Category Archives: Great Non-Fictional Characters

The Last Magazine by Michael Hastings: Gawking at the Wreckage

(The following is a return to writing after a long hiatus. One earlier attempt at a return would have involved a long post about #TheFappening and a forgotten novel. That project was eventually left by the wayside because it dealt with the on-going, seemingly unending circle of poison on the internet, and the post itself felt like one more continuation of that circle. Though that post may or may not ever be written, some of its elements will eventually be brought into this one, where poisoned arrows are let fly with recklessness and abandon.)

(A NSFW warning: this post contains several passages from The Last Magazine that are very sexually explicit.)

“The ice monarch had installed his agents in my heart.”

Harlot’s Ghost, Norman Mailer

The last time I wrote about Michael Hastings, it was to say that I thought an article of his was a fucking disgrace. It was not idle clickbait malice, or malice carried over from something else, but from a passionate feeling aroused over bad work1. I don’t regret that expression, because I thought it was entirely honest, without extra venom for the pleasure of poison – such sadism would have been pointless anyway, as he was already several months dead. Hastings was an excellent reporter, a passionate, committed reporter, an ideal expressed throughout his work; his best known piece, “The Runaway General”, a profile of Stanley McChrystal which resulted in the general’s firing, did not come up about through luck or happenstance, but was an expression of skills honed for years. The flaws I saw in his last pieces were not the result of bad habits, but the collapse of his best ones, with his relapse in sobriety reflected in the thing he put his life into, which was journalism2.

The Last Magazine was his last book, and it was very much unfinished, but it haunts me and stays in my memory months after I read it – and this is not, I think, because of the virtue of the unfinished which allows the reader to project whatever they wish on the spaces in-between. The overemphasised aspect of the novel is that it was a gossipy romp, a barely veiled look at Hastings’ workplaces, Newsweek and Gawker, and the main pleasure is to play peekaboo at the names behind the pseudonyms. “There was interest in The Last Magazine,” sniffed Paul Constant, “the novel about magazine culture written by…Michael Hastings, until the first people to get their hands on the book realized it didn’t have much to offer besides thinly veiled media gossip.”3 The book’s dark heart did not so much elude reviewers, as pass willfully unseen.

The book moves back and forth between two narratives, a “Michael Hastings”, a rookie journalist working at an unnamed magazine that’s the old Newsweek (given here the brown bag pseudonym of The Magazine), and A.E. Peoria, both an excellent war correspondent and a drug-taking, scatterbrained babblemouth. As said, most of the book’s reviews dwelt on the who’s who aspect. Newsweek editor #1, Sanders Berman, “a 37-year-old trapped in a 67-year-old’s body” is, as everyone knows, Jon Meacham, and Newsweek editor #2, Nishant Patel, the man with “chocolate emeralds that a profile writer for The New York Herald said were like an Indian Cary Grant”, is Fareed Zakaria4. Hastings had already expressed his disdain wtih Meacham in a blog post, “Newsweek: Should Jon Meacham get the blame?”, where he quotes Lee Siegel’s “News-bleak! Or Is It? Grahams Succumb to Panic”, “Mr. Meacham’s deft maneuverings reaped him recognition and acclaim while his magazine tumbled toward irrelevancy,” and more directly in an interview with Cenk Uygur: “Meacham sucks,” he says, making an emphatic thumbs down gesture, “he’s on my enemies list. One of the people I wanted to go on a rant on.”5 The laughter at these men in 2014 was relatively safe; Meacham’s failure at Newsweek was so complete that he would retreat to book publishing, and Zakaria’s profile had already been diminished by one plagiarism scandal, though a second one was still to hit after the Magazine was published6.

Gawker‘s “A Guide to IDing the Real People Disguised in Michael Hastings’ Novel” [archive link] by J. K. Trotter gives a good overview of the others, with one major misidentification and one glaring omission, an omitted ID that, given the source, you might find surprising or not surprising at all. They do, however, mention that Timothy Grove is very obviously Nick Denton, the owner of the Gawker network, and that the Wretched of the book, whose guiding policy is that “we live in a society of assholes. The media is a reflection of these assholes. We’ll show you what the inside of the asshole’s asshole looks like,” was Gawker‘s as well (though Trotter’s overview doesn’t use this quote) – then, however, there was enough of an old school publishing industry for Gawker to feed exclusively on that, and their content was shorter Page Six type items, without the interruptions of insufferably smug high mindedness that afflict it now. This, however, is letting this essay get a little ahead of itself, and letting certain feelings rise to the top already. I don’t think Gawker read the book that closely or carefully, and they leave out Tabby Doling, who is very clearly Lally Weymouth7, as well as the very gossip worthy Delray M. Milius, right hand man of Berman (Meacham) and of whom I have a few guesses, but over which I don’t feel like a libel suit8. James Rosen’s review in the Post, “‘The Last Magazine,’ by Michael Hastings”, however, does ID Doling, and makes the crucial point that A. E. Peoria isn’t just a lightly fudged verion of reporter Adam Piore, as described in Piore’s insightful account, “I Am A.E. Peoria”, but a depiction of Hastings himself: “both of these characters reflect Hastings at different points in his career, and…the author — if this novel is really as semi-autobiographical as it seems — was forever struggling to reconcile the disparate facets of his personality.”

