Discursive Discontents
Copyright Ó by Dan Schneider, 1/8/05

Appara-Chick     Hipsters     Sciolism     Sayonara     Epilogue     Dean Esmay Update   Reactions

  Many years ago I would, in my pre-teens and teens, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, watch the occasional debates on tv that were aired on PBS. This was long before cable tv rose to prominence and C-Span broadcast such things as political fora. My favorite such show was the William F. Buckley Firing Line debates, not because I agreed with Buckley’s views, but because it was the only such place where actual debates were broadcast. Yes, there were shows like The David Susskind Show, or Tomorrow, with Tom Snyder, that good discussion would take place, but only in Buckley’s purview would there be prescribed rules and proscribed transgressions. While some real debate experts would challenge the idea that they were formal debates, for there was no weighting of points, nor any other such minutia, there was no denying the educational value of having a Buckley and his three or four Republican and Conservative allies tweak his opponents, usually a group of Liberals and Moderates headed by a ‘name’ such as 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee Senator George McGovern, from South Dakota, or, later, another failed Presidential hopeful, Senator Gary Hart, from Colorado.

  There was no shouting down, booing nor hissing, there were no deliberate personal potshots, and only attacks against ideas, separate from their proponents. Buckley could often win a debate on dialectic skill alone, even if he was substantively wrong on the facts, and my favorite parts were always when someone might utterly nail him on a point that was irrefutable. Buckley, sensing he was hemmed in, did not rage, nor lash out in a puerile fashion, but, gracefully counterpointed with wit, if not grudging concession. And that was his grace. Even if one thought his points racist, classist, or the like, his grace of wit made you not angry at the man, merely how such a capable man could be dead wrong.

  Yet, discourse, today, is dead. Anger, rage, accusation, and a lack of a common center, have made it near impossible to discourse. To me, an even worse casualty than discourse, itself, has fallen to dust- that of wit, Bill Buckley’s strongest asset. There was a time when an Oscar Wilde could exist, and even knowing his strengths and flaws, differing views could appreciate his wit, even at the end of its barb. Today, he would be pummeled by the merciless benighted zombies that dominate the reprehensibly exploitative tv talk shows like Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Montel Williams, or hosts of lesser shows- which are almost all uniformly Left Wing, the raging troglodytes that inhabit talk radio and cable tv political shows- almost uniformly Right Wing, save for NPR, which is so banal and inoffensive that it is beyond being Left Wing or PC, and just plain old bad and dull, and the hordes of online bloggers and chatrooms which make the aforementioned ‘professionals’ seem, indeed, professional, if not dignified, by comparison. The most manifest thing that assails the reader of these chatrooms or blogs is that their posters are overwhelmingly vicious, ill-informed, not to mention they cannot even construct parsable sentences, much less arguments. And this cuts across politics, religion, genres like sci fi or horror fans, tv cults centered around sites like Jump The Shark, or shows like American Idol. The vitriol with which contestants on that show have been assailed is enormous. And usually for no demonstrable reason relating to their vocal abilities- more likely their look (too fat or too beautiful), or intangible personal biases based upon the poster’s own failings or rumors that have thinned out so much that they are like water at a blood bank.

  There are occasional respites, of course, but there is no towering figure like Bill Buckley on the horizon. The best of the bunch, it seems, are political moderates like John McLaughlin, on the entertaining and fun The McLaughlin Group- although it’s worth noting that show is from a different era, nearly a quarter of a century on the air, or the occasional level-headed punditry of Log Cabin Republican Patrick Guerrierro, Newshour regular Mark Shields, or ex-Nixonite Kevin Phillips- a semi-regular on the reprehensibly hypocritical, and massively disingenuous, but thankfully put out to pasture poseur, Bill Moyers’ tv show Now. Yet, aside from them, and perhaps a handful of other level-headed folk, moderates, and fair-minded folk of all stripes, have little place to turn.

  Certainly the stoop-kneed, and hilariously mislabeled ‘Liberal Media’ of the mainstream offer little. Fox News, at least, makes no real claims to hide its right wing bias- its ‘fair and balanced’ claim a widely recognized industry in-joke. CNN, at least the few times I’ve seen it in airports or when local tv stations have tapped into its Headline News for cheap filler, is not Fox’s Left Wing counterpoint, as much as an oddly robotic, formulaic, and sterile near-parody of the news- something that was in the 1980s seen as parody in the ‘graphic novels’ of a Frank Miller. Somewhere Ted Baxter, from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show sitcom, has had his revenge.

  Then there is the culprit, the presumed ‘smoking gun’ of the Right Wing’s charge- CBS News and Dan Rather, and their ‘Rathergate’ mishandling of the story of President Bush’s chickenhawk adventures in the Texas and Alabama Air National Guards. The real story is that Rather, foolishly, in his zeal for a big story, accepted copied documents- an absolute and iron-clad journalistic prohibition, from a known Bush enemy, as genuine, without seeing the real thing. In short, many pro-Bush bloggers claimed that they were faked because typewriters in the early 1970s were incapable of super- or suprascript, like this. It was also claimed that the Times New Roman font was only developed years later, after the computer. Both claims were soon and easily proven false, but Rather’s gaffe was a classic case of him getting ‘Gotcha’d’ on the front page, and the possible retracted truths getting page 78 small pica point print. Thus the legend was born. I know it’s a legend personally because in the early 1970s my mom had a behemoth (30-40 lbs.) of an electric typewriter, from an old job, that did have suprascript- and it was probably from the mid-late 1960s! Yes, there’s no doubt Rather has always been liberal and especially disdainful of the Bushes- see his 1988 row with the elder President Bush, but none of this disputes the substantive charges of the documents, nor the fact the younger Bush got preferential treatment to get out of the war, a war he supported, but would not put his money where his mouth was. None of this would have been a big deal had he been a vocal opponent of the war, or gone to college to avoid the draft, like President Clinton.

  But, Rather’s guilt and flaws as a journalist, not to mention bizarre personal escapades- his late ‘80s beating by a tormentor assailing him with the query of ‘What’s the frequency, Kenneth?’ ranking right alongside with New York Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner’s 1981 World series claim of kicking an LA Dodger fan’s ass on the wacko scale, do not tar all of CBS News, for he wielded significant heft there. His one gaffe has since cost him his career as anchorman, as he has announced his retirement in mid-2005. That network news, like the others, goes where the ratings lead- they gave Reagan a pass for years until the corruption of Iran-Contra was beyond ignorance, they rah-rahed Gulf War 1, they relished in the salacity of the Clinton-Lewinsky fellatio melodrama, and utterly abdicated their journalistic duties after 9/11, and the manifest, and many, in retrospect to the public, lies and distortions that got us into the current Iraq mess.

  As for NBC News? I think it’s pretty hard to argue that Tom Brokaw was a Liberal, especially after his ultra-nationalistic and hagiographic odes to war on the Greatest Generation. He seems to have accepted the ‘fact’ that the World War 2 Generation were veritable saints while the Baby Boomers were decadent, hedonistoic hippies. Yet, the Baby Boomers both fought in a war they were told was honorable, helped end it when that was proved a lie, and played crucial roles in the Civil Rights movement, women’s movement, and gay rights movements, while the Greatest Generation was utterly content with segregation, Eisenhoverian conformity, and the denial of sexuality as a vital part of the human makeup. Now, with his mumbling, speech-impedimented, self retired, I hope Brian Williams- already a vast improvement in my book, will bring real journalism back to that show.

  ABC News, however, is the worst of all. The cyberworld has been abuzz with the claim that its anchorman, Peter Jennings, joined a Born Again cult a few years back, which would explain both his and the network’s Jesus obsession over the last few years, laced with falsehoods and half-truths worthy of being called Von Dänikenesque. How any such person, or organization that peddles such can be called Liberal, in the pejorative political sense, is a further indication of the erosion of discourse. Black is polka dot, and white is fuchsia, and when yellow appears I’ll be in Scotland afore ye!

  But, even were we to assume that all the anchors and reporters were Liberal, there is still the plantation model- that being that no one has ever accused Viacom, Disney, or General Electric of being filled with anything but bloodless corporatistas, who skew heavily Republican, and control content and purse strings in all but those few cases where a rather is willing to bank his career on a piece. When asked to point to Liberal bias in the reporting of stories, the Right falls back on the canard, ‘It’s not that bias exists in reporting a story, just in what stories they choose to cover.’ This fallaciously presupposes that a news story on someone scammed by a con artist, someone suffering because of Vioxx, or some other FDA approved drug, or the unfairness of taxes on the middle class vis-à-vis the wealthy or a corporation that gets ‘aid’- aka ‘corporate welfare’, is inherently political, rather than the journalistically defensible reportage of fairness and ethics. This mixture of mere ethics with a political point of view, is symptomatic of the twist into illogic that many who now traffic in dialectic pursue. Of course, the fact that a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffet are far more likely to have a news story, or interview (de facto infomercials), broadcast about them, rather than a labor leader or community activist like Cesar Chavez (are there any?) is not seen as political, even though the arguments against that are equal to or greater than those lobbed against the ethics-based tales.

  There is not even an outlet, to my knowledge, on the Big 4 networks for such a thing as the old Point/Counterpoint segment on 60 Minutes. It is because of this collective dearth online and on-air, that I write this piece, using mainly the assorted online correspondence I had with a number of folk late last year, toward the end of 2004, both in online postings, essays, and blogs, and emails. I fully admit this is my collective riposte against the barbarians of the Left Wing artistes, and the Right Wing politico nuts, but that does not invalidate the charges I will make, and detail, nor make my Moderate stance somehow as fecal as theirs. Of course, these are my interpretations, but I am confident that my case will be overwhelmingly made with the selections of interactions I have chosen- most from the arts and poetry world, and one from the world of political blogging. The only editing I have done have been on some of my own typos, as I feel free to scratch the itch I get re: that. I have not altered a single letter, misspelling, nor punctuation mark, in the words of others- not to show their ignorance for a ‘gotcha’ moment of my own, but, because there have been those who have accused me, even in correcting such a thing, in the past, in a return email thread, of being dishonest. You will, of course, have to take my word on it. However, I think those who opposed me will admit that I have been honorable in that sphere, even as they may damn my soul for my opinions, and even worse, for my ability to best them in dialectic. Is there any greater rage than an insecure person knowing they lost fairly, with nothing to blame but their own lack?

  If you can bear with the manifest silliness and vitriol that many of those I will showcase harbor, and put up with the length of this piece- but I need to quote in full, I think you will get a good cross-section of the online state of discourse in the early Third Millennium, especially those who are reading this decades or centuries hence in my Collected Works, or in some form of online archive, or repository of human knowledge that will supersede the Internet. Excelsior!


  One of the most noxious sorts of people to deal with in a discursive way are the willfully benighted bastions of culturata- those self-appointed guardians who labor as editors or publishers or curators. While they are always anxious to get others to support their, at best, questionable wares, they show almost no interest in what those outside their purview have to offer.

  Such was the classic case of this email solicitation I received a while back, doubtlessly due to a mention, a month earlier, of Cosmoetica in the New York Times, and posted on my contact form: 

T1: Erika Kuebler Rippeteau
T2: (her email)
B1: Submit
Dear Dan,

I wonder if you know the work of Ted Kooser, the new U. S. Poet Laureate and the first poet from the Great Plains to hold that job? The University of Nebraska Press is publishing his new book, "The Poetry Home Repair Manual," in February 2005, and I would love to send you a galley. Here's a link to our website for more information: http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/featureTopics/tedKooser/index1.jsp

Erika Kuebler Rippeteau
Publicity Manager
University of Nebraska Press

  Manifestly, Ms. Rippeteau was merely gleaning as many poetry websites online as she could, without hint, nor care of their essence, to publicize her book. Which is fine. Except it never occurred to her to even skim my website, manifesting the annoying tendency to not even have an idea of what I, or Cosmoetica, was about. This is akin to me submitting poetry to a site that only wants Buddhist poetry by Tibetans. I recall last summer I got an email from a fellow who wanted to pick my brains about the life and times of Julian Jaynes, the scholar whose book I reviewed. I told the fellow I merely got a book, and reviewed it, but he seemed shocked that I would not venture an opinion into areas of the man’s personal and political life I knew not of. Yet, to me, this was eminently sensible. I do not opine on that I know not of. I am no sciolist- or know-it-all. Yet, when I do declaim, you can take it to the bank. I stick by my assessment of Jaynes’ books worth and failures, but could not expound upon the man, and referred him to the author’s online society. Yet, the man was stunned that I refused to preen.

  Thus, the first symptom of dialectic discourse- people who speak of things they know little or nothing of, and subsequently hang themselves. Thus it was with Ms. Rippeteau, who I am sure was utterly nonplussed by my reply: 


Re: Data posted to form 2 of http://www.cosmoetica.com/index.htm


Tue, 2 Nov 2004 10:12:28 -0800 (PST)


Dan Schneider


(her email)

  Well, before you do I have to be fair & tell you I have an upcoming essay on Kooser in my This Old Poem section that'll probably hit before year’s end. Unfortunately I don't think he holds a candle to such great Nebraska poets as James Emanuel nor Weldon Kees. BTW- I’d suggest you look into doing a volume on Mr. Emanuel’s work. He is a long neglected poet whose work & reputation I’ve helped resuscitate online.  I can put you in contact with him and his people if ever interested. Kooser is not so much a bad poet as a poet that seems passable by comparison to the horror that’s published. Even the foolishly oft-derided John G. Neihardt I’d consider far better.
  That said, if you still wanna send me his book I’ll read it, & perhaps review it, but I leave the choice to you. Unless old Ted has been hiding a career’s worth of Frostian masterpieces I doubt whether he’ll change my opinion of that part of his corpus I’m aware of. Also, if I review it, and it’s bad, I have no hesitation to say so, & show in excruciating detail why. My point is I’m not some mindless, career-minded blurbist. But, I am fair. Let me know. Here’s the upcoming essay. DAN 

  Of course, history will side with my judgment on Kooser’s work, but the point is that in a single response I have done something that is almost non-existent in today’s dialectical environment- I have been honest, and fair. As we proceed, you will see just how rare that is.

  Now, were I to receive such an email, I would take it as a challenge that this work will win over a critic. But, I would also go out of my way to find fair-minded critics who, however wrong, in judgment, I might rely on, to possibly tweak the book, make better editorial judgments and the like. Surely, you do not expect that that was the case, do you? Here was the reply I received:


Subject: Re: Data posted to form 2 of http://www.cosmoetica.com/index.htm

From: Erika K Rippeteau

Date: Tue, 2 Nov 2004 16:21:06 -0600

To: Dan Schneider

Hi Dan,
Thanks for your note and for forwarding your essay on Ted Kooser. I think we'll take a pass on sending you the new book.

Erika Kuebler Rippeteau
Publicity Manager
University of Nebraska Press
Publishers of Bison Books

  To her credit, at least Ms. Rippeteau is nice in her spurning of my counter-offer. Yet, there is manifest cowardice in such a reply that troubles. There is a lack of engaging ideas and debating things to their essence- pro and con. That I am not a typical game-player should, one would hope, fire her even more to win me over with the wealth of excellence Kooser has- if she really believes it. My critique of Kooser is eminently fair.

  Apparatchiks, like Ms. Rippeteau, who may well be a lovely and otherwise intelligent lady, outside her shilling for a bad poet (perhaps mere professional necessity), have no real reason to compromise, to engage. They have the power, however meager and delimited by circumstance, not the people they seek to proselytize. Yes, it might, indeed, advance my career, heighten my chances to get a ‘name’, or a book published, were I to trot off a banal blurb for Kooser’s mediocre poetry, at best. Yet, there is a sense of integrity that would be lost- that oneness that seems to have so little truck with the online hordes, and the incredibly soulless sorts who work in publishing, and worse- its online equivalents.

  Not to mention that such folk as Ms. Rippetteau most likely really do have little idea that they are peddling garbage, dumbing down both discourse, and the level of intellect, by their very mercantilism. Is there much difference between her and the hucksters that sell mindless video games, porno films, or even drugs, cigarets, or fast food? To me, it’s a difference of mere degree, not kind. Others may argue, but I think they go hand in hand, with all leading to a rot of one or more portion of a person. Video games and porno merely make infantilism a desired state. Is pretending you’re a gangsta or Johnny Wadd really something that expands? Is taking drugs, smoking, or gorging on Big Macs, and ruining your health, good? So, too, I say that lacing your mind with bad art, and wasting that time, better served in ameliorative ways, is bad.

  My retort to the Cosmoetica email list:   




Tue, 02 Nov 2004 16:55:27 -0600


Dan Schneider

Oh, to be a career-minded dishonest blurbist. I'd get free books! I’m too damned honest!  DAN

  And it’s true- I am too damned honest. People, nowadays, want flattery and sycophancy. It’s a form of currency, most obviously perpetuated in book blurbery. Note, that she shows no interest in finding out more about the poet Emanuel, and I doubt she has ever heard of him, nor the even older Neihardt. This is another aspect of discourse, the disdain, and eschewment of seeking out knowledge. As I will show, there is also the damning of those who do seek it out, but another feature that has killed discourse is the desire to seek- be it knowledge without, or within, to ask why another disagrees with you, or not.

  Then, there are those that not only choose ignorance, but revel in it, and anger at anyone who challenges their view. If Ms. Rippeteau and her kind are the most powerful folk in the dialectic arenas, but also the least willing to probe and discourse- they are the willfully ignorant. Their opposites are those with little or no power, who are, at best fringe elements, who delude themselves that they have knowledge- sciolism- and power- megalomania. Their hallmarks are rage at those above them who do not see their ‘genius, worth, or the like, and those below them, who do not pay them homage, fealty, or show ‘gratitude’ for their presence on the planet.

  These are the hipsters, the cool boys, usually classic nerds or geeks who set up their online power bases to remake themselves online into what they have failed to do in the real world. They haunt and harangue chatrooms, send obscene emails to those who disagree, exert their power by technoratic means, to spam enemies, and belittle anyone who dares violate whatever territory they’ve piss-marked. Let’s look at a couple of them next.


  Next I want to delve into some of the exchanges I’ve had when I’ve sent around work for posting on other sites- be it articles, reviews, or some of my memoirs. I fully realize that most of the sites online are filled with poor writing, run by people whose ability to write and read are often very minimal, who mistake Political Correctness, or having good intentions with good art. Some folk, though, are just plain idiots- they are out on a limb, like Shirley MacLaine, obviously suffering from delusions, or other mental ills, or just plain nasty. There’s no need for nastiness in dealing with rejecting a person’s writing. A simple ‘no thanks’ is best. However, when you are a single person and run a popular website, like Cosmoetica, sometimes that is not an option, so, on my Vers Magnifique page I post the explanation below:

Cosmoetica seeks to post excellent poems from all over the world. Vers Magnifique is dedicated to those poets of quality. See the rest of the poems on Cosmoetica for a sampling of the quality & diversity sought. Although quality is the top priority poems under 2 pages in length & not as visually complex stand the best chance of appearing. Poets must allow their name, & place of origin (city/state/country- but not actual address!) to be posted- a brief bio/artistic statement may be a nice feature; but not required. Also, if the poet has a website they can have Cosmoetica link to it. If chosen the poems will be posted ASAP. Dan Schneider may comment on the poem's quality & why it was chosen. How to submit? Paste the poems within the email or attach them via WORD, or fill out the form below. All submissions are appreciated. Those rejected can request a reason why & if time allows Dan may comment on why the poem was rejected. Thanks!

[To those many who have sent poems to me but not received comment back on it is because of 1 of 3 reasons: 1) I'm too busy- in life generally & my own writing. 2) Most of the submitted poems have been so amateurish & terrible that when I've commented back upon them the doggerelists who submitted get pissed & send nasty emails.  3) Both 1 & 2. PLEASE- look at the quality & diversity of writing on the site- from me to my wife to the UPG & TC Poets to the Neglected poets. Read some of the poetry essays I've written. I am not running a poetry clinic. If your stuff is obviously nowhere near passable I will probably not waste time to comment on it, especially since my words will not be used constructively but as a reason to pout. I will give advice to those poems that have potential & need some reworking, &- of course- post poems that are already excellent. I apologize if feelings are hurt by this warning, but too bad. There are literally 1000s of other outlets online to publish garbage- this is not 1 of them!]

  Although I’ve gotten no great poems in the four years of Cosmoetica’s online life, all the poems herein are technically defensible as good, solid poems. There simply is no reason for me to go out of my way to demean someone’s poetry when it’s not up to even passable standards. So, of every thousand poems I get submitted, I post perhaps one or two. And while I’ve not the time to comment on all poems there have been a handful of promising and/or persistent poets that I have given appreciated advice to.

  The first half is notable because I do not encourage people to emulate the diverse poems they see on the site, merely the quality- a big difference from the majority of poetry websites, while the second half- a tad more sarcastic, was written in a bout of frustration where I was literally getting a dozen or so bad poems a day, and ten of the twelve poetasters haranguing me for critiques, or damning me for having the gall to be truthful that they were not a budding Plath or Rilke. I’d’ve removed it save for one thing- it cut the flow of bad poetry submitted by about 98%.

  Yet, I’ve never been nasty re: poetry, even bad- I respect the art form too much. Nor have I ever jeered a poet onstage, as is the wont at poetry slams. In short, I have always respected the honest attempt to make a poem, if not the result. Such is not always the case. A number of very insecure, and bad writers have abandoned the idea that they should show some tact and helpfulness regarding poor writing. They see it as cool to be cruel, and justify it by saying that pc slugs need to be counterbalanced by insensitive thugs. Now, to someone like me it matters not, but many a writer I know has been curtailed by bad criticism. And by ‘bad’ I do not mean that the comment is the work is bad, I mean criticism that does not elucidate the writing, nor help the writer. There is bad ‘positive’ criticism of bad writing, and bad ‘negative’ criticism of good writing, not to mention the very tone in which that criticism, pro or con, good or bad, is delivered.

  The first bad critic, and nasty rejecter I’ll touch upon is a fellow named Drew Burk, who is an editor for an online website called Spork. It’s merely one of several hundred of the thousands of online magazines out there and one evening I submitted one of my memoir pieces to the magazine. Usually such places decree they want ‘No Simultaneous Submissions!’, meaning they want to be able to waste your time looking over work, while no one else can. Of course, it’s a known fact that only the very newest of comers to the writing field heed such nonsense, because at that rate no one would ever get a piece published or posted.

  My piece is called ‘Beyond Those Swans: Missive For Annie Mendes’. It is about 5200 words long and recounts my on-again, off-again quasi-romance with an emotionally troubled Nuyorican poetess back in the 1980s. It’s a terrific piece, in a quasi-missive form, from my third book of memoirs- filled with insight, humor, and parallax to other areas of my life. Here are the first three paragraphs:


  Annie, if you ever read this- know I never forgot you. Where you are I do not know, but I feel a need to speak of you. This letter designed to let you know I still care. Forgive I will let others in on your past, but it is also my past, & I have a right to it, as well.




  I 1st met Annie Mendes at Aqueduct racetrack, as sexy a woman as I ever laid eyes on- 5’3”, olive skin, short, cropped hair- almost a Navy cut, revealing the longest, sexiest nape ever seen on a woman, large full lips, black leather miniskirt revealing muscular little legs flexing as she leans against & away from the rail, & deep blue eyes- whose colors I rarely remember- that sear because of the contrast with the rest of her person. They should have been deep brown, but they were blue, & leaning over the rail of the track before the 1st race. I watched the figure she cut as Trench Norton snuck up behind me. ‘Quite a fuckin’ piece, eh?’ he whispered. ‘Yeah, who is she?’ Trench told me her name- she was the girlfriend of Jack Zito’s older brother, Bob, a bit older than us, because Bob was 5 years older than Jack, who was our age.

  Jack Zito was a tall Italian kid who had a lucrative job as stableboy here & at Belmont racetrack. Jack’s job was great because he got it via New Wave mobster Eli Carbo, who was scamming a fortune off the ponies with a cocktail that could kybosh the ability of a horse to perform its best. Over the decades similar cocktails were tried, but all were easily detectable. Carbo’s was not. Jack was his ‘inside man’. Every few days, during select races, Jack would dope the 2 or 3 favorites, so Carbo could bet heavily on the field & clean up. The drugs were undetectable, but suspicious betting patterns had to be forestalled, lest tip off the New York State Racing Authorities. Over a year passed- not a single horse Carbo doped was ever tested for suspicious behavior. It was foolproof, & ingratiated Carbo with the Gambino crime family, headed by Pauly Castellano. For a while Carbo seemed on his way to being made in the clan.


  Note that the first paragraph serves as a de facto epigraph, that immediately tells the reader there is trauma and regret coming, yet the characters are separated by time and space, now, yet the writer- ostensibly me- then changes gears- a sign that old habits of dealing with the mentioned woman are not easy to break. This sets, in a short paragraph, an emotional tenor, and expectations that may be met and/or subverted. Right away, we start off the story with a very distinct start.

  In the first narrative paragraph we get a classic noir opening- something that a Mickey Spillane may have written, as well as some more background. The last paragraph quoted introduces two major characters in the tale, and a feeling that we may be reading the start of a heist story, rather than a failed romance.

  So, in three paragraphs we get a tableau laid out, a classic scene, and then subversion of expectation. This is not exactly a routine occurrence in modern storytelling, but it’s something that most people will want to read on, for seeming archetypes of characters are mixed with characters you’d not normally associate together- racetracks are an overwhelmingly male dominion, while the narrative tropes’ being at odds with each other set up a tension that needs to be resolved. Tension is what sours readers onward. In short- this is a terrific start. The rest of the tale, and its end, are equal to the start- but superfluous in terms of the point needed to be made.

  Anyone outside of someone not weaned from banal workshop conventions, nor relentlessly hipster in their nature, and subject to its own clichés, would- or should- welcome such a break from convention. Not so with Spork, and Drew Burk. Less than fifteen minutes after sending off my emailed submission I got this email in return:



Re: Submission


Fri, 3 Dec 2004 14:54:36 -0800


Drew Burk


Dan Schneider

  Uh... no.

  You’re lacking in the depth and style departments. Most problematic: you did not reach deep into me and refashion my soul in your own image. At best you scuffed my shoe, but I'm wearing steel-toed boots, so it’s all for naught... knot not.
  If this piece is indicative of where you are right now, skillwise, thinkingwise, etceterawise, I’d say that you got maybe 1200 full pages and seven years of constant writing to go, incrementally improving the whole way, no real leaps or anything, and then you might be somewhere... you’re still in training, you know? Keep training, don’t bother with the rest right now, just keep training. Wax on, wax off... work work work.
  But thanks anyway. And good luck.

Drew Burk
angry fiction guy

  Now, given just fifteen minutes to read a 5200 word piece, and a complex one at that, there’s simply no way, assuming he was online, for him to read more than a page, and then, most likely, having a brain fart, overloaded by not being able to see where the tale was going.

  So, obviously he didn’t read it. But, let’s look at the email. It’s obvious that Burk fancies himself witty- a rarity in dialectics, although utterly lost in the revelation of his critical acumen, or its lack. Even assuming he read the whole piece, or just what I quote from it, he’s palpably wrong. he claims there’s a lack of ‘style’ yet the piece turns romantic and noir conventions on its head in just two paragraphs. He may not ‘like’ it, but this is not about ‘like’, but excellence, although there’s no doubt Burk and his band have every right to publish what they ‘like’ rather than good writing. When responding to a submission, telling them, in essence, that you do not like the piece does nothing. A simple no thanks would suffice. The fact that he feels a need to be cutesy, and passively/aggressively hostile bespeaks far more of him than any piece submitted.

  He also claims it lacks depth. Read this passage ‘muscular little legs flexing as she leans against & away from the rail, & deep blue eyes- whose colors I rarely remember- that sear because of the contrast with the rest of her person. They should have been deep brown, but they were blue, & leaning over the rail of the track before the 1st race.’ Note what it says- we get a bit of information on the speaker, then an interesting comment on what he expected a part of the ogled female to be- setting up a query as to why?, and then we get the image of the eyes, themselves, leaning over the rail.

  Now, is this deep in a philosophic sense? No. But, we’ve just started the tale. In the rest of the piece we do get much revelation of human nature, sexuality, the artistic temperament, and quite a bit else. A comment like Burk’s sentence is thus merely a knee-jerk reaction, and a way to avoid saying anything of substance that could be argued with. Of course, a no thanks would be simpler, shorter, and nicer. But, Burk has issues with that, and must continue pushing the nasty envelope.

  The rest of the first paragraph is an admission that he did not ‘like’ the piece. It is void of critical worth. It alone, however, would suffice as an admission of his own limitations and be a suitable rejection. But, he cannot stop there. Another paragraph comes. He has to try to dick-wave, and be hiply sarcastic, then dismissive, as if a master from on high. Then, he ends with a half-hearted attempt to pooh-pooh the pent up hostility as just play. Most telling, of all, is his ‘signature’ as ‘angry fiction guy’. When someone gives themselves a name it’s about as out there as referring to oneself in the third person. So, what would impel such a response, when it obviously was a piece not read in toto? Well, envy, stupidity, a desire to feel empowered by belittling others…all are good surmise.

  But, certainly, if a piece that opens as well written as mine, by flouting conventions and weaving intriguing imagery, is deemed not good enough, then Spork was be home to prose that is of a quality so superior to other online and print magazines that its quality is in dispute. After all, here’s their Mission Statement: 

  The mission of Spork is to support excellence and innovation in words and things. Our goals are twofold: to foster and support a dynamic arena for artistic works that make significant contributions to inquiry or expression; to present these works in small editions of hand-bound books using the highest possible standards of material and design.

  It is our belief that literature is transformative — essential to the individual spirit and a necessary element in a thriving culture — and that the book, as object, is a concrete manifestation of this power of language.


  Hmm….what gives? Certainly, just from my selection we’ve seen excellence and innovation, so why was it rejected? Ok, there have to be works better and more innovative. If seeing them within Spork manifests then they are more consistent with Mission Statements, then criticism. Hmm….keep in mind what it seeks. Excellence, innovation, inquiry, expression, transformation, powerful language. Well- all notable ends. Can’t wait to see what is within their walls, eh?

  Here’s the first three paragraphs from a piece called This Is What Would Happen Later, in Spork, by a Stephen Elliott- a typical hipster sort who’s gotten sucked into Academia, on the basis of his ‘rough life’ being deemed chic. Bear in mind what Spork claims to want, what they told me, and my piece’s first three paragraphs:

  I was fourteen and I had been living on a rooftop mostly for six months the day Constantine got arrested. It was Constantine who had gotten the acid. Fat Constantine with his broad shoulders and his shirts and jackets always too short.
  He had said that morning to me when we placed the pills under our tongues, “What I love about acid is that once you take it there’s no getting off the ride. You’re stuck.” He had smiled when he said it, and I knew he was trying to give me a bad trip. I despised him.
  Smith was arrested as well. Smith was Constantine’s sidekick and his only relevance was this connection. Smith had a head like a spike and smooth, sloping shoulders so it was like his face descended straight into his arms. He leaned forward when he walked and was awful to look at.

  The first paragraph sets a scene not too unfamiliar- an anomic character, and a companion. Not bad, but not as distinctive as my first epigraphic paragraph, nor does it do as much to set the scene, both emotionally and technically.

  Paragraph two is utterly trite, and fashionably nihilistic. It is a cliché and ends with the outright cliché of one loser hating an ‘inferior’ loser. Paragraph three is mostly description.

  Given that this is probably as far as Burk got in my piece do the two pieces compare? No. Mine is vastly superior and all but hipster wannabes who can relate to the pathetic lifestyles of Elliott’s characters, would sooner want to read my tale further. In twenty years, when those slackers/losers have grown up, wised up, or just taken to cable tv for their whole entertainment, the majority will be near 100% in favor of a piece like mine. Yet, Spork wants excellence, innovation, inquiry, expression, transformation, powerful language. Elliott expresses something, but all art does. That his paragraphs do it poorly, and the content is utterly familiar- well….

  But, ok, that’s just one clunker. Let’s be fir, and try again. Here’s the start of a piece called Sponge Art, by a Michael Karl (Ritchie). While I’d state it’s better than Elliott’s piece it’s not up to snuff with mine:

  For those who wish to believe in romance, first there are the bunched ermine and vermilion roses. Asymmetrically bent, thorns prick along their stems like sutures that have not yet been surgically removed. Is the sexual too overt here? Color and scent jazz along the jasmine. Nick Avona loves Yuki. He simply doesn’t know which sex Yuki is, was, or was going to become. Instead, he thought he would learn all this by watching a cartoon. He didn’t learn much about Yuki, but he sure did about plankton.
  His mouth would gape in ovals and opals as he imitated the voices on the screen. Slowly Nick was learning English. Words formed a relay in the ricochet chamber, and the onion of memory unpeeled as if at its bitter center would be found the hollow halo of the soul. And then he relocated to the Learning Channel. Which theoretical mathematician first posited the inane idea of a geometrical infinity? It was false, Nick thought, surfing back among the balloons. Everything is tinged all about with the rust of finality. Anyone dealing in flowers could tell you that. Eternity is bounded by timeless time. Those colorful blue and yellow ribbons tie in a double helix around the blood apple, pumping puny art with the arteries clogged. 

  Paragraph one has an interesting set up, but it is straightforward- it does not play with the reader as mine did, nor does its second paragraph build tension. Paragraph two, though, is not as good- a bit overwritten, which is the indication of an immature writer- some forced descriptives and metaphors: ‘the onion of memory unpeeled as if at its bitter center would be found the hollow halo of the soul’. This is trying too hard to be deep. Then there’s this cringe-worthy bit: ‘Eternity is bounded by timeless time.’ Ok, so Karl is a tyro. Burk’s advice to me is far more apt here, yet his bit is better than Elliott’s- it shows he’s still restive and pushing out at ideas and words, whereas Elliott is a total creature of Academia, of the hipster sort. Still, another bit of not good writing online. Let’s give it one more shot. Here’s the start of Sole Survivor, by James DiGiovanna:

  I have a horrible tendency to be the last person left alive. Like that time in Bermuda, when the Hurricane hit. We were all partying on crystal meth in my hotel room, and there was an announcement that this thing was coming in faster than anyone had ever seen. They were evacuating the hotel, but I’m from Connecticut, so I said fuckit, I’m sitting this out right here.
  My friends, Dino, Sara, Raj and Tweak thought that that would be cool, what with me having all the crystal. I mean, sure, they could have tried to steal it from me and then run away with it, but that would have required one of them actually saying “hey, let’s just take his crank and get the fuck out of here,” and nobody wants to be the first to say that kind of thing. What if nobody goes along with you? Then you feel like a real idiot, have to pretend it was a joke, and nobody believes you, and you can be damn sure that you aren’t getting any more free crank. So they all stayed.
  The bellboys or whatever they were called down there told us to leave, and we said we’d be right along, but it wasn’t like they were coming back to check on us. Who would? Bermuda hurricanes are nothing like Connecticut hurricanes, it turns out. Big, big things fall over in Bermuda hurricanes. Things like trees and buildings and goat farmers. Big goat farmers, the kind with the gnarled hands and the bags of crank back at the goat farm. You have to ask, you know. 

  Paragraph one starts off with a good first line- one that could be used to great ironic effect, if what follows could play off it. But, the lapse into hipsterism. Reread Elliott’s piece, and you can see we’re dealing with the singular hipster mind. The next two paragraphs only suggest DiGiovanna has read Elliott’s ilk and is furiously trying to out-hipster them. This is easily the worst of the three pieces. So, what gives? Are Burk and company hypocrites, or idiots? Or, are they utterly incapable of judging good writing? Ok, surely Burk, himself must be a good writer. After all, no one who would act so condescendingly when given a quality piece, and publish utterly trite crap like the three pieces above, would dare do so unless he, himself, could put forth quality? Right?

  Here is the start of a piece Burk wrote called Notes On Construction, re the site:

  Every time I end up in jail my tattoo saves me. I guess I should say every time I’ve ended up in jail since I got this particular tattoo, this particular tattoo has been the thing that kept me safe. I’m not saying it made it O.K., that it made it better in even some small way… no, it sucked, it was awful every time. Shit smeared on the walls, packed into a triangular cell for two with five other people, a mat thrown on the floor by the toilet in case I wanted to sleep; I have never, ever, slept in jail. [1] I’ve slept in court after jail, I’ve slept on the ground outside the jail while I waited for a cab to come pick me up and drop me somewhere near my life after hitting a bank so I can pay the guy—and by hitting, I mean stopping by the ATM, let’s just be clear about that, all right?—I’ve slept in those cabs, I’ve slept on the floors of my friends’ bathrooms after using their showers, washing as much of that very specific stench from my body as I can before I go home, even though it continues to seep from my pores for days afterward. My crimes aren’t worth listing here, the various reasons I periodically end up in jail far too pedestrian and boring to mention; what we’re talking about is this one tattoo, on my left arm, just inside and below my elbow…. 

  So, it’s apparent why such a fellow finds Elliott and DiGiovanna to be quality writing. I Googled Burk and found a number of similarly ridiculously bad hipster type pieces, as well as a sort of profile of the man here. Need more be said? Ok, just a little. Here’s a bit from his relentlessly cool hipster blog:

Friday, November 19th

Why poetry sometimes rocks -- written by the guy who's not the poetry editor, and for the most part isn't even that big a fan of poetry, though he does seem to be coming around of late...

stops there, & thinks probably he’s going to bruise, / & how nice it will be to walk & think of how he’s / like a peach, dropped on the floor & fucked hard, an

That little disjointed orphaned stanza gives me shudders and thrills (I screwed up the line breaks, but it wouldn't display properly...) and maybe it's just that it says Fuck but fuck in itself is not enough. Sure, swearing goes a whole long way with me, but... well, like I said, in and of itself it's just not enough. I left my keys at work last night and my wallet at home this morning. (The important thing here is that you ask me how I got to work... I must be kidding, the Bahamas are islands...)


  This was written after a night partying with DiGiovanna, so it’s really unfair of me to point out its piss poor quality. Compare any of these pieces of writing to mine, and it’s staggering. Burk is a perfect example of a bad writer who, because he can afford a website, sets himself up as an editor. Hey, it’s America, it’s the Internet, but that’s the problem. there is absolutely no ability in writing nor editing that is required any longer. Even titles of works, like DiGiovanna’s, reek.

  As I said, Burk’s attempt at wit, a lone possible saving grace, is utterly lost due to the mean-spiritedness with which it is couched, and the manifest lack of any knowledge nor ability to produce or publish good writing. Even assuming someone like Burk was right, mere nastiness does nothing. Either attempt a helpful comment or don’t reply or send a formulaic rejection. Spork, like almost all online and print publications, knows what it likes, but is utterly clueless to what entails quality in writing- either in content or style. Even basics, like clichés, slide by them. I know, because many of the poems and prose pieces I’ve had published and posted- well over a hundred- are often set right next to utter crap, their inclusion in the anthology, magazine, or website dictated only by the editor’s whims, not any acknowledgement of quality.

  Yet, you query, why didn’t I tear Burk a new asshole? Well, first off- what good would it do? He’s obviously incapable of reasoned thought, and would only preen ceaselessly with pseudo-hipster put-downs, and possibly rage with a spam or virus campaign, or the like, as many others have done in the past. Secondly, though, is that a few weeks earlier I sparred with a fellow who made Burk seem like an intelligent and witty chap by comparison. My only reason for replying to him was because, unlike Burk, he made the hilarious attempt to ‘show’ me what he thought was good writing. Burk either couldn’t be bothered, or was too lazy or smart not to tempt fate, and my hangman’s noose. Which happens to be the name of the pathetic fellow who made Burk look good by comparison.

  This Noose, who always went the e.e. cummings lower case route, edits a magazine called Cyanide (can you just smell the hipsterism?) that is about on par with Spork. Unlike Burk and Spork, he, it seems, actually read the whole piece, at least after I forced him to, with my retort, and took a week or two to get back to me. The dialectic was, to say the least, a sure sign of why discourse is in a dire condition. I wrote back within a few minutes of getting the email. My retort is in black, his is in red:



Re: [Submission]


Thu, 28 Oct 2004 07:59:04 -0500


Dan Schneider



Well, thanks, I guess for the critique.  When I get poetry submitted to my site I either don’t bother replying, or I post it, if good enough. I’ve posted maybe 15-20 poems out of 10,000 submissions, & am still waiting for a great poem. I don’t reply to the poetasters because if they’ve read any of my criticisms or any of the poems posted- by me or others- & still cannot get a qualitative feel there’s nothing I can do, & all it will do will be engender hostility. So, take these remarks as you will. Interpolated:

  NOTE- I am always non-emotional, consider his remarks, and then show why they are very ill-rendered.

noose wrote:


  Here’s my critique and as I’ve been backed up severely I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get back you about this. With that I don’t think it's strong enough yet to be established in the magazine. It needs revision to strengthen it first.
  First off, you tell the story. I, the reader, don’t experience it. You overuse passive verbs. Go back through and cross all instances where you use is, am, were, have, had, think, thought, remember, et cetera and replace it with an action verb. Each action verb packs more power behind it versus linking and passive verbs. Unpack the memories and the scenes. Make me feel it. Your first few sentences read.

It was not always about money for Rollo- even when it was. Rollo is an assassin- a pro. He has skull tattoos on his body representing all the people he has killed.

But those feel stale, stagnant, weak. Try improving them with action verbs and bringing things to life. Personification works.

Rollo received money for every hit, but it was pointless, he cared about as much as a dying woman does about getting water. He made money off of taking lives- a professional killer. Skull tattoos creep down his muscles, a tick mark for every life he took.

Now I’m not saying what I’ve written is brilliant by any means, but everything has more life now that they are doing something rather than sitting around.

***The piece is a memoir, & the speaker dispassive because the events, themselves, draw readers in. Perhaps not you, but your advice is straight out of MFA programs, & why most writing is formulaic. You, indeed, advance a formula. Look at how the piece ends- by using action verbs you undermine the intent & power of the end, making it almost a cartoon. This is fine for Japanese manga- but not this piece. Now, look at your rewrite. It’s not only not brilliant, but it’s generic & hackneyed. Any hack could pen it. It’s 5th rate Mickey Spillane. Narratively, I set the whole tale up in my 1st sentence. Yours undermines that, which shows 2 things- 1) you did not get the point of the tale- which was not to be bad ass nor cool & 2) you have a fondness for clichés. Do you really think your last quoted sentence is a good sentence? You added alot of unnecessary modifiers- i.e.- fat. To keep it in the same vein, you forsake Joe Friday of Dragnet for an off-the-rack bad pulp book. A critique that understood the story’s narrative, + good sentence structure would have suggested cutting, not adding, perhaps suggesting cutting the qualifier ‘a pro’ from my take. Except, that that qualifier means more than just a professional killer. My opening, therefore contains multiplicity of meaning. Yours is a cardboard cutout.
You can take these or leave these- I’m just explicating what usually goes into good writing. Also, when giving crit, you have to make sure it’s good crit, not formulaic, & endorsing genericizing the writing, not to mention making obvious that many of the ancillary points were missed. That I could glean this from just this part of the email gives me no solace.

  Really, now- look at Noose’s rewrite. I’m sure Burk would rave over such, and that’s the point.

Second. When you use as many created words for your gangs and what not like you do, you need to break the reader into it slower. Slowly introduce it with back history or only when it’s necessary to know it. I don’t need to know who Paco’s gang is within two paragraphs. Which many lines like the one dealing with Paco’s gang in the second paragraph are confusing with your use of structure. Simplify them and make them more comprehensive. Less is more in this instance.

