Late Night Logic: The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of*

by matttbastard

Because I’m too lazy to come up with original work:

  • Arab Iraqis in Kirkuk face government expulsion as sectarian strife threatens to migrate north; according to ISN Security Watch, an estimated 150,000 Arabs, mostly Shia, have fled the largely-Kurdish region since 2003, with some reporting threats of violence and abduction. Since 2006, nearly 350 have been people killed (almost of a third of which in death-squad style executions) and 1500 injured in Kirkuk.
  • Stephen Duncombe thinks ‘reality’ is highly overrated by the progressive left in the US.

*with apologies to Thomas M. Disch

The Clock Stops at Midnight

by matttbastard

Newsflash: The creative team behind hit TV series 24 are sadistic pigfuckers who hobnob with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. And, as intimated by the chronically incoherent Laura Ingraham, American viewers eat up the pornographic exploits of Bauer and co. with sick relish. While discussing the overwhelming success of the show, Path to 9/11 screenwriter Cyrus Nowresteh (a close friend of 24 creator and self-described ‘right wing nut job’ Joel Surnow) had this to say:

“Every American wishes we had someone out there quietly taking care of business…It’s a deep, dark ugly world out there. Maybe this is what Ollie North was trying to do. It would be nice to have a secret government that can get the answers and take care of business—even kill people. Jack Bauer fulfills that fantasy.”

Lefty Canuck actor Kiefer Sutherland can wring his hands all he likes; I doubt he even sheds crocodile tears when cashing the $10 million annual paycheques. Tommy Douglas must be spinning like a centrifuge at his grandson’s useful idiocy.

Via Memeorandum.

Sins of Omission

by matttbastard

Mark C. of Daimnation! gleefully points to this story, published in today’s print edition of the Globe and Mail, which details the plagiarism charges being levelled at Canadian journalist and best-selling author Paul William Roberts. Roberts admitted to mistakenly inserting numerous passages from a well-known 2002 Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed piece into his 2004 book A War Against Truth: An Intimate Account of the Invasion of Iraq, without properly attributing the original source. As a result, Roberts’ Canadian publisher, Raincoast Books, has halted shipment of the book’s paperback edition:

In a Jan. 19 letter of apology to a lawyer for the newspaper, Mr. Roberts called his failure to acknowledge the use of [Jay] Bookman’s material in five of his book’s 350-plus pages “a journalistic travesty” and “an egregious lapse of professional conduct,” but he said the failure was inadvertent, more the result of “the dangers of sloppiness” than an act of malice or bald plagiarism.

A close friend of Roberts who agreed to speak with me on the grounds that he remain anonymous backs up Roberts, explaining that the besieged journalist “is not malicious, but he is sloppy”. The source goes on to say that “[Roberts] is so outspoken, that the [right] targets him.”

Whether motivated by partisan vendetta or not, this isn’t the first instance Roberts has found himself facing charges of plagiarism. A 2006 Globe feature by Roberts (unfortunately now behind the pay wall) contained passages that closely resembled a New Republic article (also subscriber-only) from earlier that year. After an internal investigation, the Globe issued this ‘clarification’ (via Regret the Error):

A profile of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that appeared in last Saturday’s Focus section referred to a story about the Iranian President in the current issue of The New Republic. After an investigation by The Globe and Mail, it appears that notes by the author were mistakenly inserted into the story without proper attribution. The Globe has apologized to The New Republic and regrets the error.

But conservative blogger Robert Aterman found the Globe’s ‘clarification’ (eerily similar to Roberts’ latest mea culpa) inadequate:

The PWR article is around 2,000 words. Of that about a third is given over to Ahmadinejad’s biography. Almost all of this section is a lightly paraphrased (and in parts exactly identical) version of the original article by [Matthias] Küntzel. This represents pretty much the entire informative content of the article; the rest is Roberts’ opinioneering. It is hard to see how this can be described as “notes by the author.” Nor is it believable that this was “mistakenly inserted.” This isn’t a line or a paragraph, but over 700 words, absent which the article would include essentially no factual content.

Like my anonymous source, I don’t want to believe that Paul William Roberts deliberately appropriates other people’s work without citing the source material. It is, however, hard to give someone who has repeatedly shown such lax journalistic standards the benefit of the doubt. I may respect and admire Roberts for his willingness to speak truth to power, but I cannot condone plagiarism, intentional or otherwise.

Roberts may or may not survive this latest controversy with his reputation intact. However, I know I’ll find it hard to read something by him without second guessing the originality of the work, much like that of disgraced historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Malice or incompetence aside, Roberts must take responsibility for the inevitable erosion in confidence his actions have engendered.

“F*ck them. They f*cked us, so now we’re f*cking them.”

by matttbastard

Jill links to this disturbing post at Alternet’s ‘blog of blogs’, PEEK, featuring footage of someone who claims to be a former guard from Abu Ghraib*. The otherwise unidentified individual goes into excruciating detail about torture techniques utilized by soldiers at the notorious US-run prison in Iraq. But the most disturbing passage is beyond the pale:

What was the most fun things?

The most fun thing, umm….definitely the women.

Yeah? They had chick insurgents, man?

No, they didn’t have chick insurgents.

***

Something goes down, they just grab everyone around, you know, fuck em. I mean, you gonna have 35 trials? No, you know. People are like, “Oh they’re innocent.” You know what, I don’t give a fuck. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all guilty. You know what? They should have kicked Saddam out themselves. Instead, we’re there doing the fucking job. We’re losing guys…..

***

Were those people in the World Trade Center guilty? No. Fuck them. They fucked us, so now we’re fucking them. Fuck them, dude, anyone with a fucking rag on their head is fair game.

***

….girl, she was probably like 15 years old. Yeah, she was hot dude. The body on that girl, yeah, really tight. You know, hadn’t been touched yet. She was fucking prime. So….

***

One of the guys started pimping her out for 50 bucks a shot. I think at the end of the day, you know, he’d made like 500 bucks before she hung herself.

As Christina Davidson of Iraqslogger (the journalist who first broke the story) points out, there have been previous hoaxes involving supposed atrocities in Iraq. There have also been a number that have proved true; for every Jesse Macbeth there’s a Jimmy Massey.

I’m sincerely hoping this controversy ends up like the former (minus the ill-begotten right-wing triumphalism). But I won’t be surprised if this taped ‘confession’ turns out to be accurate.

*Like Jill, I cannot bring myself to watch the video; the transcript alone is bile-inducing.