Whatever Hastings’ intent with this name, when I see “A. E. Peoria”, I think of the proverbial ordinary American small town (as in “Will it play in…”) and, because of my own idiosyncrasies, the initials read as After Earth, just like the movie, Titan A. E., about a rocket that’s escaped earth’s destruction. A.E. Peoria is an ordinary man whose center has been annihilated, who spins out in a self-destructive circle as a war reporter. The relation of these two characters, I think, are a more complicated tension than Hastings as a Newsweek intern, and Hastings after going to Iraq and Afghanistan, but selves in Hastings that were always at tension. “I have a disorder,” says Peoria, “Compulsive disclosure disorder. I have no filter, my shrink says. I don’t know boundaries, I’m always revealing very personal and intimate details about my life,” he tells Hastings, and this seems nothing like the writer of The Operators whose work keeps a tight focus on the subject details, and though he lets a voice of exasperation or anger into his work, it’s often difficult to find life details there, or even in the usual sink of self-obsessiveness, your blog; The Hastings Report keeps its eyes on the grindings of political and foreign affairs. But this was Hastings as well, an earlier, more confessional version, as described in possibly the best account of the man, “Reckless and Inspired: An Interview With Jonathan Hastings About His Brother, the Journalist Michael Hastings” (equal to or superior to the best profile, “Who Killed Michael Hastings?” by Benjamin Wallace), from the blog Uncouth Reflections by “Paleo Retiree”. Jonathan Hastings: “I’m not sure what kind of writing he did when he was in that first year of college, but when he was living in Vermont again, he was writing all the time in journals…He actually ended up writing a memoir about this whole period. I’ve never read it and he couldn’t get it published.” Hastings was an excellent listener, allowing his subjects to talk, sometimes to indict themselves, yet this was through a deliberate act of restraint. “What I learned,” he told NYC radio host Leonard Lopate in 2012, “was that if you just sit and listen, and let them talk…I mean, I’m a big talker. Don’t get me wrong. Ask my wife. I’m a big talker. So the fact that I’ve been able to sortof train myself to sit back and listen, I think…that’s the most important thing a journalist can do.”9

Peoria snorts coke on the plane back home from an assignment in Chad. On vacation in Thailand, he takes hallucinogens laced with amphetamines. When Michael Hastings and Peoria go to a bar, Peoria orders two tequila shots while Hastings has a club soda. Perhaps because he was a prominent reporter for Rolling Stone, Hastings was tagged with being a journalist in the manner of Hunter S. Thompson, a wild, crazy, rambling addict. Nothing embodies this wrongheaded notion more than the obituary by John Dolan10, “Michael Hastings, Dead of Gonzo”: “Hastings never bought into that consensus, as his choice of car demonstrates. He died at the wheel of a C-Class Merc with 200 HP. The point of a car like that is to drive into palm trees at 4:30 a.m.” According to this epitaph, Hastings’ success had something to do with the fact that he wasn’t a homeowner who thought about mortgages (he owned a place in Vermont) with his domestic partner (he was married) and their golden retriever (he owned a Corgi). He was out in his Merc the night he died too young, and this crazy spirit supposedly informed his entire life and journalism. Where Thompson went for a crazed, hyperactive, hallucinatory style, Hastings’ writing always stayed calm, cold, and on the matter at hand. I don’t think McChrystal could have been dismissed over something which was covered in Thompson’s nightmare exhuberance, because the very style would place the account in doubt. The precision and the seriousness of Hastings’ piece is what made it so damning; this isn’t the reporter ginning anything up to get a better or more exciting story, this is what actually happened. In The Last Magazine, the character of “Michael Hastings” offers a withering critique of A.E. Peoria on TV, and we see exactly what Hastings wished to avoid so that his reporting would be taken seriously. What he describes is something like Thompson in his public appearances: “I know they will take one look at Peoria and think: This guy is fucked-up, this guy doesn’t know what he’s saying, he’s not making any sense at all.”

Kafka’s “Hunger Artist” is about a man whose starvation would become a spectacle, and Thompson’s college tours became something like “The Opiate Artist”, his voracious drug taking the overriding object of attention. It’s difficult to conceive of Hastings being this kind of showman; when he appeared on TV or on podcasts, he avoided glib pronouncements, easy nostrums, or simple provocations, but gave detailed analyses of what was taking place in Afghanistan or Iraq. To give an account of what actually took place, not to distort it into something more exciting, entertaining, or attention getting was crucial to the man, as we hear in this moment from the 2010 Polk Awards (where his “Runaway General” was one of the winners) between the moderator John Darnton and Hastings11:

DARNTON:
I don’t mean for this to be a contentious question, but do you think, obviously your piece has created some controversy among your colleagues. Do you think it is, uh, fair…to hang out with someone over a long period of time, or even a short period of time…and kindof go drinking with them, listen to them…

HASTINGS:
I didn’t drink with them.

DARNTON:
Okay-

HASTINGS:
I don’t drink, actually.

DARNTON:
Go to a bar with them in which they’re getting hammered.

HASTINGS:
Have you read Rolling Stone?

DARNTON:
Yup. No, hang out with someone, and hear their off the cuff comments-

HASTINGS:
They weren’t off the cuff comments.

DARNTON:
I’m not saying they were-

HASTINGS:
I’m going to contest every inaccurate thing you say, so…let’s just…

DARNTON:
Jokes. And I’m not saying they’re irrelevant jokes. But just comments. Things people say.

HASTINGS:
If-

DARNTON:
Banter among them.

HASTINGS:
I- I-

DARNTON:
Let me finish. Do you think it’s fair to-

HASTINGS:
I’ve heard this before, that’s why I know where you were going.

DARNTON:
…into a larger portrait.