***I don’t know what words specifically but 2 things- sci fi is loaded with such, as are many slang/hipster novels of the last century. I don’t think that there’s anything that will lose a reader, + if the tale is involving enough people either elide words they don’t understand, or look them up. It’s like the poem/prose mix. People who detest poetry can pluck out the poems like excess raisins in bread, & enjoy the prose. 2) This piece is part of a memoir series so many of the words will have provenance earlier- although point 1 applies as well to the reader of just this. Regardless, the 1st paragraph either sets the table, or recaps what's gone before. It’s a serial format, in some senses.
This argument has more merit than your 1st, still- it’s more of a subjective bias. That’s simply not good enough for crit. Many’s the time I’ll- well not often- I’ll read a poem or piece that subjectively I dislike- either the style or content- but critique based on that is useless to the writer. There are infinite possible ways to subjectively interpret good writing or bad, but an objective crit tosses biases aside. Earlier you say ‘make me feel it’- this is an emotional response, not bad if merely a reader, but it has no merit as criticism since other people can feel it. I can argue it’s your deficiency. A crit has to be more than that. Worse, when you intellectually advocate padding concise writing, & more so padding it with generic clichés, it leaves your crit suspect.
It’s not enough to say, I don’t like a recap or summation of major elements early, but say why, & more so, show a flawed sentence, etc.

  Note that I grant him a bit of a point, I’m not dismissive, but actually attempting to help him. He actually advocates adding banalities and length, arguing against concision and originality. Had he simply rejected, or even given his sermon, I’d not have replied, but it’s the colossal error of trying to justify bad writing that drew my corrective.

I’m not disapproving of the content in this story by any means, but I do think the approach needs an overhauling. Go ahead and work on it on your own, or via us within the forum, or via other writer workshops and feel free to resubmit then, because this shows potential, but needs work. Thanks for considering Cyanide. We hope to hear from you again. --noose.

***Luckily, you’re not 1 of those advocating read our mag, see what we like. This is why I send my pieces about to many diff mags- so people will come out of their shells & see diff styles. To end, think objective excellence over subjective like. Also, when suggesting a revision, by all means, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by suggesting making something longer, more generic, & flaccidly stuffed with clichés. Really, reread your rewrite- it’s atrocious for those 3 reasons. That is an objective statement anyone who’s read prose of the last century would make. Anyway, thanks for your interest enough to write. DAN

  It’s important to note he says the work has potential, in light of what follows, because clearly he’s either lying in stating he believes that, or gets so indignant with my advice to him that his rage forgets that fact. Then, he advocates workshopping! I also end conciliatorily, although I knew that someone as clueless in writing might lose it. He did. A day later I received this gem, to which I replied:


Re: [Submission]


Fri, 29 Oct 2004 07:46:15 -0500


Dan Schneider



  This is 1 of the reasons I generally don’t bother responding to people who manifestly do not understand good writing- they cannot take criticism. The only reason I bothered this time was because you ‘tried’ to show what you thought was good writing. Note- there was no attack of a personal nature in my reply, simply a point-by-point rebuttal. Again, look at your rewrite- longer, more banal, larded with 2 clichés in 3 lines. How do you reply? With childish rants. I’ve spent years in critique groups for poetry & not & welcome crit that shows a person understands something. A bad crit can be good if the negative points to something. Bad crit, however, is not just negative crit. I shrug my shoulders when something is praised for being banal. Had I written some of the examples below or what you suggested, & gotten raves I’d be as appalled. Worse is you show absolutely no humor, you act upon your crit as if it's yr baby. 1 cannot personalize too much. Interpolated:

  The single most important point throughout this piece may very well be the death of wit- that saving grace of William F. Buckley’s that even his greatest detractors must concede!

noose wrote:

When I first read your story I thought it would be a satirical hip-hop memoir with its flagrant misuse of slam/hip-hop poetry conventions, but I was disappointed in that regard.

***Reread what you just said- instead of a blank slate you think it's gonna be hip hop. Why? Niggaz? You are already judging a piece not by what is on the page but by what is not. Think of the solipsism & solecism you've just made.

Here he utterly betrays himself. He comes in with a mass of prejudices and already shows a lack of objectivity.

Then you followed up that disappointment with more in the shape of a critique poor in execution and skill. If this was not a joke, in story or critique, I recommend you buy a can of gasoline and burn all of your literary attempts along with the thesaurus that sleeps by your bed, because it is quite obvious that you had to crack it open again to act pretentious in your slander.

***Look at the ad hominem, all because I’ve revealed your lack of  acumen? It’s a tale, not a critique- where do you read any critique in this piece. You’ve hauled another bit of your baggage into your crit. Slander? Of whom? Names in the piece are changed because most folk cannot handle the truths about themselves (ring a bell?) If you refer to my crit of your crit- you are again personalizing since I did not attack you, I rebutted your mis-assessment. As for thesaurus- yes I do know words like solecism & can use them when I need- it comes from intellect & making it out of diapers. Your point?

The slander charge reveals ignorance, for what happened in the memoir I sent to him was true, the names all changed, so he must be referring to my crit of his crit. How did I say anything that was libelous- since in print, rather than slanderous? He has utterly undermined any intellectual standing he had left, and shown that emotion dominates intellect, in his argument. This fact- emotion over intellect- is rife in discourse’s decline, as we shall see further on.  

If you think people want to read your grocery list of events and details while trying to decipher your naming scheme that you thrust upon them worse than the cheapest Science Fiction novel, then you are the only person.

***Well, there are a # of similar pieces online, my site is the #1 poetry site online, & I’ve gotten 20+ million hits in almost 4 years. Of course, mass appeal has nothing to do with quality, lest Dave Eggers (he of listmaking infamy) would never be published. Regardless, your claim is demonstrably wrong. Do you think hipster/poseur rants (your site is 1 among about 2 million online) will garner as much?

As a consolation prize though I would like you to have the entirety of my original critique and the knowledge that if you can’t handle criticism of your work being monotone and unappealing, because it goes against everything you stand for in your little opinionated world that revolves around you, then swallow the bitter poison and move on.

***Read our exchange in a decade & see where bitterness & hostility lies.

  What bitterness have I shown in our exchange to this point? This is classic projection of one’s failings on to another. So far Noose makes Drew Burk seem a mute smiling idiot in a corner compared to his Ted Bundy-like rage.

This is a professional business, not your sandbox to piss in. With that I bid you good day, farewell. Here’s your rejection notice, and your consolation prize.


post script: Any further comments you want to direct toward me will not garner a response in favor of getting work done.

***BTW- unless your mama named you noose (love ee cummings) it’s kind of humorous to claim pretense on others.

  Here is another important point to note- when beaten in an argument many folk will retreat. Yes, each argument has to be considered on its merits, and there comes a time when someone becomes unreasonable, nasty, or obsessive, that cutting off contact is good- as I will show later in this essay. But, This is only our second exchange, yet already the ground is slipping out from under Noose’s opinions, and he knows it. Folk like Appara-Chick Erika Rippeteau know they are in a position to totally ignore others from the get-go, and avoid any real dialogue, while the Burks and Nooses at least engage. Most, though, like Noose, cut and run when called on their nonsense, rage like a child, and hurl epithets and venom. This will play out further in the next section of this essay.

original critique.

“It was not always about money for Rollo- even when it was.”

Boring. Sorry, but starting it off telling us the story in a thesis statement loses the reader in any genre unless you've been around long enough to know what catches people’s attention.

Look at the pros:

Chuck Palahniuk: “Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler’s pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die.”

Will Christopher Baer: “I must be dead for there is nothing but blue snow and the furious silence of a gunshot.”

Vince Flynn: “Mitch Rapp stared through the one-way mirror into the dank, subterranean cement chamber.”

Bret Easton Ellis: “People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.”

Craig Clevenger: “I can count my overdoses on one hand:”

Notice how not a single one of those have anything that goes even remotely like that starter you're giving, and that is because you need to be gripping. Get the reader excited with your opening, don’t bore them. 

***How could this be an original critique when I mentioned the ‘thesis’ idea 1st? How do you define pro? By 1 who has made some pelf from a novel? You fall into a trap by assuming that publication = excellence. Look at your examples- 3 of the 5 are longer than mine, Palahniuk’s ends in a horridly trite attempt at philosophy, Baer's has 2 clichés  in 1 sentence, Flynn’s could be interesting depending on what comes after, but it’s not a line that will stick with anyone- especially those who love pulp crime, Ellis’s again is dependent on what comes after- it cannot stand alone, & the last piece is Beatnik/hipster wannabe nonsense. Given my memoir’s narrative, & what you like (which is bad writing) it’s no wonder you were scratching your head. Again, if you ever get past a Charles Bukowski POV you’ll laugh at your own crit. If you do reply, will it be with a 1st draft of your original crit that takes into account what I write here?

My points are well taken. Obviously Noose cobbled together a longer critique out of rage after my last response for the thesis notion was one only mentioned by me. He picked up on that to appear smarter than he is, but his transparency is rather apparent. I nail him on it. As for what he considers good writing- it’s as bad as anything Spork ran, and evident in far less of a selection. No wonder he did not reply!

“He has skull tattoos on his body representing all the people he has killed. I cannot make a count on how many he has.”

Again, why should we care? Show me why.

“Rollo is different from others- 1 of the few people my bloodbrother Paco Robatillo fears. We became bloodbrothers a few weeks ago.”

First off - is it so difficult to type “one” instead of “1?” And if you’re writing it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t really know how to type and he’s on a computer, you’d best make that known quick. If not – don’t make people edit stuff so blatantly and expect to get good reviews. C’mon. It’s common courtesy. Or do you think this is stylistically cool?

***Ever read Emily Dickinson? Stylistic convention. Miller, Bukowski, Richard Grossman. Good & bad writers all have had their quirks. Mine are designed to quicken the reading pace- ala in memory or dream. I don’t write ‘cool’, I write well. Look at your above examples for ‘cool’, Dino, er- noose.

The first selection’s comment is ridiculous, since it’s at the start of a long piece and scene setting. Note his comments are off-the rack workshopping. His injunction about ‘cool’ is especially hilarious considering his moniker, and ideas on what good writing are- all examples of overt striving for coolness. But, the style of the memoirs is all in-sync with memory and its quick and disjunctive pace. The Dickinson reference is especially cogent since, in her time and for years after, she was damned for it, yet now is praised for it. Few really have new ideas on it, they uncritically praise her style as once they damned it.

“Rollo is with the gang of black kids Paco’s gang- the Omega 7’s Wannabes- hates.”

This is so incredibly awkward that I honestly don’t know where to begin. Rewrite that sentence completely, just scrap it and start over. Why should we care what gang he’s in? All you’re doing thus far is writing one of those short little biographies that authors have on the back cover of their paperback novels

***What’s awkward about a qualifier? How is a brief intro to a character a bio/blurb? Here is where you let your own petty anger over being challenged to form a coherent opinion take over- you now merely throw around things that make no coherent sense.

  This is an example of the King’s English fallacy- that grammatical rules are set in stone. Of course, formal King’s English can be used well or ill, as can colloquial writing- but if they have unique phrasing, narrative arcs that are original, compelling characters, such comments are useless. My comment thoroughly nails Noose.

The sudden interlude into poetry just doesn’t work. I’m sure you’re just trying to break the conventions and find a unique form of expression...but it doesn’t work. Mixing poetry and prose in the same piece of fiction is akin to adding turntables and a microphone to Kenny G. Sure, it might work as a novel concept, but in execution it’s just not going to work, unless you have skill.

***How is it a sudden interlude when the paragraph before it leads directly into it? Have you ever read Dante's La Vita Nuova? Again, you make assertions out of hurt feelings, but do not extrapolate. Perhaps, ala these last 2 emails, you know you only shoot yourself in the foot the more you explain?

  If you have read any of my memoir selections you know they all include a poem, and Noose’s comments are all the more baseless. Why doesn’t it work? I’m sure Noose hasn’t a clue, save that I’ve no ‘skill’- like those great examples of prose he put forth. Go ahead, you can snicker.

In short: The box of standard writing techniques is there for a reason.

***Yes, the lack of imagination of contemporary writers, as you’ve amply demonstrated in your selections of 'good' writing.

In order to break convention, you’d best know those conventions inside and out, because there are some rules of grammar and writing that you just don’t break, unless you know exactly what you are doing. Do you know what you are doing, because I don’t?

***The 1st cogent thing you’ve said. 1 must learn conventions but all great writers know they have to unlearn them. Look at the conventional writers you list. Here’s unconventional writers: Dickinson, Whitman, Beckett, Joyce, Pound, Melville, Twain. Now, just fingerpainting does not make 1 Picasso’s heir, but regurging others tripe does not either. Back to my last email- & just stick with the 1st sentence- tight, with a multiplicity of possible meanings. You prefer the hackneyed & flaccid. I cannot argue with your likes, noose, but like does not make for good crit, & that’s the problem with most mags. 50 years ago there were about 50 major outlets for writing. The pop’s not 2bled since yet there are now 10-20k outlets in print & online. Anyone with a pc & $5 a month can be an ‘editor’- you’ve amply demonstrated why that is not a good thing. 1) You’ve no real acumen for discerning good & bad. 2) You cannot disentwine excellence from your own biases. 3) You cannot brink a demonstration of failures 1 & 2 w/o resorting to ad hominem.

  At least he admits he is clueless in the face of good writing. (sigh)

“Rory’s & Trench’s disdain preceded their meeting, & opposite opinions on, me.”

Grammar, baby. Learn to like it.

“Trench & I instantly hit it off.”


“Like many others he saw in my intellect something to be admired, something beyond him & those he’d known before.”

If people weren’t turned off before, they’re certainly turned off now. This sentence alone is arrogant to the point of irritation. Now, that's not to say arrogant people can't be fun to read about, but there’s no charm to what's written here. Look to John Dolan Vincent in “The Contortionist Handbook” if you want a good example of how to write an arrogant character correctly.

“...he saw in my intellect something to be admired...”

Why, because you say so? Show us the story, don’t tell us. I shouldn’t have to keep mentioning this.

“Unlike earlier relationships with Ziggy, Josh Harte, or Reggie Macchione, & later with Paco, I was the dominant person between Trench & me.”

***Pt 1- covered earlier. Pt 2- a character says, 'She was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen.' Does the author need to explain why? Silly crit. Pt 3- if you read the piece & the character's actions you can see why it was beyond him- all you're doing now is sticking out your tongue & biting down hard. In memory things are not always straight-forward. Look at what you wrote earlier about knowing then breaking conventions. I do that & you stick out your tongue. MFA workshop-level crit, & it results in the writing you laud above.

  Note the odd fusion of hipsterism and workshopese in Noose’s crits. As to why another character admired my intellect. That’s just the speaker’s statement. Often, bad writers think detail is a substitution for depth. Why would I need to show my character’s intellect, or why the other character admired it- it’s either a fact or the speaker’s presumption. Period.

Half of these people we don’t even recognize. Readers are going to be asking themselves if there’s a piece they’re missing, assuming they’ve managed to trudge this far into it already. Develop the characters. DEVELOP.

*** 1) it is part of a series. 2) Their mention is just to place the relationship in a context- no extrapolation is needed. Again, to the beautiful woman example- does a character have to tell his readers he liked her bulging nipples or the fact that she looked like Aunt Harriet, whom he used to whack off over? You are taking passages that set a stage & trying to make them expository passages. The actions described expose who the characters are. The sentences are unadorned. Spillane, at his best, was a master of this, & far better than any of the hipsters you enjoy. Again, you advocate flaccidity, not to mention condescending to your audience by describing everything in detail.

“She was an early developer with huge, firm, luscious tits- in later years she would let me cop a feel of their sensuousness, usually after I’d done something nice or brought Dorothea a gift.”

Are you writing this from the perspective of a hardened (no pun intended) man, or a doctor making a cold observation? Again, you’re telling us the story, not showing. Just because you tell us she has big tits doesn't mean we should suddenly have a boner.

***1) You accuse me of not showing, then are confused that I am observing. Look at the logical twists you are making- this the result of anger over being challenged. This statement is nonsensical. Since I'm copping the feel I'm the 1 aroused. Does it sound like Penthouse Letters?

  Here, it’s manifest that the speaker was merely making an observation, yet Noose is confused. If such bald writing is misinterpreted it’s worth asking whither the confusion- the writing or the reader? In this case it’s manifestly the reader’s fault.

“It never happened. Henrietta was in a car accident that killed her lover, & burst her water. The baby was DOA.”

So? By this point I just don’t care, because you never made me care. I was reading a grocery list of events and details that reminded me of wood.

***I cannot argue with you your likes, since your inabilty to read w/o biases is evident from your own admission that the word Niggaz in the title (or some other misread) predisposed you to be hip hop minded where none of that is in evidence. Black characters do not denote hip hop these days no more than they did Stepin Fetchit 50 years ago. Look at how your own prejudices blind you.

Basically - this entire piece is monotone, like Ben Stein read this to me. It’s not even emotionless. It’s mechanical. I can’t even get into the nitty-gritty details of revision that I normally do with most people because the structure the story is written in is like someone’s just writing the events of the day in a journal, subtracting the interesting ranting and ravings of someone emotionally charged. I suggest a mass overhaul to what would be an entertaining concept if the writing level was able to keep up with it.

***Again, I'd suggest putting this aside for 10 years & looking at it again. You don’t wanna end up an ossified Beatnik type hipster with a long white beard, a pile of mss that are apes of others, & a bald spot from scratching yourself as to what it all means.

  Note, he has only dealt with a paragraph or two of a far longer tale, shown how his biases and expectations tripped him up, and even failed to recognize the deployment of certain devices.

As a consolation prize though I would like you to have the entirety of my original critique and the knowledge that if you can’t handle criticism of your work being monotone and unappealing, because it goes against everything you stand for in your little opinionated world that revolves around you, then swallow the bitter poison and move on.

***Reread this piece from above as an example, then reread my original rebuttal. noose, don’t trip over the slack left in your rope, nor your own unwitting self-analysis. I’m sorry I won’t be getting your 1st draft of your original variorum critique. Uh-oh, thesaurus & over-explaining- will you love it or not. Humor, noose, it’s a good thing, as W Bush might mumble!   DAN

What makes Noose even worse than Burk is that he had to show what he thought was good, and then when he gets a wholly unemotional response, he goes apeshit. Any impartial reader would not that it’s his emotions, not mine, that infect his rationale. That, plus the fact that he cobbled together a very poorly thought out response after I denuded his arguments only show how desperate someone like that is to protect their ego at all costs.
So, Drew was undrawn by his  poor editorial skills, and Noose was lynched by his puerile anger and stupidity. Are all folks in the online game like that? Fortunately not. Here is an example of a rejection that is courteous, and professional. Why it is so rare is symptomatic of the decline of discourse. Here’s a brief exchange:


Re: Submission


Fri, 29 Oct 2004 13:27:26 -0500


Dan Schneider


Submissions ‘Thieve’s Jargon’

Thanks. DAN

Submissions wrote:

Thanks for sending the new stories along. All three are deeply moving (no shit), and the literary device of adding the poems is a great idea. However, I think these are a bit too heavy and straight-forward for what I’m looking for with the Jargon. They ready as very powerful memoir, but I don’t get a feeling of joy from having read them, maybe because the stories are TOO real, not that that’s a bad thing, far from it, just not quite what I’m looking for. Hope you understand.


----- Original Message -----

From: Dan Schneider
To: ‘Thieve’s Jargon’
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 2:03 PM
Subject: Re: Submission

Here are 3 from my 3rd book- all well under 5k.  DAN

Submissions wrote:

Yeah, the 5k limit is just something I’ve come up with in my own head as I’ve gone along doing this thing over the past few months, one of those learn-on-the-fly sort of things. I've been on the road for the past two weeks or so, I’ve been meaning to update the site, but haven’t had the time to get around to it just yet...I’d love to see some shorter stuff.

----- Original Message -----

From: Dan Schneider
To: Submissions
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 2:34 PM
Subject: Re: Submission

Well, the point of the memoir is that it is a hybrid- the poems work in concert w the prose. They are like raisins in a raisin bread- you can pluck them out. However, removing part A renders the end pointless. Thanks, anyway.  DAN

PS- if 5k is a limit, which I don’t recall seeing, I have shorter pieces. Lemme know if interested.  DAN

Submissions wrote:


This is an interesting piece, I’m curious as how much of an edit you’d let me throw this through because I think it’s a bit too long (I usually try for something around 5000 words) and could be trimmed in some spots. What I’m thinking of is removing section A, and the poems, which I don’t love. But I like the gang stuf and the part with Stacy Steiner under the porch, all that to me is the meat of the story, the stuff in part A, I can see what you’re trying to get at with all of it, but it’s more of a political piece, moreso, outdated politics (how many people are going to know who John Lindsay is?), and I think the rest of the story could stand alone without it. But let me know your thoughts, I can run an edit on it I you’d like and send it along for your approval. If you’re not down with that, I do hope you can find a home for this piece someplace else, because I really do like it, it's very unconventional but well written.


Matt DiGangi


----- Original Message -----

From: Dan Schneider
Sent: Friday, October 22, 2004 4:20 PM
Subject: Submission

This is memoir/fiction/poetry hybrid. If you choose to use please byline with name & URL. Thanks, DAN

  Now, I don’t know the rationale for why the original piece was rejected- if the stated reason was or was not true- but look at the both civil nature of the reply, and acknowledgement of the piece’s strengths, as well the editor’s limits. He is neither ignorant, condescending, uninformed, nor nasty.

  And just to prove that DiGangi is not alone, and that it is the Burks and Nooses that are at fault, I include another ‘good’ rejection:



Re: Submission


Sat, 11 Dec 2004 23:22:47 -0800 (PST)


Patrick Simonelli


Dan Schneider

Response to submission--

'J'Accuse' - Dan Schneider
I neglect to talk about things I know nothing about (American politics and poetry). I'm sure you'll agree I can find other ways to make myself look like a tool! Either way, I did read it all and I have to say I didn't like the 'fiction' section. It came across to me as rambling trashy pulp, but trashy pulp involving pre-pubescent girls. Not my cup of tea at all, mate. Also, one of my personal pet hates is when people substitute words for numbers (i.e I made a mistake- a big 1!). In fact, in makes me so angry I'm going to go down the pub.

Zeke Iddon
Fiction Editor



This was as you indicated, a hybrid. It works as you sent it, but i honestly think the three sections would be better off on their own.
The opening part about Nixon and Hiss was very well done. I'd publish that in our nonfiction section if you'd adapt it to be a separate piece.
The middle section about the twins and Tessy was self-indulgent and a very uninteresting read.
The necrophilia poem at the end had its moments.
Get in touch if you'd like to send the Nixon part as a separate submission. I thought that was by far the strongest piece.

Patrick Simonelli
Literary Vision Editor

 Now, notice that the Iddon section could have easily descended to a Burk or Noose-type rant, save for the fact that his ‘attempt’ at coolness is self-effacing. Why he ever got to look at it, since it was memoir, not fiction, I don’t know. As for the main editor, it’s ironic that the most ‘standard’ piece- on Nixon- is what he liked best, while the personal sections and great poem, he did not. Too much like most crit, unfortunately. Still, they did not take their frustrations out on the prospective writer. They showed some professionalism.

  Another advantage to the two zines’ admission of their limitations is that this and similar pieces have been rejected for the exact opposite reasons, folk finding the parts on sex not to their taste, and wanting to focus more on the political, or wanting more conventional set ups to dominate the unique points of the matter!

  I have now shown two different sources of discourse’s decline- the willfully ignorant, who spurn discourse- like Erika Rippeteau, and the hipsters- who simply lack the facility to promote discourse or good art, yet multiply like a virus. Regardless, on to a source of the decline of discourse that is only tangentially related to the arts world- online weblogs, or blogs. In the next section you will see another source of discursive woe- the sciolist, or pretender to knowledge.


  The definition of sciolism is, according to the online Dictionary.com: a pretentious attitude of scholarship; superficial knowledgeability. Perhaps the most famous sciolist in literary history is The Catcher In the Rye’s Holden Caulfield, although a more recent pop example might be Cliff Klavin from the sitcom Cheers. While the Internet has hammered responsible discourse by its very anonymous nature, with folk acting far nastier than they would if publicly revealed, sciolism is another outgrowth of the Internet, and subsequently discourse’s decline

  I am not a sciolist. While I’m very intelligent, and have a Visionary intellect, based upon great pattern recognition ability, hence my skill at poetry, the highest of the arts, it is that pattern recognition ability that allows me to see things in other areas that even experts cannot. For example, while I cannot argue minutia of cosmology with a Steven Hawking, I can point out logical flaws and syntactic slips that reveal flaws in, say, the Big Bang mythos- even as I have no real stake, intellectual nor emotional, in its correctness or not. A sciolist would feel a need to offer a counter-theory in detail, even if not an expert, and cling to a belief out of an emotional attachment, rather than an impartial ability to change a view when new evidence is offered. Knowing limitations, and when to say ‘I don’t know.’ separates the true intellectual (often autodidactic) from the mere pedant, or worse, the sciolist, who not only is a know-it-all, but usually a flawed and often wrong know-it-all. I freely admit that most subjects do not interest me, so I do not explore them- cuisine, golf, crochet, philosophy (mere ideas, whereas art is ideas in motion), accounting, soccer, assorted artistic –isms, etc. But I do know what I read up on, to the limits that anyone individual mortal, dependent on others’ ideas and interpretations of things beyond my purview could be. I also read views across a spectrum, to be able to parallax a proximate truth within. I will also often say I don’t know, or don’t care, or it doesn’t interest me. I’m not afraid to say I am not knowledgeable on a subject. As I said, few months back a Julian Jaynes fan emailed me re: my review of his book and assumed I was able to discourse, at length, on his theories and life. I freely admitted I merely read and reviewed a book, and was in no form an expert. This seemed to puzzle the emailer, that I was not apt to pretend I was something I was not. This attitude also consterns many a young poet or folk who’ll email me out of the blue for a question on a particular poem, or view on a poet I’ve never heard of, much less. Because I’m a great poet, and an expert in that field, by no means makes me an encyclopedia. This very fluidity of thought, and a convective memory, makes me a great writer, but not someone who’d do well on the Jeopardy quiz show. But, if I do know something, you can take it to the bank that I know it, and am most likely correct. I’m an all or nothing person- in work, poetry, or knowledge.

  Yet, there are few others I’ve met in life that can claim the same. Some that I’ve known, like my liberal pal Art Durkee and conservative pal Don Moss, can talk rings around me on things such as Buddhism or Schopenhauer, and I’ll listen intently- even if I’m not moved by the expounded tenets. Similarly, both are lost on certain pop cultural topics. They are not sciolists, either. Unfortunately, the Internet abounds with them. And there are different types of sciolists- the wholly ignorant, and those that sincerely try, but are limited by their intellectual skills, biases, or both. In this day and age it’s too easy to pretend knowledgeability, and many online sciolists, especially, merely plagiarize others ideas in toto, by cutting and pasting, or they feign knowledge where none exists within themselves, simply by Googling an answer.

  Bloggers are the most visible actors of sciolism, although chatroom trolls- people who curse at or harass others- as they are called, are just as bad, more numerous, but- lacking a blog- not as harmful to discourse in the main. In this portion of the essay I want to examine a recent conversation online I had with a blogger named Dean Esmay. He runs a blog called Dean’s World, and claims to be a Classical Liberal, even as he espouses many non-liberal positions, politically, ethically, and otherwise. This is not to say that some of his claims are not true, and that Liberalism, as it’s generally thought of is not in need of some rethinks on things, but calling a pig a duck won’t make its oink sound like a quack. It is my contention that Esmay is a sciolist, as well a blogger. Now, this is not an epithet, merely a definition, based upon months of reading his blog on and off. I should say that I probably agree with any given opinion he states about 50% of the time, so this is not a partisan attack. I am a moderate, politically, and would state he is, as well, with Rightward leanings, contrasted to my almost 50-50 moderation. I am a social liberal, fiscal conservative, and general moderate. I’d slash most government programs to a degree that would make Jesse Helms blanche, and fund workable programs, with proscribed boundaries, as well as seriously re-regulate corporations and force them to serve the public good- or at least try. I am a civil libertarian that is pro-abortion, anti-gun control, pro-civil rights, pro-affirmative action, pro-drug legalization, pro-death penalty, pro-gay rights, pro-women’s rights, pro-gay marriage, civil unions, or whatever. In general, I am for the individual. I therefore loathe the greatest domestic threat to that- the corporatization of this country, on many of the same grounds. I am for the separation of church and state, think religion is a form of psychosis, with a dismal history, having done far more harm than good, starting with its very divorce from the real. I respect others’ rights to be religious, but not their beliefs. I wish there would be far more respect for irreligiosity, rather than the demonizing done by many churches. I recognize the difference between religion and spirituality. In many ways I’m a Jeffersonian.

  Esmay shares most of these opinions, but his rationales differ. His rationales also seem to decohere from each other, which evinces his sciolism in some of the twisted arguments and statements he makes, and illogical positions he takes. That said, Esmay is far from the worst of the sciolists and bloggers. And that reason is precisely why it’s worth investigating his discursive failures, especially when confronted with opinions he does not share. Esmay’s failures stem, in that regard, less from his sciolism (i.e.- being metaphysically or demonstrably ‘wrong’) than it does from his often enraged attacks, his reliance on emotion over reason, his quick descent into epithets, his need to demonize, generalize against whole groups, and willfully marginalize his own views (as the PC Left does, merely to claim ‘underdog’ status and persecution where none exists), and also plainly distort what a person has written- either because he has not fully read the argument, has not fully understood it, or presumes much about the person or viewpoint from past experience, without allowing that his view could be wrong. He claims to believe in Occam’s Razor– the idea that the simplest explanation which best fits the known facts is usually the correct explanation. I will show, later, in his assertions re: several things, but mostly the Vietnam War, that Esmay does not practice what he preaches, most pointedly in the Occam’s Razor ideal.

  I will examine two general tracks of discourse- the one I had with him, ironically on his lament over the failure of Political Rivals to communicate effectively, and one regarding race and racism that he had with another blogger named Oliver Willis. Of course, the immediate query is how did I come across blogs, and these two bloggers, in the first place? Well, in the course of the last few months of the election campaign I found myself occasionally going to blogs to read tidbits of what people thought about this or that re: President Bush or Senator Kerry. A quick look at most blogs reveals a startling lack of clarity, factfinding, and a great deal of gossip, linkage, and very poor writing- what I call sportswriterese. This is where a person floats an idea or two, then does not develop it, nor push it further, and usually ends with an ellipsis, or a hyperlink to a likeminded blogger’s post, which links to another and another. Little in the way of intelligent discourse or even theorizing is put forth, and old-fashioned gossip predominates. Readers of these blogs can leave comments, and bloggers use trackbacks to note what other blogs link to their stories- either via getting notices from the other bloggers, in order to ‘pick a fight’, having their readership find them, or deploying computer spyware, or bot programs to scour the Internet for any mention of the blogger’s blog or name.

  A while ago I posted a piece where I tried to rate some political blogs. In the year or so since blogs have multiplied wildly, and, fed on by the Presidential Election, they have possibly even reached a surfeit. Perhaps they will last in their cultural position through the next four years, or they may already have overstayed their welcome, with far too much banality, and sciolism, as the cause of their decline. Already, many people are writing of the next big thing in the online medium that will supplant the near-ubiquitous blogs.

  That said, perhaps my favorite blog is Joe Gandelman’s The Moderate Voice, which links to blogs across the political spectrum, as well as beyond political blogs- or poliblogs. It’s worth noting comparing Gandelman’s open-minded writing style, and genial interaction with his fans, with that of Esmay, for whose blog Gandelman often ‘guest-blogs’. Even without knowing a thing about either man it’s obvious that Gandelman is an older, more mature, person and thinker. To Esmay’s credit, though, he has never censored Gandelman opinions contra to his- perhaps because he realizes Gandelman’s blog and style are where he hopes to one day end up. From that site I discovered other popular blogs like Eschaton, Daily Kos, Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, Juan Cole, James Wolcott, Jeff Jarvis, and two of my favorites- the aforementioned Right-leaning Dean’s World, and left-leaning Oliver Willis. I’ve also enjoyed other blogs outside of Gandelman’s purview, like saucy, gun-toting Rachel Lucas, and intellectual powerhouse Majikthise. Yet, probably the two most accessible blogs to others outside their fanbases (and excluding Gandelman) are Esmay’s and Willis’s.

  Esmay is a middle-aged white man in his late thirties, a bit roly-poly in his online photo, who claims to be a Classic Liberal, and makes inordinate lists to try to prove this point, even as much of what he says argues against his claim. He also has an odd need to list several hundred factoids about his personal life (whether true I do not know nor care) online that seem to betray an exhibitionism. Now, if one were writing memoirs, and casting this as art, or revealing such in a penetrating interview, these might be things that could help a reader understand their subject, but freely volunteered they smack of a need to gain acceptance, show he’s like his readership, etc., in order to try to form an intimacy with the reader that mere argument, alone, cannot, therefore encouraging his fans to trust him when his arguments fail, after all, he’s always been ‘honest’ with them. It’s an old tactic, and very effective, as many of Esmay’s fans back him unflinchingly, no matter how far off the path of sanity he veers. In this way, it is clearly most akin to book blurbery.

  One of his revelations he lists is that he suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome. This I mention for it comes into play later, and might account for some of his inconsistent and hostile online actions. That said, his site is one of the more conducive to discussions- he actually writes occasional essays, in a formal mode, outside of sportswriterese. Many are typically bloggish in their appeals to Lowest Common Denominators, and his writing style, per se, is wholly generic- it’s what he says that makes Esmay Esmay, not how he says it (in words)- at least in his formal essays. Some are filled with intellect, and others can be surprisingly touching. Is he a great writer or thinker? No, but far above the many bad writers that blog, or even the bad examples of writing I showed from Spork Magazine. His biggest flaws are a lack of wit (ala Bill Buckley’s strength), a need to personalize things when argument fails, and an inability to parallax things when new information comes to light. He, I’m sure, would disagree and claim such against me, or others’ he argues with. Thus why I’ll deconstruct recent exchanges I, and Willis, had with him.

  Thus, it’s necessary to preface that with a portrayal of one of his online ‘enemies’- the aforementioned Oliver Willis. Willis is a roly-poly black man in his late twenties, who wears eyeglasses- if his online photo is to be believed. He is an unabashed Modern Liberal, who regularly proselytizes for the Democratic Party and works for a Liberal media group. He is, however, up front about his leanings, even as they can be both shrill and shilling, at times. Unlike Esmay, he does not trot his more personal and intimate quirks out for public display, save for his online commentary. Unlike Esmay, his blog is not as conducive for banter, and he rarely writes longer essays. Nor does he seem to have Esmay’s probing desire of subject matter far beyond politics. That said, he does have a dialectic weapon Esmay lacks- wit, and a good skill at its deployment. Naturally, the two men have come to loggerheads on more than one occasion. Esmay accuses Willis of being a spoiled brat and has attacked his family, while Willis has called Esmay a cracker, and racist. Both claims may have merit, yet- to me- both seem overstated, at least from what can be gathered in online looksies.

  Willis called Esmay out on a bizarre post Esmay made about race, another of the tired examples of white people claiming offense over black racial humor, and simply not ‘getting it’, to which Esmay sideswiped Willis and his upbringing. I’ll give you just a sample of the exchange, and how both sides failed in a discourse, but Willis got the better of Esmay, mostly due to humor, and that is probably a large part of the resentment Esmay holds toward Willis, above and beyond Willis’s crack about him being a racist. I will go into detail on the Esmay-Willis feud later. However, I say Willis was wrong- Esmay’s comments were certainly ignorant, and went over like a lead balloon- as even his acolytes slowly backed away from Esmay’s hostilities. But while racism is a form of ignorance, all ignorance is not racism. Esmay’s problem was two-fold- an inability to get beyond his own biases (regarding humor and culture- not race) and see that black racial humor is not on a par with glass ceilings, racial profiling, nor lynching, and a total inability to explicate his point- a claimed attempt at tackling black racial humor. Black racial humor also holds up a mirror to racism in general- but, more later. Whether Esmay’s failure was because of a simple lack of writerly skill or a brain fart did not matter to Willis, who pounced on Esmay after he attacked Willis’s family and upbringing, thus voiding any chance at discourse.

  That said, Willis, himself, has a bad habit of ‘hoof-in-mouth’ disease himself, such as this recent diatribe against Right Wing blogger Michelle Malkin, aspersing her use of her married name (which a Willis poster pointed out) as being part of an attempt to hide her ethnicity, and ending in a joke about her married named referring to female genitalia. I quote Willis’s gaffe:

Wouldn't Want To Be Too “Ethnic” For Her Bosses

Looks like Michelle “close the borders” Malkin has engaged in a little bit of ethnic whitewashing. Her real name is Michelle Maglalang. No doubt that name was a little too much for her bosses at Heritage.

  Ms. Malkin is an attractive thirtysomething Filipina whose greatest claim to fame, or infamy, in recent years is that she has written a book defending the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War 2. Note that, like Esmay, Willis dug himself a hole and refused to acknowledge his error, to his discredit. But, unlike Esmay, Willis at least did not dig his hole deeper and deeper. Esmay does not know when to quit when ahead, while Willis does. Also, Willis’s wit makes him more adept at his hit and run dialectic style, whereas Esmay has more breadth, but also tends to sink into an ooze of factoids that his knowledge paucity, nor skill at argument, can rescue him from. Willis steps into traps, but is quick enough to move on before the steel jaws close.

  That said, let me jump into the recent online discussion that got me in a tangle with Esmay, and show how he failed dialectically, in ways that are similar to the two clueless would-be editors above, Drew Burk and Noose, and in ways unique to him, but most cogently having to do with a lack of wit.

  The reason for the exchange was that after several months of reading his site, and posting three or four times on things like Ebonics and Che Guevara, I decided to, around Christmas, drop my opinions in on a piece he posted regarding communicating with intellectual rivals, in other words, about discourse. He references several other posts, and ends his piece with this call:


On Communicating With Intellectual Rivals

Steven L. Taylor has an interesting piece on communicating with your intellectual rivals. It's written in response to a journalist Barbara O'Brien, who suggests that there are far more nasty right-wingers than nasty left-wingers.

Having been doused with an incredible amount of nastiness from left-wingers in the last year and a half, I could only drop my jaw in amazement.


  Later on I link to a typical sample of ‘Left Wing Hate’ and a real sample of hate speech, to show how labeling such also demeans discourse.


But here’s the thing: I notice that people on the left sometimes think someone is “funny” and “clever” when a lot of others think of that person as being “nasty” and “shallow.” For example: I find Bill Maher as revolting and hateful as Michael Savage. Any time I watch that horrible show of his on HBO, I literally feel like vomiting. My wife, who occasionally enjoys it, will attest that I find the man so uterly revolting, so completely bigoted and downright vicious, that I have to leave the room if she puts it on. That the only reason I ever see it is because she puts it on. The only difference between us is that, while she finds Maher every bit as shallow, stupid, and nasty as I do, she’s is convinced that guys like him are the GOP’s biggest recruiters. So she watches and laughs and laughs and laughs. Meanwhile, I’m reaching for the Maalox and fleeing the room.


  Keep these description of hate and bigotry in mind when we get to Esmay’s later takes on black racial humor.


Furthermore: I find Michael Moore even more dishonest and vicious than Ann Coulter--in fact, I consider him the most hateful, dishonest man in America, a genuine living, breathing fascist propagandist. If I were to find myself in the same room with the man I would have to leave to prevent myself from spitting at him--and I won’t even be friends anymore with someone who tries to apologize for him. You might as well be a white supremacist so far as I’m concerned.


  Note the personalizing. Even were Moore as Esmay describes him- and I think he does a disservice to true liberals with his deceit, but I’d hardly call that hate- to want to spit at someone? The Trent Lotts and Jesse Helmses of the world don’t bring me joy, but I don’t personalize things. This is an important point to bear in mind when we see what other ways Esmay personalizes things, and their effects on his discourse.


Now, here’s the think: why do I suspect that someone like Ms. O’Brien thinks my reactions are extreme? That she may even think that a Michael Moore is only guilty of being a little over the top, of exaggerating for effect? Whereas I see a genuine monsters with whom no decent person would ever voluntarily associate?

I view Rush Limbaugh with contempt. But I also think of a nasty little venom-spewing toad like Paul Krugman as being even more dishonest than a partisan hack bloviator like Limbaugh. I mean, Limbaugh may be a party-line-spouting robot, but at least he can laugh at himself. Meanwhile, I sense that Krugman’s face would fall off if he were ever to crack a smile.

By the way, at this point I am trying to make Daily Kos and The Drudge Report the only weblogs I’m willing to criticize publicly on my own blog. I haven’t always kept that promise to myself but I’m trying harder and harder to keep it. I occasionally slip when I perceive myself as having been attacked unfairly by another blogger, but I’m even trying to resist that. After all, there’s only so many times you can be called a brown shirt, a nazi, a sellout, a liar, a racist, a sexist, a fag-hater, an “apologist for the religious right,” a “Bush apologist,” a “Bush worshipper,” ad nauseum before you either quit blogging entirely or just stop caring what others say.


  Keep his feelings about what he’s been called in mind when you see how quickly he hurls out claims and names.


I mention that because I’m hoping this is not seen as an attack on Ms. O’Brien. It’s an attempt to tell her my story, and how I see things. If anyone perceives it as an attack on her, I’ll apologize in advance because that’s really not my intent.

Still, Ms. O’Brien and her intellectual compatriots might want to be aware that in the last year and a half I really have been called all of the above, more times than I can count. I know other webloggers who supported Bush went through as bad or worse. Some quit because they couldn’t take it anymore. Some just stopped talking politics. Some implemented comment registration. And some just embraced the hate and gave back as good as they got.

At one point it got so bad around here my lovely wife (a diehard Republican) quit blogging completely. She came back, of course, because she’s too tough for that. She just decided that laughing at the left was”The Queen of All Evil” because some left-wing bloggers declared her to be evil. At first it upset her, but she decided it was better to laugh and embrace the label, as a sort of “in your face” backslap to her detractors--and not because she really thinks of herself as evil.

I think that Ms. O’Brien may also want to consider the possibility that, to those of us who supported President Bush this year, running a blog in which she claims to tell “The Truth About the Bush Administration,” and defining herself as part of the “American Resistance,” and then baldly asserting that if you voted voted for Bush it means you are “(a) ignorant of what's going on; (b) suffering massive cognitive dissonance; or (c) are a soulless sociopathic bastard,” she isn’t going to get very far convincing people that right-wingers are nastier than left-wingers.


  Again, bear in mind all this as you see Esmay’s discourse unfold, because he will violate everything he proscribes herein.


Oh, and don’t even get me started on the so-called “liberal” reactionaries who use phrases like “reality-based community” to describe themselves. Although I will say this: There is a lefty blogger out there who still, to this day, obsessively sends me trackbacks referring to me as representing the “Bush-based community” every time I mention good news from Iraq--and for the record, I really, really wish he would just go away.

On the other hand, I no longer find stuff like that to be more than a petty annoyance. It used to upset me, because I value reasoned discourse, and someone who indulged in that kind of shallowness on a regular basis (we all slip once in a while, I’m talking about habitual offenders) I actually felt betrayed. Now I just shrug, tell myself that we’ll never get rid of nasty, irrational people, and I MoveOn.org.


  ‘I value reasoned discourse’- an important claim.


And I admit it: I’ve seen horrendous behavior from all corners of the political spectrum, and I haven’t always lived up to my own best aspirations. I’d like to see better from people, and myself. So I’d like to leave Ms. O'Brien with this thought:

I still consider myself a liberal--open minded, tolerant of disagreement on most issues, patriotic, not wedded to old ideas, open to ideas for reform. I voted for Bush, without any hesitation and with no regrets. I did so because I support him on a handful of issues I consider vitally important, on both domestic and foriegn policy. I fancy that I’m fairly well read, and that I am quite familiar with the left’s arguments against the man. I simply find them wanting.


  Here is a key phrase- ‘not wedded to old ideas’- that will haunt Esmay later on, especially in our Vietnam discourse.


