beauchamp’s first article for The New Republic appeared in January 2007 and so far been completely ignored by bloggers and the press."

I don't know about the press, but I read at least two bloggers when the Beauchamp story broke who had gone back and read his first article. The both brought up several issues about why the "Little Venice" story seemed to be BS.

Posted by Bill Faith | August 20, 2007 5:29 PM

Neither the "Little Venice" issue nor the tire aspect are new pieces of reporting. Both were discussed among some of the milbloggers.

Posted by: baldilocks at August 20, 2007 2:57 PM

I'm glad someone besides me remembers seeing that before. I can't remember for sure who posted about it but given my reading habits and the fact he's been all over this story like white on rice it was probably Confederate Yankee.

Posted by Eric | August 20, 2007 5:34 PM

Cap. Ed says:
"If Miniter had cut the entire section with Priscilla, this would have made an excellent inside look at TNR's credibility collapse. Instead, this strange personal attack will overshadow the rest of the work Miniter does on the piece."

Eric says:
Perhaps, but let's not forget that this whole mess could have been averted by one group and one group only...TNR. They did a horrible thing and it's really difficult to have any form of sympathy for them as they are now being attacked.

I'm disgusted by some of the things that media organizations do, as a matter of routine, and on a daily basis. Even today we are hearing about the omission of the "D" from the fighting congressman.

And honestly, it really only goes one direction that I have ever noticed. So, if you’re worried that Miniter has missed an opportunity to convince moderates that they should not listen to MSM, you have nothing to worry about – no moderate listens to anything on the MSM anymore. If you’re worried that Miniter missed an opportunity to convince liberals not to buy or read TNR, you again have nothing to worry about because the article would not have achieved that goal even if the section on Priscilla had been omitted.

Ed says:
"Also, while people may find long-range indirect psychoanalysis interesting, especially as conducted through a woman scorned, it really has little to do with Beauchamp's fabrications. "

Eric says:
Yes it does. It speaks to his character. It would be testimony that would be allowed in a courtroom. Was it confirmed? I don't know. But honestly, Beauchamp now finds himself in that type of an arena because he is helping to tear down journalism (along with help from TNR and other MSM.)

If Journalist want to be believed and respected, they need to fix their own system. That will be a real uphill battle as they are not even trying, and they start from the basement. I'm a salesman for a living, and I know that if you ever get caught in a lie, you might as well just quit, because you’re done – your’ credibility is shot. Evidently, Journalist don't necessarily feel that way.

Eventually, MSM will not exist, as we know it today. Instead, they will simply report on the BLOGS -- highlights of the BLOGS, like Entertainment Tonight for news. This is starting to happen already.

Incidentally, I read Captains Quarters because it is so well done and so honestly put together. You deserve real credit for this because you’re about the only site that I have this level of faith in. And with that said, maybe you’re right. Maybe it did go too far.

Posted by Eric | August 20, 2007 6:03 PM

Ed, your latest post proves my point above.

August 20, 2007
Maybe The Bill Had Something To Do With It
The Project for Excellence in Journalism conducted a study to determine why the immigration-reform bill died on the floor of the Senate -- and readers can guess who gets the credit and the blame. Their exhaustive study, apparently completed and published in six weeks, claims that conservative talk radio set off a frenzied mob by using the word "amnesty":

And this is from a group called The Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Posted by Bennett | August 20, 2007 6:50 PM

The part with the ex-fiancee was gossipy and seemed to have been included to show that Beauchamp is a cad as well as a liar. Miniter's interviewing the ex made me a little queasy because it didn't really add to the story, in my opinion, to start digging around in the guy's prior romances especially when all we got was her side of the story. Maybe Priscilla wasn't in it for the payback, but I have to think there was a certain amount of schadenfreude for her. I especially take issue with including her speculation that Beauchamp married his wife for her connection to TNR. Unkind, unfair and completely unproveable.