HASTINGS:
Sure. I think the key in this sense was that these weren’t just offhand comments, [they were] comments that got directly at the idea of civil-military relations. And the civil military relationship is the key component to our counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan, so when you have the top general of the war, showing such disdain, and his staff – and the general is responsible for the command – when you have the top general of the war, and his staff, consistently making comments that were derogatory about the civilian leadership, whether they were justified or not to make those comments, that to me was clearly an important story to tell.

Peoria is Hastings’ difficult past and his sad future. Jonathan Hastings would give an account that was neither picturesque or romantic of his brother’s early difficulties with drug use, before he recovered and shifted his intense focus to reporting. Again, from “Reckless and Inspired”:

There was some relief from my parents when he went off to college. But that environment turned out to be really bad for him. He started using all sorts of drugs and it triggered a kind of manic episode. When he went home for summer after his first year of college, he wasn’t in good shape and ended up crashing a car, getting arrested, and going to detox/rehab. Though later he told it as a kind of gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson-style adventure, it was a really traumatic experience for him and my family. But he was always looking for risks: even after he sobered up and got his life on track and had his career underway he still wanted to push the envelope, such as having himself assigned to Newsweek’s Iraq bureau.

Paleo Retiree asks a little later: “What did being a foreign correspondent and a war reporter mean to Mike?” Jonathan Hastings: “He was a self-proclaimed war junkie.” It is always dangerous to analyze the dead, because we are allowed the arrogance of a multitude of hypotheses without the dead being able to shout out an argument against them; but I don’t think it’s an astonishing or difficult leap to say that after going into detox, Michael Hastings found an adrenaline surge in war and war reporting that he could not find in ordinary life, could not find in drugs, though he also knew that war was incredibly dangerous, that it could obviously destroy you physically, that it could destroy you inside as well, and that however much you wanted this surge, however much you couldn’t live without it, you had to turn away from it; but when he returned to civilian life, he still craved this energy, and he eventually went back to the old substitute of drugs.

Though he rarely let personal details come through in The Operators, he makes brief mention of his addiction, the craving for the strange energy of a war zone, on the way to an interview in a very dangerous part of Afghanistan:

I had reservations about going. I knew my security advisors wouldn’t be happy that within one day I was already ignoring their advice. I knew that the risks weren’t worth the payoff. But I felt the pressure to get a good story and I’d traveled down to this shithole of a city. I wasn’t just going to stay in my hotel, self-aware enough to know I was behaving in the classic war junkie fashion.

And so I found myself driving along a road from Kandahar to Herat in a white Toyota Corolla, thinking, You never put yourself in these situations, but you always seem to find yourself in them. Thinking of it as something out of my control decreased the blame—and there is plenty of blame if things go wrong, and it’s all blame on me. I know it’s a risk, I know it’s a rush, I know it’s not a healthy lifestyle. I know it’s an addiction; I know it’s the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

In the middle of the book, we have Hastings explicitly merging these addictions. He is in Dubai, on the way to the war in Afghanistan, and he gets drunk for the first time in a decade. He goes over a twentieth century history of war correspondents, until he hits the nineties:

In the nineties, the conflicts were bloody and didn’t usually involve American boys. A new phrase was popularized in the lexicon of journalism: the war junkie. It was rare to find a reporter to admit to being one, at least in public. There was more honor in self-identifying as an alcoholic. It was not appropriate to speak of the perverse fun of war. It must be buried under other motives. The war correspondent had to wrap himself in the language of human rights. He must bear witness, performing some kind of pseudo-religious rite. He was forced, in public, to talk about war as damning, ignoble, awful, tragic. Yet he kept going back for more. The irony had slowly crept in. A British journalist’s account of his time in the Balkans twins his heroin addiction with his compulsion to cover the conflict. He kicked the heroin. The book became an instant classic. I saw him in Baghdad a few years later. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Chris Hedges summed it all up: “The rush of battle is one of the most potent and lethal addictions, for war is a drug, one I have ingested many times.”

A little later, he writes: “I’d learned from all the literature that I had read that war always ended in violence, pain, self-destruction, madness, and tragedy. I confirmed this well-proven thesis for myself.” And: “Here’s what else I learned: The correspondent’s identity becomes inseparable from war.” In his memoir I Lost My Love in Baghdad, when his plane takes off out of Iraq, Hastings writes of the two as similar and intermixed:

The flight starts to take off. There is a draft coming from somewhere. The 737 is shaking more than it should. The wheels lift off the ground. I don’t hear any loud noises. The music in my headphones plays. I smile. I smile in a way I haven’t since the days before I got sober seven years ago. The addict in me is alive again and oh what a feeling. I survived. I made it. I didn’t fuck up. Bliss.

I know now what they are talking about when they say “war junkies,” now I understand exactly what they mean. I’ve felt it before. I know the pull, the intoxication, the life-affirming chemicals released after seeing the abyss and coming back from it. When I was a teenager I used to snort cocaine and smoke crack and party all night and booze for months because I wanted to know what it was like to hit those highs and to feel those highs when they all came crashing down.

He also quotes from a letter to his fiancé about his drug addiction as an attempt at self-destruction:

It’s not easy, this love thing, and we both have dark corners in our hearts. Yours is dark in the places where you have been betrayed and abused; mine is cloudy and bruised near the left ventricle; self-destruction does haunt me, an old and nasty friend, a habit, because there was a long time in my life where I thought the only thing to do with my self was to destroy it.