But I also, I admit, voted for Bush partly in reaction to what I see as far and way the most extreme stream of irrational vitriol ever heaped onto the head of a sitting President in my lifetime. If you scoff at that, I have only two words for you: Fahrenheit 9/11.

So, is this an impasse that’s impossible to overcome? Are we doomed to a society where people just treat each other with contempt over honest disagreements?

I’m just not sure.

By the way, none of this is or should be seen as an “attack.” It’s an attempt to be honest about what I see.

  I agree, it’s not an attack on O’Brien- but his claims for hoping for honest discourse are severely compromised by what was to follow. Still, seeing that, I decided to venture the waters, knowing, however, Esmay’s penchant for having his rage consume his intellect, and mine for provoking such in people with that penchant. Here’s what I wrote, after a few other posts (I also made some sidebar comments to other posters, but in the interest of clarity and focus I will only focus on Esmay’s and my exchanges- thus my only editing of my posts will be in excising those digressions!):

It’s interesting semiotically to read diff blogs. I am a moderate. I discovered you via the Gandelman blog, and enjoy your breadth of subject matter.

  In retrospect, as you will see, it was quite prescient of me to use the term breadth, not depth!

However, like most blogs, you are at your worst in politics- not because of your views but the way you present them. Politics is prob the most base and cowardly of human endeavors. That said, as an artist, you can go to my site and see that the artists’ world, filled w delusional Leftists that make your rivals seem sane, are always into utterly distorting people’s views. I've posted whole pieces deconstructing the willful distortions others have made in emails and online. When I used to post email reactions to my pieces I would get venom to the point that several of the artists had nervous breakdowns and others used my site as a forum to make threats in the real world.
Knock on wood, you’ve not gone that far in the blogosphere. That said, I was disappointed to see you vote and defend Bush and the war. I supported going in, but once all the WMDs were AWOL we shd’ve gotten out. Yes, all the ‘can’t leave crap’, we owe it to the people. Well, I recall Vietnam too well, and the exact same arguments were used by LBJ and Nixon, and they were wrong. Vietnam today is not what it was feared. I cd go on about the hypocrisy of our stance re: the Kurds, (recall them?- JFK wd prob wonder why we don't stand up for their independence) but the point is Iraq is a distraction and the lure of oil is why we’re there now, and not in Sudan, and why we were not in Indonesia in the 70s for humanitarian reasons. Yes, the Left is filled w cowardly bastards- I argued w a guy who saw 9/11 as a comeuppance and called him repugnant- as if all those Starbucks waitrons were to blame for the Mid East’s woes. Of course, folk who simplemindedly, on the Right, see this as a war on terror or Islam are just as bad- things are so bad in that region that the Girl Scouts could declare themselves an insurgency and they’d get recruits, just as most of the fighters for Uncle Ho weren’t Commies, but hungry and scared.

  Bear in mind my bringing up the Kurds, because, despite several prompts, this is one of the points that Esmay will not touch, because it undermines his defense of the war, and the wholly humanitarian, and democratic nation-building, claims of the war supporters. My last point combines humor with something that has become known and acknowledged in this nation in the decades since the Vietnam War, even by its many architects. Not to mention the fact that this Iraq war is still ‘undeclared’ by Congress. One wonders if Congress will ever again flex its proper authority?

I’m glad you run good news from Iraq, but in a sense it reminds me of LBJ and McNamara and their glowing assessments. There are some real sites by soldiers that tell about the good and bad that neither side reports. Too bad there’s no one w the stature of a Cronkite who is believed by all. This is the blogosphere at its worst. There is no shared community of information and the ethics that come from news therefore diverge.
I do think when you use terms as hate-filled for some others’ blogs you are just kyboshing your own claims. I’ve read Kos, and find some of it enlightening. Do I want him to run the Dems? No, but I’d just as soon be without the Bush crowd either- far more so for their utter incompetence than their views (Condi gets promoted for having overseen the worst domestic breach of security since the Civil War?). Having lived thru the Reagan 80s the domestic religious agenda of Bush is not so bad (but not good)- it’s the far more dangerous corporate fealty he serves- as they are the greatest threat to civil liberties, and the major reason the Ugly American persists in Latin Am & the Middle East.

  The points about the blogosphere contributing to the Balkanization of America ties directly in to the decline of discourse. Nowadays, people do not even argue over interpreting the same facts, they argue over wholly different sets of ‘facts’, like the aforementioned Rathergate. The cruxof Rather’s error was in using facts gleaned without an original source, and possibly faked. But, the claims about such documents not being able to have been made in the early 1970s were just as palpably false, and a red herring. If you crucify someone, at least nail them for the right reasons- really too much to ask?

  The other major point is Esmay’s distressing habit of labeling those who disagree with him as hate-filled. That suggests that Left Wingers are as bad as Klansmen, and if you look at the many such claims that Esmay makes, and others, then compare them to true online hate sites, the overwhelming majority of the claims are demonstrably false, and ludicrous. This is bad dialectics, demonizing, false, and shows only a bankruptcy in the claimant- intellectually, truthfully, and perhaps ethically.

That said, I recognize that every Prez since Nixon & the Oil Crisis shares blame for why we’re in Iraq now- not a one had the spine nor vision to embrace alternate and cleaner fuel sources. Say what you will about JFK (& I have) but the man had a forward vision. No Prez since has. Even worse is how, since then, any military action has been called ‘Another Vietnam’ or some such- from El Salvador to Gulf War 1 to even Grenada. This boy cried wolf hysteria has so inured the public that now, finally (ugh) when the parallels are scary, we don’t see it.

  A good point that I will, soon, expound upon.

As for actual poli-blogging, I’m sure you can point to many wrongly worded or presumed disses of yourself, as I can from countless bad artists and those who just disagree w my philosophy. My tack is to just logically point-by-point refute. It drives’em crazy. And when wrong, just admit it. Another of your tormentors I like as much as you (don’t put me on yr shit list)- Oliver Willis- he’s funny and passionate. I disagree w him about as much as I do you, and his blog has similar posts re: you that he can legit claim that his claims are as valid as yours- one bizarre rant you had against black people, where even some regulars distanced themselves. Having read your online bio and seen you were a Tourette’s sufferer I’m able to just ascribe such to a weak moment. Too few are- either you, or Willis, or other bloggers.

  Here I make a good point, but in the speed of simply posting (another element not to be ignored) I did not account for the way the written word lacks  nuance, as does the spoken word. As you will see- this one slip causes Esmay to feel free to plumb his most gargoylean depths in responses, assured that he has been personally dissed- so all bets are off re: assailing others with all guns aimed. Of course, I was trying to point out other things, as I will explain later, but I share culpability in giving Esmay his ‘excuse’ to veer toward the dark side of his nature. The point is, if someone like myself, or even a Buckley, in many of his debates, can occasionally slip up, it shows you how hard it must be for others to not do so. However, that in no way invalidates the fact that Esmay’s rant was bizarre, and even his acolytes knew that.

The point is that the Koses or Eschatons (he gets pissed being called Atrios) disagree, and distort, and sometimes say bizarre things, as well. But to call them hate-filled is silly, and only gives fodder to them, and the cycle continues.
Thus it is w Moore. He sees lies and 1/2 lies from Bush (& they are) so feels justified in constructing 1/2 lies of his own. Columbine was shameful when he ambushed Dick Clark as if to blame for that terrible mother, and the Heston bit was terrible, too. But, then I look at sites that try to show his lies, and what do they do? They do the same thing- 1/2 lies & lies. Yet, the justification is Moore does it, who says Bush does it, & on. The Fog Of War is a great film because it is far more objective, McNamara is both eminently likable and detestable, as all but the Ted Bundys and Osamas of the world are. As for the Coulters- stick an apple in her mouth and pull down the panties. I’ve read her, and her writing is bad- forget what she says, were she not a sexy blond she’d be nowhere. She’s the Jillian Barberie of the Beltway. Maher I’ve only seen a handful of his PI shows, and he’s simply not funny, esp. w politics. That’s what amazes me. Rush- he IS funny, but the real ? is how anyone accords him anymore status than Howard Stern- despite the toilet humor there are moments of brilliance there, as well. It’s a shame that he’s been edged out of the free public domain.

  As you read on you’ll see that the practice ascribed to Moore is not one unknown to Esmay. Michael Moore, Ann Coulter, Bill Maher, and Rush Limbaugh have all been dissed by Esmay, and called hate-mongers. All are palpably fallacious. Yes, Moore has been caught in lies, Coulter has gone to hyperbolic lengths to sell books to establish her name before her sex appeal diminishes, Maher is painfully unfunny, and not too bright, while Limbaugh is a good showman, but little else. I would submit it’s Esmay’s lack of humor that makes him not ‘get’ that that quartet is not a bunch of haters, simply people who disagree with certain opinions he holds, and to do so cheapens discourse, and undermines his arguments elsewhere. And, if you look over Esmay’s site it’s important to know he tosses the ‘hate’ claim at rival blogs and the aforementioned without the benefit of humor. He seems to really mean it.

I get pure hate sometimes when I deconstruct a bad poet that someone loves, but humor is the best defense to the irrational. Real hate is easy to find- there are White Power and Muslim (reg. & Black), not to mention Conspiracy sites filled with Illuminati, UFO, and other nonsense that truly is hateful and ignorant. There’s just a disconnect in calling names. Yes, I think Bush is a moron, and I thought Kerry was a soulless mummy. But, I’d break bread w either. I voted for Nader the 3rd straight time, cuz if you read his views, 80-90% of people agree w them. They are common sense. But I don’t wanna go 'I Am Legend' on dumb Dems or radical Reps.
I’ve never viscerally gotten this anger that folk get. I mean, I failed to make my high school basketball team- 26th cut out of 81 tryouts. I fell about 15 cuts short but did better than 55 others. Did I burn w envy? No, even though for 3 yrs I’d dreamt of being on the team and practiced my ass off. I found other things, where my talents lie. No, I never made the Knicks, but long after Michael Jordan is a ? folk will be reading my words- in poetry and prose. Why be angry over natural failures?
There’s too much real BS in the world. What someone says or not is not so important. Merry Xmas (note I’ll get grief from the Left for acknowledging the holiday and from the Right for using the X)   DAN 12.24.2004 9:39am

  Now, watch as my very reasonable post is lost to my one defensible, yet ill-placed, remark about his ill. Esmay retorts:

...one bizarre rant you had against black people, where even some regulars distanced themselves. Having read your online bio and seen you were a Tourette’s sufferer...

1) Take the comment about Tourette’s and stuff it, m'kay? Tourette’s doesn’t cause me to post anything.

  Several hundred words, and this is his #1 priority in response. This is very important, because it highlights his hypersensitivity. Note, how I feint away from the many he hurls at me, when I could have smacked him like an untrained puppy. He might claim I provoked him, or engaged in hate against him, or the like, but note as this is used as a justification for further dialectic dastardy- such as later name-calling, dismissiveness, and then refusal to debate. A small misstep on my part brings down the Jericho Wall of discourse, or at least is Esmay’s excuse for doing so.

  Yet, a look at the many irrationalities of that affliction would seem worthwhile- not as an attack, but explanation that may serve the reader well as we plow further into this section of the essay. Here’s the ‘officialese’, gleaned from www.tourettes.com:


  Tourette syndrome (TS) [an alternate spelling- DAN] is an inherited, neurological disorder characterized by repeated involuntary movements and uncontrollable vocal (phonic) sounds called tics. In a few cases, such tics can include inappropriate words and phrases.

  The disorder is named for Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, the pioneering French neurologist who first described an 86-year-old French noblewoman with the condition in 1885.

  The first symptoms of TS are usually facial tics--commonly eye blinking. However, facial tics can also include nose twitching or grimaces. With time, other motor tics may appear such as head jerking, neck stretching, foot stamping, or body twisting and bending.

  TS patients may utter strange and unacceptable sounds, words, or phrases. It is not uncommon for a person with TS to continuously clear his or her throat, cough, sniff, grunt, yelp, bark, or shout.

  People with TS may involuntarily shout obscenities (coprolalia) or constantly repeat the words of other people (echolalia). They may touch other people excessively or repeat actions obsessively and unnecessarily. A few patients with severe TS demonstrate self-harming behaviors such as lip and cheek biting and head banging against hard objects. However, these behaviors are extremely rare.

  Tics alternately increase and decrease in severity, and periodically change in number, frequency, type, and location. Symptoms may subside for weeks or months at a time and later recur.


  Now, the practical, real-world interpretation that the site is too PC to delve into, and also proof I’m not a sciolist, for that post’s where the discussion would end normally. Tourette’s comes in two forms: mild and severe cases. The severe cases are those folk from whom profanity and tics ceaselessly flows. They are genuinely mentally ill, and little more than total psychotics, incapable of tying their shoes, much less building websites, or blogs. I’ve known two or three in my life. The worst was a woman we called Tourette’s Tammy at a supermarket I worked at. She would even sometimes physically assault people, until, one day, the old cranky dairy manager at the time, blasted her with a power hose and her rags almost fell off her near-naked body, and she ran streaking through the streets, howling curses at passersby.

  Obviously Esmay has a mild form of Tourette’s, yet still those sufferers, while not as far gone with excessive profanity, do lash out, indiscriminately and with anger that seems to spew from nowhere. I’ve seen this in letters received from Tourette’s sufferers. Then they can seem absolutely normal. I’ve no idea what he is like in person, but a scan of this exchange, and his online battles with Willis, and other dissenters, will show that he seems to follow that pattern. My guess is that Tourette’s is not all of the reason for what you’ll seen of Esmay’s behavioral rages, but it cannot be dismissed as merely invective.

2) My “Bizarre rant,” as I explained, was a deliberate attempt to show the hypocrisy of a society wherein black people, especially comedians but also many others, get away with statements that white people can’t--and to show how white people are honestly afraid to speak openly about race.

3) Willis still owes me an apology for that, but he’s not man enough to do it.

  Go back to the online link, and Esmay’s lack of acknowledging that he’s virtually alone, even amongst his supporters in that contention. As for Willis, perhaps he does owe an apology, but Esmay seems unwilling to admit how his statement sounded to others- a far greater faux pas than my Tourette’s slipup, one I later retracted, while Esmay, childishly, pouts and refuses to admit his error. And as I’ll show later on, even were Willis to apologize, he’d probably be sneered at, for Esmay plainly wants more than a mere apology.

As for the rest: Sorry Cosmoetica, I don’t see Iraq as being much like Vietnam. The differences are too dramatic and too numerous. That said? Vietnam was a just and worthy cause in my view. One thing those who criticize that war still cannot get past--usually, even acknowledge--that because we cut and ran on the South Vietnamese, then cut off the funding we promised them to defend themselves, over a million of them were slaughtered by the communists.
But whatever.   12.24.2004 4:09pm

  His last point is a valid one, although, as I’ll show, he refuses to acknowledge the flip side. That the South Vietnamese government was a mass murdering dictatorship that we supported, and if ‘we’ are to blame for the Vietnam aftermath, then ‘we’ are also to blame for the massive evil caused by our puppets. As for the Iraq parallel- of course there are differences, but there are far more parallels than Esmay can swallow. Here’s the end of a piece called The Butcher’s Bill, by Jack Beatty, that paints a conservative, yet still none-too-bright future in Iraq:


  Counter-insurgencies led by foreign forces on the insurgent’s soil lose because military victories beget political defeats. You destroy Fallujah and kill many insurgents only to create more insurgents by the publicized ferocity of your attack. You lose by winning. And in Iraq we lose on two fronts. We not only create more insurgents to fight us there but jihadis throughout the Muslim world to attack us here.

  The administration pins its hopes on democracy, arguing that a popularly elected national Iraqi government, aided by a well-trained Iraqi national army, will possess the legitimacy to contain the insurgency and dry up its roots. But January’s elections, the first stage in a process looking toward Iraqi self-rule, are likelier to hurt than help that project. Sunni parties are calling for Sunnis to boycott the election. If Sunni turnout is low, the expected Shiite victory will be magnified. That will further isolate the Sunnis and drive more of them into an insurgency that will take on an anti-Shiite energy, edging Iraq toward communal violence and civil war. Meanwhile, just over the horizon looms a Shiite-Kurdish conflict over the terms of the Iraqi constitution to be drawn up by the assembly elected in January. The election, in short, will intensify the centripetal political dynamics already beginning to fragment Iraq into Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish shards. As for the “national” army, if the Iraq nation breaks up, it will too.

  We have made a disaster in Iraq. We cannot escape from all of its consequences. But the human consequences of staying—the Iraqi civilians we will kill, the young American men and women alive this minute who will die or be maimed in body or mind—are worse than the political consequences of withdrawing. In any case, the political consequences are notional, as weighed against the certainty of death, suffering, and grief.  In our own eyes, our prestige diminished after we withdrew from Vietnam, but our international position was not weakened. Asked for the hundredth time why we were in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson, according to Arthur Goldberg, his U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, “unzipped his fly, drew out his substantial organ, and declared, ‘This is why!’” In Iraq as in Vietnam, at risk is not America's prestige but the President’s. No one should have to die to save George W. Bush’s face.


  He uses the same LBJ anecdote I do. After some posts by others I responded to them and Esmay. I only include the whole Esmay posts for brevity:

Dean: regardless of the reason for the rant, it was like a Henny Youngman joke at Def Jam. And so it goes.
The point re: Willis is that he’s still waiting for your apology, and that’s the point. Is it worth it to play Michael Moore to his Jerry Falwell? Again, this is why blogs that obsess over politics end up preaching to their choirs, which fragment smaller and smaller over every issue- Right & Left become divided into shades and schools and isms. That seems antithetical to the very nature of a blog- to reach more & more folks?
As for Vietnam- the only two major diffs are the oil and that the opposition to the US was not nearly so splintered. There was basically the VC and NVA, which were two sides of a bad coin. The South Vietnamese were another coin, albeit as bad- a dictatorship that slaughtered millions, too. When two dogs fight in an alley, you avoid the alley.
Unfortunately the US, and all countries, are always motivated by self-interest. What is the diff between Iraq and the skirmishes in any # of African nations? Black oil and black skin. While the Left was wrong about Communism as a philosophy they were actually right about Vietnam. Even McNamara admits it. Even Westmoreland admitted we didn’t have a clue.

  I go on, to an Esmay poster, with an excellent comparison of Saddam to Al Capone, yet Esmay ignores it. I point this out because a knowledge as to how criminal groups operate and interact with their rivals is vital to understanding the dynamics that led to 9/11 and the Right’s fallacious claims that Saddam was involved.

The fundamental misunderstanding is that these terrorists operate much like organized crime does. If Saddam were Al Capone then Osama was Dillinger or the Barker gang. Of course, they’ll have commonalities & common folk, but there’s no evidence that Capone and Dillinger worked together. By all accounts they loathed each other. But, with specious reasoning and a Six Degrees type game any crime historian could have you believe Scarface & Johnny were bed buddies. ‘tain’t so, though.
The rest of your argument is a nice feint, but a feint, nonetheless. I do not waste resources, and turn the thermostat down, and the lights off, but energy policy starts at the top. Had Nixon, Ford, Carter, et al., actually shown balls, we cd likely have told the Mid East to go fuck itself. W/o oil they’re nothing. Do you think anyone but a handful of Christian Apocalyptics care about the Mid East? As a philosopher said a few centuries ago, if China fell off the planet would it really make a diff in your life? Not really, although Wal-Mart wd go bankrupt. Of course, you’d feel sorry, as we do for dying kids in other countries, but wd it really affect you? After a week there’d be something new to gripe over. How often do you weep if someone a mere three doors down is going thru some trauma?

  I include another two brief pieces from my reply to others, because they come up again, in Esmay’s posts:

But, to close on the Mid East & Vietnam- it still comes back to the many false claims of other mere crises being labeled Vietnams that has dimmed the real parallels here.
Although, I agree there are diffs:
1) we went into Vietnam after the Reds stormed the North. We were reactionary. In Iraq we took action w/o an aggressive move.
2) we’ve blown many chances in the past to democratize Iraq & other nations there. The Shah was our suckboy for years, but we weren’t too anxious then. Why? So were Saddam, Suharto, Marcos, and on, our ‘boys’….
There are others, but the point is not that Iraq is a Left-Right issue, but a dumb-smart issue. Kerry was no better- in fact, if one argues Bush was dumb and wrong, then Kerry’s more reprehensible for knowing such, but signing on for political reasons. Had there been WMD I think we’d be justified in a pre-emptive war, but it’s no grace nor honor to not have the rocks enough to say, ‘Whoops!’ It’s good Saddam’s gone, but we lived with him for decades. Osama was the real problem.
Yet, let’s keep this in perspective- to equate the dying spasms of Islamic extremism w being as great a threat as the Commies or Nazis is silly. They’ve not the power, means, nor will. McWorld, for good or ill, will swallow them, and the sons of Osama will in a decade or two be asking their peers if they wanna super-size their Big Mohammads.

  My point re: the Right’s false equation of Islamic Extremism with Communism or Nazism is bolstered by a piece in the Conservative journal City Journal, by Theodore Dalrymple, in a piece called When Islam Breaks Down. I quote this from its end:

  Islam in the modern world is weak and brittle, not strong: that accounts for its so frequent shrillness. The Shah will, sooner or later, triumph over the Ayatollah in Iran, because human nature decrees it, though meanwhile millions of lives will have been ruined and impoverished. The Iranian refugees who have flooded into the West are fleeing Islam, not seeking to extend its dominion, as I know from speaking to many in my city. To be sure, fundamentalist Islam will be very dangerous for some time to come, and all of us, after all, live only in the short term; but ultimately the fate of the Church of England awaits it. Its melancholy, withdrawing roar may well (unlike that of the Church of England) be not just long but bloody, but withdraw it will. The fanatics and the bombers do not represent a resurgence of unreformed, fundamentalist Islam, but its death rattle.

  I’ve long said 9/11 was the beginning of the end for Fundy Islam. Back to my retort to Esmay:

Just imagine, though, if Nixon hadn’t been a paranoid. He was an intelligent man who wd prob have seen the need to wean ourselves off of oil. Had he started that in the early 70s we’d prob have many viable sources of alternate energy by now. Don’t think so? It was less than a decade ago we were told the Human Genome was undecodeable. I think we’d be well on our way to total independence by the 1st Gulf War. But, why didn’t we?
Who had a motive to deny that progress? If we’d be independent and the Mid East oil meant nothing to the West, they’d not hate us, but be begging for our investment of time and money. While I realize to expect altruism from non-individuals is futile, there’s nothing against thinking we cd’ve done far better in so many ways.
The scary thing, though is this- what Vietnam/Iraq awaits in 2035 due to the myopia of today? What Bush or LBJ then is gonna get thousands of young Americans killed simply to show ‘he’s a man?’ I use that last sentence to show this is not a political issue, but an intellectual (small i) and ethical issue. The butterfly flaps its wings- head for the hills!    DAN 12.24.2004 5:17pm

  Here is where several to-be-recurring points crop up. But the most important point I make is the last- about complexities, consequences, or ‘The Fog Of War’ as the same-titled film on McNamara calls the unpredictability of war. Recognizing this, that actions now will bear fruits later, just as Nixon’s and subsequent Presidents ignored our lust for oil- re: profit, global warming, political entanglements, etc., is an oft-neglected thing that all folk do.

  Yet, as a writer, poet, artist, I am in the business of pattern recognition. That, and pattern construction- in my art- are probably my two greatest talents. It’s why I’m great with words, great with mathematics, numbers, and in understanding history. This is also probably Esmay’s biggest flaw. In reading his posts for a few months it’s interesting to see how, while his internal logic, on any given post, will cohere, it is almost impossible to see a coherent ideal writ large. He tends to contradict himself on many things- race, religion, politics, and not just contradict, but then re-contradict, and re-re-contradict. While it’s always good to re-examine beliefs, to blow with the wind can create problems. Excelsior! Esmay replies:

The point re: Willis is that he’s still waiting for your apology, and that’s the point.
No, Cosmo.
Willis personally called ME a bigot. I called him nothing, I merely defended myself. In response, he even went on to defend black comedians who say and do things far more offensive than anything I EVER said.
So far as I’m concerned, since HE attacked me and I DID NOT attack him, he owes me the apology. If you can’t see that, it’s your problem.

  It’s important to note that, as he often does, he just doesn’t get things. He just blacks out, gets defensive- and note this is several months after his blowup with Willis, a total stranger, I believe. Yet, look at the palpable rage! Look at the lack of wit! This is simply not normal human behavior, although- in his defense- it is the norm online, which goes into a long held belief that many have expressed: that the anonymity of the Internet allows people to let their very worst selves out, those parts of themselves that they would never let loose in the real world. I suspect that Esmay, Willis, and most chatroom denizens, are far different from their online personae, and would probably get along fine in real life. They are, it seems, far more alike than different, in regards to their personalities, if not beliefs.

  Then, there comes the insistence that I apologize. While my remark on his Tourette’s was ill-phrased, I stand by the idea that it is a component of Esmay’s shrill-calm-shrill-calm online demeanor, and I suspect most shrinks would agree.

By the way, I’m still waiting for your apology for your crack about Tourette’s.

Is it worth it to play Michael Moore to his Jerry Falwell?

I won’t dignify that with a response.

Again, this is why blogs that obsess over politics end up preaching to their choirs...

You will find that on this blog, as well as a number of other high-quality blogs, there is far more debate and far less “preaching to the choir.” The claim that blogs are “echo chambers” applies to only the worst, not the best, in my experience.
I argue with my readers constantly on this weblog, and my readers argue with me constantly. Have you not noticed yet?

  It’s true that Esmay argues with his fans, but the arguments are hardly that vociferous- save for those between he and Willis, and some other bloggers. Usually, when Esmay goes overboard, as in the comments that set off Willis, his fans shrink back and do not call him on it. Or, they disagree in such a way that rarely is Esmay really put to the test. This is why, as you’ll see, I went ‘Kid Gloves’ on him throughout, especially after his focus and hypersensitivity over the Tourette’s angle. And for those who know me, there is nothing to call my restraint with Esmay but Kid Gloves, for I wanted to see how he would react to calm, reasoned dialectic, since he claims to desire it, yet seems to revel in rants and ping pong with his fans. Note, though, that as he has a pathological hatred for Michael Moore, he cannot even deal with the fact that I use that contrast on him.

Regarding your generalizations about Viet Nam: I think you’re badly misinformed. And rather racist I might add. Sad.

  Isn’t it interesting to note that being called a racist by Willis set Esmay off, but he hurls it quite easily, and spuriously? Whether I’m a racist for my opinion on Vietnam or Iraq I’m not sure, but I would be willing to bet that while few would term my above Vietnam take racist, a majority would take Esmay’s ‘Black people’ rant as racist, although I just think he stuck his foot in his mouth. This ‘racist’ remark is just a way to say something when flustered. Another poster thought the ‘Black oil. Black skin.’ remark was racist, but I pointed out that it was his interpretation that was racist, not my statement of the fact.

  Important to note: a total stranger calls me racist, for far less cause than he was. I find it silly, and with far less merit than the charge at him. He rages when he’s called one. I point out the caller’s silliness. Why would what Esmay, or Willis, or any online non-entity in my life, cause the least stir? At least in what they say- were they to harass, send viruses, etc., then that changes the equation, as I’ll show with a deluded poetaster, later in this essay.

There are others, but the point is not that Iraq is a Left-Right issue, but a dumb-smart issue.
Ohhh, you really think this is going to improve the level of discussion, do you? Add this to your racist and bigoted (and deeply hateful, hurtful, and divisive) comment about “black oil and black skin,” and I wonder--why am I even bothering to talk to you? 12.24.2004 6:57pm

  As I said, he misinterprets the remark. I said we were in Iraq for the oil, not humanitarian reasons, lest we’d be in the Sudan, where there are blacks suffering. We’re not, because Iraq is an easier ‘grab’, and Arabs are Caucasians. Were we humanitarian there were places with far greater need than Saddam’s Iraq. Just about any of the dozens of dictatorships in Africa would qualify, as would many other Moslem nations. This is a case of his density, and seeing what he wants to see, to bolster his claim.

  I responded:

Dean: ‘Willis personally called ME a bigot.’- because to him, a black person, he’s seen many a crack related to that that is bigotry. That you did not see that justifies his point. You may not see that, but then that only makes your commonality in shared failure to relate more great.

  Of course, had Esmay that ability his blog would be alot smaller

‘Again, this is why blogs that obsess over politics end up preaching to their choirs’ Your reply makes my point since I applauded you, initially for not being so, and warned against it. There are still points from my 1st post in this thread unaddressed, which is why many blogs also descend into cable talkese- selective dialectics. Ignoring a point does not refute it.

  Which is another shortfall of Esmay’s, bloggers, and, indeed, people who discourse. They see the negative and overlook the positive- something Esmay would seem to be sensitive since he rails against what he feels is the media’s focus on the failures in Iraq, rather than the successes. To a degree, he’s correct, but he has, in my view, lost objectivity. Most of his manifold justifications for the war are based on the rosiest estimates, and he willfully ignores the bad stuff, perhaps to a greater degree than the media does the inverse.

As for the Tourette’s comment- you’re the one that lays that out. That you see that as a crack, rather than a comment is your interpretation. I recall many a female I dated who wd tell me all of their sexual pasts’ traumas, or artists who wd list their bipolarity, ADHD, etc. I used to think this was because they trusted or respected me. No, it’s just a mechanism to avoid responsibility. If such is so on a 1-to-1 basis, what is it on a million-to-1 basis?
The racism ‘crack’ is utterly silly, but I’ll get back to that.

  My point about Esmay’s ‘need’ to tell total stranger’s of his ills is a good one, especially considering that while my poetry website is one of the top poetry sites online- getting about 22 million hits in four years, Esmay’s blog gets that in less than two months, as, obviously, politics is far more relatable than poetry to most. What is it that would drive a man to reveal such to the world? He should not be ashamed of such, but the question is not a joke, for he reveals many odd things. This is exhibitionist and an odd anti-voyeurism, far more akin to the self-serving blurbery that adorns so many bad books being published. . It just all adds up to strangeness, and a winder as to the real motivation behind the telling of such, and his whole blog. As a writer I’ve always loathed such facts and blurbs and biographical information. It has nothing to do with the written word. Then, again, blogs are, perhaps, on the main, mere ego gratification vehicles for people who want to piss mark their little section of cyberspace, and thus different ideas of what is ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ apply. Online historians in twenty or thirty years will probably argue over whether popular bloggers like Esmay and Willis were mere egoists, or really had something to say that others could not, and providing a service. My guess is the former.

  I then took an Esmay fan to task over the racism charge:

  ….to the contrary, you’ve made my point. Iraq is now, we’re told a humanitarian issue, right? Arabs are Caucasians, the vast majority of Sudanese are not. The black skin remark was to state that we won’t go and help suffering blacks, not that we’re still in plantation mode. Again, you’ve read into what I’ve said what you wanted to hear.

  And another over more complex issues, that would resonate with later Esmay posts:

  Exactly what Bush Doctrine? I doubt Monroe and Truman wd be impressed w its jelly-like nature, and ever changing rationale. I stated I initially supported going in to Iraq, w the proviso that what was told was true. I’m willing to give Bush the benefit of the doubt, even after all that’s gone down, that he was wrong, and the CIA incompetent, rather than he maliciously lied. The Left wd oppose almost any war. They see the USA as all evil. The Right sees it as angelic. True moderates see the shades between. If you grant that Bush’s info was mere error, then there goes the rationale. You pull out. LBJ made this error, and there are far more parallels to Vietnam as to how we conduct ourselves than on the enemy's side. Do you really want to watch a Frontline report in 20 years that shows that Bush knew far more than he let on, that Cheney’s ties to assorted contractors were far deeper? I really don’t want to see a Fog Of War 2030, with a doddering Rumsfeld admitting all, and asking for lenience, do you?

  Unfortunately, history shows that the worst assumptions about the conduct of nations are almost always borne out!

‘If you do not see the terrorists as a threat to our existence’- where did I say that? All assumption, to cloud the issue. Why are there terrorists? Why were there terrorists in Latin America? Are the theo-terrorists of the Taliban really worse than the narco-terrorists of the poppy fields? Is Osama bin Laden really worse than Pablo Escobar was? My point is that we are stumbling and bumbling our way, w no clear plan. Had Bush 1 Mussolinied Saddam in ‘91, with the world’s support, this wd not be happening, yet he then feared it, when there were far less odds stacked against us.

  Here is a major point on the war that Esmay has consistently ignored- that Islamic Extremism did not arise in a vacuum.

As for racist? I’ve not heard any on the Right, nor general war supporters, argue for Kurdish independence. Why? Is a Kurd not entitled to self-governance? I don’t believe the Right believes that, but it just goes to show how easily, and reprehensibly, racism charges can be tossed.

  Again, Esmay ignores the Kurds, and the Right’s total abandonment of their freedom, to placate their Iraqi puppets, and not agitate Turkey. Why? Most likely, it does not go along with the program. This is a passive form of propagandism- to sit on facts that differ from the real.

As for Vietnam- of course, Vietnam was a trickle. But Tonkin Gulf may never have even happened, and this is, BTW, another reason why people are resisting the Vietnam parallel- because 9/11 was vivid, on our turf. There are deep reptilian needs for vengeance, against someone, whereas Vietnam was not. But, the US rationale was the Domino Theory, which again McNamara & co. have admitted had fatal flaws, not to mention racial biases, assuming that all 3rd World countries were alike and equally gullible.
Most corporations are bad, the Peter Principle reigns supreme. In fact, most big bureaucracies- even gov’t- it’s in the makeup of human beings to find the Lowest Common Denominator- this is why group think is almost always ‘dumber’ than any individual- even the least bright out there. But, since they are fictive entities they should be curtailed, and broken up once they reach certain thresholds of dominance, so that bad products like Microsoft puts out, don’t force out the Linuxes or Mozillas. Is this not a good approach, Monomer? Do you really want to state that corporations are engines of efficiency and innovation? If so, little I say can dissuade you, but it’s not the world I’ve worked in for decades.
I’ll ask you, or Dean what I ended the last post with- ‘What Vietnam/Iraq awaits in 2035 due to the myopia of today? What Bush or LBJ then is gonna get thousands of young Americans killed simply to show ‘he's a man?’
Let me ask you, is this not the sort of discourse that the original post desired? Simply dismissing other opinions, or trying to cast them into pre-conceived blankets doesn't work. That’s why I read Dean, Gandelman, Willis, & a few other blogs. Not regularly, because the fatal flaw of most blogs of all stripes is their unoriginality- merely ads for what others say, and most developing the habit of sportswriterese. Which is why, in a few years they will likely be supplanted by another, as yet to be determined online mode. I wd, however recommend Rachel Lucas- an avowed Right Wing gun-toter, for her humor, and a handful of other blogs re: science. Merry Xmas. DAN 12.25.2004 8:52am

  Note, the generally reasoned tone of my post. Esmay ripostes:

Oh what the heck, I’ll answer this:

I’ll ask you. or Dean what I ended the last post with- ‘What Vietnam/Iraq awaits in 2035 due to the myopia of today? What Bush or LBJ then is gonna get thousands of young Americans killed simply to show ‘he’s a man?’’

  I mentioned this point because of the possibly apocryphal, but highly plausible tale of LBJ being asked at a Cabinet meeting, or gathering of leaders, why we were in Vietnam, and his either grabbing at or exposing (in the more salacious versions) his crotch, and yelling, ‘This, this is why we’re in Vietnam.’ A different version of this tale is quoted later on. Of course, Bush has many similar reasons that can be stated for being in Iraq- wanting a war to prove himself after looking like an impotent mute on 9/11, not to mention vengeance against Saddam for trying to assassinate Bush’s father. What’s Esmay’s take?

What awaits Iraq in the coming years is pluralism and democracy, a thing it has never had before--and had we not done the horrible, inhuman, evil thing and abandoned the South Vietnamese, fewer of them would have been slaughtered and fewer of them would have lived in repression.
Thank goodness we are doing the right thing, and ignoring the racists who say that Arabs are incapable of democracy and freedom and self-government. Unlike Vietnam, we will not be cutting and running on those who seek freedom. I am very glad for this, very proud of it, and I’m very glad that those who said we should leave Iraq immediately did not and will not get their way. It would be a crime against humanity if we did.
You really have a lot of misconceptions and prejudices you need to shed, Cosmo. 12.25.2004 10:03am

  It’s worth noting two points- the only folk claiming Arabs were incapable of election on a race-based ideal, are the same Right Wing White Supremacist troglodytes that more than likely support Bush. Of course, I’m sure you could Google a claimed ‘Lefty’ nut or three who make the same claims, but in the main such thoughts I’ve heard from the far, far Right. Secondly, the more reasonable argument, of Moderates and Leftists, that has been put forth is that democracies cannot be rushed. In 1776, we were well ahead of either Iraq or Afghanistan now, in terms of theoretical democracy, but almost a century away from ending slavery, over two centuries away from theoretically granting civil rights to all, and still have far to travel to meet the founders’ dreams. You simply cannot impose ‘good ideas’- they have to be fundamentally understood (such as rights entailing responsibilities), and desired by a culture. Yet, of course, Esmay fundamentally sidesteps my query- that of the repercussions of today’s actions elsewhere, in favor of a very Bush-like view. Vietnam was the endgame of blunders decades in the making. Iraq’s seeds go back decades, too. What minor act of hubris now foretells a US war in Burma, or Namibia, or Peru years hence?

  Really reread Esmay’s almost surreal take, and sweeping misconceptions re: Vietnam. Substitute Vietnam with Korea and Iraq with Vietnam and this could be a newspaper quote supporting Vietnam in 1966. It’s as if kept in amber, with absolutely no sense of history nor consequences, even though Esmay claims to be informed on subsequent information.

  I rejoindered:

Ah, back from writing a poem. One on Dick Proenneke. For those who don’t know he wrote a marvelous book called One Man's Wilderness, on a year in Alaska- it was also a doc on PBS- a very unadorned writing style w great philos. bon mots. I’ll have to do a review of it- highly recommended.
An acquaintance fwded me an argument thread he had re: arts minutia, and I was struck how similar all online arguments on. Topic does not matter. I’d post it yet he’s chided me b4 about putting his stuff online, esp. at blogs, so I do not want to violate that trust. Still, fascinating- I recall going to a Mensa meeting where 2 nerds almost killed each other over who was the superior Confederate General- Stonewall Jackson or Lee? Hilarious.
Before I get to comment on the general topic of the thread let me address Dean's last point.

  Note, how I do not blast Esmay, but offer some general good willed food for thought to all- first the book, then a cogent point that gets back to the heart of this piece- that discourse fails these days because all arguments become one! I wrote:

Dean, given Viet’s long history of mercantilism and independence is it not obvious, now, that the civil war there was, indeed, a civil war? Yes, they’re bloody, but we and the Soviets made it about ‘our’ diffs, not theirs. As things turned out it wd not surprise me if they become an economic power in the near future- and a democratic one. This all after the ‘Commies’ won! In a sense their South’s values seem to have emerged as the winner, as did our South’s. You’re rt- it’s a shame that so many innocents died when we left. But, how many more wd have not died had we not stuck our noses in there in the 1st place? C’mon, if McNamara can admit they were wrong, there’s no need for apologism now. Ho was ripe for the intellectual taking, had we foresight, after WW2. They were not ‘Communists’- thus my statement re: the Girl Scouts. Were there some diehards? Sure. Do you really think all the extremists in the Mid East care of Allah and the afterlife? No, they’ve nothing now. I suspect Homer Simpsonism is as big a competitor for the religiots in Islam as it is here. Full bellies and minor comforts are amazing weapons against tyranny. Or do you believe that Islamic extremism is so seductive that all these kids are making WHOLLY irrational choices? Those Moslems just can’t help themselves....that’s silly. There are far more complex reasons for the extremism, and our hand in its tragic rise. Or, were Nat Turner or John Brown merely criminals, w no redeeming qualities? Or is there a chance that the answer lies between? Neither Left nor Right want to grant that- do you?

  These are all good and valid points, ones Esmay cherry-picks later on. It’s a fact that Ho was spurned by Truman in the late 1940s, and was very willing to be a Sukarno for us. It’s also known that Ho was a Nationalist, first and foremost, who used the Commies for all they’re worth- thus the bile the Soviets and Red Chinese had for his frequent independence from their dictates. The historians that believe otherwise do so out of dogma, not the intervention of years and facts. And Esmay never addresses whether Islamic extremism warps minds beyond repair, or if it’s merely one of many reasons. Most likely, as many arguers who cannot address a point do, he ignores it.

Back to some other points. I’m sorry if you took my Tourette’s thrust the wrong way. Online words sometimes carry no timbre, nor modulation. It was not an attack, merely an example. I accept my point failed- that was to prove that you’re no better nor worse re: making assumptions as to intent. I did not mean to hurt your feelings.

  Bookmark this statement, because Esmay will reveal two important things re: this. First, he does not read fully what his opponents say. He, at best cherry-picks, then willfully ignores. Secondly, he will deny the apology, then grudgingly admit it, yet still want even more. If he demands this of me, and there’s nothing suggesting my apology was not real, nor stated, then it wholly undermines his apology demands from Willis or others. He, in effect, uses the apology demand just as a bully does- as a weapon, not with sincerity. He might think because I phrase it ‘sorry if you took’ as proof of my disingenuity, yet it’s also true- it was not an attack, as I’ve said, merely an attempt to show a dialectic point that failed. I cannot take responsibility that he did not get it, when others I’ve argued with have gotten similar thrusts, and seen no personal shot, as have I. That he was hurt, if he truly was, I regret, and state plainly ‘I did not mean to hurt your feelings’- but his own seeming disingenuity rears itself, later.

The major thrust of this piece was how diff POVs can disagree, and I chose you and Willis because while you lean right and he left, believe it or not, you are far closer than Rush & Moore. That’s what makes your diffs, and hostilities all the more relevant to the point of this thread- no? How can the racebaiting Rushes and deceptive Moores find common ground if you & Willis cannot?

  Again, the heart of this overall essay!

You’re angry because he called you a racist, rightly or wrongly, to his perception. You called him a spoiled brat, or the like, and assailed his upbringing, with no facts, and he held that against you. Yet, neither claim, about racism nor his family, were likely true, as were your claims of racism against me. Unlike you or Willis, I’m not invested in such things because you, he, nor any other insubstantial (in an online existential mode) has any truck in the realities of my own daily do- health, financial, & other issues. But, again, the relevance is that you both erect barriers that de-facilitate the purpose of your blogs- to communicate ideas, and even whims.
One simply cannot make sweeping statements based upon a few disagreements. Am I malign because I think you’re wrong about Iraq, and think history will bear that assessment out? Or am I not, if you read my whole-hearted agreement with your take on Che Guevara? Or, am I, or anyone else, who modulates there views per subject matter, and not ideology, mere pretenders, or wishy-washy, or more damnable? That is what moderate is about. Yes, there are ‘extreme’ opinions I take. I'm pro cap punishment, and also pro-abortion (I detest euphemisms). I favor civil over corporate liberties, and am an agnostic when it comes to religion. I revile tree huggers who spike trees and ant-abs who bomb clinics, yet respect Julia Butterfly Hill and many mainstream pastors who speak out about abortion. Yet, I'll disagree w them. I respect others’ rights to be religious, but not the beliefs themselves, and expect my right to criticize their beliefs to not be mislabeled as mere bigotry, esp. since it’s the claimant’s burden to make a case, not the agnostic’s to disprove.
Or should I say take that Butterfly girl out, and crucify her as a wacko peacenik? 60 lashes for the pastorate!

  All this virtually ignored by Esmay. All of it excellent, calm, and reasoned dialectic.

Why is saying something a dumb/smart issue a bad thing? There are certainly choices with shade in them, but many are stark. Is not your current wife better than your 1st- to you? Does that mean I’m stating your 1st spouse be damned to a certain circle of Hell? If so, why wd you see it that way- or would you be imbuing? If so, cd that fact, imbuement, play a part in our dialogue, or perhaps others’ you’ve had? Or do we just switch gears and talk about racism where none applies? How about those Hunnish Germans in the Great War? They sure don’t make barbarians like that. Gets pretty silly, eh?