What more do we really need to know about Beauchamp anyway? Isn't the real story now about TNR, its stonewalling, its refusal to respond openly and fairly to the complete discrediting of its correspondent here? I'm waiting for an article on Foer's love life to see how that advances this part of the story.

Posted by Carol Herman | August 20, 2007 10:25 PM

What still fascinates me, here, is that this story is like the Energizer Bunny. It keeps going. Even though Franklin Foer stopped, when he said "he's waiting for an apology."

I thought by new Foer is blue in the face, for waiting.

That Beau-koo-koo-chump is a writer of battlefield tales? By what definition? I think he works in the MOTOR POOL. And, he's been demoted. So, the "ranking" he carries at TNR isn't true, either. The kid is NOT "first class."

Not that I care.

As to "proof" of engagements, I think that's thin gruel. It's possible "to get laid," Scott Thomas developed the "art" of "getting engaged, first." Goes over big with foreign women.

Now, a better question would be, did his former fiance, in Germany, speak English as a second language? Did she really revert, most often, to German? You think I'm kidding? Nope.

I'd bet that "discourse" gets hard when you're jumping languages; especially when your beloved's first tongue isn't one you speak, at all.

Oh, yeah. TNR will be publishing, again, next week. What are their choices?

I'll guess that they'll continue to sling mud. And, they may even find other soldiers who are willing to complain, in an "expose" they can print in their pages.

I'd e more surprised if we're fighting a war, and nobody has anything to complain about, here.

For instance: SOX.

Sox were a very big complaint item back in WW2. And, getting fresh sox to soldiers is a trick.

SO, perhaps? TNR will write about "unhappy feet?"

As to Elspeth, if what McGee says is true, she may have been the "fact-checker-roo" on her husband's articles.

And, to do that? Well, ethics are in the toilet.

So, now you know. Ethics for journalists are in the toilet. Adding the muslem bathroom sinks won't make this distortion any better.

And, TNR has yet to recover.

You might even say, that this article, going over, yet, again, the garbage that got printed by TNR, is an attempt to find out if there's still life over there, at that magazine.

Oh, there other choice? Is just to dig in and "forget" about this whole thing.

Which gets it life, here. And, today, up at Little Green Footballs. AND, InstatPundit! (Now you know where I spend my time.) Well, I don't buy TNR. Long past the threat of cancelling anything.

Posted by Carol Herman | August 20, 2007 10:36 PM

Perhaps, it's worth mentioning. ALL soldiers have access to phone lines and Internet connections. Including Beau-koo-koo-champ.

Since he is MARRIED to Elspeth Reeve, in real life; I'd guess that at least her phone calls are getting through.

Now, no lawyer can make this woman testify against her husband. Not in a courtroom, anyway.

Yet, TNR's reputation (tattered already by Steven Glass) hangs out there. Heck Steven Glass' story is even a current big screen movie.

So, I'd imagine some sort of pressure is on.

And, when TNR comes out next week, following this vacation; I'm sure people will go looking into the magazine's pages, looking to see how they're handling "it."

You get choices. The left LOVES defeat. Of course, we only know this because they want our military defeated. But they wallow in this stuff.

If they want advice from me, here. I'll give them some.

Their next article could be headlined: FOLKS ON THE RIGHT JUST CAN'T TAKE A JOKE.

Posted by Carol Herman | August 21, 2007 12:00 AM

Ya know, Franklin Foer left the theater. So that this story still having more coverage, and it does. Amazes me. Of course, I go looking for it! Because I, too, have Confederate Yankee, bookmarked.

As to the current debate, what I noticed is that Elspeth met her Beau-champ at journalism 'college" in Minnesota. They didn't get engaged, then. But it seems there's been a marriage that was done, since.

I think Richard Miniter's whole point is that if you FACT CHECK, look at all these details that keep falling out.

That's why Elspeth seems not only to have been her husband's fact checker (though, how is that possible, ethically?) And, she is now THE LAST TO KNOW. So, TNR has a "wife card" they can play, later.

Given the black eye TNR wanted to deliver to our troops, I've got no sympathy for them, or their stinking story.