That war became an integral part of his existence, where your life becomes an admixture that barely contains this element, and that the last part of his life was an attempt to return to this strange energy, is too often avoided for the preferable wilds of conspiracy theory. “Some of the pieces of this puzzle are just so bizarre, they almost cannot be explained any other way than that there was some kind of foul play involved. A brand new Mercedes C250 does not simply explode into flames at the drop of a hat very easily,” says one amateur analyst on Hastings’ accident12. You could follow that mazing trail, or you could take the path Hastings already laid out in an essay explaining his own fascination with war, as well as what might finally have overwhelmed him. The Hurt Locker, and What it Means to be Addicted to War”, uses the movie as a foundation on which to discuss the longing of the war correspondent as a physical addiction. War, says Hastings, has nothing to do with heroism, valor, or the nobility of sacrifice. “It destroys what we love, people, children, sons and daughters, things, culture, buildings, possessions, morality, emotions, and our own sense of who we are as human beings. There is not much new for me to learn about war,” he writes. “And yet, I’ve kept going back.” And: “Am [I] doing this for the right reasons? Are there right reasons? Or have I, like Sgt. James in The Hurt Locker, fallen prey to an addiction? Am I about to take another potentially lethal dose?”

Jessica Coen, the former editor-in-chief of Gawker and later editor-in-chief of Jezebel, was friendly with Hastings and she would write the following after the publication of The Last Magazine13:

Eventually Newsweek sent [Michael] to Iraq, and after that he was different. He said there was a lot of stuff that I just couldn’t understand. He wasn’t crazy or anything, but he also kept a gun under his bed (futon, actually, in a shitty Allen Street walkup down the street from my shitty Orchard Street walkup). I also remember him saying that he was incapable of relaxing, not even in NYC, after that experience. He was also 100% certain he would go back. It was what he wanted to do. Very Hurt Locker-esque, like one of those people who just couldn’t return to regular life.

I think Hastings gives us some hint as to why he couldn’t sleep without a gun by his bed from the nightmares he began to have in Iraq, what he calls “insurgent dreams”, and which he relates in his memoir, I Lost My Love in Baghdad. They’re dreams which almost everyone in Iraq ends up having, which he never have before, and which he first hears about from one of his translators:

I should have asked him about his dreams, but it is only in the following year, long after our conversation, that I’ll come to really understand what he meant by insurgent dreams. One night, I’ll even dream of him and another translator, Ahmer, stuck on the side of a cliff in the middle of a blizzard. We were all at my old home in upstate New York sitting on snowmobiles, and then I send them out on a story without the proper clothing and with radios that are running low on batteries. The storm gets worse and the temperature drops quickly, and they freeze to death on the ledge of a mountain.

There are other dreams: My mother is in Baghdad, but this time Baghdad looks like a college town, and she’s dropping me off to work at a twenty-four-hour convenience store. As we commute, I lie down in the backseat of the car (a ’92 Buick Park Avenue, the car I crashed drunk when I was nineteen). In another dream, Baghdad appears as a campus on a hill. A group of us—reporters, I think—take a walk to some kind of cultural center. There are a series of checkpoints, but the grass is green and there are maple trees so we aren’t worried. The insurgents don’t show themselves in such nice weather and ideal surroundings. In another, I am in a car with Scott and it looks like the real Baghdad now. “Why are we going this way?” he asks. “We should turn back.” And then I am driving a bus on a dirt road. A veteran correspondent, Rod Nordland, tells me to drive faster, there is a pickup truck following us. Head to the lake and the beach. I think the only safety is the lake. I jump in and start to swim. Insurgents can’t swim, can they? Yes, they can, and one comes after me, splashing me as he gets closer and then he kills me. I wake up in my bedroom in Baghdad and stare at the clicking ceiling fan. Something profound has changed in my thinking. Never before had I died in a dream. I usually woke up first.

If we wish to think of the death of Michael Hastings as a puzzle, something with clean edges that could be solved, for me the end of “What it Means to be Addicted to War” lands down with a solid click that fills the curved space, but which gives no satisfaction at all, only a heartbreaking “Yes. That’s it.”:

Normal life can’t compete with the potent drug of war.

I don’t disagree. Normal life doesn’t stand a chance against war, in the same way that shooting up or swallowing a pill of ecstasy trumps reality every time. But I do take issue with how The Hurt Locker ends — not because I didn’t like the movie, or that it wasn’t enjoyable. It just doesn’t go far enough. In fact, I don’t think it was enough like Kathryn Bigelow’s earlier classic on adrenaline junkies, Point Break, a film about a gang of bank robbing surfers. That might sound ridiculous, but the movies’ themes are identical.

In the finale, the late Patrick Swazye (playing Bodhi, Point Break‘s version of Sgt. James) is found on an Australian beach, chasing the ultimate storm, the big wave. Bohdi gets swept away by this overwhelming, violent, thrilling, force of nature. Keanu Reeves, playing the troubled cop hero, speaks the film’s last memorable line: “He’s not coming back.” That’s what happens when you embrace dark and wild forces beyond control. The Hurt Locker, on the other hand, doesn’t take war addiction to its logical, unambiguous, conclusion. That is, death.

Addictions destroy, junkies usually die, and the war always wins.

The Last Magazine is very much about this addiction to war, about never wanting to leave it and always wanting to return, though it does so at a slant. The actual cruel details of war are actually very uncomfortable to talk about, and war here becomes something else whose actual details often cause a great deal of conversational discomfort, and that’s sex. If you don’t see this twinning, the focus and explicit detail of the sex scenes in the book will produce bafflement. “In places there are unusually detailed sex scenes that are just plain bizarre,” writes Adam Piore. “Occasional cringe-inducing passages on the pornographic tastes of the principal characters notwithstanding, this book has points of interest at every turn,” writes Tom Gallagher in “Michael Hastings Skewers Them From the Grave (with a Scoop of Gawker)”. Or they might be viewed as simple joking around, “Multiple prostitutes are called into the scrum; sexual organs end up in bandages,” writes Dwight Garner in his Times review, “War’s Hell, Especially for Editors”. “Do not, unless you are mischievous, recommend this novel to your aunt’s book group.” In the next sentence, however, Garner mentions a book episode where Hastings tips his hand as to his intent: “One memorable and weirdly incisive chapter is made up entirely of the narrator’s flipping back and forth between cable porn and the start of the Iraq war on television.” The Michael Hastings of the book watches on, a voyeur to war and sex, while Peoria engages in the acts that Hastings only gazes on.