  Ignored by Esmay. Most likely because it’s irrefutable and undermines the edifice of his rationales re: the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

The case for the Iraq war has been severely undermined, and a humanitarian cause, de facto, necessitates us becoming TR’s cop of the globe- to be consistent, unless we determine non-Iraqis, like Kurds, Turkmens, and dozens of other peoples, are somehow less worthy of US humanitarianism. If that’s what the nation wants, then so be it. But, I object, and just hope that such sweeping generalizations about all Americans are not made by the new antagonists we create, although history shows I’m as likely to end up on the pile as the warmonger two doors down. Or, as George Romero said so well in Night Of The Living Dead- ‘Here’s another one for the pile!’
I don’t think oil is the dominant issue, merely the primary issue. If one grants a dozen or so possible reasons I’d state oil is still the top reason, even if it’s only 20 or so %. Is anyone really arguing oil plays no part? That just seems naive in light of the folk running this war, and our own history, and the well-documented statements from returning soldiers that the oil fields are far more well-guarded than, say, tent commissaries.

  That last sentence is another ignored point by Esmay. You’ll read later on how Esmay flails at the humanitarian reasons he states as why we’re really there, or as the most dominant reason.

Am I a traitor for pointing this out? Am I a Leftist? Then how to reckon my damning the Left after 9/11, and up till we found there were no WMDs. It’s a bit more complex than that. But, now, the burden has shifted. It’s the Right that needs to be held accountable. Yes, the Left ‘lucked out’ that all of Bush’s claims were wrong, and they’d still oppose the war even had we found a nuke on Day 1 in-country. None of that, however, changes subsequent history.
That’s an acknowledgement of the reality. Is this occupation on par w Hitler or Stalin’s worst forays? Of course not. That’s ludicrous. But, false claims from the other side do not make false claims on the Warrior side correct. That’s specious logic. Surely you, and others see that.
I argue my position is the consistent one, with all the known facts as they evolved. The Right is now where the Left was pre-invasion, and I don’t wanna be there anymore than I did on the Left’s side b4. There’s no good solution to Iraq- only a myriad of bad and worse ones. But, we need to acknowledge our role and culpability, minimize the damage, and try to go after the real bastards.
It does no good to toss up epithets. There can be genuine misunderstandings. Like, as example, my not putting ‘the Reds stormed the North’ re: Vietnam in quotes, since I meant that was the Right’s rationale, not mine. It all gets back to my idea of the interestingness of semiotics.
The point being that we all tend to want to see what we want, in others- be it you or Willis, or any other blogger, or me, or the other posters- but it’s the ability to simmer down, and reflect that separates the rational from the not.
Or, to paraphrase Linus Van Pelt, ‘That’s what this thread is all about, Dean Esmay.’
Now, on to the Proenneke review! DAN  12.25.2004 11:04am

  Note how I end congenially, hopefully, and with plenty of room for rational dissent and compromise, if not outright admission of defeat of some of the spurious claims made by Esmay and others.

Cosmo: No, it’s absolutely in no way obvious that it was merely another civil war. Given what we now know of the records released from the Soviet archives, we know that it was, indeed, a genuine Soviet attempt to take over both North and South Viet Nam. And given what we now know about the results of us abandoning our promises to the people of Viet Nam, hundreds of thousands were slaughtered or died in concentration camps--and Cambodia and Laos quickly fell, and Thailand nearly did, proving that the domino-effect theory was right all along. The one saving grace we can say happened a result of our (very justified, very moral) attempt to save the South Vietnamese from communist oppression was that it slowed down the spread of oppression in southeast Asia.

  I will get back to the point of the Soviet archives in a bit. But, Esmay’s faith in them is only on points that support his contention. When those records show otherwise, such as the fact that the Soviets disliked and distrusted Ho till his death, for the same reasons Truman did- that he was a Nationalist first and foremost, Esmay will not concur, or so I suspect, since he insists, contrary to the emerging historical records, that even the Soviets realized he wasn’t a ‘true believer’- merely a poseur, and one they’d love to have eliminated, except he was too damn powerful and his murder would have lost them Vietnam. If you are gonna take records from a source that supports your view, you have to accept those that don’t.

Of course, after decades of oppression and genocide at the hands of the evil communists, they have (after mostly surrendering the failed Marxist paradigm) become a democracy that respects human rights. Had we not so immorally abandoned them and, worse, broken our promise to help them arm themselves and fight against the communist aggressors, they would have been a free democratic Republic long, long ago. Just as South Korea is now, thanks to our (also very moral and completely justified) intervention in that so-called “civil war.”

  Is it so obvious that the Viets became a democracy because of the Commie failure, or rather my point that they have always been a trader society, and merely reverted to their pre-Commie, pre-Colonial tendencies? History supports my contention.

McNamara was right in only one sense: he managed the war badly, and it’s very arguable that political realities here at home made it impossible to conduct that war properly. And we certainly made mistakes in what we did. But hindsight is 20/20, the domino-effect was proven to be correct--and we did a truly shameful thing when we left but promised to give aide to the South Vietnamese and then broke that promise and cut them off.
In any case, none of this is anything like the situation in Iraq. It’s silly to say otherwise.
As for whether it’s right to say it’s a dumb/smart thing: You’re very ill-informed and say a number of patently false things which have been debunked many times here on this blog and on many others. You’re poorly informed and so, I guess, it’s true, this is a dumb/smart thing. Unfortunately, you’re on the dumb side of the argument.
Or that’s the position I’m forced to take if you insist on calling this dumb/smart. Besides, it’s very dumb in my view to compare any of this to Vietnam.
Does this smart/dumb paradigm of yours really lead to enlightening discussions, in your view? I’m willing to concede that thoughtful people can disagree over Iraq, but as soon as you say it’s dumb vs. smart, all potential for mutual understanding goes out the window in my view. 

  Notice, my dumb/smart notion did not entail calling people names, merely recognizing the issue.

And you’re the one coming in here making sweeping statements--dumb/smart, comparisons to Viet Nam, suggesting we’re just there because the President wants to be tough, etc. Sweeping generalization after sweeping generalization. That’s not conversation.

  Really, reread my many statements above. They are not sweeping, but specific. Thus their ignorance by Esmay.

Regarding oil: so far as I’m concerned it’s not even in the top 5 issues, except inasmuch a Saddam would never have become the power he was if it weren’t for his oil. But our invading had nothing to do with wanting his oil. This is ridiculous. Saddam offered repeatedly to give the U.S. eclusive and unlimited access to his oil if we'd just leave him alone. We turned him down, and were right to do so.

  Then how would Esmay explain that oil gets more protection than American soldiers at mess halls, or in Hummers?

Regarding Willis: he’s attacked me more than once, in unprovoked fashion, and the final straw was when he called me a racist. I lashed back at him. Motherfucker owes me the apology, period.
Back to Iraq (you really ramble a lot, and it’s hard to answer all your points when you pack in so much, and so many are based on presumptions I consider ill-informed): we are proceeding according to plan, the same plan we had before the invasion started. We are going to do our best to help them to become a free and independent Republic that respects human rights and joins the modern world. This is a noble and necessary cause--and it would be a horrible crime against humanity for us to leave. 12.25.2004 11:43am

  To equate leaving Vietnam or Iraq with a ‘crime against humanity’ is to distort the term- an active one- to utter meaninglessness. This is a favorite tactic of losing arguers, as well as to claim the other side incoherent, or rambling. Who has been more specific and pointed, thus far? Never have I used as many dumbs or misinformeds as Esmay, although my use of such would be more justified. Note, also, that as Esmay goes on his dialectic worsens, gets more strident, banal, and generic, while mine hones and gets more pointed.

  I retorted:

‘Given what we now know of the records released from the Soviet archives’. Yet, many Viet leaders have stated they were playing the Soviets. They wd have gone anywhere for support. They were not pro-Soviet, just anti-French, then anti-US. And yes, they might have been a democracy not long after WW2, had we not backed the French, thus earning Ho’s enmity.
I’m afraid the Domino Theory was not borne out. Even McNamara admits this. Dictatorships replace other dictatorships- & they’ve been around long before their 20th C. incarnations. Do you have information that McNamara does not?
1- a Prez who acts on specious information.
2- a nation that does not empathize w the enemy. (One of Mac’s pts in the Morris film) Imagine had Bush been Prez in ‘62! Oy!
3- an incompetent and/or corrupt intelligence community.
4- insurgents that embody ‘evil’
5- a non-conventional frontless war.
6- a cowardly opposition party, who will only stand up against the war when it senses that the tide has turned- Reps in the 60s, Dems now.
7- a red under every bed and terrorists everywhere.
8- ulterior motives abounding under stated reasons for the war.
9- relentlessly sunny claims about the war made by an administration that are palpably false, or mostly false.
10- a total denial of seeing our role in the underbelly of things.
That’s ten parallels, w/o breaking a sweat, and I’m sure others could lop far longer and detailed lists in a heartbeat. It still does not deal w the fact that the rationale to go into Iraq was wrong. Period.

  There is really nothing that is even arguable, if being honest, and this is beyond partisanship, and again a dumb/smart issue. Many Conservatives had and have grave doubts about the war, its conduct, and domestic results on the nation and economy.

If you expect the Left to admit their obvious faux pas, you have to do the same. How can folk converse when the facts that can be ascertained are not admitted? Having information means nothing if you don’t recognize them- ala LBJ, or Bush.
How wd you have resolved Vietnam? Wd we still be there? You have to admit errors when they occur. Nixon’s chance for immortality came when he cd have been the Prez to stop the war, and say to the world, ‘We were wrong.’ He cd have pilloried LBJ, with all rectitude, but ego- the famed, ‘I’m not gonna be the 1st Prez to lose a war’ hubris got to him, as it did LBJ. Yet, we lost, even though we never lost a battle, and killed 10-20 of them for every one of us, to be conservative. We lost.
Another query unasked is- while I agree all people long for sovereignty and freedom, is Western USA Democracy the only answer? 200+ years and we’re still struggling to get it right. If you state it is then you show both a nationalistic and chrono-provincialism. I wonder what scholars in 2500 will make of such a claim? Will they laugh or cry?

Again, this is where I frankly separate myself from many others when arguing- the ability to see patterns, and a long view. This is called Vision, and something beyond what Functionary minds can see. See my essay on that. Even Mensa level minds can lack Vision, so this is not a degree of intellect or not thing, merely a kind of intellect thing. And certainly apolitical.

 Again, the point is these are far bigger issues than the presumed exigencies of today. If human nature and history are not to be used as guides then what is? That seems unalterably dumb. And history shows Vietnam was an error. It was no noble WW2. You cannot accept that, but people far more intimate with it now do- who has the better insight?
I’ve pointed out specifics, not generalizations, and you’ve again feinted away from the specifics of the topic- re: arguing sociably.
’Motherfucker owes me the apology, period.’ is not sociable discourse. Period.
To end w Iraq. Of course it’s noble to want to do what you suggest. But, do you really think that the bringers of this are a bunch of Peace Corps idealists, or a bunch of military men, backed by that very monster old Ike, in his wisdom, railed against? If the former, let loose the doves, and we can tell all the dead Americans ‘relations’ that their doubts were foolish. If the former, which is more in line with human nature, history, and US history- then what?
I live in TX, but were your paradigm true it would be Mexico. Aside from how you would have ended Vietnam, how would you get us out of Iraq? Wd it not have been wise if the generals who recommended more troops have been listened to? Or do we just go with the wind? Good intentions mean little to the cold eye of history. This is why Bush is where he is now, granting him that favor, that the Left refuses. Give me a competent realist over a starry eyed dreamer every day, and I’ll show you the difference between Uncle Billy Sherman and Robert E. Lee.
I’ll take the former. Who wd you take? DAN  12.25.2004 1:09pm

  Frankly, good dialectic is not only what you say, but how you say it. This piece, especially the last two paragraphs, is brilliantly phrased, even if you disagree with it. It’s also where a bit of distance between Esmay and my points starts becoming a gulf. Most of my points, philosophically, are just true, even if you think them not applicable to a specific situation. History should be a guide, specifics should be maintained in dialectic, insociable discourse, like Esmay’s, should be called to the carpet, history does side with me re: US military intent and backing, and pragmatism may not be glorious, but it almost always works better than idealism.

  I redounded:

2 other points:

1) In the Morris film McNamara posits these 11 things:

1) Empathize with your enemy
2) Rationality will not save us
3) There is something beyond yourself
4) Maximize efficiency
5) Proportionality should be a guideline in war
6) Get the data
7) Belief and seeing are both often wrong
8) Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning
9) In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
10) Never say never
11) You can’t change human nature

I’d say they are good points, and overlooked in the current admin & war. Any other referents beside Dean & I wd be welcome.
2) Do I get a pass for being ‘informed’ as you re: Che? Or is it possible our convergence there & divergence here has some significance? And wd that not argue against the ‘generalizing’ charge?
Again, the point is we can reasonably disagree w/o name-calling- no? And, if I’m not reasonably disagreeing then who can, w/o being tarred? DAN 12.25.2004 1:52pm

    Note the insincerity Esmay starts off with in his retort (below). I can state definitively that in the whole thread there was no one as specific and pointed as I was. I did this deliberately, as I did with my Kid Gloves approach, to not drive Esmay into an emotional  seizure. It was, in fact, the very restrained and detailed nature of my argument that seemed to cause Esmay his fits of despair- in that he is used to acceptance, praise, gentle dissent, or bitter dialectic. In other posts, through the months he also tends to merely slough off and dismiss the more reasonable and pointed arguers. He’d, of course, probably not admit they were, or claim he had not time to argue with everyone, yet he always finds time for the acolytes and hellions- i.e.- the two extremes.

  Esmay seems to go out of his way to engage both, while the middle is left unaffected. Can I prove this scientifically? No. But, it seems apparent to me, and a symptom that he is really not an advocate of the discourse he claims. Of course, hit me with a feather, he’s a blogger! That is simply not part of the DNA of the form. Read on:

Cosmoetica: You continue to ramble, and continue to throw out HUGE sweeping generalizations, and then when I don’t manage to hit every one of your sweeping generalizations you suggest that your questions aren’t being answered or that you’re giving specifics--but I’m sorry, most of what you call “specifics” I call sweeping generalizations, some of them highly questionable and obviously ill-informed.

Note- this is his vaccination against actually doing what real dialectic does. I am not really engaging, and rambling- where?- and I’m ill-informed, anyway.

This begins to seem like a pointless conversation. However:
1) I challenge you to tell me where McNamara ever said the Domino Theory was false.
2) Even if he did say it, it would be asinine since the domino theory was PROVEN CORRECT by the quick falls of Laos and Camobodia in the aftermath of our retreat, and Thailand nearly fell. that’s a fact, and not something you can wave away with airy generalizations.
3) The modern Vietnamese may try to save face by pretending they were “playing” the Soviets, but they’re full of it. We now know that Ho Chi Minh was a KGB operative who took power in North Vietnam using their extensive assistance, and with the same techniques the Soviets used to take over many, many other countries, before or since.
4) Most of your 10 parallels between Vietnam and Iraq strike me as both sweeping generalizations and rather shallow. Even if I were to grant that all of them are true (I don’t, but let’s pretend I do) this doesn’t change the fact that the differences are far greater.

  Although, I admitted mine was a hasty list, and not aimed to be specific, and there are many, more detailed parallels others offer. Still, they’re pretty spot-on.

5) The rationales for going to Iraq--we were given well over a dozen by the Administration and by the bi-partisan congressional resolution--were quite justified so far as I’m concerned, up to and including the WMD issue--which the left speciously claims was our primary motivation for going. This has always been false, but as they say, if you repeat a lie often enough people start to believe it. But it’s still a lie.

  Return to my 6 vs. 72 point BOLD type comparison. Esmay is right about the oft-told lie, but it’s his position that has the greater burden of honesty, since they are risking lives.

6) How would I have resolved Vietnam? We made several mistakes in Vietnam that could have made that situation better. However, assuming we are talking about the 1970s endgame, I would have kept our promise to the South Veitnamese to arm and supply them so they could continue defending themselves. We broke that promise, even while the Soviets and Chinese kept arming and supplying the North Vietnamese. The Congress broke its promise despite the near-hysterical objections of President Ford--and as a result over a million innocent Vietnamese were slaughtered, while hundreds of thousands spent the rest of their lives in communist concentration camps.

  Specious logic re: our culpability, mainly because had we stayed- in a few years the same number of folk would have been killed by other means, and many more, not to mention Americans, nor the fact that millions less would have died had we not gone to war, nor aided a militaristic, anti-democratic, mass murdering dictatorship in the South.

7) To the question of whether democracy and freedom and human rights are “the only way”--this is a spurious question. The Iraqis will find their own way. But I cannot take seriously anyone who does not believe that democratically elected governments, rights for women, rights for minorities, free speech, and free press are not always and everywhere preferable to brutal dictatorships. If we cannot agree on this much then we seriously have nothing to talk about--but I would go back to agreeing that your “smart vs. dumb” paradigm is perfect, only it’s not your side that’s very smart.

  This is total distortion, as my later retort claims. Nowhere did I state that freedom and human rights were the issue, only that our way of attaining it was. To not recognize that shows Esmay is being dumb, disingenuous, or both. Yet, he has called me a racist, and worse, and he rails against Willis’s charge. Here is an excellent piece on the folly of why we got into Iraq, called Blind Into Baghdad, by James Fallows. I’ll quote just its summation:

  Here is the hardest question: How could the Administration have thought that it was safe to proceed in blithe indifference to the warnings of nearly everyone with operational experience in modern military occupations? Saying that the Administration considered this a truly urgent “war of necessity” doesn't explain the indifference. Even if it feared that Iraq might give terrorists fearsome weapons at any moment, it could still have thought more carefully about the day after the war. World War II was a war of absolute necessity, and the United States still found time for detailed occupation planning.

The President must have known that however bright the scenarios, the reality of Iraq eighteen months after the war would affect his re-election. The political risk was enormous and obvious. Administration officials must have believed not only that the war was necessary but also that a successful occupation would not require any more forethought than they gave it.

  It will be years before we fully understand how intelligent people convinced themselves of this. My guess is that three factors will be important parts of the explanation.

One is the panache of Donald Rumsfeld. He was near the zenith of his influence as the war was planned. His emphasis on the vagaries of life was all the more appealing within his circle because of his jauntiness and verve. But he was not careful about remembering his practical obligations. Precisely because he could not foresee all hazards, he should have been more zealous about avoiding the ones that were evident—the big and obvious ones the rest of the government tried to point out to him.

  A second is the triumphalism of the Administration. In the twenty-five years since Ronald Reagan’s rise, political conservatives have changed position in a way they have not fully recognized. Reagan’s arrival marked the end of a half century of Democrat-dominated government in Washington. Yes, there has been one Democratic President since Reagan, and eventually there will be others. But as a rule the Republicans are now in command. Older Republicans—those who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, those who are now in power in the Administration—have not fully adjusted to this reality. They still feel like embattled insurgents, as if the liberals were in the driver’s seat. They recognize their electoral strength but feel that in the battle of ideology their main task is to puncture fatuous liberal ideas.

  The consequence is that Republicans are less used to exposing their own ideas to challenges than they should be. Today’s liberals know there is a challenge to every aspect of their world view. All they have to do is turn on the radio. Today’s conservatives are more likely to think that any contrary ideas are leftovers from the tired 1960s, much as liberals of the Kennedy era thought that conservatives were in thrall to Herbert Hoover. In addition, the conservatives’ understanding of modern history makes them think that their instincts are likely to be right and that their critics will be proved wrong. Europeans scorned Ronald Reagan, and the United Nations feared him, but in the end the Soviet Union was gone. So for reasons of personal, political, and intellectual history, it is understandable that members of this Administration could proceed down one path in defiance of mounting evidence of its perils. The Democrats had similar destructive self-confidence in the 1960s, when they did their most grandiose Great Society thinking.
  The third factor is the nature of the President himself. Leadership is always a balance between making large choices and being aware of details. George W. Bush has an obvious preference for large choices. This gave him his chance for greatness after the September 11 attacks. But his lack of curiosity about significant details may be his fatal weakness. When the decisions of the past eighteen months are assessed and judged, the Administration will be found wanting for its carelessness. Because of warnings it chose to ignore, it squandered American prestige, fortune, and lives.

  This really nails some of the folly, but especially the Right Wing hubris of the last few decades. The fact is, that while Democrats controlled the government mid-20th Century the Republicans have always been the financial power in the private sector. Esmay falls into this trap, of assuming dissent is somehow a sign of some sort of flaw- a point he drives home with his frequent charges of racism, or other attacks. He really hamstrings himself, and undercuts his credibility with such silly and anti-discourse inducing lies.

8) People who are far more intimate with Vietnam than either me or you STILL DEBATE the morality of Vietnam, and many still believe it was a moral cause, including many Vietnamese. If you think otherwise, you are ill-informed.

  But, the tide has turned. To not recognize that is to whistle in amber, and wonder why no one hears you. People also debate Creation Science- while this is hyperbole on my part, at least now, in a hundred years, when all involved are long dead, my money says the Vietnam reality moves closer to today’s non-hyperbole.

9) It happens to be the case that we are making incredible progress democratizing Iraq, which almost everybody in Iraq knows. If you don’t know this then, again, you are ill-informed.

  He’s developed wonderful debate techniques, hasn’t he?

10) To the question of the endgame in Iraq: I expect them to continue their strides toward Democracy. If the elections in January fail, we are going to have to re-evaluate and possibly leave it as a UN protectorate. Otherwise, I expect elections to go off at least as well as they did in Afghanistan, even if one or two provinces may not wind up fully participating. The vast majority of Iraqis want democracy, pluralism, and a free and united Iraq. We will help them in that regard. We may need to bring in others to help us after the elections, or we may not. In any case, I expect we’ll have troops there for the next 20-30 years, much as we did and do in places like Germany and South Korea.
11) To your claim that “Motherfucker owes me the apology, period.’ is not sociable discourse. Period.” Neither is your “dumb vs. smart” rhtetoric, neither are your cheap shots about my medical background (which you still haven’t apologized for or retracted), and neither are several other things you’ve said. In any case: Oliver started with the insults and mudslinging. I have no reason whatsoever to be sociable toward him until the does the honorable thing and retracts his remarks. So I don’t’ give a flying fuck if it’s sociable discourse--I have no reason to be anything OTHER than unsociable toward that racist, prejudiced jerk.

  Here is where the frays fly apart. My attempt to raise discourse above partisanship, to mere good or bad policy, based upon the wisdom of actions, is on par with epithets and cursing. That’s silly. Note, his rage shows. In one breath he’s saying it’s not a dumb/smart issue, and in another he’s admitting it, accepting my premise, by stating any opinions other than his own are ill-informed- even when clearly I know as much, if not more than he does on Vietnam. Does Esmay believe that most decisions cannot be related on a wisdom scale? No. He’s just tripped himself up in dialectic knots. Here he reveals that much of his anger toward me still goes back to the Tourette’s comment, which he denies- and later states is because he does not read posts thoroughly. Compare my so-called ‘sweeping generalizations’ with the supposed clarity of ‘several other things you’ve said’.

12) Would it have been wise to listen to the generals who said we needed more troops? Perhaps. But many conveniently forget the OTHER generals who said we DID NOT need more troops, and still OTHER generals who have said that more troops would only present more targets and create more casualties and that the best way is to keep the troop strength we have. That may need re-examination, but it’s just another sign of how ill-informed some people are that they think that there was ever any universal consensus at the Pentagon that we needed more troops. We may or may not need them; so far we're doing spectacularly well with what we have so I’m willing to let the Pentagon and the people who know more make the tough decisions and not second-guess them. 12.25.2004 2:30pm

Regarding your second set of points

1) I agree with 1-11. Good thing we’re doing most of those in Iraq. You ought to try applying some of them to yourself and your own thinking, though.
2) If you realize that Che was a psychotic murdering monster, that gets you major points in my book.
I haven’t called you any names. But you HAVE made sweeping generalizations--things you just assume everyone should agree with. But I don’t. Neither do a lot of other quite well-informed people, whether you think we’re “dumb” or not. 12.25.2004 2:36pm


  Note, I never called people dumb, just positions. Esmay personalizes here, to justify his own charges’ silliness and rancor, in claiming I’ve personalized.

Dean, re: 1st set of q’s:
1) In Fog Of War Mac admits it was a failed theory, in a nicely staged piece replete w falling dominoes.
2) Shining Path failed. Solidarity won. Vietnam was Americanized after we left. Most folk rejected Communism w/o us or our presence. And Reagan didn’t win the Cold War, either. Unless you think the Prez’s from Truman to Carter did nothing.

  To think that America alone was the bastion against Communism is silly, but need we have supported fascist dictators to do so? Perhaps. Perhaps not. This is a point Esmay not only does not concede, but won’t debate.

3) Ho was begging for help in Vietnam for decades, from anyone. This is pre-WW2 knowledge. He was not Castro nor Che. Again, you have to see shades.
4) Well, we disagree. I hope you’re right, but....
5) I think you’ve bought the back-tracked and edited lie. But, let’s stay humanitarian. Then, you have to insist we go from nation to nation, lest we’d be racists to not wanna free other peoples. Correct? Is that wise? Will you encourage your kids to fight an endless war? Maybe, but will others?
6) You ignore the fact, though, that the South was never gonna win w/o us. Not to mention they were a brutal dictatorship that slaughtered millions. Our tinpot is better than theirs? Yet, we now see it was wrong when Carter looked the other way in Indonesia? See what I mean? Or was the South filled w angels & Indonesians irredeemable scum?
7) Show me where I stated or even implied ‘cannot take seriously anyone who does not believe that democratically elected governments, rights for women, rights for minorities, free speech, and free press are not always and everywhere preferable to brutal dictatorships’. C’mon Dean, you’re reaching. The q was is ours the only way? Is that cultural bias? The Swedes and French and Japanese have nothing on us, in any way? I agree we might be the best right now, but that does not mean there is not better. And how will the Iraqis find their own way if we are not there to prop them up? In Afghanistan Karzai is a puppet. This is not to say he might not be a good man, but wd he last till teatime w/o us? Are they finding their own way? And suppose, they choose a theocracy- not a radical one, but one guided by Koranic law, that requires things we deem not American?
8) Sure, and there are still Flat Earthers and folk who feel they’ve been raped by aliens. Being on the fringe is not de facto being wrong, but it is more often than not.
9) There is progress, but to overlook the retrogresses is not a good thing. Two steps forward here, and three back there, well....kind of sounds like the Defense Dept. Briefings, circa 1966.
10) I guess it’s great you are so upbeat. What more to say?
11) You are wrong, and I guess you do not read your postings thoroughly. See above. Freud wd be smiling over such a slip. Or was ‘Back to some other points. I’m sorry if you took my Tourette’s thrust the wrong way. Online words sometimes carry no timbre, nor modulation. It was not an attack, merely an example. I accept my point failed- that was to prove that you’re no better or worse re: making assumptions as to intent. I did not mean to hurt your feelings.’ a mirage? Will you, then, stop generalizing about, and falsely hurling racism charges?
12) Which bunch of generals is looking wiser?

  Here is what you call an overload. Esmay is at his worst when having to deal with consequences of his statements. In short, he’s an idealist, who likes to go step-by-step, and let things fall where they may. This is why he supports W. It’s simply not a wise path to follow, in any endeavor.

On to tract 2:
How have we empathized w our enemy? Have we recognized our part in the Mid East tragedies? The 2nd one has to do w understanding that our rationality may not be true rationality. Bush cannot think outside this cultural box. To many of these ‘nuts’ suicide is eminently rational. To me and you it’s nuts, but I think that’s 0 for 2. 3 is a wash, 4- I say no (see the generals things above), but hope I’m wrong. 5- a brilliant sequence in the film where Mac compares the sizes of firebombed Jap cities with Am cities. 4k+ Ams lost in 9/11 and the wars vs. an unknown toll so far on the collective ‘their side’. It may be worth it, but keep that pt in mind. 6- Get the data- to me, the absolute most crucial element as relates to Iraq. We failed. 7- self-explanatory. 8- even you have to admit Bush & co. fail this. 9- a very cogent and moving point in the film. Those who pillory Truman for the bomb shd rethink things, but it’s apropos to Iraq, Viet (esp. our expansion into Cambodia and support for the genocidal South- yes, they were also baddies of the highest order- Fascism and all). 10- a wash. 11- imp. to remember, because occupiers have a dismal history in war- and most follow the same pattern of eventual retreat, and revision of history, even the few claimed noble occupations, as this.
’I’m willing to let the Pentagon and the people who know more make the tough decisions and not second-guess them.’ I believe old Teddy Roosevelt, the last great Republican, said something to the effect that such an attitude was damn near treasonous- save that he was referring to folk who said he, the Prez, should not be above crit. Quite a change in POV in a century?
Thanks re: Che (ah, poesy). Q- do you admit the South Vietnamese were psychotic, fascist, dictatorial, murderous thugs?
I’ve said positions were dumb, no person. Wd you not be justified in calling me dumb were I to laud the Turner Diaries as great literature? DAN  12.25.2004 3:22pm

  Now, it’s starting to become a rout- especially with the TR point. This sort of statement by Esmay has very unsettling implications. I’ve let Esmay have enough rope, and he does the predictable thing with it.

1) You certainly do a lot of worshipping at the shrine of McNamara--a man who fucked up Vietnam royally. But he is not the be-all, end-all expert on Vietnam, sorry. And given how bad he screwed up, I’d be more wary of just taking his word for everything if I were you.

  I’d hardly call it worship. No more than Esmay’s blind acceptance of Soviet history re: Ho, and dismissal of the facts it reveals that counter his assumptions. McNamara doesn’t have a reason to distort. And if he thought Errol Morris’s film was a requiem he’s sadly mistaken.

2) That’s a strange bunch of incoherent generalizations there. I don’t particularly feel the need to respond beyond that.

  Note how my specifics become generalizations to him, and note his ignorance of the points, and later defensiveness. Is ‘Shining Path failed. Solidarity won. Vietnam was Americanized after we left. Most folk rejected Communism w/o us or our presence. And Reagan didn’t win the Cold War, either. Unless you think the Prez’s from Truman to Carter did nothing.’ generalizing? I give specific instances where Esmay’s worldview breaks down.

3) Once again, history has left you behind. Ho was, as I told you, a KGB operative. Claims that he was “begging for help for decades” are simply communist propaganda--which is now verified by the opened Soviet and Comintern archives. He was a KGB agent and a Soviet stooge from day one. You need to learn more about history.

  That Ho was working for the Soviets is not in dispute- his real motives were, Ho was as much a true Commie as Castro a true freedom fighter. He suckered them as Castro did us. It’s Esmay whose arguments are stuck in amber, refusing to see complexities and interpolate later knowledge.

4) Me too.
5) I know for a fact that I’m correct, and that you are the one who’s bought into historical revisionist lies. It’s easily proven by anyone who wants to examine the historical record.
As to the matter of humanitarian intervention: We haven’t the resources to use military force in every situation in the world. But since we had well over a dozen reasons for action in Iraq (all of them expressed by the administration, as well as teh Congres), it was the right thing to do. And those of you who opposed it, sadly, are on the wrong side not just of history, but of human rights and human progress.

  I didn’t oppose it, as I stated. I only opposed it when the reasons given for war, far beyond those of mere WMD, also fell by the wayside.

We will continue to act when we need to military, diplomatically, and otherwise. Ask me on a case-by-case basis; it is a logical fallacy to assert that if we cannot invade every human-rights-oppressing nightmare regime, that means we have no justification for intervening in any of them.

  I never asserted that. That’s simply the logical imperative of his the Iraq War As Humanitarian Effort folly, because it begs the question- why Iraq? Why not Iran? Why not dozens of other countries? There has to be some reason that one nation’s brutality should be alleviated over, or before another’s. Esmay does not want to deal with the three letter word, so I’ll spell it: o-i-l.

6) Do not accuse me of “ignoring” things. This is a very cheap shot way of debating. You cannot reasonably expect me to write a book for you. The South was doing fine in defending itself until we took away their funding and their arms. And because we did that, Americans--and especially the entire anti-War Left--have the blood of countless innocents on our hands. Which in my view is far more immoral than our actual intervention in the first place.

  Read on later….

7) Show me where I stated or even implied ‘cannot take seriously anyone who does not believe that democratically elected governments, rights for women, rights for minorities, free speech, and free press are not always and everywhere preferable to brutal dictatorships’ C'mon Dean, you’re reaching.

No I am NOT reaching. In amongst your many sweeping generalizations, you said THIS:

”...is Western USA Democracy the only answer? 200+ years and we’re still struggling to get it right. If you state it is then you show both a nationalistic and chrono-provincialism. I wonder what scholars in 2500 will make of such a claim? Will they laugh or cry."

That is a clear suggestion that our efforts to bring democracy to Iraq may not be preferable to what came in Iraq before then.

  This is hogwash I expose in my rebuttal. It’s all Esmay’s desire to box in an opposing view into a neat argument he has pre-fabricated answers to.

I’m not “reaching.” You, on the other hand, are throwing up dozens of arguments and generalizations at once, then making sprious allegations about me becuase I don’t answer everything to your satisfaction.
This is a very cheap trick, if common. If you’d be so kind as to stop it and stick to ONE POINT AT A TIME, perhaps this would be worthwhile. But otherwise this is increasingly starting to feel like mental masturbation.
8) You are incredibly ill-informed about Viet Nam. This is obvious the more you write. If you’d like a suggested reading list I'll be happy to help you fix that.
9) Nobody ever said there were no stumbling blocks or places where we’ve had trouble. But we are most definitely, by any rational or objective measure, making far more strides forward than backwards.
10) I am far more than just “upbeat.” I am rendering a judgement based on knowledge.

  More of the same old. Note, how I can pull out many varied answers and specific examples, yet Esmay falls back into just tossing charges? Then we get to what is behind it all.

11) Oh, right, somewhere in those long, rambling, barely coherent messages you issued a half-assed retraction. If I blinked I would have missed it. Excuse me for having failed to take great notice. Perhaps if you’d learn a little discipline, stick to one point at a time, and be less insulting and condescending perhaps I would have been more impressed with it.

  I would challenge anyone to read my and Esmay’s exchange and not declare- opinion aside on content, who has been more focused, cogent, and detailed. Note how an apology does not suffice. Nor is he willing to offer one up on his generalizations and false racism charges. If he’s not gonna retract racism charges far more falsifiable than those Willis leveled at him, how can he reasonably expect Willis to do so?

12) It’s still not clear.
As for Tract 2: You know what? I’m tired of this game. You have unfortunately shown yourself to be terribly ill-informed on the Iraq situation, and I am not going to make it my business to educate you. Continue reading the blog. We have and are doing most of the things you say we should, and if you think otherwise it speaks to your own lack of knowledge and experience.
If you have SPECIFIC questions for me, please bring them up ONE AT A TIME. It is not my job to write essays-on-demand for you. 12.25.2004 5:14pm

    This was the last post of Esmay’s that I read, as it was manifest he had resigned himself to not engage me in a forthright nor honest manner. Since he refused to argue honestly and pointedly I added one final post, then signed off. Note, how he has utterly undermined his claim to deal with intellectual rivals in a superior way. As I prepare this essay for a final draft I will check back and see what spurious claims were hurled my way by Esmay or others. Here was my final post in that thread:

McNamara was a phony- and the film shows him to be little better than Brutus to LBJ’s Caesar, or Bob Ford to his Jesse James. What reason could he have for lying about knowingly deceiving the public now? History’s already damned him. And what of South Vietnam- they were not murderous thugs, but ‘doing well’? Not in this timeline, nor that of the Vietnamese and Viet Vets I knew. I grew up and went to school w many Viet refugees, and knew some later on, all from the South, and all had horror stories. Almost all were on atrocities and murders committed by the South, against them, because they were peasant farmers and suspected of being VC. Why would they lie? These folk were just looking to get along.
In all your knowledge of Vietnam you’ve not recognized we supported a tyranny- but our tyranny. I know it did not matter, as a way of comfort, to the Viets I knew that their loved ones were killed by fascist thugs, not Commie thugs. Both sides were brutal, and in a death match for the nation. To say we were better, or our guys, is ignoring history. That can offend you, but I doubt not as much as your not recognizing that fact does to the dead of those I knew. Unless they were lying, of course, as part of a geopolitical plot. It seems that you have alot invested, emotionally, beyond reason, in your ideas on Vietnam. Why?
Che was bad. Will you agree that these dictators we supported- Batista, Pinochet, Suharto, Marcos, and even Sukarno- were mass murdering thugs? Or is there a plot out to smear US lackeys thru the decades? You can’t have it both ways. If Castro and Saddam and Che are scum, so are the aforementioned. Yet, why did we support them? Fascism and communism are merely shades of totalitarianism, unless you want to argue Hitler and Mussolini are superior dictators to Stalin and Mao? All Presidents before Bush were not as ‘gifted’ w morality as he? Realpolitik is a thing of the past? Please, let’s join in forming a lynch mob for that war criminal, Kissinger, then, since we are now so enlightened. He’s as bad as the rest!

  Of course, Esmay supports Realpolitik as a justification for our humanitarian aid to Iraq vs. other dictatorships. His logical confusion is immense, and thoroughly exposed in this exchange.

In # 6 you say ‘Do not accuse me of “ignoring” things.’ yet in # 2 you state ‘I don't particularly feel the need to respond beyond that.’ Need I comment?

  Note my humor is intended while Esmay’s is not.

In # 7 you know I was stating that to believe that we in America are the epitome of Mankind is silly, yet you try to take that to show me favoring fascism. That’s not a cheap trick?

  Eminently logical.

That you deny Ho’s past and blame all on the Reds shows you are not as informed as you think on him, nor the War.
As for #11- I’m glad you admit you overlook what’s in a dissenter’s post. Now, with that out of the way, the q is- is that the 1st time, and if not, are there less obvious instances?
Ah, for the days of the old Bill Buckley debates. Even though I often disagreed with him you couldn’t but help love the guy. My guess is he’d have asked you to sit and watch the Master.

  When I check back it’ll be interesting to see if Esmay even comes near this point.

Seriously though, you dismiss as unreasonable very reasonable propositions, you argue specious facts, and some that simply have been disproved- re: Vietnam, but most of all, you seem to counter the very thing you put forth in your post. Unless, of course, that's the point, and you've intended to show the difficulty many have in bridging honest differences. I retract- it’s a brilliant move! You have made your point. Instead of recognizing that there are honorable and ethical and reasonable and patriotic ways to view a situation differently you have shown that dissenters are not any of those things. A conference table in Versailles awaits, for that ideal has been tried before.
I wd state it is you that argue selectively, and not nearly as thoroughly. There’s no dishonor in stating a position was wrong- like my initial support for the Iraq War. Bush may believe that by saying something enough it’ll be true, but it’s not so, and I wonder what LBJ and Nixon, if they cd do it again, wd do? I hope they’d see what their folly cost. True wisdom can often be gleaned by not only learning from personal errors, but others. But, I guess old Lyndon doesn’t even get that solace re: his fellow Texan. Poor bastard! DAN  12.25.2004 8:43pm 

  Note that I end as I conducted myself throughout- with no cheap shots, with great restraint, and eminent logic- even if you disagree with my points. My one error was in not couching my Tourette’s point, yet I end with wit and good grace.

  Yet, Esmay made it clear that he was through with me, as long as I did not cede to his terms. Of course, as it is his blog, he can do so, as he has before- to others he has no retort to, or those who ‘troll’. However, this has no bearing on the outcome of our discourse. Interestingly, although this was one of the bettwe exchanges on his site, it was not self-nominated by Esmay for his Best Discussion lists- most likely because he did not fare so well.

  So, the question is begged- why is Esmay, an occasionally reasonable fellow, also seemingly incapable of competent discourse? That the query is posed of a blogger may be my folly, but he’s no better nor worse than many bloggers or non-bloggers. To write it off as part of his Tourette’s is too simple, although it cannot be dismissed as playing no part. His exhibitionism in revealing such things also probably plays a part.

  Esmay is not like Erika Rippeteau, in that he feels no need to converse with lessers, nor those that disagree, nor is he a smug nincompoop like Drew Burk, nor a wholly clueless and nasty little cipher like Noose. I posed this query to folks on my email list.



[Fwd: More Evil From Me]


Sat, 25 Dec 2004 19:55:46 -0600


Dan Schneider

It only gets better. It’s unreal to me that a) any sane person cd argue in favor of the Vietnam War all these years later, and this guy’s younger than me, yet so invested in it. And b) not see the many parallels between then and now. Yet, he’s not an ignorant person. He’s well read, yet prone to just severe bouts of irrationality- just read his many utter contradictions.
I mean, this goes beyond mere obtuseness.  Anyone any ideas as to what drives the rational to support the irrational? I realize that there are UFO nuts and folk who deny there were 4 shots fired at Kennedy, etc., but any interesting ideas I’d consider a belated Xmas gift. But, please, at least skim thru his and my replies, at least, just so I know it’s not I who’s had an epileptic trip into the unreal. Thanks, DAN


More Evil From Me


Sat, 25 Dec 2004 14:25:42 -0600


Dan Schneider


I've been having some fun arguing with this pro-war fellow. You have to read the whole piece to get it.  DAN

  The ‘Evil’ comment is an in-joke, as so many folk who’ve argued with me over many things often merely toss such a term about. That prompted this exchange between me and Laura Winton:


Re: [Fwd: More Evil From Me]


Sun, 26 Dec 2004 07:42:23 -0800 (PST)


Laura Winton


Dan Schneider


It’s precisely because he’s younger than you that he can believe that crap about Vietnam.  We’re barely old enough to remember it really, let alone people younger than us. Hence they’re more vulnerable to after-the-fact propaganda.
The official revisionist history is that Vietnam was a just war and that we would have won Vietnam if it hadn’t been for those damn hippies back home who didn’t support the war and demoralized the troops. There was a book out a few years ago by some general called The 25-Year War, I believe, and that was its premise. It was the subtext against the protesters in the first gulf war and is the official government line against all war protests now.
That said, I also don’t buy it when the hippies claim that they ended the war. Widespread war protests went on for 7-8 years before the war actually ended (and to a smaller degree, war protests had been going on since the early to mid-60s, so all told possibly 10 years or so). So that one sticks in my craw just as much as saying that it’s their fault that we lost.  In reality, I’m not sure they had much of an impact on the war at all one way or the other. 
It’s hard to say whether the protests caused a hardening with government and caused Nixon to prolong the war so he didn’t look soft. I hate to think that the result of protesting in the US is that it just prolongs what you’re against and that it’s somehow better to be quiet and suck it up. That’s very demoralizing. The real problem is our system and that we are either electing complete assholes or that the media and our culture make it seem impossible for our leaders to act like leaders, admit their mistakes, and make the necessary adjustments to policy. Or some combination thereof.