I do notice, however, that the story stinks.

And, instead of hurting our troops, this bommeranged on TNR, instead.

It was once said the media elites spent fortunes on fact-checkers. And, the Internet is "without."

McGee, who worked at TNR as an assistant editor, (and he was the one to first publish the connection between Beau-koo-koo-chump and his wife's job at TNR), got fired. And, then the TNR lawyers sent him "cease and desist" orders, forbidding him to write about TNR's "work habits."

Long range? I hope McGee writes a book. I'd read it.

As to Foer, he's probably blue by now; waiting for his apology from the right wingers who have called him names. Man's an idiot. Well paid, though. But you think the hustlers who own this magazine are proud?

Posted by baldilocks | August 21, 2007 12:18 AM

Carol: Please forgive me me if what I'm about to say sounds like an insult. Well it may be an insult, but I'm not *trying* to piss you off but to be honest. (However, my honesty *may* piss you off.)

The last two comments of yours were two of the few that I have understood. (I've been reading your comments here and at a few other places for a few years.)

As it happens, I agree with these two comments, so I hope that you will take that into consideration when (if) you reply. :-)

Posted by Carol Herman | August 21, 2007 1:05 AM

Baldilocks, you've got a problem.

I'm not impressed that you've read sites I've been too; because the Internet is HUGE. You thought you were in a phone booth, or something?

As to your coupling "understanding" to your agreeing "with my last two posts," boy is that your problem!

I read a lot of stuff. And, I purposely look for things I don't agree with. While you might not understand why, it's similar to being on a super highway; where you get to see lots of other cars. People aren't stuck on just your brand, ya know?

It's not my job to help you out; but if you "expand" your tastes beyond what "you just like" ... you may discover points of view different than your own. Trust me. It's not a big hole. You won't fall in.

Posted by nichevo | August 21, 2007 2:38 AM

Please excuse me, Ms. Herman, but I think he may be saying your writing is unclear. I'm afraid I tend to agree that it is irregular.

The question of whether you are right or wrong (and you are often both, in a thread or even a single post) is subsumed in your Crazy Cat Lady persona.

To take one instance, your use of weird names such as Beau-koo-koo-chump is - glossolalia? Word salad? - I forget the name of the syndrome, but it is symptomatic of some mental disorder. The best indicator of this is that it is far more popular on the Left ;>.

So while I appreciate your passion, it is not unreasonable to say that you are sometimes hard to follow. I suspect that your priority in posting is more to get things off your chest than to communicate. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

So that's two. When someone tells you you're drunk, you can tell 'em to sod off. When a second tells you so, you may do the same. But when six people all tell you the same thing, it may be time to sit down.

Posted by Carol Herman | August 21, 2007 3:58 PM

Nichevo, are you telling me you need a Captain Video decoder ring?

No one here is writing for any other reason than they want to.

That "my style goes over two heads?" Two heads are better than one.

Oh, and if you really, really, really, read my posts, you know by now that I doubt anyone changes anyone else's mind. Doesn't happen. It's just enough for me to know that I expect variety, and not cookie cutter speech. Even on a site dedicated to the right. And, there's nothihng wrong with that.

Oh, I'm not a drunkard. More like Lincoln in that respect: A tea totaller. Never found myself drawn to the stuff.

And, bullies can line up and feel they've got the "power" because they think this forum has a place where "seconding that" gives ya a pass. Nope. Doesn't even provide ya with a token to use on your way to getting on the subway.

Posted by nichevo | August 21, 2007 7:28 PM

--Nichevo, are you telling me you need a Captain Video decoder ring?

Carol, I might be doing a little better than baldilocks, but it is true that in your postings you often take a turn towards the Twilight Zone in midstream.

Eventually one may catch up, but parts of the message are missed - whether deemed not worth the sifting, or simply unguessable. Part of this is your heavy use of pronouns, epithets, acronyms, and other obfuscations.