The bar for my porn watching keeps going higher. Rewind again. The man shooting his jizz in the faces of Ying and Yang doesn’t do it tonight. The gaping holes don’t do it. Fast-forward. Maybe the next scene with Gauge will. Gauge is dressed to look like a fourteen-year-old girl. She’s earns her living the hard way—it’s not fair to say just on her back, but with all different parts of her body flattened against floors, walls, designer chairs, soiled mattresses, leather couches, bent and acrobatic, ass pointed to the air, the weight of her body on her neck, knees somehow stretched backward behind her ears. I read on the Internet that she does five scenes a week in a good week.

I am waiting for what is making me come lately.

Ass to mouth—shorthand: ATM.

I watch the man, whose hair could have been styled in 1991 and never been changed, take his penis from her ass and then grab her by the waist to twist her face toward his cock. I wait for the moment when he puts his cock in her mouth, the moment of entry.

It doesn’t happen. There’s a jump cut.

I’m pissed. That is no good at all. I need to see the full-body motion, I need to see the uninterrupted movement from ass to mouth because I am savvy enough, my penis is savvy enough, to know that if there is a jump cut, then things could have been done, organs cleaned, wiped off, made more sanitary; my brain is trained to sense these kinds of illusions, to sense when it’s not real enough—when it’s too clean.

The intersection of sex and war:

Fast-forward. Gauge is kneeling and spitting and the man’s hand is on his penis, a point-of-view shot, and he ejaculates in her face. I shoot too.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Okay.

I hit the Last button and jump back to a CNN correspondent with the 1st Armored Division.

The correspondent has positioned himself on a road to somewhere, and the trucks are rolling by him.

I reflect. I know I am being somewhat self-conscious. I know I am somehow, in some inexplicable way, being ironic. But I am not being ironic. This is just what life is for me. What else am I going to do when sitting in front of a TV alone? Jerk off. And if my country is going to war, I’m going to watch my country go to war.

This moment is taken entirely from Hastings’ own life, as can be read in his memoir, I Lost My Love in Baghdad:

That August, I listened to Vice President Cheney say we were going after Saddam. I remember my initial response was, what a crazy idea. What a crazy, crazy idea, flying thousands of miles with an invading army to topple a government. But as the debate began, I started to think, well, democracy, freedom, 9-11, WMDs, maybe it’s not such a bad idea. Being a contrarian, I argued with my antiwar colleagues, taking on the neoconservative talking points just to see how they felt, even though the talk of mobile weapons labs all seemed like complete bullshit to me, like whoever drew up the diagrams of mobile weapons labs had watched too much G.I. Joe as a child and could only imagine some kind of fantastic weapon that C.O.B.R.A (the evil terrorist organization fighting to rule the world, as the theme song pointed out) used to attack the real American heroes. On February 5, 2003, Colin Powell posed on 1st Avenue in New York City with a vial of fake anthrax. On March 20, 2003, the war started. For the next forty-eight hours, I watched TV, nonstop it seemed, switching between live coverage of the invasion and Adult Videos on Demand, alone in my New York apartment, thinking, I want to be over there, I want to be in Iraq.

Two years later here I am.

The book’s “Michael Hastings” wants to look at sex the way others want to look at war, something that looks real, like it’s dirty, like it’s gritty, like it’s actually happening, yet part of a simple structure allowing for release. There’s a sense that what the adult performer goes through is strenuous – “I read on the Internet that she does five scenes a week in a good week” – and yet this is secondary to the entertainment, just as the soldier’s life and struggles are secondary to the glossy war narratives of his magazine’s managing editor, Sanders Berman. For Berman, war is a kind of pornography distant from the reek and violence of the actual, a repeated veneration of sacred historical relics. “I read his book, The Greatest War on Earth,” narrates the Hastings of the book. “If I am in the mood to be cruel, I’d say his book does really well at nourishing our national myths. It’s a real comfort, reading his book. It gives you a real warm feeling about that whole time between 1939 and 1945. A real black-and-white-photo wholesomeness to it, a breast-fed narrative of good versus evil.”14 The perspective of the fictional Hastings towards the fictional Jon Meacham was shared by the actual Hastings toward the actual Meacham. “Newsweek when Jon Meacham was editor, they would not have printed my story [“The Runaway General”],” Hastings told Cenk Uygur. “Why do you think that is?,” asked Uygur. Hastings: “Political reasons, for reasons that there’s a sense that at Newsweek we were supposed to uphold…that we are supposed to reinforce our societal myths, not deconstruct them, and not kindof expose them. And there’s a real mission there, certainly under Meacham, Meacham sucks.”15 The actual physicality of existence deflates all these myths. In “Hack: Confessions of a Presidential Campaign Reporter”, his account of the 2008 primaries, Hastings makes his contempt for the process and participants obvious, but he keeps out personal details except for one habit, which effectively deflates the idea of a rarefied arena of democratic process, unending high flown music of regal trumpets and anthems:

There was no small amount of hypocrisy when it came to journalists discussing the sex lives of the people they cover, since fidelity wasn’t exactly a prized virtue among reporters on the campaign trail. For my part, I watched a lot of porn. A colleague told me the first thing he did after checking in to a hotel was to check out their porn selection. I followed his example. I’d become an expert on the various hotel chains and what they offered. The best was clearly the Hyatt Regency; the Homewood Suites had the usual selection of XX features. On my last night in Manchester, after the primaries were over and the campaigns had moved on, I selected one called Nasty Older Sluts or something like that for $11.95. (Note to Newsweek accounting department: I never expensed the porn.)