[Fwd: Re: [Fwd: More Evil From Me]]


Sun, 26 Dec 2004 10:02:10 -0600


Dan Schneider


Yeah, I can’t disagree w what you say, on the whole. I don’t think it’ll ever be known what really went on, yet this fellow argues that McNamara is now lying in Fog Of War- a film he obviously hasn’t even seen, and if you read the pieces I was atypically Kid Gloves with him, and he still hung himself! But, if you saw my prior email it’s something more- even TV trivia can send people into irrational rages. Perhaps it’s because people can play tough and mean, or pretend they know more than they do by just pasting a Googled article they read to defend a position they know naught about. This is why I mentioned Cronkite in one of my pieces- there is no shared information pool. People either believe Rush or Moore, so when someone like me says, wait, isn’t there something between? Isn’t parallax of ideas a good thing? they’re dismissed. We’ve disagreed on more than one occasion yet I’ve never commented on your weight nor sexuality, nor damned your morals, yet those seem to be the manner of 1st resort for most, even on a definition of Oscar Madison the tv character!
Fortunately, you’ve given me the same courtesy, for which I respect you. Is it that egos are so tied up in the slightest thing? I mean, this Esmay guy loathes the left and PC, yet uses their very tactics, and sees slights where there are none, and hurls racism charges that are ludicrous. And all, most regrettably, w/o a dram of wit nor humor! I think back to that old Twilight Zone episode where a babeolicious blond is thought of as the ugly one in a world filled with gargoyles.
God, how I wish I cd have a talk radio show. I don’t know if you ever listened to Art D’s & my Omniversica shows online, but, as unpolished as I was, I’m still a hell of a superior interviewer and moderator to the ceaseless fawners and sycophants across the spectrum- from PBS drones to cable hysterics to the sickening Oprah, and Jerry and Montel crowd.
Anyway, have a Happy!  DAN

  Esmay would probably dismiss the charge that he’s vulnerable to propaganda, but the more important point is his investment of emotion over reason in his arguing- not only against me, but Willis, and others. Willis and other bloggers do little better, on the whole, so it’s not merely Esmay, nor bloggers.

  This exchange tied into another I mentioned within. I got this post on the site from a fellow who loved Cosmoetica: 

--- root@cosmoetica.com wrote:


T1: Al Rocheleau 
B1: Submit
Remote Name: ~~~~~~~~
Remote User: ~~~~~~~~

  Dan-- just a note to tell you I enjoy both your poetry and your criticism. I have to say appreciate the inherent craft of the former, and I agree with the latter most of the time. I really get a kick out of the precipes you gleefully dance upon to the consternation of academes that control the poet game, not only in your area but no doubt in every “poetry region” of the United States. I'm in central Florida, and it’s just the same here. Anyway, your targets are usually right-on. You major focus on the trio of cliché, prosaic writing and lack of music that plagues poetry today is hard for any poet with any degree of personal identity, meaning that they not beholden to the pedantic status quo, to deny. But too many of us are too polite to call it like it really is. Many seem to be contented Austrians caught in a creative Anschluss of self-congratulatory bullshit. So keep doing what you’re doing, man. I’ve turned several colleagues on to your site, and will continue to do that. Be well. 

Al Rocheleau

  Having just come off of the marathon with Esmay, I asked of Rocheleau:


 Re: Data posted to form 2 of http://www.cosmoetica.com/Contact.htm


 Sun, 26 Dec 2004 07:02:17 -0800 (PST)


 Dan Schneider


   Thanks for the words. The most astonishing thing, far beyond poetry, is that people these days cannot discourse. An old pal called me last night- from over 30 years ago, and he’s ghostwriting a book on an old time singer, and told me the woman grieved him no end, dissatisfied over the % of royalties that she was to get from his own small music press. Now, this singer was not exactly Diana Ross in name value, and you’d think she’d make the most of what small opportunities arose, yet she apparently was brutal.
  Yester I was engaging in an argument on this website http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1103890776.shtml with a fellow who’s pro-war and pro-Vietnam war. I’ve not cked it today and will not reply not because the argument’s
not worth it, but his style of argument is paranoid and utterly w/o wit- to me the single most imp. thing, even beyond correctness- oh, where is Oscar Wilde!
  There was another fellow named Bob Grumman, who’s one of these relentlessly avant garde sexagenarian types, who, again, utterly distorts my emails, then complains when I point that out, & says that I’m distorting him. Prob the most wacky claim against me was a couple years ago, when some coward accused me of, get this, plagiarizing someone’s description of the character Oscar Madison, from the Odd Couple tv show. I sd something like- Oscar Madison is a slob and a sportswriter, and they quoted something from an OC fansite where someone wrote Oscar Madison is sloppy and a sportswriter. Unbelievable! I did a point by point comparison and there were manifest differences in our pieces, yet this nut was serious! And were I more than a semi-notable Internet presence, say in a few more years when I get something in print, there wd be people who wd w/o merit, lump me in with a Doris Kearns Goodwin, or those other historians caught in real plagiarism.
  People simply cannot separate themselves from criticism. I’ve gotten much hate mail and if your email was a FUCK YOU, YOU COCKSUCKING BASTARD! my first inclination is to laugh. Why wd I, even remotely, personally be hurt by a voice from the
ether? And an ignorant, malicious, one at that? Yet, I’m a racist, homophobe, misogynist if I point out a bad black poet, gay poet, or female poet. If I state that there’s no empirical evidence for Jesus I’m anti-Christian, instead of rational. If I say there's no evidence for UFO abductions I’m denying the evidence, yet if I say the Warren Commission was bunkum I’m a lunatic.
  There’s a scene in MY DINNER WITH ANDRE where Wallace Shawn talks about the irrational anger at cocktail parties toward anyone who dissents from the norm, and it’s as true today.
  Yet, to me, my positions- agree with some, not others- are eminent proof of my moderation, as well as a great wit- especially in the bite-sized TOP essays, which are not meant to be in-depth, as I patently credit online bios, yet still point out the many obvious flaws in a poem. There are positions I have some consider extreme- I’m pro-abortion, pro-death penalty and anti-gun control, but these are wholly consistent views with civil libertarianism- a thing the Lib Party’s often forgotten in its defense of corporations.
  This Dean Esmay fellow, as example, blames ‘THE MONOLITHIC LEFT’ in America for all the deaths in South Vietnam after we left Saigon, but refuses to acknowledge that by that rationale all the deaths cause by the South, Marcos, the Shah, Suharto, etc. wd be on the VAST RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY’s heads Yet, at times, he can come off as rational-seeming. Yet, look at his near-constant attempt to box my views on Vietnam into his pre-conceived notion, and the real anger, I believe, when I frustrate his prejudices about me. Sorry to rant, but it amazes me, and makes me wonder if the line between the people who believe in Atlantis, the Bermuda Triangle, and Sasquatch, and those who just go about their philosophically (& unfortunately financially) materialistic lives, is really thinner than imagined.
  How I miss the old Bill Buckley debates- while I disagreed w him more often than not he was at least fair, and did not belittle nor interrupt his opponents. In short, he was an honorable opponent. I’m gonna do a piece on discourse soon, but it’s really a shame.
  Enough. Thanks for letting me ramble.  DAN

  I must state that I am hardly the Chicken Little type and would not prefer to live anywhen but now, or in the future, when I hope, and expect, things will be better still.

  Rocheleau replied:

Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004 00:31:33 -0500
From: Al Rocheleau
To: (Dan Schneider)
Subject: Re: Data posted to form 2 of http://www.cosmoetica.com/Contact.htm

Dan—it’s been said that many simply object to other people making any statements at all--they only enjoy the sound of their own voice, and would negate anything another said about anything. But I would have dearly loved to hear you get up and challenge Robert Bly or some of the other “made” poets as you have, simply to break that facade that pervades the automatic reverence that comes with having “made it” in the closed circle that is academic-driven poetry.
  How refreshing it would be for somebody like Bly to have said yes, I write a lot of shit that gets published because of the elevation of the name Bly, but I do think there are still some good ones here and there. How much more respect could be accorded the Blys and Pinskys, et al if only they could remain true to the days before their academic canonization, when they were IN and among the audience rather than cast before it like some hypnotic, hanging ornament. (And I too miss the days of the Buckley debates.)


  Rocheleau’s first sentence may be very apt re: the blogosphere, but it only pushes the query backward to why is dialectic so poor now? I think it’s bound to improve. The lowest common denominator can only go so low, whether the sciolism of Esmay and his ilk is around. Or, could the Internet make many, at least online, veer more toward Balkanized sciolism, with the ability to search for ready-made answers, rather than the days where news came from a source, was trusted, and then parsed and debated? It’s sort of like the noxious thought of eight year olds in math class with calculators!

  I then had an exchange with a fellow I’ve emailed quite a few years, but never met:



Re: [Fwd: More Evil From Me]


Sun, 26 Dec 2004 09:20:10 -0600


Dan Schneider


Ruth & Karl Kempton

Yeah- that may be the something’s in the water theory, but it goes beyond just this guy and Iraq. See this following email I got from a fellow.  DAN

Ruth & Karl Kempton wrote:

dan --

for me, the primary parallel to the current iraqi war and viet nam is that both presidents of the miss carry are texan. check out charles potts’ book  -- how the south won the civil war

karl   kempton

  Then this exchange:




Sun, 26 Dec 2004 12:03:37 -0800


Ruth & Karl Kempton


Dan Schneider

oh, i do agree it goes far beyond just 2 texans; it’s just that they seem to bring out the lowest common denominators in the political arena of war.
i often ask the duel question -- what did the american indians do to deserve us and what is the on wheel of karma as it rolls towards and then over us?
fog of war tells the truth as far as i can see it.
how much better we would have been off had the truman idea of supporting wars of liberation in the early 50’s against the european powers rather than beginning in iran by setting up the shah and the carrying the british around with us pigging back.
an excellent book to read if you have not -- the cousins wars by kevin phillips


[Fwd: 12-26-04]


Sun, 26 Dec 2004 14:19:36 -0600


Dan Schneider

I’ve not read that book, but I like Phillips. In a sense, he’s sort of what Nixon would have been had he not been a paranoid. Save for Watergate and Vietnam (Yes, I know it’s a big leap), he might have been a great President, but someone with his domestic agenda would have as much of a chance as getting the Rep nom these days as I would not getting VD in a Calcutta brothel. He’s a very practicable man, and veers from either extreme. Of course, he’s reviled on the Right, now, but I figure if the Left and Right are both pissed off you’re doing something right (in the ethical sense).   DAN

  Kempton’s point on Truman is one I made to Esmay re: the lost Kurds in all this humanitarian talk. It continued with my reply to Kempton’s points below:


Re: 12-26-04.1


Sun, 26 Dec 2004 19:16:54 -0600


Dan Schneider


Ruth & Karl Kempton

  Oh yeah, I think Nixon prob did win in ‘60. In fact, there’s some controversy that either in Miss. or Alabama he may also have won, save for some shenanigans, & frankly Gore was just as troubling, to me, as Bush. Bush, at least, you pretty much knew what you were getting. Gore always struck me as a viper, an opportunist, and well, many other things.
  I don’t know if Phillips is still overseas cuz he’s been a semi-regular on the PBS Bill Moyers show NOW. What ifs are fascinating. I was just thinking today what if Japan had not Pearl Harbored us. With a year or 2 more entenchment we may have been left Fortress America against a Nazi Europe and Imperial Asia.
  But, as it relates to this fellow’s support for Vietnam, what amazes me is the selective use of information. For example, he argues Ho Chi Minh was a KGB agent. Well, I’ll go further- he was a Soviet toady- but it’s beside the point since it’s well documented that Ho went panhandling about the world looking for sponsors for decades. The US didn’t trust him- he was a wildcard, and this is bolstered by the fact that the very Soviet files this Dean fellow quotes also revealed that the Soviets failed several times to assassinate Ho because he was too independent! They wd have loved 1 of his underlings to take him out. Which only supports the notion that he was not a true Commie. Now, I grant- he was a powerhungry dictator- a murderer and liar. But he was ours for the taking. We just didn’t think him reliable- ala the Shah, or Marcos. And, of course, he blames the Left for those slaughtered in the pullout in Vietnam, and doesn’t acknowledge that w/o us they’d not have lasted till the Tet Offensive! Nor is the Right to blame for the massive atrocities committed by the South, nor those of any of our toadies. I condemn the Far Left for their support of Stalinist dictatorships, but he, and the Right refuse to acknowledge that our boys were as bad. Castro & Che were scum, but Batista was just as bad. But he was our boy, and this is a regrettable pattern in US history.
  Unfortunately I suspect that at best Iraq will end up a mess we barely escape from ala McKinley's Philippines War, & at worst will be another Vietnam, if lucky. Unfortunately I don’t think Bush and Rumsfeld are up to snuff w LBJ and McNamara, and Vietnam was alot less complex!
  Those same Soviet files also exonerate Alger Hiss, yet something tells me that this fellow would claim that that’s not reliable. Again, very selective.

  The Hiss point is one worth stressing, because the Right will not admit that the evidence against Hiss was suspect, his accuser a known liar with a known motive (money owed) and a possible motive (his homosexual desires) to lie, and that Soviet files exonerated Hiss, after the USSR fell, when documents used to discredit them were made public. Like with McNamara, the post-fall Russian government had no reason NOT to implicate Hiss if he was guilty. As for Ho Chi Minh? He was shopping around for backers of his revolution for decades. If he were a true Communist why did his ‘Communist Revolution’ turn its back on Communism so soon after getting power, why did both the Soviets and Red Chinese distrust the man, and long for him removed? Why did Truman distrust him? Because he was a Nationalist who would use and sell out others to achieve that end- the Communists saw him as an ingrate! This is the Occam’s Razor answer. To deny that is to willfully ignore the release of decades of further information

  Not to mention his bizarre habit of tossing racism charges about after charging the Left in doing so, and grousing about it. And not recognizing the major role of oil- mind boggling. Remove the oil and Saddam is Suharto, circa 1976- a guy we have an embassy with, and grit our teeth when the annual human rights reports come out.
  I made a point that a philosopher made- I cannot recall who- about the what if China fell off the earth, and it’s worth making, and interesting he, or no one else replied to. Not that I think that someone who wd admit to not being distressed about is inhumane, but we screen out such. The news reports thousands dead in Indonesia from a tsunami. Do I care? Certainly. Would I give some $ or canned food if I saw a Red Cross volunteer? Yes. But I, and I suspect anyone w/o a direct tie to the event, who wd claim to lose sleep over this, is lying. A few days go by, more tragedies accumulate, some idiot backs into your car, your cousin has a tumor, your co. announces there may be layoffs, and suddenly the Chinese, or Indonesians are lost, as if they never were. This is why I always find it very suspect when folk like him invest enormous emotions into events years gone by, on things they know little of- or even when he claims to be offended by the racial humor of black comedians. It seems silly at best, and utterly disingenuous, at worst.
  Of course, many Leftists take such admissions as the fact that I’m a coldhearted bastard, yet on my site I’ve several paeans to a lost cat I loved. If I could have that cat back I’d give almost anything. Wd I trade her return, a being that gave me love, for those abstracted dead Chinese- many of whom were bastards, adulterers, con men, murderers, and recreants? I guess, but it wd not be a slam dunk, and I think the same wd be true for most folk. Wd you give up you wife for the 10,000 or so dead Indonesians. That I can answer- unequivocally no. But, I’m human, and realize no Indonesian wd do the same for me, or Texans wiped off the globe.
I don’t know why it gnaws at me, however slightly. Perhaps it’s just end of the year accumulated frustrations w joblessness, and such nonsense being the last feather on the camel's back? Anyway, thanks for putting up w it.  DAN

Ruth & Karl Kempton wrote:

we will never know what nixon could have been. most do not realize nixon won in 60 except that -- in daley chicago -- vote early and often, and so they did -- and in texas -- the dead vote, and so they did. nixon did not contest; thot country would not have survived the scandal. so, 2000 was just the law of unintended consequences returning the favor.
phillips finished the book in late 90’s in england. he left the country disgusted with his party’s action against clinton. i feel his book outlines more than any other how we got to where we are again as a divided nation. all 3 english speakers¹ civil wars fought by the same 2 groups against each other.
had nixon won in 60, there may never have been a republican southern strategy -- in great part put together by phillips himself -- and now i am sure much to his chagrin, again the law of unintended consequences -- eventually leading to the polarity we now face. and, doctor strange love would not have been in position for head of national security in 60.
but, here we are with the nation at war where it never should have been unless of course one supports the politics of The Rapture and the oil necessary for its candles. and as one of the many consequences, the nation slowly and then not so slowly sinks in the financial whirlpool of debt with no unloading of the ideas of lead sinking it.
meanwhile our oil companies supported by our army and the chinese pave the silk road with caspian sea asphault. for guard rails placed on one side the oil pipeline and the other the gas pipline all the way to shanghai.

karl kempton

  Then, another emailer emailed about the Dalrymple article, about Islam, which prompted this go-round:


Re: 12-27-04


Tue, 28 Dec 2004 08:38:37 -0600


Dan Schneider


Ruth & Karl Kempton

Well, yeah. No article is gonna touch on all the points of a complex thing like a faith, anymore than it could on chaos theory. It’s odd, because in recent years there’s been talk of a scientific basis for why religion sticks with us- why God, or gods, are still given plausibility over leprechauns or fairies or ghosties, yet little ever seems to come of such inquiries- see the gay brain, or any of the so-called ‘new  diseases’ like ADHD or autism that curiously seem amorphous blobs w no basis in reality. To me the problem is too many folk want to avoid reality- be it w booze, drugs, religion, fantasy lives based on Lord Of The Rings or Harry Potter. Of course, life can suck- my last 3 years have not been joyful, but I’m better off than those tsunami victims.
  To me being able to see life clearly, having no fear in acknowledging error- I’ve changed my opinion on the Iraq War, death penalty, and lesser issues, when an argument’s suasion, or greater information, or plain old reality intrudes. I’ll be posting a review this weekend of a book by Dick Proenneke- called Alone In The Wilderness, where in the 60s he went up to Alaska to live alone and build a cabin. Now, I’m not advocating Walden for all, but his writing is straightforward, unadorned, yet laced with wonderful bon mots of an existentialist sort- it’s well beyond religion or politics- 2 of the most base human endeavors in my book. If you can’t find his book online cheaply look to see if a show called ‘Alone In The Wilderness’ comes on- it’s a filmic doc about his time alone, narrated by him years later. It’s quite remarkable in a bare bones way. Its greatest quality is that he has a remarkable clarity of vision- not that he’s dreamily idealistic, but I suspect folk of all stripes cd relate to it. He died last year at 86, but folk like him are those I enjoy meeting.  DAN

Ruth & Karl Kempton wrote:

dan --

did not mean to imply phillips remained in england -- tho after nov 2 he may have returned. he left in late 90’s to complete the book as the main puritan resources were there.
the islamic mess is much deeper and more complicated than expresst by theo. his ice skating tho is basically on the right track it seems to me from a quick glance.
don’t have time to respond tho i do have considerable study time regarding islam and its sufis except to say -- the political model set down was by omar not mohammed who failed to point out the next leader and hence the split between ali and omar. omar won and made an empire out of what was to be a religion and way of life. that was ali’s hope and attempt.


  I’ve no doubt that the bulk of non-Deaniacs and non-Cosmoetes would agree that I won the arguments I had with Esmay, even if they think my facts wrong, for a Buckleyan grace and wit, and on-target focus. And I suspect that the far greater sin to Esmay re: his need to toss spurious racism charges at me or Willis is that we both beat him dialectically. That he lost both go-rounds is far worse than our ‘dissing’ of him re: my Tourette’s comment or Willis calling him a racist.

  But, let me give you a small sample of what passes for discourse outside of Cosmoetica. And, again, I apologize for the length of this essay, but, as I have before, in unraveling the myths re: the JFK Assassination and UFO Abduction tales it is necessary to sometimes go the detailed route- especially when many wanton charges of selective editing or decontextualizing are hurled, although I’m sure Esmay, Willis, and others will charge the same, nonetheless, if they disagree- which is likely.

  Let me start with a random sampling of some of Esmay’s thoughts on other matters. In this post he thinks Iran-Contra and a President’s subversion of the law and Constitution are not really important- talk about revisionism! I guess if you can get away with it it’s alright. Nixon’s only real crime, of course, was getting caught, by this logic. The truth is that Iran-Contra was, along with Watergate, perhaps one of the two worst scandals in American history, for both presented Constitutional crises, which sought to place the Executive Branch above the other two, by flouting the Constitution. Reagan got away with it, because the country was perceived as doing ok, then, the press loved him, and Reagan was a doddering old, fool, while Nixon had an economic mess, the Vietnam quagmire, was loathed by the press, and was perceived as a hateful, bitter man. Quoth Esmay:

Most Presidents seem to tread water after re-election. This one obviously has a highly aggressive agenda. It should be interesting to watch. But I’m betting Miniter is right. The Iran-Contra “scandal” looks pretty dumb in retrospect: an effort to defy Congress, free some hostages in Iran, and defeat a murderous communist dictator in Nicaragua was hardly the worst thing a President could possibly do, and most people knew perfectly well that it was well-intentioned and not “corrupt.”

  Had he ended before the colon his assessment would have been correct. Reagan’s flouting of the law was dumb- an example of Presidential hubris not seen since FDR’s attempt to pack the Supreme Court (excepting Nixon’s follies). Yet, this incredible acceptance of Iran-Contra as justifiable- because we went against a murderous dictator, of course, ignores the fact that the Contras were as bad, or worse. As with South Vietnam, Esmay seems willing to accept doing business with genocidalists and mass murderers, as long as they support us- the same rationale that created the Ugly American stereotype in the first place.

  In another post Esmay takes on two more dubious positions- questioning the AIDS link to HIV, as well the fact that global warming in recent decades has a human source. He tries to play moderate, but the HIV claims are from highly dubious sources, and many of his own fans task him hard on it, and while global temperatures change through history the fact that the last few decades coincide with the most severe global, not local, temperature changes in over 10,000 years is, as many climatologists have said, either due to human factors, or the greatest coincidence in recorded history. Methinks Esmay is one of those folk who prefers the euphemism ‘climate change’ to ‘global warming’, and all the political baggage that entails.

  Yet, just when it seems he’s dismissible as a Right Wing shill posing as a moderate he can come up with some cogent insights, such as this piece on ex-Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, even modulating potentially sticky issues:

The south isn’t the heart of racism in America. Indeed, I’m not sure it really ever was. Because while legal segregation may have existed there 30 years ago, de facto segregation, and racial violence every bit as bad and worse, has always happened in the north. De facto segregation was a way of life in all of America for 200 years, whether there were Jim Crow laws making it happen or not. In fact, a lot of people have pointed out that under Jim Crow, at least there were clear signs for what was and was not allowed, and everybody knew where they stood. In some place like New York, or Chicago, there were no such laws, no such clear lines. Which just meant that if you stepped out of line, your first clue might just be your fellow citizens beating the crap out of you. 

  A bit of a reach in dismissing the South’s racism of the Confederacy, but still with enough salient points to get you to ponder. Now, on to the piece that got Willis so steamed:

Black People: Aren't They Annoying?

So here’s a question for my white (and other) readers: Have you ever noticed how annoying black people can be?

I mean, seriously. Just admit it: sometimes black folks, they get on your nerves. You want to be all “color doesn't matter” and you want to be all “that nasty crap is in the past” and so on and so forth. You also want to sit there saying, “well I don’t discriminate!” and “I don’t care about color!” and all that. But come on, you big fat liars. Tell the truth.

Black people: don’t they annoy you sometimes?

Tell me all about it. I dare you, you cowards. Come clean. Sometimes, aren’t they annoying?

* Update * My God. Have you ever noticed what total wussies most white people are? I asked this question two hours ago and all I get is “hahahaha you're so funny Dean!” and “are you sure you want to ask this?” responses.

* Update 2 * My wife just walked in on me and said, “Are you sure you want to ask this question? Are you crazy?” To which my answer is: YES! Come on, you fishbelly-white, narrow-nosed, thin-lipped jerkoffs. What are you afraid of? What, will God smite you for speaking your mind? Do you really think race relations can get better in America if you don’t honestly say what you think?


  Notice there’s no modulation until twice stating imperatives re: black people- and once in large, bold type, and his attempts to explain himself here and in the posts bomb. Over the months Esmay has tried to state that he was asking an important question- i.e.- along the lines that aren’t ‘some’ black people assholes, and ‘why can’t I say that without being accused of racism?’ Of course, his initial raming of the query as an imperative, and all inclusive, Black People: Aren’t They Annoying?, fails by painting with a broad brush. Were not Esmay’s penchant for just totally wacky ideas, and off the wall tirades not well documented one might write that off as an attempt to be anti-PC cool. But, it’s not. I can accept that Esmay is not, on the whole, a racist, but the very asking of the query, its ill phrasing, and his retrenchment when called on it, make it plain that such thoughts do float about Esmay’s mind, and the initial statement is, indeed, racist on its face.

  But, just as Esmay is ill-informed, and makes some dumb, and demonstrably false, statements on Vietnam or the Iraq War, that just makes his statements dumb- not him. But, this is where the Tourette’s thing rears its head, again. There is clearly something ‘not right’ with a grown man who will make this sort of post, in all seriousness, and then not only not see its folly, but lash out bitterly at those who do- even granting that many of the responses are knee-jerk PC pabulum.

  An Esmay fan posts:

Two questions:
1. Are you trolling right now?
2. Did you perchance get stuck behind a Black person at the grocery store checkout for 30 minutes, the same person you saw and heard in the theater earlier that day? Did you see him again in the store parking lot? Did his stereo, playing gangsta rap, drown out your own, just when you were enjoying the loud part of the 1812 Overture?
I mean, hypothetically speaking, of course. 8.23.2004 4:47pm

  Another rejoinders:

  Dean’s trolling at his own blog. You’re gonna get banned if you’re not careful, Dean. 8.23.2004 4:53pm

  To such Esmay responds with no wit, no admission of his ill phrasing, and, instead, blames his readership- many of whom are trying to give him the benefit of the doubt:

How sad.
Most white people are laughing nervously and can’t even answer this question.
How sad that I can’t even ask this question, eh? 8.23.2004 4:56pm

  Of course, the query was asked, but the point he sought unmade, for his own failure to phrase it well. It just sounds stupid. If there were specifics it would be less racist sounding. To which he only compounds his error with this post’s ending in a Tourette’s like rage:

It is the nature of life that a wife complains that her husband is spending too much time in the garage. God ordained it this way.
Now, is it just my imagination that every white person who has commented on this post has done little but laugh nervously, and there are no black respondents at all?
Answer to the question, you pathetic white cowards!  8.23.2004 5:31pm

  Hardly a way to win converts. Not long afterward, Willis joined the fray with his own comments:

Stupid Things and the Stupid People Who Say Them

Via Michael Demmons, I found this entry by Dean Esmay asking “Black People: Aren’t They Annoying?”

Just admit it: sometimes black folks, they get on your nerves. You want to be all “color doesn’t matter” and you want to be all “that nasty crap is in the past” and so on and so forth. You also want to sit there saying, “well I don’t discriminate!” and “I don’t care about color!” and all that.

Now, I’m usually the first to upbraid black people who want to blame white America for their bad place in life. I have always preached that black America’s best way up is within their own communities and not via the great white father. But even more annoying are white people (and people of other races) who like to pretend that racism is something we killed long ago in the mid-‘70s (this seems to be the ageed upon time where racism died). It isn’t true. America is far from being colorblind in almost every segment of society.

It isn’t even the complex things. Try going into a department store without being regarded as either poor (“You know how expensive that is, right?”) or a criminal. Or people assuming that blacks are only good for entertaining, but can’t be taken seriously as political leaders or corporate chieftains. Neither major political party would nominate someone that’s black right now for president because it would be suicide - not for their stances on the issues but because of the color of their skin. But people are just supposed to ignore that and assume all is well because you don’t personally happen to be racist? That would be just as bad as a man like myself telling a woman not to worry her pretty little head because we solved all that sex discrimination nonsense and women get paid the same as men. She would have every right to assume that I didn’t “get it”.


  Note Willis’s point- a good one, and the difference in tone, and breadth of awareness, on the subject. Yet, he quotes Esmay’s qualified statement as well as the unqualified on, but only deals with the unqualified one.


So Dean seems to want to back out of his stupid statement by saying the following later on:

Nowadays, guys like Dave Chapelle are making themselves rich on racist humor. That really gets to me. They’re paying Chapelle millions of dollars, and that’s all the man does: cracks racist jokes. Whenever he comes on the TV, I want to cover my son’s eyes, because I don’t want my boy watching that horrible racist crap.

Which makes me think that Dean has never actually watched Chapelle, or if he has he doesn't get it. Chapelle’s humor, and why its so smart, is that if you ridicule all the races it points out the absurdity of those biases in the first place. But it looks like Dean doesn’t get it at all.

  BINGO! This is what a sciolist does- when confronted with their lack they blame others and refuse to retract, and make grandiose pronouncements, and construct Byzantine excuses for their failures.

Personally, I find the black comedians on shows like Def Comedy Jam unfunny and insulting because their sets consist of “Aren’t white people weird, they do everything wrong?”. Chapelle doesn’t do that, and a cursory glance at his work would show that. But black people are “annoying”, right?


  And Willis is right- I’ve only seen Chappelle a few times and he’s not racist, he makes fun of racism, by using its constructs. Anti-racist humor often sounds racist to whites who resent blacks taking classically white power terms, and de-fanging them, because they wish they could make fun of things the same way as the black comics do, without paying a price, yet not realizing the price black humor pays to say what it says is the day-to-day trials of miniscule racist acts that most whites never contemplate, much less deal with. Esmay clearly tries to divert attention from his bizarre rant, by placing the blame elsewhere, yet his lack of humor kyboshes that, as well. Esmay’s wife, even, posts on Willis’s board and admits she finds Chappelle funny.

  Called out on the carpet, Esmay roars back:

Seriously, I can’t stop laughing. Especially at the thought of what a pampered, privileged little suburbanite like Oliver thinks he knows about racism. Kid, you’re nothing but a spoiled brat.

  I suspect Esmay’s laughter is nervous, because we’ve clearly seen in the comments in the linked posts, and his rage at me, that Willis’s, and others’, opinions- especially negative- mean something to Esmay, lest they would roll off his back. The truer a comment is, it seems, the angrier the retort becomes, because it means a mask has been pierced, and a feeling of violation sets in. Esmay then charges Willis with being a race hustler and assails his family, as vengeance for being called a racist, although- on the face of it- Esmay’s posts are far more easily and reasonably seen as racist, if not their utterer, than Willis’s comments as portraying a spoiled brat.

  An Esmay poster weighs in:

I emailed Dean my thoughts on this the other night through his site. I hoped he'd post them, which he didn't so since I still have them in the Email Box I'll post them now.
Is it just my imagination that every white person who has commented on this post has done little but laugh nervously, and there are no black respondents at all?
What's your point here Dean?
1) That some black people are annoying or rude?
2) That you can criticize anyone but black people?
3) That you're angry at your lot and your pissed at black people getting breaks from Affirmative Action?
4) That white people are cowards and you’re not?
5) That you’re simply angry and want to pick a fight?
Do you actually think you’re providing a “service” to people?
Do you not think that you don’t come off as an angry hateful person? especially the comments you left at Oliver’s site?
I’m not interested in “black people” isn’t that pretty stupid?
And while you mention that black people can critique white people you forgot to mention how well they criticize themselves as well?
Ever watch Chris Rock?
Listen to Bill Cosby recently lay out Tavis Smiley?
So is your big point that black people can kid around about white people but seriously mocking black people by a white person is out of bounds? I don’t think it is as much as it used to be. And are some black people really hateful bigots that utilize that to their advantage? SURE....
but your big BEEF is that you can’t gleefully mock black people? As if black comedians kidding around about the way white people dance is such a BIIIIGGGGG DEAL?
If that is really a ‘problem’ for you than you have some other real serious issues would be my guess.

  The poster nails an important point, here. Plus he is seemingly being honest, at least as much as Esmay is, which Esmay wants, except Esmay would likely accuse him of dishonesty, as easily he would others of racism, or other ‘offenses’. Esmay seems to want to be able to say things like his initial post, and seem funny, and resents it not being seen that way, oblivious- conveniently and selectively, since he goes into race in detail elsewhere- to history, and his own microscopic sense of humor.

And don’t get me wrong I can’t stand the over the top PC shit that comes out of the MSM, NY Times etc.. especially the way they still say that Jesse Jackson was on the porch when MLK was shot even though they know its FALSE....
Sure its bullshit that the main black leaders are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and unfortunate. And I get angry at the far left racism, hatred and sexism particularly on the black far left wing radio stations....
But just making a post “how annoying are black people” is not only ignorant and hateful and belies a deep resentment from you but its poorly constructed, unless that was your purposeful intent to try and provoke a fight....
Look I don’t know if you’re racist or not... or if you’re a ““great guy”” who’s just angry for some reason or another the way things are handled that you feel are unfair....
and I’m not interested in comparing life resumes....

  A good point since Esmay often rails about his ‘hard life’ as a way to show he ‘gets it’- whatever the it may be at the moment.

but this post not only is ignorant and does you no service but it also is a sad way to make any type of point you may actually want to make... if at all there was one.
Also, its ironic that you note how poor your lot has been while admiring others, hasn’t that been the basis for the left’s class war as well as what fascist and communists used in Europe as reasons to have a “revolution” and blame someone else in the case of Nazism.
Mike  9.3.2004 11:06am

  This is a great point, because, as I’ve shown, Esmay uses the very techniques of the Far Left- in hurling racism charges where none exist. He far too often becomes his enemy- giving credence to his ignorance of the old ‘choose your enemies well’ idea.

Let me add that your comments on Oliver’s site were particularly ignorant and idiotic. They make you look a fool who doesn’t even think out what he writes.
I don’t know the history here.
Oliver may be a smug little prick.
But instead of you invoking a harangued statement that ‘would reveal’ underlying anger and/or racism from him -
He did the exact thing from you.

Mike  9.3.2004 11:13am

  Mike hits the nail on the head, and the reason why blogs exist: so bloggers can get their Warholic 15 minutes of fame. And this poster nails the real source of Esmay’s anger at Willis- Willis whipped him, as I did. As did this poster.

  Yet, Esmay’s retort, which is long- so I’ll only give a sample, is laced with the same sorts of anger and emotion over reason that he displayed in my restrained exchange with him.

Do you not think that you don’t come off as an angry hateful person? especially the comments you left at Oliver’s site?

I stand by, word for word, every single word I left on Oliver’s site--not one word of which was racist, hateful, or angry.
Indeed, every word of it was quite correct. So why are you angry about any of it? What part of it was wrong? Can you factually challenge any of it? What is angry about any of it?
Or does it make you angry when people voice certain uncomfortable truths?

  The poster’s point was it was Esmay who laid the ‘case’ on the table, revealed no truths, and revealed his anger- the poster did not, even as Esmay charges him with such. Recall, Esmay’s initial, BOLD, truth was ‘Black People: Aren’t They Annoying?’- a sweeping generalization if there ever was one, even if one were to agree with it out of ignorance or racism. Note, in many of the Esmay posts and retorts that, contrary to my, Willis’s, or this and other posters’ points, it is Esmay who makes the sweeping generalizations, then ducks from specifics.

Race issues are raw, but they’re real. What’s so scary about a white boy speaking about them openly? Hmm?
Go on. Tell me which parts were wrong. Tell me which parts were ignorant and hateful.  9.3.2004 12:13pm

  Note, again, aside from sciolism and anger, it is Esmay’s utter lack of humor, especially when challenged, that damns his arguments, and he ends too many posts with LBJ-like dick-waving.

  Another poster brilliantly exposes Esmay’s semantic folly by putting up a Jewish version of Esmay’s post (with humor), and esmay still does not get it, nor its relation to his original post. Then the poster nails Esmay to the wall, and Esmay grudgingly admits to some of his folly, after this tattooing:

See, you have to consider the source. It’s not always the real intent behind the words, but rather the perceived intent, that matters. And are you honestly telling me that in the political climate that exists right now, you don’t expect people to be on a hair-trigger with regard to already-sensitive issues? Even in the best of times, a question like yours coming from a (de facto) Republican would not be well received. And considering the way Oliver, specifically, gets treated by most of the right-wing bloggers, is it really all that surprising that he would react to you in the way he did?
All that being said, I do think his response came off as hysterical, hyperbolic, and way over the line with the accusations. Nothing you said indicated “irrational anger” to me; if anything, Oliver and some of his commenters seemed a bit irrational on thise issue. Then again, I’m not black, so I’ve never been treated with automatic suspicion based on the color of my skin.
Still, even if I think you do go in way too much for the poor white victim thing, I really don’t think you're a racist at all. A rather mean-spirited right-wing internet repeater cell at times, yes. But not a racist, and that’s something. The point of my post was not to call you one, so I’m sorry you interpreted it that way. It was intended only to offer you a view of the matter from a slightly different angle (insensitive comments directed at a group with whom you seemed likely to have more sympathy), in the hope that it might lead to some degree of improvement in your understanding of Oliver’s position.
I guess that’s kind of my point here, Dude. It’s not what you meant to say, it’s what people think you meant to say that counts. The Chinaman is not the issue.

  This goes back to my initial poor phrasing of the Tourette’s issue. As germane as it probably is to some of Esmay’s tendencies, he read it as nothing but a cheap shot and an attack- as if I’d childishly called him fatso, or four-eyes, or the like. It’s his very inability to see some things one way, then not see when others make the same errors, that make Esmay- in many ways- such an interesting blogger to dissect, above many others, for he is rife with glaring contradictions, and far more interesting than all but a few other dozen bloggers I’ve come across.

  For example, it’s interesting to note that Esmay likes black comedians Bernie Mac and Sinbad- from the more ‘subservient school’ of black comedy. These are less cutting edge and more conservative comics who have been dismissed by many hip hoppers as ‘Toms’. Thirty years ago this would mean Esmay’d find Bill Cosby funny and Richard Pryor a racist- yet now, there’s little question Pryor is the guy younger comics, of all stripes, look up to- because he was the one fearlessly talking and joking about race, something Esmay prides himself on- but only, it seems, when he does it, or you agree with him. Otherwise, like Dave Chappelle, you’re a racist. This makes Esmay at worst hypocritical, or at best, granting he’s just not a humorous guy, ‘not with it’, or stolid. That he labels others racist, so easily, and with so little evidence, yet bristles when the term is used against him, by strangers whose opinions on his person should be nil, shows he’s not nearly as sensitive nor knowledgeable about race as he thinks. Why the rages at stranger’s comments? Why the hypersensitivity, if not a feeling that there’s a truth to the charge, an insecurity in his belief system? Esmay has not, to my knowledge, ever met Willis, nor any of his other detractors, nor me, so why the personalizing both of what is said about, and from, him? The Occam’s Razor is that there are unresolved issues, a fragile détente re: race issues, borne out by his discomfiture. This fits neatly with the definition of a sciolist.

  Of course, his attack on Willis’s person did not go without notice. Willis shot back, ending with this: 


So that’s how I was “spoiled” and my experience with people’s racism.

Today I’ll swap paychecks with you any day of the week since it’s a damn good bet you make a lot more than I do.

I work at a nonprofit. What I know about my field I learned by teaching myself, all thanks to the fact that every weekend my mother took me to the library or a museum, situations where we were often the only black faces around for miles.

     Anyway, pampered, privileged little race-hustler Oliver owes me an apology.

I wish I were pampered and priveleged. It would have made life a lot easier for my mom. If we had piles of money, maybe she wouldnt have had to work so hard. But on the flip side, I’ve often told my mom that many people I know, with much more money than my mom ever had, never had as good a childhood as my mom gave me. Furthermore, people that call others “race hustlers” without any facts to back it up, and make stupid statements about what black people should and shouldn’t act like -- without living a day as any sort of minority - should just be scorned, shut up, and talk about what you know.


  Of course, both Deaniacs and Willis supporters jumped in. This post, on a blog called Rogue Angel, tries to point out that Esmay is a racist who makes some points, the inverse of my assessment- that he’s not a racist, per se, merely prone to ignorant postures and dumb, not well-phrased, statements. Esmay then proves my point, in retort to Rogue Angel:


I’ve dated a couple of black women, and let me tell you one thing I saw: white people, they were cool with it. Black people: they looked daggers at us. Now why is that?

My son’s best friend has a white mother and a black father. Do I care? Nope. But a lot of black people seem to.


  Note, how close Esmay’s opening is to the old ‘some of my best friends are’ trope. Had someone else done this Esmay would have called them on it.


What if my boy married himself a black girl? Would I be upset? Nope. I’d be worried about people treating them like dirt though. And you know who the people would be who’d treat him like dirt? Dirty little secret: it mostly wouldn’t be white people doing that.

I keep asking and no one is answering: what, word for word, give it to me, tell me honest and tell me true, what exactly is racist about anything I've said so far?

Or is the scary part that a white boy is just saying this shit out loud?


  In retort, I’ve dated and fucked a few black babes- so? Here’s where Esmay’s cognitive break is: I got stares from both sides, and Asians, Latinos, and others- from some of them. Most people didn’t give a shit- humans are notoriously self-centered. The implication is that a few incidents on dates can be extrapolated out to a theory of culture, rather than particulars of a time, area, group, or individuals. It would not shock me that Esmay probably did garner stares from others than black folk, but the black folks’ stares may have stuck with him longer, for they were more unsettling, for some reason, than those from ‘strange’ whites. But, even granting his version as true- it’s not enough to base a theory on, no more than finding a genuine black rapist of a white woman in Mississippi a hundred years ago would prove that all black men were insatiable sex maniacs.

  As for sweeping statements- they don’t come more broad than ‘And you know who the people would be who’d treat him like dirt? Dirty little secret: it mostly wouldn’t be white people doing that.’ Again, another palpably dumb comment, but not necessarily racist, and while that, again, does not mean Esmay is dumb in toto, this comment certainly is dumb. And he has a bevy of them, as I’ve displayed. Just as supporting the Iraq War is now a dumb thing that some intelligent people do.

  Another blogger called the Raving Atheist, whom Esmay banned from his site after claiming he was Anti-Christian, weighed in on Esmay’s confusing thoughts re: religion, and his bizarre props for the notoriously racist Bob Jones University while then labeling columnist Maureen Dowd a racist- see a pattern here? The racism charge is one that white men, nowadays, seem to get off on, as a reverse sort of dick-measuring game.

  That devolved into another blogger, August J. Pollak ripping in to Esmay in a most unproductive manner:

You’re a racist, Dean. You have an irrational, illogical hatred of blacks and you are dangerously angry about it. You are angry about being called on it because, like most racists, you know your thinking is wrong but you want to comfort yourself in your pathetic blanket of the poor, working-class white man.

  Yet, Esmay is demonstrably not a hard racist, at least from his blogging; he has some biases here and there, and misconstrues alot, but the bigger problem is he lacks a good sense of humor, selectively chooses what he will believe, even as it clashes with other things that are logical outgrowths of the first belief, is too thin-skinned, and does to others what he accuses of them- namely falsely hurling racism charges, and others. How this helps discourse is a mystery, except that one might legitimately ask of me why would I antithetically expect discourse to go well on a blog?

  Yet, Pollak’s ideas do nothing to further the conversation, either. In fact, they inflame it, and this makes the sciolist in Esmay dig in deeper, and shut down to rational argument. It also makes him assume a paranoid stance, that others are smearing him, even if they point out his argument’s flaws, and it enables him to rationalize and assume the worst stereotypes of others’ opinions. That is, because the Left’s opinions of Vietnam have been borne out by history, and I and many former Vietnam War supporters now recognize that, therefore I must buy into all the other assumptions of the Left. Yet, this does not explain my opinion on the death penalty, nor my agreement with Esmay on Che Guevara. My positions are wholly consistent, yet Esmay’s damning of Che is not something, I believed, based on facts, but supported by facts- and there’s a difference. Esmay reveals his sciolism here. He has, via his many posts, shown he had a predisposition against Che, and the facts support his conclusion, yet the facts of mass murderous thuggery are also indisputable re: South Vietnam’s government, yet he will not go there, because the facts rip at his predisposition that they were good and the North evil, rather than the reality that we chose one evil over the other.

  I have no such emotional investment in most ideas, unlike Esmay, and this allows me to rise above such failed dialectic. This is something most people cannot do. There seems to be an almost cathartic feel that white guys like Pollak and Esmay get in feeling privileged in accusing others of racism, especially other white guys as themselves, yet it only cheapens the discourse and the real threat of real racism. Yet, it’s likely that blogs do not exist to serve to better discourse, merely act as Norman Mailer-like ‘Advertisements For Myself’ for the blogger, as a few have become pseudo-celebrities. Much as Mailer does, and I’ve seen him in debates, including some with Bill Buckley, Esmay- and most bloggers, to be fair- will only civilly discourse if you accept their presuppositions. Of course, this is like agreeing to a chess match, yet forfeiting your rooks, bishops and queen.