Certainly one gets your gist - but the gist is always the same: you're teeth-grinding mad, you can't see a way to defeat your enemy beyond blowing them away, and you hate/despise everybody who doesn;t agree.

--No one here is writing for any other reason than they want to.

What do you think you have accomplished by writing that sentence?

Shall I quote Samuel Johnson and say "None but a blockhead ever wrote except for money" (in which case all of us here are blockheads)?

Or did you think that I claim to have a gun to my head, or think that you do?

Duh! We write because we want to. Sure, that's fairly obvious. But why do we want to write? Towards what end? The question remains as I put it earlier - either you want to reach other people, or you don't..

--That "my style goes over two heads?" Two heads are better than one.

Whatever you mean by that. If everyone on this board unanimously posted, "Carol, what the heck are you talking about?" would you concede that you had been unclear about something? Or assume that we are all morons unworthy of your virtual ink?

Or what did you mean? Again you are unclear. Either you are sly or devoid of meaning, reciting whatever associative cliché comes first to your forebrain. know by now that I doubt anyone changes anyone else's mind. Doesn't happen. ...

You are entitled to your opinion. I happen to disagree. It's rare enough, but it does happen. I find it happens most in honest clash of ideas, not when each side is trying to prove itself superior to the other.

For instance, I could call you a fool because you don't write clearly. But in fact the fault could be mine.

If you wanted to seriously engage others in debate over ideas - for instance, I am pretty comfortable asserting that you believe we are not prosecuting the war vigorously enough at several levels - you could do so, without the need for polarizing exaggerations of the extreme case.

Yes, we all know what Goldwater said about moderation and extremism. However, I doubt that Goldwater wanted to murder all illegal aliens or annihilate large, indiscriminate swathes of the population of the Middle East.

(Is that a very great exaggeration of your views? Or did I miss that you also want an aggressive hunt against internal enemies? See, there I go again, misunderstanding you, or am I?)

And if he did, I'm sure he would understand that it was not obvious to everyone else, and would try to explain himself instead of sneering at all the rubes who were too slow to keep up with him.

For instance, I agree that eventually it may become necessary to do such things, a la Wretchard's Three Conjectures. However, the debate in my mind is whether it is better to 'get this over with' or to try other steps first - and whether there is such a thing as measure. For you, that debate seems passé.

Me, i would like to talk it over first. I have no problem nuking Iran, or pulling their Wold Bank funds if you like to beat that horse, but apparently unlike you I try to see the other side of it. I think that makes me something unfortunate n your eyes, which is too bad.

I hope that I have been sufficiently engaging so far, at least so as to provide you material for response. To continue:

--Oh, I'm not a drunkard. More like Lincoln in that respect: A tea totaller.

First, to be pedantic, let me assure you the word is "teetotaler." Second, my reference to 'being told you're drunk' was an analogy. See, perhaps that time I was being unclear. (Or perhaps you are uncomfortable with the figurative.)

Second, to be perfectly clear, I do not accuse you of better living through chemistry. I would suspect mental disease - schizophrenia, dementia, brain tumor, paranoia - if I suspected anything other than that you just have a very aggressive, inflexible manner.

While I may be unkind, I am not a bully, at least I don't think so, and I don't understand what "pass" is implied or stated. What "power?" That's you being unclear again.

I certainly have no power to silence you, or to do anything but possibly reach you and get you to take a look at yourself. I'm sorry if you consider constructive criticism an assault.

Very few of us write so flawlessly as to be beyond critique. I don't claim to be one, but I assert that you're not either. You seem to have a problem with that.

I wonder how you liked getting your papers back in school. I bet you resented every jot or tittle of red ink. Really not very mature granting the age I guess you to be. But that's only my opinion.

BTW, though anyone who quotes Johnson should be careful when accusing others of pretense - what do you know from subways? What subway do you use, or have used in the past five, ten years, that still uses tokens?

Posted by nichevo | August 21, 2007 7:32 PM

"Second, to be perfectly clear"

Haha, "Third," of course. We all make mistakes.

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