It occurred to me, as I sat there watching an interracial couple banging, that jacking off in a hotel room was not unlike the larger experience of campaign reporting. You watch two performers. You kind of like it when one of them gets humiliated. You know they’re professionals, so you don’t feel much sympathy for them. You wish you could participate, but instead you watch with a hidden envy and feel vaguely ashamed for watching. You think you could probably do as good a job or better. You sometimes get a glimpse, intentionally or not, of society’s hidden desires and fears. You watch the porn week after week, the scenes almost always the same, none of them too memorable. The best ones get sent around the Internet.

The ultimate refutation of any ideal of war is what it does to the body itself. There was one moment that stayed with him for a long time, I think, as it would with most people. He described the moment at length on Scott Horton’s show on Anti-War Radio, “Scott Horton Interviews Michael Hastings (April 21, 2009)”, a podcast on which he was a frequent guest16. I bold one key line:

HORTON:
In the article [“Obama’s War” in GQ], you describe it as a really beautiful scene, all the shooting stars and everything up there at the roof of the world.

HASTINGS:
There was the shooting stars, there was all the Americans shooting flares to taunt the Taliban to attack. It is a very scenic, I always thought, and I say this cynically and in jest, that at least in Aghanistan, it’s a scenic war, and in Iraq, I don’t remember too many moments of beautiful sunsets there.

HORTON:
Yeah, it just looks like Houston or something.

HASTINGS:
Yeah. (laughs) Houston with more concrete.

HORTON:
Uh, now, one of the things that you wrote about in your article that was pretty shocking, it’s the kind of reporting that we don’t usually hear, we don’t usually hear this kind of detail, anyway, in real narrative form, but the story of a suicide bombing at what I guess was the gate of the base you were staying at?

HASTINGS:
Yeah. Yes.

HORTON:
Tell us the story. What happened there.

HASTINGS:
I’d actually just got off the phone, I was standing outside this base, we were about eight miles from the border, the Pakistan border, and it was a beautiful sunny day, and all of a sudden there’s this loud boom, and I see over my shoulder about seventy five feet away, this plume of smoke comes up, the kid who was on guard, the American, yells, “Oh my God! We’ve been hit by a suicide bomber!” And there was some shooting, and- But what had happened was, this was really the sort of disturbing thing. That the suicide bomber had used local Afghan kids, seven-eight year olds, who used to hang out at the base, hang out at the base with the Americans, as cover to walk right up to the gate. And the kids ran away, a few seconds before the suicide bomber detonated it. And two- Luckily, no one was actually killed in the suicide bombing attack. Two Afghan security guards who were working for the Americans were injured quite badly. But the disturbing, more disturbing part was afterwards, the clean-up. They had to clean up the suicide bomber. Because his body had been spread all throughout the base. And to clean up…literally, they call it the police crawl, where all the soldiers, all the Americans sortof walk one step and then another step, trying to pick up different parts of the body and to put in a sortof plastic bag to bury it. And what I remembered, about this moment, I saw the guy’s leg, laying near one of the barbed wire fences, and on his foot was this nice high top with a yellow stripe. And later that day, the suicide bomber’s remains were buried, they had put his hightops on top of his grave about a hundred yards from the base. About an hour after that, a couple of guys from the village went to the grave to pay their respects, I guess, looked both ways, then grabbed the guy’s high tops, then left.

HORTON:
Nice. Well. I guess that doesn’t sound too much different than America. (laughs)

HASTINGS:
(laughs)

HORTON:
It’s part of a very bleak picture of the country that you paint in the article. And, I guess, it really goes to the question of whether the Center for a New American Security’s plan for a ten year occupation in the building of a nation has any credibility at all.

HASTINGS:
Sure, and I think…what I’m always fascinated with, is this human aspect of it. The effects of violence on the Americans who witness it, the Afghans who witness it, whether they’re children or teenagers or adults, and yeah, this idea that we’re going to buy into ten more years, and ten years, by that way, that’s the low estimate. You talk to David Kilcullen [senior counter-insurgency advisor], one of General Petraeus’s advisors, was one of General Petraeus’s advisors, who was also a major proponent of counter-insurgency, and he’s a really smart guy…but what he’s calling for is, literally, a twenty five year commitment, to Afghanistan and Pakistan as a region. So, even ten years is a very hopeful estimate.

Though Hastings is almost always on point with his answers, at the end of this interview, when Horton asks about an Afghanistan occupation plan, Hastings briefly goes off on a tangent: “Sure, and I think…what I’m always fascinated with, is this human aspect of it. The effects of violence on the Americans who witness it…” and here, I do not think he is simply talking of the soldiers in the field, but himself.