  I’ve also shown that Esmay will easily toss out unprovable accusations, even as he rails against the same charged against him. Then, when demanding an apology, he ignores it, or dismisses it, in favor of a grovel he feels he’s owed, even as he will not admit even error, nor apologize to those he lashes out at. This seriously undermines his contention that an apology will do. This suggests that Esmay is a classic talker, not walker, as in, ‘talk the talk or walk the walk’. Even my Kid Gloves approach to his sciolism could not evince good discourse.

  This mindset against discourse included such techniques as far-fetched an untenable comparisons that I easily dismissed, such as thinking I was supporting totalitarianism because I do not think that America is the end all and be all of the human experience. This is done to discredit by association, but it rarely works. I do not use it.

  Esmay cannot even amicably agree to disagree with dissenters. He seems to revel in the shouting matches with those 180° from him, and the coddling of those mild dissenters he can ‘shape up’ or ‘whip back into line’, but disciplined, reasoned, informed, and calm dissent also drives him batty.

  And, again, there is the disturbing tendency to overreact and utterly personalize comments from the ether. Why should Esmay care whether Willis, or the many others who have called him a racist do so? If he truly knows he is not it should not bother him in the least. Yet, it manifestly gnaws at him. As far as I know none of the dissenters, nor Willis, have been harassing him outside his blog, and Esmay has not claimed so, so there is absolutely no reason to personalize such a thing. Had Willis sent Esmay a computer virus, or the like, he might have reason, but words are just that. Yet, Esmay revels in hurling racism charges, especially against other whites. This might explain his willful marginalization of himself as a poor white boy, much as many on the Left do. His background may inform his opinions, but as seen above, in his argument about dating blacks, it offers no surety that logic will outflow.

  In counterpoint, like Willis, or Esmay’s other detractors, I do not know him personally, and will likely never meet him, so I have no reason to personalize an attack on me, such as being called racist, because I know it’s not true, even if I had no way to prove its fallacy. But, I do have a way, and have shown, rather easily, that it’s a) false in its specific context, b) false in the whole of our exchange, c) false in general, and d) coming from a personal cipher to my existence, utterly impotent as a way to rile me. Yet this is not true with Esmay, suggesting that the conditions I recognize are not at ease within him- thus he invests a portion of his ‘self’ into what should be a depersonalized argument. Yet, his ‘take offense’ gambit failed, ala the old ‘my mother’s a saint’ tack.

  When the attempt to raise the discourse above partisanship, to a mere dispassioned examination of facts, is offered, it is rejected, with the proviso that a dumb/smart rationale is inherently incendiary- even though it’s only offered on opinions. That’s because Esmay, and most others, cannot separate themselves from their ideas. In fact, it seems, he cannot even conceive of that paradigm. He finds offense in the least offensive things, much as the PC Left he condemns, an enemy he chose not well. It’s easy to find offense if you go looking to be offended. Yet, re: Iraq, the smart/dumb ideal is the truest test, evidenced by the fact that many Conservatives have joined Liberals in condemning the War’s folly, as they have the Patriot Act, and runaway spending under Bush. As stated, Iraq was a war of choice, and one that has been so far bungled due to mismanagement at the top. None of the other reasons for invasion, besides WMDs, alone nor together, had the heft nor cogency of WMDs, and to state otherwise is to blatantly alter history. Esmay knows this as well as I, or you, my reader.

  To me it seems apparent that Esmay has lost perspective, and subscribes to a form of American Exceptionalism. I would state it’s a mild form, not the rabid, reactionary, and often racist Manifest Destiny sort, but he still seems to believe that America’s activities, no matter how nefarious, are justified if there is an enemy agent involved- be it in Vietnam or Iraq. He also, as above, seems loath to genuine criticism, much against the Theodore Rooseveltian ideal of an informed American Public debate. The problem is that while Esmay may indeed be able to control the baser impulses of such a belief system, writ large, in American foreign policy, such hubris has had devastating costs throughout the centuries. As for the very basis of the American Exceptionalism, an argument with a Swede, Dutchman, or a Canadian might be enlightening, for they could, with justification, claim that for every stated American superiority, they have one of their own.

  As for Vietnam, I feel like the Alvy Singer character did in Annie Hall, where a sciolist behind him in a movie line is going on and on about Marshall McLuhan, when he’s manifestly clueless as to what the man’s ideas were. Would that real life were that way, and I could whip out Secretary McNamara to rebut Esmay’s spurious claims. Although, in truth, even were such possible, sciolists merely retreat and regroup with another round of redacted claims. Once a sciolist’s viewpoint has been set in amber it is near impossible to change. Willingness to change is another example of what separates sciolists from non-sciolists. One hopes it does not take an Iraqi ‘Tet Offensive’ to get many of the war supporters to change their minds, as they should have done after our rationale for invasion evaporated. Otherwise it seems Bush’s morphing into the Republican LBJ will be accompanied by his supporters becoming as blinded as LBJ’s, as well.

  As for Esmay calling the Iraq war ‘humanitarian’, that is to debase the term, as well as scuttle claims to logic. One might argue that an overall objective is humanitarian, but the application of war, itself, is not. It gets back to McNamara’s point, in The Fog Of War, in asking how much evil must be done to do good? Defeating the Nazis in World War 2 was good, but one can hardly call the firebombing of Dresden humanitarian, nor the countless little acts of cruelty inflicted by Allied forces on enemy non-combatants. I support Truman’s decision to atomic bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki as intelligent military decision, but do not label them humanitarian. In this way, Esmay uses the term ‘humanitarian’ as a euphemism, yet, politically, euphemisms have their own damnable logic. Look at what it cost John Kerry in the fact that Congress abdicated its responsibility to either declare war or not. Had Congress been called on to do just that, rather than merely ‘authorize’ Presidential intervention, I doubt many Democrats would have gone so far in their support, and the Iraq mess may never have begun, allowing us to play right into the hands of the bin Laden hopes.

  Another of the great missed points in Esmay’s thesis is that he does not recognize that cultures tend to ripen toward more freedom at their own pace, and no other culture can impose their will on that, short of totally wiping out one or the other. The difficulties of such is borne out in history, even if the wannabe changers of a culture are proposing ostensibly ‘good’ changes. A quick look at the recent events in the Ukraine, where democracy peacefully triumphed, at least in the short term (knock on wood), over retrogressive tyranny, are far more important to world events than anything in Iraq, for this reason- Ukraine is farther along the cultural spectrum to modernity than Iraq is, and its failure, a decade and a half after the fall of the Soviet Empire, would have far graver consequences than failures in Iraq or Afghanistan- cultures that are most likely not ripe for broad cultural change, even if large segments of them are.

  Ask yourself if the cultural maturation of America does or does not help restrain in its most extreme elements? I would argue that given the lesser social strictures of a less advanced culture, like those that predominate in the Middle East, the Christian Fundamentalist Extremist movement here would feel as free to kill and torture as their Moslem counterparts, and the evidence of the reverse of this can be seen in American mosques- some very Fundamentalist- that reject the worst violent excesses of their Middle Eastern brethren.

  As it pertains to the decline of discourse, especially, the query of why it is so difficult to judge things apart by their own merits, apart from biases, is not a mere poser. Still, I believe that in doing so the benefits outweigh the costs. Merely tossing mindless invective does not help. The aforementioned Don Moss, a friend of mine, recently forwarded an email around that had a definite tilt toward the Right, and I replied in this fashion. Note, that neither of us name calls, nor plays ‘hurt’. This is an example of reasonable discourse:



Re: More liberal hate speech & REAL HATE SPEECH


Fri, 31 Dec 2004 11:13:49 -0600


Dan Schneider


Don Moss

Don Moss wrote:

Getting by with hateful words is a privilege that politicians think themselves immune from. Jacoby completely agrees, sighting problems from both directions, though arguing that one side seems more loaded with such rhetoric than the other. But what is called "hate speech" is a good example of one-sidedness: who is charged with it and who skates free, always, as if by definition? Double jeopardy? No problem to the progressive mind: it be whitey who done it. 

As to the 1st point no arg. But, when Christian Fundies decry the removal of the 10 Commandments as hateful, or the like, their claims are lost. Battling against a real ill, such as the imposition of religion, is not hate speech. And what a wacky celebrity says gets the little credence it deserves, as does this fagbashing anti-Swedish silliness.

As for Westboro Baptist, I haven't read of such true Christianity since attending SouthAnna Baptist as a child, and what passes as Faith at Westboro is qualitatively no more insane, no less psychotic than any other form of Christianity or religion in general, I might infer from your recent postings?

In the main, philosophically, as all religion divorces one from the real. [I had stated that a belief in religion is by definition ‘psychotic’- a break from the real. DAN] But there's a diff between those whose voices sing Sound Of Music songs and the Mansonian urgings to kill.

And the PS: the freer either party is with "typical political rhetoric," the more vacuous all their words.

I agree. But it's incumbent to call all sides on silliness. I support any one's right to be a Christian, or believe aliens rape people. But I don't respect it. Respect for a right, and its consequences, oft-abused, are not the same thing.  DAN

On Fri, 31 Dec 2004 08:05:40 -0600 Dan Schneider writes:

Don, That's hardly 'hate speech'- that's merely typical political rhetoric- ala the pro-abortionists are 'baby-killers', etc. To call Cameron Diaz a hate speaker demeans the term- just like that pro-Vietnam and Iraq guy I argued with. To call the Iraq War humanitarian- sheesh. Here's some real hate speech, and it's all too typical- where from? 



PS- that said, I stand by all parties and their right to speak- do you?  DAN

tybeetypes@juno.com wrote:


More liberal hate speech

By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist  |  December 30, 2004


  A quick scan at the two links, I believe, will show a difference not of degree, but kind. Political rhetoric, however sharp, is not equivalent with hate speech.

  Another practice that sciolists use is called the fallacy of the undistributed middle. A useful example would be the reasoning that many Right Wingers use to exculpate Richard Nixon of his Watergate crimes. I.e.- many Nixon accusers had axes to grind, many were discredited former Reds, therefore nothing they said about Nixon’s crimes had credibility. That the majority of Nixon’s accusers were actually former friends and allies, not former victims, manifested that logical flaw. Still, playing to these fallacies and falsehoods carried Nixon from poverty in Yorba Linda, California to national prominence. His intellect exploited people’s resentments toward ‘elitist’ elements dominating national politics during FDR’s reign.

  In similar fashion Esmay uses the same tactics to accuse people of racism or being ill-informed. The Left was filled with ethical cowards in the 1960s, the Left was against the Vietnam War, therefore the Vietnam War must have been ethical. Similarly, true racists use racial epithets, black comedians use racial epithets, therefore black comedians must be true racists. Of course, this is dualistic and reductive thought. That said, this does not negate the possibility that Vietnam was an ethical war, nor black comedians being true racists, but it cannot be used as proof without outside evidence, which Esmay has not, and probably cannot, tenably put forth.

  Now, let me close with Esmay’s final rebuttal, since it was his blog, and he was destined to give himself final word:

I have known many Vietnam veterans personally and up close. I have read and seen statements of Vietnamese from all sides. Your view is very one-sided and rather ill-informed. If you wish to learn more I'll be happy to provide you with a reading list.

  In fact, my statements have not been one-sided. Go look back at them (above). I never denied the North was terrible, mass murderers, and the like. I merely stated the South was no better. Of course, he does not at all address the atrocities of the South, nor the claims of the refugees I mentioned. Why? Are they liars or not? And if so, why, if they came to America, wouldn’t they wanna lie to fit in? They’d have every reason to support the American government’s propaganda, but they tell the truth about both sides. Like McNamara, their claims ring of a truth Esmay refuses, because they have alot to gain by lying, yet don’t.

But if you first cannot wrap your mind around the concept that the communists were worse than we were, worse than the South Vietnamese regime, it’s probably a waste of your time.

  This is textbook Defense Department agitprop: he posits something that is far from clear, but even if it were so it does nothing to remove the culpability from the South and their documented atrocities.

It seems that you have alot invested, emotionally, beyond reason, in your ideas on Vietnam. Why?
Yet another cheap debating trick. I am only “emotionally invested” in the historical truth. You have a shallow, ill-informed view of the Vietnam conflict, one that dishonors history, dishonors the fallen, and dishonors those in the mass graves and those trapped in totalitarian societies.

  I care about the truth, and apparently am far more willing to deal with it than Esmay, yet I am not lashing out at others who disagree with my opinions re: race or the wars. This personalism is a troubling aspect that many do to justify all sorts of actions against rivals. I can easily ask- is Esmay dishonoring the millions of dead by the hands of the South and U.S.? Again, and this is very important, I don’t deny the North’s atrocities, yet Esmay does the South’s- either by denial or diminishment.

You are ill-informed on Vietnam, and have accepted a terribly lopsided and rather hateful view of your own nation. No one’s told you this before? You’ve never considered the possibility that it might be so?

  Again, a dialectic, and transparent, cheap trick by Esmay, by stating I’m a hater. Where have I shown ‘hate’? I’ve not accused him of hate, nor racism. Then he tries the dick-waving. I have considered his nonsense, and rejected it- for history is on my side, and- ala TR’s quote- those who blithely accept all their government says are likely the real villains and phony patriots.

Let me put it this way: I used to believe everything you believe now. 10, 15 years ago I was saying all the same sorts of things you are. I changed my mind when I realized I’d accepted a terribly slanted and distorted view of history. Want to know more? I can still provide you with that reading list I offered.

  As I, or far more knowledgeable folk than either of us, could send him information that resoundingly rebuts Esmay’s claims- but from a fact-based perspective, not a partisan one. I have the ability to parallax facts and semantically extricate untruths and distortions and manifest propaganda from both sides- recall I do not deny, nor diminish, the North’s atrocities- yet he has denied and diminished the South’s. Don’t believe me? Read on:

Che was bad. Will you agree that these dictators we supported- Batista, Pinochet, Suharto, Marcos, and even Sukarno- were mass murdering thugs?
Yes and no. Pick your thug. All were thugs. But Batista was not one tenth the monster that Castro was and is. Pinochet? Not 1% as brutal as Ho Chi Minh. Marcos? Based on body count alone, add up Batista, Pinochet, Marcos, and Suharto, it doesn’t match the number of people Uncle Ho massacred in his concentration camps. If you can’t face up to that, I don't think we have much else to discuss.

  Well, factually, from the best knowledge, that we have, Batista, who reigned for over two decades in Cuba, killed off anywhere from 20-100,000 dissidents- via CIA documents released via the Freedom Of Information Act. And, if that’s admitted, it was probably higher. In over four and a half decades Castro’s killed an estimated half million. On a per annum basis, Castro is, indeed the greater killer, but does that mean our support for Batista was right? Pinochet’s death toll is unknown, but estimates range from 25-200,000. For Esmay’s claim to be factual Ho must be blamed with 2.5-20 million Vietnamese deaths. The upper figure is more people than there were in Vietnam, and unless one totally wipes the slate of the Soviets, Americans, and South clean, the lower figure is only barely tenable. But, manifestly, the three other parties share a large portion of the death toll, and much of that was in wartime, not merely the whims of an established dictatorship like Pinochet, a puppet the CIA installed in Chile after toppling a democratically elected President.

  As for Ho’s death camps- while it’s true there were ‘concentration camps’ called ‘re-education camps’ here are some facts that Esmay discombobulates. Ho was not Pol Pot, whose camps killed an estimated 1.5-2.5 million Cambodians. Even CIA estimates state that the total population that Ho had interned was between 50-100,000, and these were his ‘suspected’ enemies. Again, most killed under his auspices were during war- of course, many being atrocities, but Ho was not Pol Pot- even though he was a brutal dictator. He was not a genocidalist. Suharto, in the mid-1970s, alone, killed off nearly 400-500,000 East Timorese- far more than Ho.

  In fact, the first Indochinese concentration camps were set up by Ngo Dinh Diem, in South Vietnam, in 1955, when he violated the Geneva Accords. He sent an estimated 25-50,000 Southern Vietnamese civilians to concentration camps. He then seized power from the emperor, and declared himself, in a rigged vote (where he got 98% of the vote), a one man democracy. This was almost a decade before Ho set up his camps. Of course, the Right dismisses such, as necessary for the war and to sustain their rationales, just as Esmay dismisses the South’s butchery. I don’t do that to the North. I see that both sides were terrible and culpable. That Esmay doesn’t speaks volumes of how little he has gleaned from all his supposed reading of history.

  And I have not even touched on two of the most terrible portions of the Vietnam War, in terms of sheer numbers- that was Operation Rolling Thunder, which dropped more firepower on the North than all the bombs dropped in World War 2, and Operation Phoenix, the South’s own concentration camps set up by the CIA. The numbers of innocents killed by these two programs will never be fully known, yet Esmay is comfortable tossing out ultimately unprovable figures, and nebulous percentages, even while never even broaching the subject of why a Batista was so hated that the Cubans turned to a scumbag like Castro in the first place.

  All of this comes from human rights groups around the world, who have no agenda save documenting war, brutality, and its tolls. Of course, some Right Wing elements conceive of them as mere agitprop tools against America, yet they hardily embrace the declamations from these groups when they support American claims, and damn them when they differ.

  To those who might think that I’m simply playing into the hands of a Commie plot I quote from the Genocide Convention of 1948, Article II:


In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.


  While Ho, and the North, as all dictators, could be brutal to opponents, and was clearly guilty of atrocities and war crimes, so was the South and the U.S. But, just as those who call the Vietnam War a genocide on our part are wrong, so too is the Right’s calling Ho a genocidalist- as he is clearly not in the Pol Pot mode. Even were one to stretch the definition, then the South and U.S. were just as clearly genocidal. It’s a fallacy, and distorts the real factual issues.

  But, even ceding the facts, and let us say that Esmay was correct, and Ho was provably worse than the other dictators- is that a defense? That just bolsters the Moderate view I argue, that Vietnam was a cesspool we should have avoided. As for Sukarno’s death toll, in the 1950s and 1960s, it may never be fully ascertained. Esmay merely embraces the outmoded, and self-destructive Realpolitik model that ‘our dictator is better than theirs’- a dogmatic approach that aligned us with Saddam Hussein in the first place, when he was our good dictator, vis-à-vis, the rotten Ayatollah Khomeini. Note how he embraces the Ugly American Realpolitik when it suits his view:

The fact of the matter is that when you’re involved in a war—hot or cold—you are sometimes required to get into bed with unsavory people. However, as a rule, the regimes we allied with were far less tyrannical and murderous than the communist regimes they fought, which was why it was right for the U.S. to support them. A madman as bad as Hitler was our ally in World War II—his name was Stalin. But it was necessary to ally with him for a greater cause, the defeat of Japanese and German totalitarianism.

  But, here’s the point Esmay misses- we did not support Stalin financially and help him stay in power!

It’s sad to me that people today such as yourself are still buying into ridiculous communist propaganda about the likes of Ho Chi Minh. I mean, you still actually believe that pathetic lie that Ho Chi Minh “spent decades” asking for help?

  It’s documented. Ho went to Truman in 1947, begging for help against the French- this is undisputed. Had we got out of bed with DeGaulle’s colonial France we could have avoided the war two decades later- a definite lack of vision. Of course, this would just have meant an extension of our ‘love our bad guy’ routine- except Ho would have been one of our ‘good’ bad guys!

In # 6 you say ‘Do not accuse me of “ignoring” things.’ yet in # 2 you state ‘I don’t particularly feel the need to respond beyond that.’ Need I comment?
Yet another cheap shot. Your #6 was an incoherent mess of half-formed statements strung together. It also appeared to be a continuation of the cheap trick--one you use constantly--of slapping together several different issues at once and expecting me to answer for all of them. Which, as I already explained, puts unreasonable expectations on whoever you're talking with.

  Here is my original 6th point: 6) You ignore the fact, though, that the South was never gonna win w/o us. Not to mention they were a brutal dictatorship that slaughtered millions. Our tinpot is better than theirs? Yet, we now see it was wrong when Carter looked the other way in Indonesia? See what I mean? Or was the South filled w angels & Indonesians irredeemable scum?

  If Esmay cannot make sense of that the incoherence is within him, not without. It’s worth reading, so to see how he has distorted. Is distortion not a cheap trick, or shot? He could very easily reply one by one, yet top do so means confronting some of the manifest flaws in his view of the world.

In # 7 you know I was stating that to believe that we in America are the epitome of Mankind is silly, yet you try to take that to show me favoring fascism. That's not a cheap trick?
Incorrect. You made that statement in direct response to my assertion that we’re working to bring democracy and human rights to Iraq. Are you saying now that that was not your intention? That I took you out of context? Then what was the context you intended?

  Here is what I stated, in full: 7) Show me where I stated or even implied ‘cannot take seriously anyone who does not believe that democratically elected governments, rights for women, rights for minorities, free speech, and free press are not always and everywhere preferable to brutal dictatorships’. C’mon Dean, you’re reaching. The q was is ours the only way? Is that cultural bias? The Swedes and French and Japanese have nothing on us, in any way? I agree we might be the best right now, but that does not mean there is not better. And how will the Iraqis find their own way if we are not there to prop them up? In Afghanistan Karzai is a puppet. This is not to say he might not be a good man, but wd he last till teatime w/o us? Are they finding their own way? And suppose, they choose a theocracy- not a radical one, but one guided by Koranic law, that requires things we deem not American?

  I was manifestly declaring the blindness of American provincialism in imposing ours as the only true way to government- what has tripped us up over and again. I never questioned the Bush claim of democracy bringing, only the wisdom of thinking we could impose it on whomever we chose- especially if the culture was not ready for it. And cultural growth is different from any ethnic claims of inferiority. It has to do with timing, not innate differences.

Ah, for the days of the old Bill Buckley debates. Even though I often disagreed with him you couldn't but help love the guy. My guess is he'd have asked you to sit and watch the Master.
You know what? Coming in here, condescending to me insulting me (which you’ve done at least a half-dozen times now) is no way to move forward a discussion. Now you bring up Buckley? It’s doubtful if Buckley would have even attempted to argue with someone who argues like you to, slapping together hundreds of barely-related points and half-veiled intimations and then pouting when someone doesn’t write you a detailed, point-by-point analysis of every single statement.
No mature debater attempts such things.

  Actually, Buckley would ceaselessly thrash opponents with minutiae- at his best cogent minutiae, and at his worst pointless minutiae. My points are relevant and not minutiae, unless you consider an objective look at the facts re: Vietnam and Iraq minutia. And, when have I pouted? Esmay’s demurrals merely point to the cogence of mine, and why he does not rebut them. Again, an accusation wholly without support.

Instead of recognizing that there are honorable and ethical and reasonable and patriotic ways to view a situation differently you have shown that dissenters are not any of those things.
Oh, yet another cheap shot. I’ve done no such thing. There are reasonable and patriotic ways to view a situation differently. You haven’t shown yourself to be either. Not so far anyway. Here’s my suggestion again: pick ONE or a FEW points, and let’s examine those, rather than this “throw fifty items up in the air at once and then act snide when the other party doesn't answer them all to your satisfaction” method you seem so fond of.

  Read in context, I was clearly being facetious to show Esmay’s lack. Again, he doesn’t get humor- which may be my flaw for not realizing it by this point, yet- despite the humorous feint, he earlier accused me of hate and buying old lies. And he states right here, in this post, I’m not patriotic. The point is that all of the points I made are logical outgrowths of Esmay’s positions. That I don’t buy his reductive ideas of history is something he cannot cope with, and even on a point by point basis he demurs answering.

If your’e willing to stop with the cheap tricks, start bringing up points in a reasonable way that can actually be discussed, feel free. But only if you can consider the remote possibility that what you think you know about a subject might possibly be misinformed or that an intelligent well-informed person might think you’re wrong. 12.26.2004 2:29am

  To the latter claim I’ve never denied, to the former- he should take his own advice, because I have granted far more of what he claims than he has of my Moderate view of history. And, I’ve the facts of the intervening years on my side- both from Soviet and American declassified archives. But, he does not, because reason is often trumped by emotion in Dean’s World.
  The final retort from an Esmay fan is from someone called Maor:

”Arabs are Caucasians, the vast majority of Sudanese are not. The black skin remark was to state that we won’t go and help suffering blacks, not that we’re still in plantation mode.”
Haitians and Somalis are black. How do you account for that?
(Just for the record, Bush is biased in FAVOR of Arabs?)
Besides, did we invade Iraq because it has oil or because it’s Caucasian? You’ve got to make up your mind before you can be refuted! 12.26.2004 8:40am

  The comparison is ridiculous at worst, and inapt, at best, since it ignores major corporate investments we’ve had in our own backyard, and not Sudan, not to mention our centuries-long record of interventionism in the Caribbean for our own purposes. We’ve no such record in much of Sub-Saharan Africa- even during the Cold War intrigues. Maor does not refute my point because he does not address it, rather only his own. This is a trait that Esmay has perfected- i.e.- arguing with himself, via his caricature of another’s viewpoint.

  Watch as Esmay picks up on this:

Maor: That’s a terribly good point and I can't believe I was foolish enough to overlook it.
The hard left always works under the assumption that America is inherently racist. This leads them to say, without irony, that we went to war in Iraq and Vietnam because they weren’t white people and therefore we felt we could kill them, and then to say we did NOT go to war in other countries because the people there were not white.

  Note, that I have refuted both the Far Left and Far Right assumptions about Vietnam, yet Esmay lumps me in with the ‘hard left’. Of course, it was Esmay’s POV that posited Iraq as a humanitarian venture, therefore it begs the question why the Iraqis, and not- fill in the blank. I extrapolate a flaw in his logic, yet it’s the ‘hard left’s’ fallacy.

  Esmay’s assumption that I’m on the Left, even though none of my positions are anything but moderate, is his trying to box in opposition, rather than dealing with the consequences of his views. That our history is dripping in racism is beyond dispute- and is far beyond partisanship. I’ve not stated I think Bush is a racist- there could be other legitimate reasons, but the oil and race angle has been dismissed out of hand by the Right- with no real support, even though there is much evidence that oil has been protected far more and better than our own troops. I’ve not said it definitely is racism, merely that it’s a distinct possibility, given the facts of the day, and this nation’s history. It’s Esmay and his acolytes that will not even brink raising the notion.

  Note, also, how many cogent points I made that went unanswered. This sidestepping and trying to box in an opposing viewpoint is a hallmark of sciolism. Esmay continues:

The worst among the hard left actually suggest that we only used the atomic bomb on Japan because they were not white, and that we never would have used an atom bomb on the Germans. Which is utter nonsense of course, but it’s illustrative of just how deeply hateful toward America some on the left have gotten.
Mind you, there are those on the hard right who also hate America. Conservatives should acknowledge that they have such people in their ranks too.

  Of course, I earlier defended Truman’s use of the bomb, and called the Left on it, which would argue with Esmay’s veiled attempt to lump me in with them. Esmay’s note on the Right is true, but why doesn’t he call them on it, since they hold the political power, control the media, and are the more vocal and virulent? Could it be that he suffers from the same ills that he accuses the Left of- that of ignoring ills that he finds some connection with? I think it’s likely, which only heightens his connection with his enemies- especially those like Willis. My contention is that Esmay and Willis share far more many traits in common, and have created a huge gulf between them over minor issues. Politically speaking, I do not doubt both men love their country, decry bigotry, want the best for the future, etc. They simply have differing ways of achieving it, and similar ways of attacking their opponents.

  Also note- and this is very important- the use of the word ‘hate’ rather than informed dissent. I can accept that John Birchers love America, or their idea of America, yet recognize its utter distortions. Loving one’s country does not make one right nor wrong, and someone who loves it in a diff way is not necessarily a racist, nor hater, nor unpatriotic, as Esmay has called me. To quote him: ‘There are reasonable and patriotic ways to view a situation differently. You haven’t shown yourself to be either.

  Thus we see yet more reasons why discourse fails: the elitists like Erika Rippeteau- who will not engage, because they feel they do not have to, the hipsters like Drew Burk and Noose- who are incapable of discourse, by virtue of a lack, and a disdain for others, and the sciolists, like Esmay and the majority of the blogosphere- who will distort, lie, and hurl false charges wherever possible, to discredit others not through the superiority of an idea or viewpoint, but via puerility and dick-waving. Esmay’s Vietnam views are stuck in amber, even though he claims to be basing them on ‘new facts’, yet he accepts only those skewed ‘facts’ that support his view, whereas I look at all the facts and take the sensible middle ground. Esmay then asperses others’ views with an assortment of epithets and reductive dismissals that deny complexities, and impugns the motives of those who recognize shadings- even going so far as recommending that the Pentagon, of all government agencies, be left to do what it does without criticism.

  I say this is what was wrong in the first place. Esmay and the war supporters trot out the ‘fact’ that other nations’ intelligence concluded that Iraq had WMDs, while neglecting the fact that none had the resources our intelligence did, and their recommendations were largely based upon our ‘proof’- a self-justifying claim if there ever was one. Overlooked is the fact that many in the U.S. intelligence community who claimed that Iraq had no WMDs were ignored and/or marginalized because Bush wanted Saddam gone from Day 1 he took office.

  Esmay will espouse moral relativity and Realpolitik when it works for his position, then damn it when it doesn’t- just as he will with Occam’s Razor. He asserts demonstrable falsehoods, and accepts dogma, rather than looking at the many (not just two) sides of an issue, then complains about others’ cheap tricks, and cheap shots, even as he lashes out and hurls false charges, ignores inconvenient evidence, and often claims they say things they clearly did not. I’m sure he will rage again at me, and Willis, and Willis’s supporters, once his bots scope out this critique, but I offer it as a defense against the willful misconstruals he has on his blog, as well as part of a continuum showing why discourse is dying in contemporary culture, even as Esmay, and many like him, rail against its decline. That all three of the discursive opponents’ tactics damage civil and civic discourse is, I believe, beyond dispute. So, as to not send the reader into despair, on to something lighter- those people for whom discourse is impossible because of something missing within- be it emotional, psychological, or intellectual. I talk of the lunatic fringe.

Sayonara From Sedna

  I want to get to the final source (or at least that which this essay will tackle) that leads to the decline of discourse- and that’s the plain old lunatic fringe. In every argument you will find folk who, with straight face, argue the most implausible things. While they are easy to dismiss, and their nature is generally lightweight, it’s worth delving into just to see the links to others who have helped kill discourse. We have seen the elitist Rippeteau, who has no need to engage, we have seen the ignorants like Burk and Noose who have, in their small way, cheapened discourse by making it banal, and shutting out real conversation due to political or personal biases, and we have see the sciolism that emanates from the blogosphere, as embodied by Esmay and others.

  But, what of the pure lunatic fringe? Am I to look for Klansmen, or UFO Conspiracists? Fortunately, I’ve dealt with a perfect example of this before, a man who has harangued me over the months. His name is Bob Grumman, and he is a poet manqué and critic manqué that I tackled before , in an essay called Postcards From Pluto: The Small World Of Bob Grumman. I’ve long linked to Grumman’s website, Comprepoetica, after a group of artists he was associated with came soliciting me to join them about 5 or so years ago. Then, I got an email last summer, from him, where he basically wanted to ‘take me on’- challenge my poetic and critical skills. A cursory glance at his emails I posted will reveal the tone, and intent to rile me. When I later disemboweled his poetry, criticism, and the bizarre nature of his emails, only a small portion of which I posted, so to not totally reveal the extent of his wackiness, Grumman went into cyber-hiding, after I got several emails from acquaintances of his. He had clearly ‘lost face’ with his peers and was embarrassed.

  Then, a few months ago, when I posted a broadside against chatroom excesses Grumman came out of hiding, pissed that I’d again put his immature idiocy out in front of his peers, and raged! This was the email he sent my way:



  "Bob Grumman"


  "Dan Schneider"


  Re: Data posted to form 1 of http://www.cosmoetica.com/index.htm


  Mon, 15 Nov 2004 08:39:53 -0500

Just went to your site and saw the long stupid piece you did against me--and never told me about that I know.  Will respond to it at my blog fairly soon, probably.

One request: please show me an example of a someone who did long division poems before I did.  I am extremely interested and don't care whether I originated the form or not, but believe I did.

--the Grumbler

    Note the petulance, and his assumption of the nickname I gave him in that piece. This is a child’s way of reacting, and a poor attempt to display that he was not bothered by my denuding of his psyche, although he clearly was. Note, too, his possessiveness over having invented his ‘mathemaku’ poetic form.

  I replied:



  Mon, 15 Nov 2004 08:29:35 -0800 (PST)


  "Dan Schneider"


  Re: Data posted to form 1 of http://www.cosmoetica.com/index.htm


  "Bob Grumman"


Just went to your site and saw the long stupid piece you did against me--and never told me about that I know.  Will respond to it at my blog fairly soon, probably.


***Now you reply? Funny. Great, just more nonsense to denude.

One request: please show me an example of a someone who did long division poems before I did.  I am extremely interested and don't care whether I originated the form or not, but believe I did.

***How are they poems? By that reckon many of Magritte's word paintings are legitimately poems, too. Are they art, perhaps? But I've seen many an art form like that from homeless con men selling their wares. You'd like Foetry, though- I'm sure you'd have much in common with them, as wd yr cohorts. Of course, your diff chatrooms wd prob loathe & detest each other for reasons wholly non-arts related, but that's the point w folk like you, isn't it? 

Grumble/moan to the 3rd power, unless you're fightin' the power- dig?


--the Grumbler

  Note how, both in my original piece, and this one, you will see Grumman shows no humor, whatsoever, a trait that all of the examples in this essay share, save perhaps for Drew Burk.

  Grumman then responded with this post on his blog:


15 November 2004. Dan Schneider is someone I exchanged jibes with a while back. I thought he had backed off but today I found he had responded to my blog entries on him in an essay he posted 7 October at his website, "Postcards From Pluto: The Small World Of Bob Grumman" (without ever telling me). Take a look at it. It's standard Philistinism, for the most part, but he catches me in several errors (like mistyping "hausfrau" as "housefrau" but also real errors) and makes a few interesting points.

I went to his website by mistake. He had posted something at New-Poetry that I replied to, and I wanted to mention it, and him, here, with a link to my other entries about him. So I did a search on his name, forgot I wanted to find where he was in my blog and went to the first link, which was his website. I then found his piece on me. (My relevant entries were posted 16 June 2004, 17 June 2004, 18 June 2004 and 19 June 2004)

In my post to New-Poetry, I only responded to one thing he said In his own New-Poetry post--with something I say all the time against the stupid idea that it's "unethical" to review the work of a friend, as Schneider believes:


Dan, I totally disagree with you. If you review a friend's poems favorably and support your judgement with quotations and intelligent arguments, your friendship is irrelevant. If you review ANYBODY'S poems favorably and fail to support your judgement, then a reader should ignore your review. If he doesn't, he's a moron, and who cares if he's persuaded by your incompetent review. Ditto if you review someone's poems unfavorably.

And if you want to be really ethical, you probably shouldn't review, because there are all sorts of unethical reasons you might review the poetry of someone you don't personally know favorably or unfavorably. The point is, what you say in your review is what counts, not your motives for saying what you do. 

That's it for Dan Schneider today, but I'll be hacking away at him some more soon.


  Note how the piece ends. There is no attempt to even reasonably discourse. The only positive thing is he admits he’ll be hacking away, a manifestation of anger, rather than reasoned dissent. How my piece is Philistinism- an ignorance and acceptance of convention, when he rips me for my unconventional criticism- is another example of the bastardization of discourse. Grumman goes even further than Dean Esmay, who merely  distorts what he reads. Grumman makes up whole new definitions of words, and whole new words, in a desperate desire to ‘prove’ his creativity and intellect where his poetry and criticism cannot. Just scour his blog and there are many attempts to coin new words, to rationalize bad writing, and argue against himself, as he did in my last piece, where I showed how he argued himself into believing a poem of mine was bad, after initially ‘liking’ it, while going to incredible lengths to rationalize poetry that consists of a single word.

  I wrote back, and so did he. I am in regular type, Grumman in italics, and my original reply in red:



  [Fwd: Re: BTW]


  Mon, 15 Nov 2004 19:50:19 -0600


  Dan Schneider

For those of you I forward these messages to you may recall a week or 2 ago this young hipster kid chiding me for not writing at a comic book level [That was Noose. DAN]. Well, this dude is the other end, an old fellow who's clearly lost his mind & exists in a bubble. I ripped him in a piece a few months ago, after he went gonzo, & now he's accusing me of, well- it's kind of funny.
Years from now, someone is gonna have to do a 4 or 5 vol. Collected Emails From Idiots from my files. This stuff is just priceless. The real question is should I torture this deluded soul, or show compassion? Compassion rarely comes my way, & he's busted my chops alot, but, then am I a bully, picking on the mentally ill? Decisions....  DAN


  Re: BTW


  Mon, 15 Nov 2004 17:39:55 -0800 (PST)


  Dan Schneider


  Bob Grumman

--- Bob Grumman wrote:

Re: your diary entry. You again show a remarkable ability to miss cogent points. It's not about what someone can or can do to be objective- but the 'appearance' of impropriety.

I argued that no one should give a damn about the appearance of impropriety. The appearacne of impropriety is irrelevant.

***Not when you are dealing with an issue of public trust- as in the judging of a so-called contest, nor if blurbing for a book of a former student/professor, because the aim of a contest & the aim of art is to excel. This is why cronyism & nepotism are not seen favorably. Yes, you may legitimately think your son is the best poet going, but coming from dad, it's a fairly worthless argument, even if you could mount a reasoned defense- BECAUSE the wrapping deters all but the most studious eyes.

Having read your diary entries I'd say yr prob against the War in Iraq. You prob recognize that oil has alot to do w the reason ewe're there- no? Now, perhaps Cheney's ties to Halliburton & Bush's ties to Big Oil & the Saudis, & the attendant financial benefits they cd reap are just happenstance, & they cd provide doc's showing they've not profited, but wd you believe them?

How you could find anything about my stand on the war in Iran in my blog,  I'll never know.  But I'm not going to get into that with you.

***Because you're a feeling over intellect guy- you believe art reflects on the goodness of a person. Reread your prior emails and your own writing.  You're a very standard aging Leftist who even if Bush did do something good (not saying he has, if you've ever read any of my non-poetry essays) wd find a way to spin it.

That's what Foetry's all about, & that's what folk like you don't get- or, as ex. - Jack Foley.

I am not a fan of Foetry.

***No shock- but you might like its poetastric chatroomers.

It's the appearance, moreso than the actual or not impropriety that is the big problem w poetry & blurbing.

Again, though- Foetry might be a place for you to meet like-minded folk, for better or worse.

You're just sore because some of your pals saw the piece.


None of my friends saw the piece, but some will now, because I'll tell them about it.  They'll get a laugh out of it.

This is untrue, as I later catch him in a lie. We have many of the same email folk in common- a few of whom he later names, and others that I have that, apparently, choose to stay in the shadows, lest be subject to the rants that Grumman has hurled at me. And the fact is that they have laughed, and at Grumman- thus his hiding for so many months.

***Actually I got a some emails from some of that lot, who emailed me after our 1st set-to, & after I emailed them my piece on you, at the same time I emailed you- in July, not October, as you claim online- the piece was 7/10, as in July 10. That you never replied is standard when someone gets slapped down- they usually don't reply, demand to be removed from my e-list, or threaten to report me for spamming if they email me again. But, to concoct a bizarre conspiracy, oy!

Anyway, just claim I wasn't talking about you, like Kent Johnson- make The Grumbler a long-suffering outpatient & then you can distance yourself from yourself, as he does from Yasusada, without too much embarrassment. Ciao. DAN

***Putting art aside, it's always fascinating to watch someone implode. I've had some email banter w young kids & some w altacockers like you & the young kids are relentlessly hipster, loving cliches, worshipping Beatnik dregs, & the old farts like you tend to get wound up in conspiratorial notions. Yes, Bob, it's all about you.
I just had to pick on your insanity & math poems. Again, you need to get out more. Perhaps the Hurricane did as much damage inward as out? Perhaps that's why you persist in twisting things such as dates, & what is said? Perhaps that's why you so territorially cling to ownership of your mathemakus? Do you really think anyone but a few math nerds will care? Granted, some are clever, but you practice what I call willful marginalization- a thing many PC Elitists do. They try to back their group into a corner, claim the world's against them, so they innoculate themselves from any real criticism. It creates a hermetic world of 1. True innovation does not come from such sealing oneself off from the world- that's a manifestation of a personality disorder- perhaps manic loneliness, a fear of failure. But, true innovation comes from pushing boundaries of accepted forms & revitalizing them. That's the difference between greatness & psychosis- a Billy Blake & a David Schubert.
You may be smart enough to understand this intellectually, but emotionally there's a void that compels you to toss these bizarre accusations at total strangers. I have no ill nor good toward you. I wish you no harm, but my world is not compromised an iota whether you die, or slowly go insane. Call me a heartless bastard if you will, but you know the same is true inside yourself vis-à-vis strangers you don't know. It's just that this stranger sees that missing in you, & you resent it. I've no reason to say these things save that unlike the young punks who constantly wave their dicks, you may, in a moment of lucidity, be able to step back, de-medicate, & actually appreciate this small bit of concern thru the cyber-ether: get thee to parry-partner: be it shrink, confessor, or good friend.
Life is too short, & yours is prob shorter than mine. I've got real worries. Try engaging people with your writing, try having fun, rather than trying to be that poetic version of a FREAK show. It may have worked for Tod Browning, but look how he ended up.   DAN

  With no retort to that he emails back, returning to our initial tussle, in this go-round:


  Re: Data posted to form 1 of http://www.cosmoetica.com/index.htm


  Mon, 15 Nov 2004 17:41:16 -0800 (PST)


  Dan Schneider


  Bob Grumman

See prior email. DAN

--- Bob Grumman wrote:

Just went to your site and saw the long stupid piece you did against me--and never told me about that I know. Will respond to it at my blog fairly soon, probably.

***Now you reply? Funny. Great, just more nonsense to denude.

Yes, now that I found your piece, I will probably reply. I know, I should have replied before I even knew you'd written the piece, but I'm inferior that way, too.


Note, the failed humor and self-flagellation.


One request: please show me an example of a someone who did long division poems before I did. I am extremely interested and don't care whether I originated the form or not, but believe I did.

***How are they poems? 

By that reckon many of Magritte's word paintings are legitimately poems, too. Are they art, perhaps? But I've seen many an art form like that from homeless con men selling their wares.

Quote one.

You'd like Foetry, though- I'm sure you'd have much in common with them, as wd yr cohorts. Of course, your diff chatrooms wd prob loathe & detest each other for reasons wholly non-arts related, but that's the point w folk like you, isn't it?

Grumble/moan to the 3rd power, unless you're fightin' the power- dig?


More in due course.

the grumbler


Having failed to better himself with reiteration, he raged some more, getting awfully paranoid:



  Re: BTW


  Tue, 16 Nov 2004 05:21:54 -0800 (PST)


  Dan Schneider


  Bob Grumman

--- Bob Grumman wrote:

We were talking about reviewing.

***Actually, if you read them Foetry piece we were talking about acknowledging impropriety & conflicts of interest, or do you not recall, again? Your convenient forgetfulness is rife, & why it's so easy to argue w you- because all anyone need do is let you trip yourself, & let the inconsistencies pile up.

Who are "some of that lot?"  And if you mailed me your essay, I never got it. As for the date, I made a mistake which I'll correct.

 ***Ask some of your pals at New Poetry & the Arts Collectives you've been involved with. How do you think I 1st found out about Comprepoetica in the 1st place- thru yr cronies, years ago, soliciting me. They've been on my lists since. Think who 1st mentioned Cosmoetica. As for your mistake- you seem to make alot of errors. My wife says you obviously don't read the emails, or essays thoroughly. My guess is that whenever someone questions you, or points out an error, you rage, & are blind to any further explications. It's manifest in your crit, your willful distortions of my emails, & others- judging from the posts of others' emails in yr diary, assuming they're unedited. & I emailed the piece the day it went online, as I did 2 or 3x between that & our initial salvos. Of course, after posting your silliness & declaiming it done, I never got replies. So be it. Is it so diff to admit you're just miffed that some pals prob razzed you over the piece? Your a sexagenarian, not a preteen, after all.

Conspiracy?  You are insane, aren't you.  Where did I mention a conspiracy? And "all about me?"  You mean your essay wasn't primarily about me?  (It certainly wasn't all about me, for your mental problems prevent you from focusing on anything.)

  Note, how he tries to impute that I’m being conspiratorial, when he’s trying to find out who’s on my list and ‘betrayed’ him. And look how he goes for the personal invective.

***Look how you contradict & argue both sides- the id raging against the ego. REALLY reread passages like this, & try to be objective. I don't know which is more interesting- solipsism like this from altacockers or from young pseudo-hipsters.

 I said I don't particularly care.  You really should assume I'm not a liar.

***You don't care? Yet you contact me to territorially piss, then snarkily diss me & end our contact, then mos. later rage bizarrely again that I actually point-by-point denuded your distortions so that the pals you initially thought to impress by pissing my way, claim I never told you, 'accidentally' assume I waited mos. to reply. Jeez, I guess if you cared you'd get Postal Inspectors your way for sending explosives thru the mail. Or does this lack of care again contradict your prior claim? BTW- have you ever thought of working for Web Del Sol? They're another bunch of folk who like to distort both the actual things they say, & intent.

The rest of your message was truncated, but I'll assume you did not address my points re: looking at yourself.  A tip, though, do not start in w someone you don't know, screw around, & then expect nothing in return.   DAN

  You’ll soon see that Grumman becomes more and more unhinged. He even later admits he’s not sure that I did not send him the email, which I did, and then claims I only posted it months later, in some sort of conspiracy against him. I did no such thing. I sent the email to him, and know he got it because others of his pals on his poetry boards emailed me that he was ‘devastated’ over it. Of course, Grumman’s real aim is to have me divulge the ‘traitors’, but I won’t do that. If they choose to ‘out’ themselves, so be it. But, seeing his mind fracture like this is kind of fun, and I will- IN PRINT- not email him of this when this goes online, to see what sort of heebie-jeebies inflict him when he finds out days, or weeks, or months later.

  I admit it. It’s my one indulgence in this essay, so call me a sadistic person for having fun with the unhinged, but even I deserve a respite. But, I will return to this issue later, when Grumman’s grandiose sense of entitlement surfaces. I will relate it to similar positions that others mentioned in this essay take. The important point is I emailed him, I know he got it, due to feedback from others, then to justify his rage at my re-exposing him to the Foetry crowd, he needs to come up with a plausible excuse to explain his ignorance of my essay, not unlike the very Web Del Sol nuts I’ve tangled with in the past.

  This next exchange accounts for the title of this section:



  Re: BTW


  Tue, 16 Nov 2004 09:13:36 -0800 (PST)


  Dan Schneider


  Bob Grumman


As usual, this sort of tangle goes nowhere, and loops about Mobian to you. Sedna is a planet they discovered even further out in the Kuiper Belt than Pluto, and you seem determined to colonize it. You Imperialist, dog, you. BTW- Yahoo better get some larger email capacity cuz they keep truncating messages. Just so you don't think I'm dissing you in another way.

 --- Bob Grumman wrote:

You can't tell me their names?  I have very few "pals" at New Poetry, and I doubt that any of my pals at Spidertangle ever heard of you or would bother with you because of anything you said about me.  I'm not sure what other "Arts Collectives" you might be talking about as I don't believe I'm involved with any others, except the Buffalo Poetics group, where I'm quite peripheral.
Who solicited you?  Comprepoetica is probably last on Google's list of poetry sites.  Every once in a while someone mentions it as a place to visit, I suppose, but I find it hard to believe that anyone has ever actively solicted people to visit it.
No more than you do, Dan.  And most of them are simple typos.


  The paranoia’s at full boil.


My wife says you obviously don't read the emails, or essays thoroughly.

Your wife is wrong about the e.mails.  As for your essays, I doubt that anyone reads such sloppily thown-together tripe thoroughly, except maybe your wife.
I believe you.  Why don't you believe my claim that I didn't get them? Maybe my spam thing blocked them or something, or maybe I did get them but accidentally deleted them.


  Caught in his lie, he now changes tune, to try to sway me to reveal the traitors’ names.


Absolutely no one mentioned that piece to me.

You claim I believe in some kind of conspiracy.  I say you're crazy to believe that.  Do you then indicate why you're right to say I believe in some kind of conspiracy?  No.


=== message truncated ===


Throughout every email, past & present, there runs a vein of paranoia. Ok, your email filtered them. But, look at your desire for me to name names, what group? There's just something very 'wanting' in such a desire. Did so & so say such & such, & when? It was actually a print mag called the Art Temple, or some sort of Buddhist name, back in '99 or '00. You were listed as a contributor, with your site & email address. I even put you on my e-list, along with several 100 other contributors, as a way to either get off the mailing list, or at least use it as it did me. Many of your post-mod pals at New Poetry were on it, as well as San Fran hipster types. In fact, you may have even had a poem or article in it. I got 3 or 4 copies until it went out of biz, I assume. You even sent me an email to be taken off the list years back. Regardless, on a purely art level, I think it's good that you strive to do your math poems, even though they are clearly far more visual art than lit. But, like I said, you're like these Nuyoricans that try to defuse all crit, and not actually jump in the pool. If someone points out they're not lit, you rationalize. I mean, really look at your utterly tortured rational for that river poem. It's hilarious. I mean, if that sort of overcompensation were used by me, or Gioia, or Bloom, you'd be slavering. But, this fits into your world view, your aesthetic. All I can do is say, at least admit that you find it an impossibility to objectively remove yourself from your likes, then you've at least come clean- out of the closet, if you will. Failing that it's just funny- in a poor velvet clown painting sort of way.  DAN

  The fact was Grumman was on my e-list, but he never touches this fact, nor the arts rag he was with, later. In that day’s blog, 11/16/04, he mentions me twice: ‘I've been responding to Dan Schneider's criticism of a poem I workshopped here 12 June, "Criticism's Origin," but it's getting late, so I'm just going to post my poem and a revision....’ and ‘I think my poem may be almost finished now, so thank Schneider for getting me back into it.’ He attempts to modulate his rage at me online, to counter the image he left of his persona in my last piece.

  The next day, however, he goes back to his suckling insanity:



  Re: BTW


  Wed, 17 Nov 2004 09:36:08 -0800 (PST)


  Dan Schneider


Bob Grumman


Congratulations, You've now totally undercut every claim to logic & have displaced a # of heavyweight loons as the wackiest poetaster out there. Bobby Bly's weeping in his tea. DAN

--- Bob Grumman wrote:


 Well, I guess this is a grudging admission you really never read anything emailed yr way. God wot!  DAN


No, I'm merely using your method of argument.

--- Bob Grumman wrote:

I'll make this short so it won't be truncated. (I never knew e.mails were truncated.)  I'm glad you admit the vast superiority of my criticism and poetry to yours, and that you were ignorant to ever suggest they weren't.
 --Bob G.


  That day, he rages in his blog, and attempts to put a good face on his embarrassment.


17 November 2004. In his piece of 10 July 2004, which I incorrectly called 7 October 2004, Dan Schneider brought up one of my poems. I'm always glad when someone does that because, among other things, (1) feedback, however negative, and however stupid, will always knock me back to my poem, where I may be able to improve it--as I think I did in this case yesterday (the resulting revision is in my previous entry); (2) I like to know what effect my poems have on others, because they are for others, even if they're for me first; and (3) my critic may say something that will help me. Oh, (4), my critic will also give me something to write about in this blog of mine, something about my poetry, which is clearly my favorite topic here. I meant that as a little joke, but actually it's a Serious Truth, as well, for getting a poet to discuss and possibly defend his work can be of great value to literature.

Schneider compared my poem to one of his so I have them side by side below, as he had them. Incidentally, while Schneider does scrupulously quote me describing my poem as a work-in-progress, he treats it as a final draft, which is a little misleading.


Bob Grumman

Criticism's Origins


Back when Poem was mostly feathers,
Criticism inter-branched darkly under him.


Piffling roundly absent to resin
shortly after Poem tightened into vocality,
Criticism mastered himself calibrated
along the loam and ensign
of his iron.


Alwaysed thereafter in the reddest invisibilities
of Poem's vocation, he spryed diagrams
of concord splamorously beyond
the crinch of the minders
raucously misadvertising their inability
to increase down to from
or or,
as taste.


Poem followed the diagrams eleven-twelfths unknowingly,
struggling them into re-knowings
not even the loudest art-as-handmaid-of-autocracy
could studge anyone nimbled at all
from divining,

Dan Schneider

Beauty Bare


What Turing knew is that 1 or 2 were more
than mere numbers, beauties, or markers of place,
laying powerless and prone in their own space,
nonexistent till pondered by computers,
organic or not, for the subtle motions
of emotions belonging to them, in shifts
of state. Anyone can relate to the drift
of numerals, from the infinite oceans
of conscious thoughts, where no regions of the heart
can distinguish dyspeptic pepperonis
from insights, that change the worlds we think and see,
or that they create. What Turing knew is that
science is sense made reason, that 1 or 2
are tools, and you are the memories of you.


About my poem, Schneider opines, "For neologisms to work what is around them must engage- there’s little that is engaging in this poem. It’s not Lewis Carroll enough to engage, it lacks music, & is just a paint-by- #s sort of poem where you toss in a new word or 3, try to sound dissonant, & if a reader questions you it’s their fault for not appreciating your ‘genius’." He had earlier said, "Note the clumsy use of personification & neologisms. Emily Dickinson BG ain’t!" After telling us how good his own poem is and why, Schneider finishes mine off with, "BG’s poem is that of a grumbler, off in his corner, counting his toes & praising schizophrenia. . . ."

What is bad about this poem, according to Schneider? It has "little that is engaging." Oh. "It lacks music." Oh. (By this he apparently means, from what he says about his own effort, standard melodations, as I call alliterations, consonances and the like such as his poem's "distinguish dyspeptic pepperonis," which Schneider quotes as an example of music. But, of course, my poem has all kinds of musical effects. I particularly like what the d's appropriately do in "could studge anyone nimbled" to suggest an attempt to prevent enjoyment.) Lastly, according to Schneider, my poem's personification and neologizing are clumsy. All I can say to any of this is that I disagree.


  Note how Grumman uses his own neologisms outside of his poetry. His blog is rife with them, as he seeks to tune and refine them- except that he is the only person his patois has any resonance with- again an internal dialogue no one else can enter- just as his mathemaku may be a cute idea, done one or two or three times, but over and over they become the same ‘poem,’ even as they are a different work of visual art.

  So, alliteration is not a good thing, but mere melodation? Even so, his dismissal of alliteration and the tools of poetry reminds me of when once poetaster David Mura held court and explained to an audience that the use of a certain consonant in lines over a dozen lines apart represented ‘alliteration’, the suggestion his prosaic poetry was using the tools of the trade. Grumman goes the opposite direction, trying to assert that his nonsense lines like ‘of concord splamorously beyond/the crinch of the minders’ has a meaning beyond him. As stated, this fails the Carroll test since his title suggests that there is a raison behind this all, yet obfuscated by the nonsense. Grumman may enjoy his d’s, but they do little to communicate, nor even elicit the reader’s interest to probe the puzzle. If one is going to construct puzzle and pass them off as art the artist is obliged to meet the would-be audience more than a little outside their bubble.


Schneider has one other criticism of my poem, that it is no more than a standard poem to which I've added a few neologies and tried to sound dissonant. But he fails to support his claim by saying what is standard in the poem. Nor does he tell us why taking a standard poem and adding materials to it, in this case, neologies and dissonance, is necessarily bad, or less than what almost all poets do. I would agree that, in the final analysis, my poem is standard--a statement in free verse. Its point of view, the value of critical sense for a poet, is a little unusual, I think. But what counts in a poem is not its point of view or subject matter but what it does with words.


  Actually, Grumman is again playing fast and loose with the facts, as he did in the emails I dissected in the piece he speaks of. Here’s the paragraph he quotes from, in toto:


  For neologisms to work what is around them must engage- there’s little that is engaging in this poem. It’s not Lewis Carroll enough to engage, it lacks music, & is just a paint-by-#s sort of poem where you toss in a new word or 3, try to sound dissonant, & if a reader questions you it’s their fault for not appreciating your ‘genius’. Contrast that with my sonnet. The only personification is in the title, it plays off of science & math, & ends up posing some interesting thoughts. It’s also rife with music (distinguish dyspeptic pepperonis) & striking metaphors & rhymes (subtle motions/of emotions belonging to them, in shifts/of state. Anyone can relate)- which BG, likely, cannot follow.  The end line is also devastatingly good because it can refer to the personified, the personifier, or both. BG’s poem is that of a grumbler, off in his corner, counting his toes & praising schizophrenia, while mine is real poetry- great, fresh, & resonant.


  Notice, the word standard is not used. All of my criticisms were specific, and went unchallenged. But, Grumman claims ‘Schneider has one other criticism of my poem, that it is no more than a standard poem to which I've added a few neologies and tried to sound dissonant. But he fails to support his claim by saying what is standard in the poem. Nor does he tell us why taking a standard poem and adding materials to it, in this case, neologies and dissonance, is necessarily bad, or less than what almost all poets do.’ in the hopes that a reader will not reference back to my earlier piece, and take his claim on its face. Sorry, Bobby. But that sort of dishonest discourse won’t fly. So, instead of my not being specific, and failing to follow through it is really Grumman who has failed to support his own claims for the poetry and flat-out lied, in an attempt to persuade a lazy reader that he is correct.

  This is because Grumman is getting desperate. He knew I’d one day do a piece and nail him on it, so wanted to get his deceit out ASAP. The truth is that Grumman loathes criticism, despite his claim. As we will see it even caused him to lose his sanity, and reveal it online. I state that I get no joy from exposing this sort of thing. Grumman is obviously not a well person, but his tactics are a weird synthesis of all that’s gone before- he tries to be above it all, like Rippeteau, tries to be cool and dismissive, like Burk and Noose, and plays the sciolist and ignores facts counter to reality as it suits him like Esmay. Yet, despite the fact that Grumman is a virtual non-entity in poetry- a world he has retreated from in his willfully self-marginalized shrink from the real world- the same hypocrisy and bullshit that infects ‘name brand’ poetasters like Carolyn Forché and Robert Bly infects him.

  Another point to make is how Grumman, in my earlier piece, referred to my sonnets as near-prose, then praised the ‘river’ poem as poetry. Yet, he cannot recognize the very alliteration in my above quoted poem, or dismisses, just to dismiss it, and with his own distinctive nonsensical neologism- a neologism, like almost all of his, that are superfluous, because wholly suitable terms exist for the ideas he longs to express. Since he fails at poetry and criticism it’s a good bet that Grumman actually hopes his legacy will be in a neologism in poetry so that he will garner a slim mortality in a Poetic Handbook of the future.

  In short, his rationales for his ‘poetry’ are standard ‘black is white because I say so’ reasoning. Not long ago John Birkbeck emailed me this ‘poem’ based upon the idea that the order of letters in a word are not that important, just that they all should be there, and separated into their constituent words. Go ahead, you’ll have little trouble reading what the piece says:



I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg The 
phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to a rscheear at 
Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod
are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit
pclae The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. 
Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the 
wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was 

The point is that this ‘poem’ does far more than Grumman’s mathemaku, in stimulating the brain, and is a far more clever piece. But, it’s certainly not a good poem. However, it would soon get tiring if he continued to write poems like this- a lesson Grumman has not heeded.
  Now, with that in mind, continue to read Grumman’s grumble:


Schneider thinks all mine does verbally is use a few new words and sound dissonant. True, it uses neologies--more than a few; it also uses a few regular words in a new way. I did try for some dissonance, too, as I almost always do in my Poem poems, for the same reason composers do: to counter the banality of sticking to the right key, etc. But can it be that my poem has nothing else of poetic significance in it? Certainly, it is dominated by intentional "misuse" of the language to say a few minor things in a new way. To make a poem for people capable of "increas(ing) down to from, or or" and provide "re-knowings" to be enjoyed rather than experienced as a duty ("duteously"). But I feel confident it has more things of value in it. I've already given an example of what I consider its melodation. There seem to me to be many others, but will leave it up to the interested reader to find them. It also has, to my mind, more than one of the "striking metaphors" Schneider claims his poem has and mine, by implication, lacks. For instance, the surrealistic, "along the loam and ensign of his iron."

Since it is a plaintext poem, my effort does not have any of the "striking . . . rhymes" his does, such as, according to him, "subtle motions/of emotions belonging to them" and "in shifts/of state. Anyone can relate." No reason it should.


  Of course, Grumman never qualifies what a ‘plaintext’ poem is, nor ever has. Mine is clearly a formal poem- a sonnet, in particular. Does he mean free verse? If so, why neologize? His free verse is a neologism- suggesting new and good, while my formal poetry- far more musical and engaging, is derogated as ‘near-prose’. Understand this is the sort of subtle semantic trick that disingenuous folk like Grumman use to try to subliminally affect a tyro or unskilled poetry lover into feeling positive about one thing, and negative about another, without the weight of a stringent critique.


I'll give my view of Schneider's poem in tomorrow's entry. All I'll say here about it is that I don't think it very good.


  Yet, you will see how Grumman has to literally convince himself of the sonnet’s lack, much as he did my two earlier sonnets.


Before closing, I want to point out one thing: that I consider my defense of my poem above the Proper Way to defend a poem. Note that I stay on topic. Note that I don't speculate on my critic's motives or denigrate him, I just report what he has said and reply to it. Actually, I prefer less rigorously focused criticism, myself--and find insults entertaining if not overdone. I feel Schneider overdoes them, though, and at times badly loses focus rather than just occasionally makes an interesting aside. Hence, my attempt to demonstrate as clearly as possible what a focused piece of criticism is.


  Of course, I never lose focus, which kills Grumman. Yet, we’ve seen Grumman clearly outright lie in his claims about what I said of his poem, wholly voiding his claim to ‘proper’ criticism’ or its defense. More than that, just look at how he distorted my emails- in this piece and the prior one. It’s utterly amazing that he could make such claims. Either he really and truly has pathological problems, or he’s a dishonest person. Now, my pointing out that he has distorted and lied about me would, to him, be my getting off topic, yet I charge it is Grumman’s lies that get us off the topic of poetry, and willfully done because he knows he cannot match me straight on, as I’ve amply demonstrated over and again.


(Note: about the following, I said, "I think (this poem) has a number of interesting elements, but I'm not sure how successful it is, over-all.")


  This is Grumman hedging his bet that he thinks he may fail to convince readers of his views on my poem, since he has obviously struggled to convince himself. Read on:


18 November 2004. Now for my turn at Schneider. Below is the poem of his he thought vastly superior to my poem-in-progress, "Criticism's Origin" (see previous entry for details):

Beauty Bare 
What Turing knew is that 1 or 2 were more
than mere numbers, beauties, or markers of place,
laying powerless and prone in their own space,
nonexistent till pondered by computers,
organic or not, for the subtle motions
of emotions belonging to them, in shifts
of state. Anyone can relate to the drift
of numerals, from the infinite oceans
of conscious thoughts, where no regions of the heart
can distinguish dyspeptic pepperonis
from insights, that change the worlds we think and see,
or that they create. What Turing knew is that
science is sense made reason, that 1 or 2
are tools, and you are the memories of you.

  I'll start by admitting that I have little real idea what Schneider is talking about in this text, which is an unmetrical sonnet with three end-rhymes, and two near-rhymes and two consonances where classical sonnets would have full rhymes.

  As he has in earlier attempts at criticism of my poetry, Grumman throws up his hands, as a caution, to say, ‘If I don’t get the obvious just remember I was honest about it.’ True honesty would be for him to say, ‘This is beyond me.’ Of course, Grumman cannot do such, and decided to venture the noose (rope- not the piss-poor editor from earlier in this essay). The rough ‘approximation’ Grumman gives is correct, although its intent is to try to portray the poem as a failure because it does not live up to stricture. Of course, given meter’s demonstrable fallacy, almost all ‘form’, in Western poetry, then, is meaningless. This is nonsense, as the strictures outside of meter can be used and bent to serve an individual poem’s purpose.

Its subject is mathematics the way Edna St. Vincent Millay's Euclid sonnet is (which is where Schneider's poem gets its title). It starts with something about Turing's knowing that "1" and "2" are not just numbers or beauties or markers. Why? Because of the "subtle motions of the emotions/ belonging to them, in shifts of state." Okay, I guess he's saying that Turing experienced one and two as things showing emotions in computers when they changed value. 

  Actually, the poem is quite clear that the numerals are personified: ‘to them’. This is as clear as the personification of Criticism in his poem. Notice, too, how Grumman uses the phrase ‘something about’ to imply that there is confusion or fogginess in what the poem states, and that such is the flaw with the writer. Yet, read the line: ‘What Turing knew is that 1 or 2 were more’. It is hard to get more crystal cut and declarative than that. So, we see that Grumman has already started his willful misreading, in an attempt not to explicate the poem to himself (whom he admits the poem goes over his head) or others, but to sway a reader to his negative (and admittedly ignorant) interpretation.

  I am quite clear, as is the poem. Anyone with a 3rd Grade or higher reading level will not be confused, although they may need to seek a definition of a word or two.  Then again, that the poem is not geared for such a level is taken as a flaw, as Grumman has shown he prefers either dull, abstruse ‘poems’ that barely qualify for the term, or ultra-simplistic works that also barely qualify, like the gimmick poetry of ‘river’.

Also, a little before that, that Turing didn't think of these two numbers as nonexistent until perceived by computers and computerlike human beings--because, it would appear--they had emotions; which makes them, it would appear, material entities rather than symbols.

  Now he gets it re: the personification, but notice he states ‘Turing didn't think of these two numbers as nonexistent until perceived by computers and computerlike human beings’. The poem never suggests that Turing did NOT have such knowledge. Where is the basis for Grumman’s claim? Turing is clearly being referred to as a superior being. That’s three errors and counting.

I wonder about the grammar of the "were" in the first line. Is Turing concerned with what one or two was in the past or with what the two are now? Why "one or two," which requires a singular verb rather than "one and two?" The grammar of "laying" for "lying" bothers me, too, but I suppose "laying" is right for some, so should be allowed. Actually, it ought to be dropped for superfluousness since a number can't be prone and not also lying down.


  ‘Were’ is used, it seems, in context of the line, and the poem’s denouement, as meaning then and now, but even to restrict it to merely a past representation only gives multiplicity of interpretation to the poem, and a bit more of an ‘active’ charge to it, as something is on the threshold of change. To rephrase Grumman’s question as ‘Turing is concerned with what one or two was in the past or with what the two are now’ answers himself. As for the use of ‘or’, one needs to know who and what Turing was. In his explanation Grumman gives no indication that he knows, and although knowing who Turing was is no necessity, because he can just be a ‘superior being’ without being the real Turing, it’s worth it for just a little idea. This being my own off-the-cuff bio:


  Alan Turing (6/23/1912-6/7/54) was the leading British artificial intelligence expert of his day, a developer of computer logic based on the binary 01 ideal. He is best known for the Turing Test, for someone to be able to blindly ask questions of a subject, and attempt to determine if it is human or computer, and also the Turing Machine, a prototype for modern computers. He also developed the Colossus device to decode Nazi secret codes in WW2. he was one of the first advocates of the ideal that machines could one day mimic the human brain. He committed suicide via cyanide- some suspect that a homosexual dark side of his life was nearing exposure via blackmail.


  That said, going strictly via the idea that Turing must be Alan Turing, the scientist and historical figure, it’s obvious that the binary code of zero-one has been replaced by the more colloquial one-two interpretation. The ‘or’, therefore becomes needed, since a binary approach does not allow for an ‘and’- it can only be one or two, or one or zero- not an and.


The second of the three sentences that make up Schneider's poem gives me more trouble than the first. Here it is again: "Anyone can relate to the drift/ of numerals, from the infinite oceans/ of conscious thoughts, where no regions of the heart/ can distinguish dyspeptic pepperonis/ from insights, that change the worlds we think and see,/ or that they create." For instance, if "no regions of the heart can distinguish dyspeptic pepperonis from insights" in "the infinite oceans of conscious thoughts," where can such regions of the heart distinguish pepperonis (of any kind) from insights? Why would any region of the heart be interested in doing that? Or does the "where" refer back to the "drift of numerals?" Which wouldn't alter the problem of what regions of the heart would distinguish pepperonis from insights anywhere. Also, is it "insights" that change worlds or "the drift of numerals?" Or "numerals?" I suppose the referent is "numerals," but don't see the point of the confused expression, if it's intentional.


  Note Grumman’s approach. It is not dealing with what the poem says, but what the poem is not- a common error in criticism. Why is the knowledge of where dyspeptic pepperonis (i.e.- bad dreams- for the image of bad dreams being caused merely by a bad pizza is obvious and plentiful in contemporary lore) could distinguish anything of any import- since this is a declaration? Also, since the heart represents the non-thinking essence of the person, why would it be able to? Grumman’s query, then, requires no answer, since obviously it cannot. But, Grumman is trying to sway readers, with poor criticism, that because he has no answer for a manifestly unanswerable query, it is the writer’s fault. But, it’s not, since no need for the query exists, save as a critical feint to try to discredit a line with something not applicable. I can ask why doesn’t the full moon’s reflected rays tie my shoelaces? It’s as valid a query as Grumman’s. The whole regions of the heart trope, then, is a mere addendum to the major point of the sentence- that being that the state of numerals is something relatable to anyone, and not, perhaps, the God-like mathematician.

  Thus, Grumman’s next query ‘Why would any region of the heart be interested in doing that?’ only further reveals its asininity, as it’s a posit based upon a false assumption by a poor reader/critic, not a mystery whose existence is evidence of a lack. ‘Or does the "where" refer back to the "drift of numerals?"’ can refer to that or ‘the infinite oceans/ of conscious thoughts’. Note the good use of commas to inject multiple meaning. Grumman then asks ‘Which wouldn't alter the problem of what regions of the heart would distinguish pepperonis from insights anywhere.’ which is only a problem he has, as we’ve seen, for he is not out to criticize a poem, but to sway a reader of its disworth, due to his patent inability to properly read poetry. His last queries are similarly inapplicable since the change of world can be caused by any of the things he mentioned. But only in differing readings, I offer the reader different possibilities. There is no confusion, because the piece can be read and understood in any of the varied interpretations, even if they seemingly conflict to a confused mind such as Grumman’s. The confusion is his, not the poem’s, as I’ve demonstrated. This is a thing that is good in poetry- not just a plain A to B to C arc, but many differing threads.


Why can "anyone relate" to a collection of numerals? What are these "infinite oceans of conscious thoughts?" Why are they "infinite?" I'm not picturing the scene. Many minds full of thoughts that numerals are drifting from, and hearts are at work in trying to distinguish dyspeptic pepperonis from insights and failing? Or not trying because the task is hopeless? Would they be able to distinguish undyspeptic pepperonis from insights where they are?


To the first query- why not? And note, that I state, in the poem, ‘Anyone can relate to the drift/of numerals’ not ‘the numerals. Yet another Grumman slip up, or willful misread. His second query is a rhetorical one- it’s as silly to ask why Whitman loosed forth a ‘barbaric yawp’ rather than a peeved yawp, a barbaric whistle, or peeved whistle. It’s accepted as what the poet states. That Grumman is befuddled by ‘infinite oceans of conscious thoughts’- a rather clarion metaphor, again, shows his lack, not the poem’s. The rest of his queries are then based upon his lack and his misconceptions.

My guess, from the last sentence in Schneider's text, is that he is saying anyone can relate to, or understand numerals in some ordinary way, but only Turing could truly appreciate them. In any case, Turing knew that "science is sense made reason." How is science, which seems to me simply applied reason, that? More important, what does that have to with everything else in the poem, which is about numerals? And why does Turing understand that 1 and 2 are tools when he began the poem knowing them to be more than markers of place, or kinds of tools? And what is the apparent non sequitur about "you" doing for the poem?

In short, I can't connect to "Beauty Bare." I need it to tell a story, or provide a scene, or make some sort of verbal design (although it does have a pleasant flow), and I can't find any of these things in it. I'm quite aware that this may be my fault. However, I see nothing in the poem to indicate that it's doing something too unfamiliar to me for me to grasp.


  The last sentence is not difficult to understand, especially if one views reason as also being ‘cause’, i.e.- the cause of science is sense (in more than one sense). Note how with a great and multiplicitous poem Grumman tries to grind it down to a single interpretation, while with a gimmick poem like river he goes out of his way to find meaning where none exists. Both are cases of bad criticism, and that Grumman is capable of both forms shows that he brings agendas to criticism, which almost always fail.

  The you is the breaking of the Fourth Wall, to address the reader directly, because the percipient is a product of, and cause of the self, or sentience. Self-knowledge is therefore a form of beauty, and laid bare by the poem. Of course, that’s only one interpretation- the most surface. That Grumman fails to get it is his fault, for he clogs his mind with queries that are not asked, and not answered because they have as much relevance to this poem as trying to interpret it as a eulogy for Czar Nicholas.

  There clearly is a narrative to the poem, although Grumman requires none for river, nor his mathemaku, nor a piece of ‘poetry’ I’ll examine in a bit. To his credit, though, he admits ‘this may be my fault’.

    He then ends his post with a bizarre semi-swipe at me, implicating by mere mention, that I may be involved with health problems he has:

Now a health note just in case I croak tonight, which I fear I may because I have been experiencing very strange spells of dizziness the past two days--when I lie flat on my back, of all things, not when I get up suddenly from lying down or the like. I feel okay otherwise. It may only be stress-related--due to all the running around and worrying and spending I've been doing due to getting my house back in shape--plus the chaos of my literary life. But Schneider's essay had no effect, I'm sure. If it did, then my situation is truly hopeless. Anyway, I'm posting this entry a few hours early. Some irrational sense of duty makes me want to get my final entry posted in case I stroke out during the night, I guess--in spite of how small it is in so many ways.

Later note: it is now 6 AM the morning after I posted the above entry. The brain tumor or whatever it was that was causing my dizziness has backed off. I lay flat on my back in my bed a little while ago, and nothing happened. Then when I did the exercises on the floor that had quickly made the world whirl the last three times I tried it, everything stayed normal. Very weird. I now think it must have been due to sinus congestion, for I've been taking anti-allergy pills since last night--zyrtec and an anti-histamine. Who knows if I'm really over it, but for now I can relax.

  Recall, above, he claimed his criticism was vastly superior to mine. Go ahead, get that pent up guffaw out. The next day Grumman’s obsession with me continued:

19 November 2004. A short lesson today on the value of negative criticism, even when it's wrong. I wrote one day at New-Poetry and again in an e.mail to Dan Schneider, and/or here, about "Wilberia," or the small portion of the poetry continuum from Wilbur to Ashbery that professors of English know (and consider themselves to have a wide range of sensitivity for appreciating). Schneider asked in passing in his essay "denuding" me whether or not it ought to be "Wilburia." No. It's a combination of WILbur and ashBERy.

I planned to chide him for his question when I got to that part of his essay in my retort to it, but since then I've realized (as I did at the time, in fact) that my coinage has too much Wilbur in it. When I made the word, I thought there was no help for that, but now I see that there is" "Wilshberia."

Both poets have written some fine poems, by the way. Again I must state that I have nothing against Wilshberia, I am just annoyed by those who think it covers the full range of current American Poetry, or all that is worthwhile in American Poetry, like most of the participants at New-Poetry and their pal, Dan Schneider. David Graham posted a particularly good poem originating in Wilshberia yesterday which I repost below. (New-poetry is excellent at keeping me in touch with the knownstream.) I consider it a major lyrical poem


  He then ends with a poem. Two important points: 1) his neologizing rears itself again, with his conflation of Ashbery and Wilbur- two vastly different poets. 2) I am lumped in with his poster pals at New Poetry, where I posted my Foetry piece, and where Grumman and others have condemned me for assorted crimes against art. Regardless, I am now in league with them, according to Grumman, for he is on the outs with them, and I am also part of the Ashbery-Wilbur continuum, although I have been highly critical of both poets and their baleful influences. My only confluence with the New Poetry poetasters is that I am not in league with Grumman. This is paranoia at its most obvious. Again, though, I am being mean-spirited in pointing out the obvious. Just as I am mean-spirited in pointing out Grumman’s need to dick wave, stew over my initial denuding, harangue me with emails, distort my emails (only a portion that I posted), poetry and criticism, and assorted paranoia and other off-balance behavior is just that. I have no need to hurt Grumman, but he seems to have a need to try to ‘best’ me, and his failure to do so, spirals him lower into near-psychotic depths, whereas to me, I am merely trying to discourse, but failing due to Grumman’s lack. Later, I simply stop, because I see that he is beyond help. For those who would accuse me of emulating Rippeteau or Esmay, I would state that I engaged, and did so fairly. My withdrawal from discourse came not out of a fear of being bested, like Esmay, but out of a reckon of the pointlessness of arguing with the mentally infirm.
  Fortunately, there is some intellect in the cyberverse. On 11/19/04 I got this post on my website:

--- root@cosmoetica.com wrote:

Date: 19 Nov 2004 13:21:15 -0500
From: <root@cosmoetica.com>
Subject: Data posted to form 2 of http://cosmoetica.com/Contact.htm


T1:  T.C. Woods
B1:  Submit
Remote Name: ~~~~~~~~
Remote User:  ~~~~~~~~

Mr. Schneider,

I just emailed this response to Bob Grumman's website and forward it to you as a caution. While I believe the man has some problems, a look on his website confirms some infirmities of body and mind, I believe you should not be as harsh on him as your tone indicates. It's almost like Darwin arguing against Creationists. He will believe what he'll believe and nothing you say can change that. Keep on with the writing. One day I'm sure the Bob Grummans of the world will be defending your work. T.C Woods

  Whether Woods (male or female?) is correct in chiding me over Grumman it’s heartening to know that he/she recognizes much of what I do. Here is what he/she sent to Grumman:

Mr. Grumman

I am not a poet or a lover of poems. My primary reason for writing is I came across your site while doing some research on conspiracy theories. Actually, I came across an essay on the JFK assassination and UFOs written by Dan Schneider. I enjoyed his debunking of the myth as well as his explaining many of the literary tricks that believers use to skew their arguments. So I started reading other of his essays on film and politica and religion and eventually poetry. Again I do not like poetry but as in his piece on UFOs I was taken by how he explained precisely many of the things I would think of when forced to read a poem in class or by an insistent friend. It also reminded me of some of Tom Wolfe's writings debunking the Ab Ex movement. So I read some of the This Old essays and found myself quite amused and enlightened. Then I read other pieces on criticism, which were too long for my taste. Poetry bores me even if it's pretty good. Then I came across your piece. Rather the one written about you and looked a bit online at your pieces.
I am a bit puzzled as to your hostility?  It seems to me that you should be championing people like Schneider. Instead you seem to veer off into explanations that make no logical sense. I read your review of some poems and then Schneider's comments and it seemed that he simply distilled what you were and were not stating, for whatever your own reasons. Again I am not a poetry expert but I have seen these postmodern poems that are a singular word or image typed ad nauseum and Schneider's explanation made sense. At least more than yours.

  Woods brings up some good points- a) the Grummans of the world, at least those self-marginalized, always tend to defend earlier poets that stood up against the crap of their day. b) Grumman’s hostility from the get-go is explicable only by his feelings of inferiority being heightened when confronting a greater, rather than a peer. Still, Grumman did initially try to sway me by considering me an ‘ally’- until I denuded his distortions of me. c) I do state much of the plaints Grumman lodges against mainstream poetry- I simply do it better, and more cogently.

Again I'm sure I know far less than either of you but Wolfe touches on this in a book called the Painted Word, I believe. It seems to me as an outside observer that you and artists like Ab Ex ers try to flaunt your 'knowledge' above peons like me then get hostile when the Wolfe's or Schneiders call you on it.

  Woods hits the nail on the head, even if he/she may not understand poetry.

The reason I write is because I am a follower of psi phenomenon. I am not a believer but find it culturally relevent. I belonged to MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) years ago but quickly got turned off by the cliquishness and anger displayed towards those who sought rational explanations for things that at first blush seemed mysterious. I am not suggesting that the irrational in art or science is not worthy of study but it seems to me that too many folk exalt it as an end to itself. I may not be able to argue meter and rhymes, etc with you but I do know a bent against the rational when I see it. Magic is good but ultimately it's a thing for children's birthday parties. That aside it seems to me that your writings in response to Schneider are merely giving him more fuel for the fire. A fire if the essay on Schneider's site is correct that you first lit for whatever reasons.

  Woods is an insightful reader, even if not in his/her field of interest. I hope Woods reads Cosmoetica more often.

Again, it seems to me that you are the true believer standing in a crop circle claiming it was succubi or UFOnauts who did it after the Schneiders and Wolfes have proven it was a couple of crackpots. The public may be gullible as Barnum proved but there are limits to even that. I would suggest you read some books by Philip Klass or Jacques Vallee (a hard and soft debunker) to see how closely your protestations resemble those of true believers in the paranormal. Or go to the Skeptical Inquirer website. It's quite funny how easily they shred through claims and point out the obvious. Please don't take this too hard for I don't understand much poesy but your mathemaku do strike me as primarily visual art. Whether good or merely puzzles as Schneider claims I do not know but I do know I've learned much from reading his essays, even poetry!
Thanks for your time, T.C. Woods

  That prompted this reply from Grumman:


8:30 P.M. 19 November 2004. Hey, a response to this entry has already arrived. Actually, it's to my previous ones concerning Dan Schneider mainly. Here it is:


  He then quotes what I received, and ends with this:


I thank you for your time, T.C. All I will say in response here is that my poetry and criticism, like the kind of painting Tom Wolfe ignorantly sneered at in his imbecilic book, The Painted Word, require more than a few skims to appreciate. I have already defended my work in many places, including this blog of mine, and will be defending it further as I slowly reply to Schneider's piece on it. So I won't defend it right now. My art is extremely rational, by the way, but made difficult for people who would rather make their way to a destination through woods on foot than along a super highway in a car. My criticism is extremely rational, as well, and much more straight-forward, but perhaps too complex for easy reading.


  Not that I’m a big Wolfe fan, but I have read the book. Wolfe pretty much nails the Ab Exers on their poseur artistic lifeblood. The implication in Grumman’s defense of his poetry is that it is not straightforward, but layered- the very thing he could not handle in my Beauty Bare sonnet. The last sentence is belied by what I have evidenced in his criticism. It’s not complex, merely discombobulated, dishonest, and fuzzy-logicked.

  This returns me to Grumman’s need for a spotlight. The next day I got this email:



  Fwd: Two Blog Entries Awaiting Your Response, If Any


  Sat, 20 Nov 2004 05:47:17 -0800 (PST)


  Dan Schneider

The need for attention screams. DAN

--- Bob Grumman wrote:

From: "Bob Grumman" 
To: "Dan Schneider" 
Subject: Two Blog Entries Awaiting Your Response, If Any
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2004 20:53:31 -0500

The past three days I've replied to parts of your piece on me.  Just wanted to make sure you were aware of it.

--Bob G.

  Although he couches it in a gentility, Grumman needs my acknowledgement. Yet, if I’m so pernicious, why would he care? Because some small corner of himself realizes I am correct and needs my approbation- thus why he contacted me in the first place. I obviously know of his website, and that he told me he would respond- he’s like my cat Oscar needing to meow when I enter a room, to let me know that he’s here and wants petting.

  A few days later he’s back in a froth:


24 November 2004. Today, a short lesson on the use of the word, "assertion," which comes up a lot in poetry criticism and counter-criticism. My struggle to respond to Dan Scheider's long essay reminded me of how often it is misused, for he throws it around right and left, mainly because I also use the word and he thinks that by pointing out where I do, he renders my use of it defective. (As though my using it incorrectly made his use of it correct.)


  Of course, I never said that. I merely pointed out that he uses it, too, and far less effectively than I do, due to the correctness of our respective claims.


An assertion is, for me, an unsupported opinion stated as though it were a Universal Truth. Okay, listen carefully, those of you who deem it a Bad Thing: there's nothing wrong with assertions. Nothing. Unless they are used in lieu of arguments. It is argument by assertion that is wrong, not simple assertion.


  Yet, I have asserted things that are wholly supportable. I have, for example, denuded many of Grumman’s claims. That I have not denuded all of them in detail he takes as a flaw. Just as someone might bitch that I did wrong by Esmay the blogger by not fully quoting everyone of his posts and replies. Simple length and attention issues crop up. I certainly could support all my assertions, but that’s akin to me needing to prove that you and I are real before we commence any argument. It’s demonstrably a time waster and a semantic dodge, and Grumman, I hope, knows it.

  For example, in arguing over lesbian poetry with Grumman’s cohort, Jack Foley, I asserted that water and rock imagery in lesbian poetry is a cliché. He did not know this. Now, had I had every book, poetry magazine, zine, website, and anthology published over the last forty years, I could easily prove that assertion by the numerical frequency that that trope reappears, but I don’t, so I could not prove it empirically, to a finite percentage. That does not negate the argument, though.


I try in my writing to use what I call justifiable opinions. I might say, for instance, that, for me, E.E. Cummings one of the three best pre-1950 American poets of all-time. Many consider this way of working weak. They'd prefer I use the Time Magazine assertion, which, in this case, would be "E.E. Cummings is one of the three best pre-1950 American poets of all-time. (Actually, Time Magazine, I'm fairly sure, would prefer minimum modifiers, so would probably go with something like, "E.E. Cummings, the best American poet of all-time. . . ."

I try to avoid using opinions not identified as such, but certainly use them in personal essays clearly intended to spell out what I think and am like--as information, not argument, you see. No doubt I occasionally use them in those of my essays presenting arguments, for liveliness, and to provide side-views I don't feel I have time to support. An essay intended to argue a point should not do that exclusively; if it does, it will almost certainly be boring. Or so I say, making a flat-out assertion not for liveliness or because I don't have time to support it, but for a third reason: that my assertion is too obviously true to need a defense.


  This is true, as I often, in the interest of speed reading, merely underline clichés in poems in my This Old Poem essays. It’s shorthand crit, but no less true, yet still far more than the typical blurbery that passes for crit does. A quick scan of Cosmoetica will show that I do criticism of far more depth and complexity than anyone else, as well.


Dan Schneider uses assertions all the time. Here's a stream of them he is quoted as saying in Minneapolis newpaper article on him: "Mura's atrocious," Schneider says. "He's absolutely predictable. He's hiding behind that Sansei shtick. Multiculturalism in art is fine, but without excellence it's just bad poetry. Mura writes nothing but guilty, intellectually vapid bullshit." Okay, he's simply stating an opinion here, however much it sounds like he's trying to argue that Mura can't write good poems. Why is Mura Atrocious? Because he writes bad poetry. Schneider neither defines what good poetry is nor gives an example of the badness of Mura's poetry (with an explanation of why it's bad--or predictable).


  Look at what Grumman does. He starts off by claiming assertions in crit, yet then uses a ‘quoted’ piece from an interview. Of course, I did not have graphs nor charts to prove Mura’s atrocity in poetry, but nowhere did I argue Mura could not write well. I have stated that I think he had talent, but copped out, as did Robert Bly, and many other poets. Yet again we see Grumman’s utter distortions- first in conflating criticism with off the cuff remarks and next in inferring something that was nowhere implied. The rest of Grumman’s ‘logic’ falls to pieces without the reality of these two ‘facts’.