Hastings distinguishes the contrast between the ideal of war, the beautiful brutal valor, the ideal that cannot be tarnished through defeat or atrocity, with the vile details of war in two prominent moments in his writing. There is a speech by Graeme Lamb, a British Special Forces Commando and one of McChrystal’s advisors in The Operators:

The arena: It was a favorite concept for men like Lamb, capturing a dangerous and seductive worldview when applied to war. The idea came from Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech, trashing critics and valuing the experience of risk over all else. “It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, and who comes up short again and again…” I’d heard other generals use the quote in Iraq17. What mattered wasn’t what the war was about, or what might or might not be accomplished; what mattered was that there was an inherent value in being a man, in going into action, in bleeding. There was little difference in victory or failure. The sacrifice of blood had an almost spiritual value beyond politics, beyond success, beyond good and evil; blood and sweat and pain made up its own ideology, existing within its own moral universe of a very narrowly defined concept of honor and bravery. It was as brave and honorable to take a bullet for the brotherhood as it was to cover up a bullet’s mistake. It didn’t matter that in Afghanistan, the U.S. military had come up short again and again. What mattered is that they tried. The simple and terrifying reality, forbidden from discussion in America, was that despite spending $600 billion a year on the military, despite having the best fighting force the world had ever known, they were getting their asses kicked by illiterate peasants who made bombs out of manure and wood. The arena acted as a barrier, protecting their sacrifices from the uncomfortable realities of the current war—that it might be a total waste of time and resources that historians would look back on cringing, in the same way we looked back on the Soviets and the British misadventures there.

And then there is the episode that Hastings brought up on Scott Horton’s podcast, from “Obama’s War”:

“There are body parts all over the place, all through the district center,” Hilt [Captain Terry Hilt] says. “Doc, we got plenty of rubber gloves? We’re going to get some and do a police crawl across the DC. If you find fingers, any of that stuff, don’t touch it. Call for one of the HIIDE [Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment, device for obtaining identity through fingerprint and retinal scans] guys. We might be able to get it to hit on the HIIDE system.”

Hilt pauses and then adds, “Pictures. Do not be taking pictures of friggin’ body parts. You’ll get in a lot of trouble if you try to take pictures of body parts home18. We got really lucky. Stay vigilant. Here’s the good news: The sandbags worked, the gate worked. Because of that, we’re not putting anybody in the ground.”

The soldiers pull on rubber gloves and go outside and begin walking slowly over the gravel, looking for pieces of the bomber. One soldier scrapes up a chunk of flesh with a shovel. “Mmm, pancakes,” he says. “Why the fuck couldn’t they have used a car bomb? I don’t mind cleaning up after car bombs. Everything’s burned up.”

They dump the body parts in a clear plastic garbage bag. The bomber’s legs are still there near the gate, intact from the knee down. His legs are hairy. He was wearing white high-tops with yellow stripes. The scalp is on the ground next to a Hesco barrier, a blood-wet mop of black hair.

Staff Sergeant Daniel Smith spots a blackened finger hanging off the concertina wire, and Staff Sergeant Aaron Smelley, who’s in charge of identification, takes it and places it on the portable HIIDE machine and presses hard to get a scan. After a few tries, he gets a reading, but the fingerprint doesn’t match any known terrorist in the database.

The Afghan police bury the leftover body parts a few hundred meters away from the base in a small cemetery. They place a pile of rocks on top to mark the grave, then lay the bomber’s yellow-striped high-tops next to the rocks. Later that afternoon, two Afghan men from one of the nearby villages come to look at the grave site. As they start to walk away, one of them turns back and picks up the high-tops and takes them for himself.

That night the dogs are back, barking and fighting over the bits of flesh that flew so far from the base they were missed during the cleanup.

There is nothing of the heroic or epic in Peoria as he stumbles around Iraq and Chad, and this is not Hastings mocking the lesser, weaker man in contrast to the truly heroic, but a depiction of how people act: you are scared, you want to get out alive, you don’t know what to do. When Peoria is in Iraq, the war experience we see is defined again and again by sex. There is a discussion before the fighting starts. Soldier #1: “That’s fucking gay, dude.” Soldier #2: “Ball flaps aren’t fucking gay…I want to start a family when I get back, not just give fucking blow jobs like you. I’m keeping mine on.” Soldier #3, to Peoria: “If you haven’t noticed, the Army is a twenty-four-hour gay joke,” and Peoria writes down an observation that Hastings had already made on his blog, “‘The Army Is A 24-Hour Gay Joke'”: “Over the last couple years, I’ve had the privilege to spend a lot of time with American combat forces in Iraq, and, more recently, in Afghanistan. If there is one persistent form of humor it is this: jokes about homosexuality. Lots and lots of gay jokes. So many that, on my last embed, a soldier told me this gem: “When my family asks what it’s like to be in the Army,” he said. “I tell them it’s like a 24-hour gay joke.”” Peoria has been told by his editors to come up with color for their package on the ground war, “examples of fear”: “Soldiers afraid of gay men wouldn’t cut it. But the fear of getting your balls blown off was something he could work with.” Whether it be cannonballs tearing through a ship’s wood and throwing splinters into sailor’s privates, or the Bouncing Betty, a mine that jumped up a few feet so the explosion would tear up a man’s balls and dick: “The soldier’s number-one fear, Peoria writes in his mind, throughout the history of human warfare.”