  Similar logic got me tarred as a racist by PC Elitist types because I am quoted as comparing Maya Angelou, a black doggerelist, with the old ten thousand monkeys trope for producing bad poetry. She’s black, the trope uses a monkey example, therefore I’m a racist. This is the same fallacy of the undistributed middle that the blogger Esmay often uses, and it’s just as logically specious because a) even assuming all the givens were true, it’s still logically specious, b) the ten thousand monkeys trope has never been used in a racist connotation, c) even if it were, or my using the ten thousand monkeys trope merely ‘insensitive’, in a PC way, it does not make the logic any less flawed, d) City Pages is a tabloid, designed to sensationalize for profit, e) I had my words misquoted and distorted within to a degree, that even the writer of the piece, Brad Zellar, disavowed much of the published piece due to his editors’ desire to sensationalize and paint me in a bad light, and f) I used the ten thousand monkeys trope on a dozen writers, the only black amongst them being Angelo, which only evidences their desire to heighten some non-existent racial aspect to give the story ‘juice’, at worst, or, at best, simply used Angelou’s name since hers was the only name familiar to non-poets. He also chooses to use words that are quoted, from a dubious source, rather than those written.

  Regardless, such a claim against me was as false as Esmay’s nonsensical charges, and Grumman’s manifest distortion.


In a response in his long essay on me to my splitting of knowstream poets into those who write it because it's the received kind of poetry and those who write it only after long exploration of all of poetry because it suits their needs best, Schneider much more blatantly makes use of assertion as argument: "Here is BG’s rationalizing bared. He thinks that his poems are pushing boundaries- even when a poet he mentions- Scott Helmes – does the same thing. Of course, BG would argue that his gimmick poems are substantively different from Helmes’s, but without their author’s names only he & Helmes could separate them. Whether you ‘like’ my poetry or not, there’s no confusing my great poetry with someone like BG, Bly, or Ashbery. Individuation is 1 of the hallmarks of excellence. I even go beyond that with many poems that no 1 would think were all written by me."


  Are there some assertions? Yes. Can he demonstrably prove them false, as I did his assertions above? No.


I don't know what his spiel has to do with what I wrote, but that's beside the point. What I want to point out are its bald assertions. One is "he thinks his poems are pushing bounderies." Where do I say that? (He's right, by the way--but his claim is unsubstantiated in his essay, so worthless.)


  This is supported by Grumman’s repeated use of phrases like ‘breakthrough’ or claims to be out of the ‘knownstream’. To dodge that is semantic evasion, and Grumman knows that. He even admits it in the next breath- go to his blog, readers. The evidence is in print. Grumman’s denial is therefore worthless, for while he may never have used the word boundaries, synonymous ideas and phrases are rife.


A second is "Scott Helmes does the same thing (in poetry as he)." Does he provide evidence of this? No. "Only he & Helmes could separate them," he then asserts, repeating his previous assertion (but even more imbecilically.> Another: "there's no confusing my great poetry with someone (sic) like BG, Bly, or Ashbery." I suspect this assertion is true (except for the asserted "great"), but--like the others--it's unsubstantiated.

What makes these assertions unjustifiable is that they are part of a critical essay the stated purpose of which is to "denude" me and my work, not an essay merely giving an opinion of me.


  Note how Grumman starts to argue- he provides parenthetical qualifications where none are needed (to imply a lack) and then inserts a sic referent where I had a typo drop an ‘s’. I could use such see-through tactics on his many misspellings- even of hausfrau, when he misspelled that after my correct spelling, yet do not- save for the most obvious things. Again, a visit to Google will prove the Helmes point, and the point re: my poetry vs. the others. The point is that, unlike Grumman’s earlier assertions, they are not baldly wrong, and false.

  Then, Grumman conflates the fact that I term my essay a denuding- a gleaned opinion that a cursory glance shows- as representative of my intent. Yet that is certainly not supported to anything near the degree as such a statement Grumman earlier made, like, ‘That's it for Dan Schneider today, but I'll be hacking away at him some more soon.’, on 11/15/04.

  Again, Grumman does the very sin he claims against me, without proof, yet fails to recognize it in himself!  This is true when he asserts his mathemaku are ‘breakthroughs’, and when I condense his many manifest assertions to a distilled form, he denies them, stating he never said that exact thing. Imagine someone stating they love seals, dolphins, otters, and orcas. I then say that they love sea mammals, then the person rages, saying, I never said I love sea mammals- show me where. Any level-headed person would say the second claimant was being disingenuous and phony.

  A couple of days later Grumman’s back on the attack:


26 November 2004. Today, I was going to give a lesson in pluraphrasing to get my entry quickly out of the way and shoot yet another comeback at Dan Schneider (from whom I've not heard since posting my recent entries about him, although I've e.mailed him two or three times to let him know I was responding to his Internet essay on me).


  Love that neologizing! Note his need to hear from me. This is well over a week and still he obsesses.

  A couple of days later he bares all to the cosmos:


28 November 2004. This entry will be personal--a return to OldMan's Health Complaints. First, a shocker . . . sort of. It turns out that the dizzy spells I discussed here a week or so ago were not due to anti-termite poison, after all--or probably not. They were due to a nervous breakdown of sorts. Or, more accurately, an anxiety attack. Or maybe they were due to the poison and caused the anxiety attack. They returned and remained every time I lay flat on the floor the day after I reported here that I was over them. I was optimistic that they'd eventually go away, but I also worried about them.

Then, last Tuesday around eleven at night, I got up from my computer intending to go to bed and had trouble walking because one of my legs was close to fully asleep, the other partially asleep. I've had this problem before, but two or three times in the past week or so. For that reason, I immediately worried about my circulation. My legs came around but I got feeling very much out of it in a way I still have trouble describing. Something like one feels after being on a buss for three days straight. It's like you have a shell of a body around your regular body and it's become ever-so-slightly out-of-phase with your regular body. The feeling wasn't much different than I'd been feeling much of the time of late--but slightly worse physically. Psychologically, it was a lot worse, for I felt like I had to keep my inner head in phase with my head-shell, and might not be able to. I was afraid to go to sleep. I was afraid to move quickly, too, because it worsened the feeling of disequillibrium. My only working phone (thanks to the hurricane) is in my computer room, not in my bedroom, so I was uncertain about even lying in bed because of its distance from the computer room in case I had to call 911. I thought I might be having a stroke. I felt no pain, but I took my blood prssure with a home bp kit and it was high: 155 over 93. Ten or fifteen minutes later, I took it again and it was higher. By Midnight, I decided to call 911. Talking to the lady at the other end made me feel better--just the talking. She told me me there'd be no charge for the ambulance if I didn't use it after it came and the paramedics checked me out, so I asked that it be sent.

The paramedics treated me very well. My blood pressure was now something like 162 over a hundred and something. They found nothing obvious wrong with me but advised me to go into the emergency room, so I did. I got a cat scan of my head, an x-ray of my chest, and bloodwork. My heartbeat was slightly irregular but normal. (I had taken my pulse myself while at home and noticed that I it was skipping beats, another thing that disturbed me.) The only thing wrong they found was that my THS level was high (12.6, give or take a few tenths)--which indicates hypothyroidism. My blood pressure was going back down. The diagnosis was anxiety, so I got a shot of Ativan. I guess it helped. I walked home (a distance of a mile or so) without trouble and went to bed, going right to sleep. The next day I saw my doctor, and he thought I was okay. He gave me a prescription for Ativan, and changed my synthroid dosage very slightly. I didn't feel he needed to see me again until my next scheduled appointment, which is in March.

I felt okay the next few days though not great. But my dizziness when lying on my back went away (and hasn't come back)! Then, two nights ago, I awoke after only an hour and felt severe chills. This has happened to me before, but the chills have never lasted more than a half hour, max. These lasted almost all night. I suspect that was due to my thyroid problem, ssuceptibility to cold being a symptom of that, and it had gotten cold during that night. In any case, it pushed my anxiety level up, I'm sure. I had a crummy day afterward that included a headache I took aspirins for. I took an Ativan a few hours before going to bed, too. It was the second I've taken since my hospital visit. Whether it helped or not, I don't know, but I woke up this morning feeling near normal! Ergo, I may survive.

I have had one other diagnosed anxiety attack in my life. It occurred five-and-a-half years ago after I'd learned I had prostate cancer. It affected my arms: I suddenly couldn't raise them above my head without considerable pain. That attack was cured simply by my doctor's telling me I was suffering from anxiety. He gave me some pills but I only took a few of them. I am sure I had another anxiety attack back when I was thirty or so. I was at a night school class and suddenly felt an out-of-phase condition like my recent one except much more pronounced: when I did anything, I saw it happen faster than my brain felt it happen. I adjusted to it, and--to save money--didn't have a doctor check it. For some reason, I felt much more healthy out-of-phase then than I did this week. Youth, I suppose. The condition gradually faded, disappearing completely within a week. I attribute it to the stress of working during the day and going to college full-time plus having gotten serious about a girl who turned out to be a lesbian (or so she thought at the time; actually, she was a severely screwed-up heterosexual) plus worries about the house I owned and was renting to a (very nice) druggie couple with two little kids who had stopped paying the rent and were subletting rooms without permission which was overloading the septic system and eventually caused the house to be condemned. A neighbor had caught the kids setting a corner of it on fire, too, to make matters even more interesting. The mother was zonked out on her bed.

Here's a (probably incomplete) list of what stressed me out this time:

1. Hurricane Charley. One newspaper report that I scoffed at, at the time, said the full emotional effects of disasters like hurricanes reached their peak three months after the event. Charley was three months ago.

2. Getting my hurricane devastated roof taken care of and worry about paying for what FEMA didn't cover.

3. Finding out the house had termites and getting that taken care, plus worry about paying for it.

4. Recent expensive dental problems.

5. Simply being an old man, which magnifies my perception of the danger of any health oddities, like dizzinesses.

6. Being behind in fulfilling my obligations as a publisher to many poets.

7. The regular literary stress of deadlines to make.

8. Having to get together the presentation for the Miami Art Museum, driving to Miami and doing it, and then two local presentations.

9. Being bludgeoned as a poet and critic by Dan Schnieder. This is a joke--I hope. Actually, it's part of no. 7, which should read, "the regular literary stress of deadlines to meet and having to expose oneself to the judgement of others, negative or positive, sane or ridiculous."

10. My life's continued disorganization.

11. My inability to win frequently enough at Civilization.

No one need feel sorry for me. After all, I didn't need to be institutionalized. In fact, I continued subbing and going through my normal life, seeming the way I alwuz iz. And I was pretty much the way I alwuz iz. And it looks like I'll be okay for a while. I plan to take an Ativan every night before bed for the next few days, and try to relax. And avoid stress. I actually consider myself good (!) with stress, but not at its recent levels. I believe susceptibility to such attacks, in my case, is an unavoidable side-effect of artistic sensitivity and emotional intensity, so I don't feel too sorry for myself. And nothing really bad happened, except the hit my bank account will take due to my emergency room visit. I haven't seen any bills for that, yet.

Wotta life.


  His feint from his accusation in #9, notwithstanding, here we get Grumman admitting he’s got mental ills, and I am a stated cause. This gets back to Dean Esmay’s inordinate rages at total strangers online. How can a sane person go to pieces, and be stressed out, over a stranger’s claims- especially if, as Grumman claims, he knows I’m wrong? It’s precisely because he knows I am not wrong, that he worries.

  Thus, more game playing from The Grumbler, as he has accepted his role? In response to his claim that I am responsible for his fetid mental health I emailed around this to my e-list. Note its similarity to the Esmay referenced email:


  I am evil


  Mon, 29 Nov 2004 16:33:19 -0600


  Dan Schneider




Whoa Nelly! That wacky dude Bob Grumman is now accusing me of helping facilitate his mental breakdown:
Here's what I did to him:

Here's a (probably incomplete) list of what stressed me out this time:

9. Being bludgeoned as a poet and critic by Dan Schnieder. This is a joke--I hope. Actually, it's part of no. 7, which should read, "the regular literary stress of deadlines to meet and having to expose oneself to the judgement of others, negative or positive, sane or ridiculous."

Read the rest of the blog for a walk on the fringe! DAN


  I got these replies in return. Notice the humor, something painfully lacking in Grumman. My wife:

A soiled diaper is life. –Jess

  From Jason Sanford:

 Good God. Deal with life, Bob. Deal with it.  Jason

  From Art Durkee:

welll ..... duh!    :)

  From Dylan Garcia-Wahl:

  But Dan, it is your evil I respect the most. dylan

  And this exchange with Laura Winton:


  Re: I am evil


  Mon, 29 Nov 2004 16:45:14 -0600


  Laura A Winton


  Dan Schneider

Well, I've certainly always known you were evil. It just never bothered me. =8-)
Ironically, the guy says flat out--NEGATIVE FEEDBACK IS ESPECIALLY WELCOMED.
Use the box below to respond to this entry. Negative feedback is especially welcome. It will get to me anonymously, so you need have no fear it will result in my using my immense influence to wreck your literary career, if you have one. On the other hand, if you want to hear back, please include your e.mail address with your message. --Bob

I mean, hey, you put that out there, and the Dan Scheidahs of the world come barking up your comment book . . .
It's the consequence of putting your work out there. The guy needs to either be less thin-skinned or just sit in his room and write for no one but himself. We all get negative feedback on our work--you figure out which of it you care about, and if you do care about it you make some changes and take it as valuable criticism, and if you don't, you say "well, this guy can go fuck himself" and move on and do your work.
Is this guy pretty young? I couldn't tell--the "stress of school" seemed cancelled out by owning/subletting a house . . . I attribute a lot of neuroses to youth . . .


  Re: I am evil


  Mon, 29 Nov 2004 16:55:42 -0600


  Dan Schneider


  Laura A Winton

Actually, he's 64, & solicited me out of the blue a few mos. back. Then, after we argued he's obsessed over me ever since.  DAN


  Re: I am evil


  Mon, 29 Nov 2004 16:59:25 -0600


  Laura A Winton


  Dan Schneider


Yeah, by 64 you should be able to take criticism. I can't imagine anyone being so great that at 64 they've never had any negative criticism of their work.
Now, I CAN attest to the ego battering that going back to school as an old fart brings on--having just spent the year with a classload of brilliant 22 year-olds at NYU. But again, those are supposed to be the compensations of adulthood--that you've developed coping mechanisms. Even if you are a "sensitive artiste".


  Of course, as stated earlier, I know that others on my list have been involved with Grumman, and that he used to be on my e-list. So, his claims of why he sought me out are disingenuous.

  I knew that the emails would get back to him, and they did. He bitches, I reply. Note, how he tries to ascribe his mental woes to a joke:



  Re: My Blog Joke


  Tue, 30 Nov 2004 05:05:26 -0800 (PST)


  Dan Schneider


  Bob Grumman

When I have time. I'm actually planning to tackle some of your silliness in a larger piece w some other nutjobs- to put your Plutonian nonsense in context w other crapola- y'know, old lunatic vs, young hipster wannabe vs. career apparatchik. BTW- does hearing of my joke prove that you were involved w that arts rag that solicited me? My oh my, does that mean I was right about you all along? Give my regards to the Oort Cloud. DAN

 --Bob G.

--- Bob Grumman wrote:

Interesting.  I show how moronic your "criticism" of a poem of mine was at my blog, then tear a feeble poem of yours apart there, and hear nothing back, even though I twice tell you responses to your "denuding" of me are now up at my blog.  But when I finally write about a health problem of mine and joke that your essay may have been one cause of it, you jump on it. When are you going to show that the negative criticism of your crappo Turing poem by someone out on the fringe is invalid? 

 --Bob G.

  Notice the hostility. He will split a seam when he sees my denuding of his silly and dishonest criticism. Watch how his tone gets increasingly hostile. I then made a revelation to my e-list:


  More Funnies from The Grumbler


  Tue, 30 Nov 2004 07:29:48 -0600


  Dan Schneider



I just caught him in a lie. A while back Grumman claimed he didn't know of me till a few mos. back & I told him I learned of him from some bizarre hipster poetry mag from years ago that he was involved with. He never answered my charge, including when I claimed some pals of his had emailed me when I put up my rebuttal to him last summer. Of course, he got the reply & was embarrassed I ripped him, but wdn't admit it. The secret is that there are a # of BG's pals on my emailing list so I know he's gotten every one of them- proving he knew me all along, and that he lied about not knowing of my prior post. That's how he knew I laughed about his joke. Now he's masochistically wanting me to rip him again, and when I do, and use these emails to portray his insanity, I'll be the cause of even further ruin in his life. And no, he's not some suicidal teenager, but a fully ripened fruitcake! Oh boy!  DAN

  Grumman then rages, and I reply:

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Re: My Blog Joke
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 16:58:30 -0800 (PST)
From: Dan Schneider 
To: Bob Grumman 

For someone so dismissive you sure spend alot of time seeking me out. Ah, the joys of masochism, longing to be flayed so to revel in & reinforce the mental ills. Hope you enjoyed the feedback. BTW- there are others who go between. & how do you reckon that I owe a cyber-lunatic with emotional problems anything. Sorry, but you're not that important to me. As John McLaughlin wd say, 'Grumble, Grumble, Bubby!'   DAN

--- Bob Grumman wrote:

When I have time.

Fine.  But you should have e.mailed me simply that so I'd know you weren't in hiding, or that I for some reason wasn't reaching you.

I'm actually planning to tackle some of your silliness in a larger piece w some other nutjobs- to put your Plutonian nonsense in context w other crapola- y'know, old lunatic vs. young hipster wannabe vs. career apparatchik.

Ah, yes, the verosopath's standard tactic of scattering his assertions to make it hard for his victims to zero in on the pertinent ones.

  This is precisely what Grumman does, by raising questions that have no bearing on a poem. I answer charges fully, and in detail, unlike the Grummans or Esmays of the world. Then, some will complain a piece is too long, or diffuse. Only for those who cannot follow argument. Here, Grumman hurls another charge- verosopath- a neologism. He also has called others versopaths. Whether there is a typo, or these two are different terms matters not, since neither is a word with coin outside of Grumman’s mind, although they seem to mix poetry, truth, and pathology- which most aptly describes Grumman as one or both.

BTW- does hearing of my joke prove that you were involved w that arts rag that solicited me? My oh my, does that mean I was right about you all along? Give my regards to the Oort Cloud.  DAN

 I heard of your comment from my longtime friend Richard Kostelanetz. I gather he heard your joke on a libertarian thread or the like.  He didn't know what you were talking about as he doesn't read my blog, for some reason.  I believe I've already told you of my "connections": I post to New-Poetry, but am not a close associate of anyone there.  Most of them consider me a "literary terrorist" because I mock their sort of poetry the same way I mock your very similar except less intelligent poetry, for not using any poetic device not in wide use by 1950. 
One or two side with me because of my politics, and one or two of those may once have defended me to you without my knowing it.
 I also post to Spidertangle, a group of visual poets not any of whom have likely heard of you or would care about you or what you're doing.  All my closest literary friends who use the Internet with the exception of Karl Kempton and Richard Kostelanetz are in Spidertangle. 
 I post to the Buffalo poetics group, which consists mainly of language poets, but I have little in common with them, and can't stand the emphasis on trivial political matters there, so seldom even read anything there and almost never post to it.
I have no idea what "arts rag" you're talking about  I have stuff in a few. I'm not too clear on what your point is, either.

--Bob G.

  The rest of this is patently false, or filled with half-truths, as his learning of my email re: his breakdown proves. Yet, rants like this are more than arts-based. They are the gamesmanship that an inferior feels toward a leader- reread them. Why else the intentional distortions and outright lies?

  Again, Grumman spews:



  Re: My Blog Joke


  Wed, 1 Dec 2004 06:18:55 -0800 (PST)


  Dan Schneider


  Bob Grumman


I've done it many times. The problem is that your emails and crit are rife with your mental ills. To not talk about that in regard to you wd be like not mentioning Eliot was an Anti-Semite, or that Joyce's syphilis affected his later work. If you actually read my piece I pierce your work, then give it context. What you cannot see is that your insanity is rife on the web and in print- in small bizarre journals. Like I sd in my original piece- yr like the kid w a colored Mohawk that thinks he's a non-conformist. Ask some of your pals to fwd the email I sent where some folk commented on your latest grumblings. 
Given your utter lack of self, your paranoia, utter lack of humor, and manifest ills I've gone Kid Gloves on you, not wanting you to pull a V. Woolf. The playground is years in the past Bobby, Mary Lou Rottentwat's once desired, but always denied hole, is fetid. Get over it. Actually try writing something that will touch someone, not a pathetic 'Look at me' cry. From the 1st email I've been nothing but courteous &- GAD- a little playful, but you are utterly incapable of humor & seeing yourself objectively. I will say, 1 day, I will write a book called Emails From Idiots & you will certainly be a Top Ten contender- right along with a Finnish bestialist who loved Plath, a Pakistani megalomaniac, a wannabe scientist whose arguments over subjectivity are even more ridiculous than yours in favor of doggerel, & the best of the FUCK YOU crowd. You'll doubtlessly ignore this advice but don't waste my time w your senescent puerility. Anyone objectively reading these emails can see you've an obsessive compulsive disorder & have fixated on me.
Keep reading my site, though, and one day, you'll see a reply. I need the hits and you'll no doubt feed off the anxiety of checking every day- to see if your world has fallen apart & if you can pin the blame on me. It's a sad fix you've painted yourself into, but it's your brush!  DAN

  Note, how I tell him to keep checking. He has this enormous and distorted sense of entitlement- that I owe it to him to respond, then say where and when. This to a person who has lied consistently. Unbelievable! By now, I am bored with his silliness and actively feeding his delusions. Is that bad? I think not, after all the crap he’s had me endure. Watch as his attempts at hostility descend into the hilarious ‘Danny Boy’. Here was Grumman’s retort to the prior email:

--- Bob Grumman wrote:

For someone so dismissive

 Only of you, Danny, boy--because you are so dismissive yourself.

  A logical dead end.

you sure spend alot of time seeking me out.

Right, Danny.  Someone at New-Poetry posts a link to the Minneapolis newspaper article on you and I go to it, and write a blog entry on it that I tell you about, then exchange a few e.mails with you.  I have nothing to do with you for several months after not getting a reply from you to my last e.mail to you (as far as I know), and having been told by you that you might not be able to reply promptly.  Then, out of the blue, I find out you've written a long slam of me.  Naturally, I seek that out and write you about it--and, having a blog that I tend to have trouble finding subjects to write about at, eventually began a series of responses to you--that I told you about--two or three times because you never acknowledged getting my announcements.  That's "spending a lot of time seeking you out."


Yet, he was on my e-list long ago, and has contacts with my contacts, hence the prior email’s rage and my knowing he was kowed by my last essay on him.


Oh, the joys of masochism, longing to be flayed so to revel in & reinforce the mental ills.

Why would you think I'm not mentally ill enough not to realize I'm being flayed?

  His lack of recognition of his silliness, and this query’s illogic, are manifest.

Hope you enjoyed the feedback. BTW- there are others who go between. & how do you reckon that I owe a cyber-lunatic with emotional problems anything.


Okay, IF YOU SUBSCRIBE TO THE COMMON RULES OF EPISTULATORY COURTESY, you owe anyone who writes you an acknowledgement of receipt.


  The grandiose ENTITLEMENT surfaces!

Sorry, but you're not that important to me. As John McLaughlin wd say, 'Grumble, Grumble, Bubby!'  DAN

Well, you're important to me, Dan--as a model of philistinism and rigidnikry.

  The first half of that claim says it all. Yet, another purposeless neologism.

Hey, a challenge for you in you next attempt to show how bad those who don't write your limited kind of poetry or agree with your way of doing criticism: write five consecutive paragraphs about their work without saying anything personal about them or yourself.  I bet you can't. I suspect you can't do it for one paragraph, but I'm too lazy to check your essays to find out.


  At least he ends by acknowledging he’s a lazy reader and critic. Obviously, I’ve met both of his criteria in this essay and many others. He is absolutely fraying. His creative bankruptcy is so great that he’s like the schoolkid whose only comeback to the kid who whipped him is, ‘Oh yeah?’

  I obviously did not say that I criticize the poet, I said I do so sometimes in concert with the work, an important distinction. Grumman, as someone whose emails and rages could easily be construed as harassment, in just what I posted, if not in toto, is well beyond merely being a poet and critic. In fact, since he fails so totally as both, unlike Esmay the blogger, his only worth is as a psychological case study. That he needs to distort shows his intellectual and dialectical bankruptcy, yet again. He also expects me, or others who disagree, to be as manic and without a life as he is.

  I emailed this around to my e-list:

Subject: Fwd: Re: My Blog Joke
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 09:59:41 -0800 (PST)
From: Dan Schneider 

The best he can do is Danny Boy?   DAN

--- Bob Grumman wrote:

From: "Bob Grumman"
To: "Dan Schneider"
Subject: Re: My Blog Joke
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 11:05:00 -0500

 I've done it many times. The problem is that your emails and crit are rife with your mental ills. To not talk about that in regard to you wd be like not mentioning Eliot was an Anti-Semite, or that Joyce's syphilis affected his later work.

Sorry, Danny, but the words on the page are what count, not what some critic thinks their writer was.

  Note how he tries to dodge the fact that I’m talking of him, specifically, not anyone else! I agree that intent in art means nothing. But, as I state, Grumman’s only interest to me is as a psychological disaster.

If you actually read my piece I pierce your work, then give it context.

I actually read your piece.  You started by comparing me to some homeless "mumbler."  You knocked me in many ways before finally ineptly "denuding" a poem of mine.  My subsequent defense of that poem you have ignored.

What you cannot see is that your insanity is rife on the web and in print- in small bizarre journals. Like I sd in my original piece- yr like the kid w a colored Mohawk that thinks he's a non-conformist.

But, Danny, you didn't support your claim with quotations from me that would indicate that I think I'm a non-conformist, nor were you able to show, rather than merely assert, that my work is entirely unoriginal.

  As stated above, I do show his delusions, and never stated his work was entirely unoriginal- the qualifier being his way to wheedle out of a statement he knows is false. Again, given the context of the Grumman correspondence I never claimed I was dealing with his work alone. To assert that I did is false. It was always in the context of his work and criticism in context with his presentation and obsessions.

Ask some of your pals to fwd the email I sent where some folk commented on your latest grumblings.

I don't know if any of them got it.  Why can't you send it to me directly?

  He knows I know he got the email with my comments on his mental breakdown, but will not admit it.

Given your utter lack of self, your paranoia, utter lack of humor, and manifest ills I've gone Kid Gloves on you, not wanting you to pull a V. Woolf.

Thanks, so much, Dan.  But here's the weird thing--I've worried about causing you to go into a worse tailspin, too.

  Gotta love the false bravado. You can sense him quivering as he typed it.

 The playground is years in the past Bobby, Mary Lou Rottentwat's once desired, but always denied hole, is fetid. Get over it. Actually try writing something that will touch someone, not a pathetic 'Look at me' cry. From the 1st email I've been nothing but courteous &- GAD- a little playful, but you are utterly incapable of humor & seeing yourself objectively. I will say, 1 day, I will write a book called Emails From Idiots & you will certainly be a Top Ten contender- right along with a Finnish bestialist who loved Plath, a Pakistani megalomaniac, a wannabe scientist whose arguments over subjectivity are even more ridiculous than yours in favor of doggerel, & the best of the FUCK YOU crowd. You'll doubtlessly ignore this advice but don't waste my time w your senescent puerility. Anyone objectively reading these emails can see you've an obsessive compulsive disorder & have fixated on me.

Right.  Why, then, have you not explained why I went three months or so without e.mailing you or writing about you in my blog?

  I did. He was cowering after his denuding in front of peers. It was only with the second go-round- to even more of his peers, that his rage bettered his embarrassment.

Keep reading my site, though, and one day, you'll see a reply. I need the hits and you'll no doubt feed off the anxiety of checking every day- to see if your world has fallen apart & if you can pin the blame on me. It's a sad fix you've painted yourself into, but it's your brush!  DAN

  In a sense Grumman is like Dick Proenneke- off alone in his little world, yet with none of the wit nor wisdom. Then Grumman sunk back into his ooze, until he posted this:

9 December 2004. Considering how few people visit my blog, it's quite a disappointment that one of them, at least, is a moron. Here's what he wrote that convinced me of that: "Negative feedback especially welcome. --- Why is this? Do your insecurities drive you to try to prove something? To yourself? to someone else?" I'm not sure where in my blog I said this (although I've said versions of it in many places) but my answer to all of Mr. Anonymous's questions is, "No."

Although I have plenty of flaws, I don't have anything I'd call a genuine insecurity--just fugitive doubts, particularly not about the value of my work and thoughts but about the ability of others to recognize and reward it. My greatest lean toward insanity is toward megalomania. I welcome negative criticism not to prove anything but to use it. As I said in a recent entry, "feedback, however negative, and however stupid, will always knock me back to (whatever drew it), where I may be able to improve it . . ." I went on to say that "I like to know what effect my poems have on others . . ." and that "my critic may say something that will help me." He'll also give me subject matter for this blog, as Mr. Anonymous above has, or for some other writing of mine.

Elsewhere, I said I welcome even the stupidest negative feedback--that is, unsupported insults--because I feel good knowing that my work bothers idiots enough for them to insult it, and that the idiots have no good criticisms of my work or, at any rate, couldn't think of any to use against it. Such feedback can also anger me, which is good. Anger is not some atavistic flaw the best of us have evolved away from, but remains as important for survival and higher endeavors as any emotion there is, for it energizes us to attack Evil (however we individually define it), improve whatever it is we consider The Good, and learn how best to carry out either activity. Do you really think someone's saying, "Uh, Algernon, my dear fellow, I believe there just may be the teeny-tiniest little thing off in the meter of your poem's third line," will get you to fix it as effectively as, "Algernon, you asshole, the meter in your poem's third line stinks?"

Now, then, Mr. Anonymous (who sounds a great deal like Marcus Bales, the only person I've traded words with on the Internet I consider an outright verosopath, Dan Schneider being only a Philistine), I ask you politely why you, an apparent opponent of negativity, asked me not simply why I welcomed negative feedback but belligerantly also if my "insecurities" were the reason. In any case, I thank you, for you gave me an easy entry to write.

Note: I got a slightly later message whose writer, "K," accused me of lying about the anonymity of comments made from this blog--because they're e.mail. All I know is that all comments arrive in my InBox with a return address of "civics@geocities.com." That, for me, is anonymity.


  Bales is a doggerelist who is intendedly so, a writer of light verse, unlike Grumman’s unintended sort. What he ever did to enrage Grumman I do not know. Yet, is he a versopath or a verosopath? I, it seems, have been demoted to mere Philistine. Precious.

  In the weeks since Grumman has gone back on his deluded little path. The absurdity in his defense of this ‘work’ is almost as ludicrous as that he made for ‘river’:


28 December 2004: I'm in St. Petersburg today and tomorrow, celebrating Christmas a little late with my cousin Sue, so don't have access to anything much I can write about here. I gotta post a daily entry, though! So, something from my friend Surllama (aka Kevin Kelly):


This is from Ampersand Squared, Geof Huth's anthology of pwoermds that my outfit, The Runaway Spoon Press published this year. For me, "dwrench" beautifully sums up what a wretch is. But much else is there: the fortuitous mix of almost absurdly unrelated tactualities, one having to do with wet/dry, the other with the feel of a wrench, and machinery. Not to mention the feel of a wrenched muscle. . . . There's a haiku in the text, too, for those who might want one to be there, one about a rained-on monkey wrench.


  Now, compare this utter imbuement of a made up word, and the torturous illogic he applied to my poem. They are utter inversions. In this he sees things that are not, because he likes the ‘piece’ and the ‘poet’ while the reverse is true in my case. Grumman shows his utter lack of critical ability in pieces like this, on my poems, with willful stolidity, and many others.

  Yet, like the sciolist blogger Esmay he can come up with the occasional respite from insanity. Hope for the New Year?:


31 December 2004: At present, I'm trying (pretty valiantly, I think) to finish writing my Shakespeare authorship book, Shakespeare and the Rigidniks. I've been working on it in one way or another for something like twenty years. It's partly a set of arguments against the notion that Will Shakespeare of Stratford did not write the plays attributed to him. I'm using it mainly as a way of introducing my theory of psychology in what I hope will be an entertaining way, for the central question of the book is not who wrote the works of Shakespeare but what can cause a seemingly sane person to believe, fervently believe, that we haven't known the answer to that for over four hundred years. My answer to that is that they're nuts. The final few chapters of my book provide the details on that.

The book is the reason my entries here have been anaemic of late. Another reason for my bringing it up now is that I've come up with another coinage that I think relates to poetry: "nullaesthesia." By this, I mean a condition of insensitivity to the aesthetic (and related) aspects of a work of art. I believe many anti-Stratfordians, as those who won't accept Shakespeare as Shakespeare are called, are crippled by this condition. It far from accounts for it but does contribute to it. Because of their nullaesthesia, I theorize, they can't get the aesthetic pleasure from a mere poem or play, so need to read extra values into it, like its proported political importance or, as is the case with most anti-Stratfordians, its intimate relationship to their True Author's life. Horatio thus is not just a secondary character in a play, he's Oxford's cousin Horace! And Polonius is Lord Burghley. Every play has two plots, one the trivial overt one, the other the intricate, vastly important historical one. And the words the author uses don't merely boost a kalosperuser into sensually-rich images, and/or gorgeous verbal music, and/or buoyantly bring a character or plot to life, none of which the anti-Stratfordian can appreciate (to any significant extent), but convey secret messages. (Some Oxfordians actually believe that "ever," "never," "every" and other words with "ever" in them were, in many cases, put in Shakespeare's plays by "E. Vere," the Earl of Oxford, as secret self-references!)

I believe many academics suffer from nullaesthesia with regard to poetry, even the ones who can list all the aesthetic values of poems--because they've memorized them, not because they've experienced their effect. They are the principal stasguards blocking the way to the recognition of the newer forms of poetry, I think. (Note: I'm not saying all stasguards are nullaestesiacs; I'm sure many are, though. Some poets are, too.)


  Minus the neologisms his piece actually makes sense, and the future of discourse is not all bleak. Yet, we’ve seen Grumman’s aspersions- terms like verosopath and versopath to describe others, then retracting that charge against me, in favor of another. This is in line with the sciolist Esmay’s charges being hurled, and the neologizing is in line with the hipsters’ attempts to ‘be cool’ and relevant. The problem with constant neologizing is that it willfully marginalizes the neologizer into a delimited mode of discourse, much like the PC Elitists and sciolists do. Neologisms also need to be better suited to an idea than the older terms and a good sounding word, too. Otherwise, it’s just mental masturbation (see the above on the dwrench poem). Grumman also plays games- admitting he knows some of the people I do in common, and denying others, even as they emailed me of their contacts with him, even as Grumman was part of an arts collective that solicited me, and was on my e-list years ago. As with Esmay, Grumman often ends up arguing with himself. In Esmay’s case it’s because he needs to box in an opponent’s viewpoint, rather than deal with a new position. In Grumman’s case it’s his outright lunacy that causes himself to argue himself into liking bad art, and out of liking good art. He seeks me out to ‘test’ himself, then rails when he fails to measure up, and accuses me of somehow instigating hostilities, as I denude his poor writing, criticism, and generally solipsistic nonsense, even though his emails were rife with insanity, and venom.

  That said, Grumman- and his kind on the lunatic fringe- is the least relevant and the least destructive of the discourse dashers. He has not the power of the ignorant apparatchik, like Erika Rippeteau, which are fortunately the fewest in number, he has not even the small power that the idiotic and venomous hipsters like Drew Burk and Noose have, and he certainly does not have the reach of political bloggers like the sciolist Dean Esmay has. He’s unwittingly funny, far beyond sciolism to the edge of insanity, but it is people laughing at him, not with him- and this is the source of the rage he takes out on a convenient target- me. The problem is that the lunatic fringe is by far the largest portion of the discourse out there- at least that regularly voices itself- be it online, in chatrooms or on blogs, or in call ins to talk radio, cable tv, or C-Span.

  To illustrate the nonsensical ends that the Grummans of the world go to I was tempted to call this section: Sayonara From Sedna- Grumbler, Part 2- This Time It’s Personal! or Leaving The Solar System, The Transplutonian Grumbles of Bob Grumman: Back For The Attack! Yet, it’s not really funny. Good and honest discourse does not include willful distortions in emails, paranoid claims, and lies, all done by a stranger who solicits you out of the blue in a pathetic need for attention. Grumman merely justifies his likes with his criticism, and like is beyond criticism, for it is wholly subjective. Criticism is a more objective practice, even if it can fail that test. That is its goal. Like has no such aim.

  Thus we see more reasons why discourse fails: elitists like Erika Rippeteau- who refuse engagement, hipsters like Drew Burk and Noose- incapable of discourse, sciolists, like Dean Esmay- who employ a variety of tactics, and the lunatic fringe like Bob Grumman, who- well- you read it yourself. Is there any solution to reverse the trend of discursive discontent?




  Let me begin almost where I started, and apologize for the length of this piece. False claims necessitate detailed replies. Also, it’s important to note I can use these other folks’ writings because emails are not copyrighted, I state that all contact with Cosmoetica becomes my property, online posts to blogs are not copyrighted, unless stated otherwise, so can be used in toto, all of them can be used for critical and educational reasons as this, and the copyrighted pieces I quote from all fall under fair use- see Cosmoetica’s home page. Yet, even at this length I’m sure that there will be complaints from the Esmays and Grummans that I’ve done just what I’ve shown they’ve done- distort and lie, mostly by not giving ‘fair’ examples of the depth of their opinions or the ‘right interpretation’ of their views. Yet, I stick by my guns. I think that any biases shown on my part will seem a small fraction of that displayed by the Esmays and Grummans, and certainly my active engagement of others puts the Nooses, Burks, and Rippeteaus to shame.

  For me, re: Esmay and Grumman, it’s simply an issue of being honest and fair. You can assail my family, make fun of some physical feature, or the like, but please, do not fuck with my words- do not willfully distort, nor asperse, nor lie about me. I, as anyone who has lived four decades plus, have plenty of shit on my stick- at least complain about the right shit! A few years ago a fellow named Dave Okar took to willfully distorting my emails, then there were assorted ridiculous claims, some false claims of libel, false claims of copyright infringement, distortions by Jack Foley and company, the jackass who falsely claimed I plagiarized descriptions of Odd Couple characters, etc. To each of them I responded as I have to Esmay and Grumman, by showing their falsehoods for what they are. This sort of in-the-face rebuttal, of course, draws ire from the exposed. Yet, history stands behind those who stand up against the misinformed or willful distorters.

  In short, I don’t think that discourse is going to improve anytime soon, just as I don’t believe editors or their assistants, like Ms. Rippeteau, will soon go online and seek out good writers, instead of wading through slush piles. But it’s necessary to recognize that the apparatchiks, hipsters, sciolists, and lunatics that distort and demean discourse grow in numbers as their influence to individually damn it wane- i.e. the Rippeteaus are few in number, the hipsters a bit more, sciolists abound, and lunatics are rife, yet a Grumman is altogether impotent by himself- it’s the fact that there are so many Grummans that is the problem!

  To combat this it is incumbent upon those who do favor discourse to be honest, fair, and hopefully witty, in their dealings with others- to not pooh-pooh and dismiss, ala the apparatchiks, to actively engage, even though the frustrations of others abound, to not snarkily diss nor rail at others, like the hipsters, to not willfully distort nor lash out in name-calling when confronted with something beyond your ken, like the sciolists, nor to simply shiver in a corner nor suck on your toes and whine about why the world has passed you by, like the lunatics. Instead, engage others with an open mind. I know that I am not alone, even as I realize that I may be the lone person willing to fight back against the four types of discursive demons, or at least the only person willing to devote to such a task in such a sweeping and thorough way. But, the lessons are herein. Take them, use them, and encourage others to do so.

  If not then you have no reason to complain about discourse’s decline, your yearnings for old fashioned honest debate is nothing more than Chicken Littleism. The talk show malaise ushered in by Oprah Winfrey and her followers can be reversed. The David Susskinds and William F. Buckleys of the world are not mere passé fleetings of an older day. But, it is up to every individual to first hold themselves accountable, before they can concern themselves with others. Otherwise, you may, like Ms. Rippeteau, foolishly take a pass on a great artist like James Emanuel, like Messrs. Burk and Noose be revealed as incompetent poseurs, like Mr. Esmay live in an amber world of your choosing, or like ‘The Grumbler’, be entranced with your scary reflection in the mirror: hoogedy-boogedy!


  Add coward to Dean Esmays personae. After a month or so of hammering him over his distorted views over Vietnam, the Iraq war, and other ethical lapses, Esmay- frustrated over being intellectually bested, and having his points dissected bit-by-bit, banned me from his blog. I suspect that his real resentment stewed from both this article, and my disemboweling of this piece supporting blogs. As there, as in his blog I always gave courtesy, and wit- things Esmay is incapable of toward those who differ with him. His need to demonize undermines all he claims of himself and his views. Sad little man.  DAN

My final response to this post, which Esmay banned me on. One good thing; gutless armchair warriors like Esmay allowed me to coin a new term, The Couch Potatos Burden, and I will include such in a future article analyzing the Right's increasing drift from reality.  DAN

Owen: Resentment over a blog post. Ok, nice to know how balanced you are.

Mike: What's the body count for intrusion? Even if we say it's only 1/10 of leaving- it's still their country and to think that we can impose, after 1000s of years, 1st a democracy, then peace, is just not rational. Africa is a perfect example of Iraq's future if peace is imposed by conquerors w/o. OK, not perfect, but a good example.

Afghan- I agree, why have we diverted so much from the 'good war' to the 'bad war'? We've spread a fire, rather than staunched it.

Intell- France, Germany, Russia & others saw no credible evidence, much of the other nation's evidence was based upon CIA info regurged, and even that was roundly disputed by many intell folk- Clarke the most famous. You know that this war is a fine print war after the Headlines were bogus. 
That said, Bush 1 should have strung Saddam up in '91. But, let's not forget, he was once our 'good' dictator vs. 'bad' Khomeini. Which puppet that we install will turn, or if real elections can be held in the next decade, where you know what a candidate stands for (& even their name), what will we do if a theocracy is the will of the people- as it wd be if polls in Egypt are correct, and it held free elections.
I don't accept the Left view that they were nec. lies, although it's possible, and history has a way of producing massive after the fact tomes from insiders that lean toward tthat sort of interpretation.
But, that said, they are honest incompetents, even you de facto admit that in yr post. This instills you w confidence?
I'm not for keeping the lid on- let it explode. Let them have their Appomattox- sans us, and a few Bull Runs. If the Sunnis & Shias wanna go at it, to hell with them. Stand w the Kurds, who have been loyal to American interest all along.
I'm glad you admit you went overboard- Dean cd learn a lesson from such, as the same hysteria was wrought, w few word changes, against Vietnam- and the Domino Theory. Now, poor 3rd Worlders are so dumb they cannot tell bullshit from the real. Now, which is the racist position? Which is Dean's Couch Potato's Burden?
Fight them, but do it smartly, and use human intelligence, and perhaps- just perhaps- stop the exploitation that caused such resentment in the first place that the Osama's had truck.

'And, although Dean & others don't like it, I am tired of 3 or 4 x a week seeing interviews with vets who report that more protection is given to oil fields than commisaries. Not to mention pro-war columnists (be they on the Admin's payroll or not) being interviewed, and always, if Freudianly, slipping up and mentioning, 'Democracy in that part of the world, where the largest reserves of oil and gas are'.... ' I still wonder of this.

Dean: Oy! Sums it up. You are a failed master of projecting your fears and flaws on others. End. DAN

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  Apparently my plan to take over the world via the power of 5th Graders is well under way:



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