Peoria is embedded in a convoy that’s part of the initial approach to Baghdad, and they come under fire, with almost everyone in his Humvee killed. Peoria survives alongside a badly wounded soldier, Justin Salvador. This soldier’s number one fear has come true: his groin is torn up by bullets, but Peoria staunches the bleeding and manages to keep Salvador alive till reinforcements show up. Peoria reaches Baghdad. Hastings gives us a brief chapter, “Interlude”: “My attention strays from the war after the first summer of the invasion…Anyway, mission accomplished. You might forget that at the time, people took that seriously.” We follow Peoria on a vacation to Thailand, where he has sex with a series of whores. “After one come two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight . . . Like pills, like shots, like hands of blackjack and lines of cocaine and potato chips and cheese fries.” The colonialism of the past shadows his brief sense of supremacy now. He stays at the Bangkok Mandarin Oriental. “The Oriental: the hotel of Graham Greene and Joseph Conrad and Somerset Maugham and James Michener.” He is entirely alone, speaking only to those who take his orders. “He has spoken only to whores and concierges and maids for two weeks now. Conversations, one-sided as was his way, but conversations with people there to serve him. Should he feel bad about that?” He meets with a frenchman, Marcel, and his wife, Valerie, with Marcel looking on while Peoria has sex with Valerie, Marcel fellating Peoria as well. This again is sex as a metaphor for war, the colonialist of the past looking on with rapture at the colonialism of today. “We have the Arabs in Paris and you must treat them like that—with spit and kicks.” But Peoria doesn’t have any ideas or attitudes of supremacy, he is simply here, a figure of chance. “It is all savage and torture and Islam,” says Marcel. “Oh, you can’t say that about just Islam, dude, all religions are fucked,” replies Peoria. Marcel, Valerie, and Peoria have sex, and just as there are things you see in war close-up that occasionally make it into the movies, that might make you say just like in the movies, Peoria glimpses something that is a highlight and theme of some pornography, but which he’s never seen in the actual before:

Peoria falls over onto the bed. Valerie rolls to her back. Marcel gets to his knees, and starting at his wife’s breasts, licks and caresses her body, moving toward her belly button, moving toward her pussy. Valerie puts her hand on his head and pushes lightly, her fingers tangled in her husband’s thinning hair. Valerie puts her left hand on the top of her pussy, and in a move that Peoria has seen only on a computer monitor and television screen, she squeezes and a dollop of his sperm pops up.

Clams, seashells, mollusks, mussels, oysters. White discharge. Membranes and inverse epidermal layers. Pink jowls, a string of soy milk drool. A raw baked good, doughy, whipped egg-white batter uncooked.

Pushing himself up on his elbows, Peoria sees for the first time—in the dimming lights of the HDTV and the digital clock and the faint city lights cutting through the open drapes—what a cream pie looks like.

Peoria returns to the United States, and though the book never speaks of Peoria being changed by the war, he is changed: this is a book where war merges with sex; Peoria has picked up a veneral disease and after a doctor removes some skin, he now has a bandage on his dick. The character of Hastings is honest, but merciless, in his assessment when the two see each other again: Peoria looks weak, unwashed, unhealthy, a wheezing wreck who can’t stop talking. Peoria works on a story about the Koran being desecrated at the Abu Ghraib detention facility with Mark Healy, which provokes rioting and multiple deaths – an incident from actual life, when Michael Isikoff, on whom Healy is based, reported that the Koran had been desecrated at the Guantanamo Bay internment facility (see “Newsweek Reporter Michael Isikoff Discusses His Coverage of Koran Desecration at Guantanamo”, an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!). The various pundits and cable outlets are at a righteous boil. “Off to CNN?” Sanders Berman asks Nishant Patel when they meet by the elevator. “Oh, no, no time for television today,” says Patel. “Me either,” says Berman. If Peoria has ever had any political sense on what to do here, he has lost it completely after the war. “Peoria, man, I think they want you to take the blame for this,” Hastings tells him. Peoria goes on CNN. “I don’t think, I mean, you have to understand that I’m sorry that this rioting happened, but you know that cleric, that guy, he’s a real jerk—he’s not like a good guy, you know?” He is shouted down by the other panelist, a Daniel Tubes19: “Can I just respond to what Mr. Peoria said first? What he’s doing is classic. He’s blaming the victims for his own reckless reporting.” Peoria is suspended. Afterwards, he stabs himself in the leg with a pencil by accident, and he doesn’t feel it at all, doesn’t notice anything’s wrong except for the people screaming in horror. He takes a leave of absence, and falls into a depression when he’s no longer writing, and during a period when he confines himself to his bedroom, he speaks of his wounds, visible and invisible:

Back to the darkness he went. Back to the darkness, for another three-week stretch, the bills and dirty laundry piling up, redux. Resorting to reusing the coffee filter in his coffee machine after running out of paper filters, ordering groceries and deliveries, ordering everything and keeping the door shut. Vowing to never again check his email, never to look at what other news it would bring—the wound on his leg had healed, the puncture wound had healed, the molluscum contagiosum had run its course, but a new wound had opened up.

The darkness didn’t help him heal that wound. The darkness hid it from him, hid what he didn’t want to recognize. He went over the scenarios in his head again and again. This wound was deep, cut to his core. He tried to ignore the wound, tried to pretend it wasn’t there, but he knew he was burying his feelings, burying his emotions, burying the truth. I’m a journalist, he thought, and if I can’t look at truth within myself, how can I see the truth out there in the world?

Peoria tries to put his life together. He gets rid of the drugs, works out, starts teaching journalism at a college class. He tries to move on: “if every summer in his mind has a theme, the theme this summer is self-acceptance. I’m okay, I’m okay.” At his first class, his attention focuses on a female student who stares intently at him throughout. Afterwards, Peoria: “What’d you think of the class?” Student: “You don’t recognize me?” Then he asks, “You’re a friend of my ex-girlfriend’s, right?”, “Okay…we didn’t hook up before, did we?”, “Did I interview you for an immigration story?” No, no, no…“You saved my life.”

We know that Hastings was a big fan of the work of Norman Mailer20, and given his interest in and reporting on national security matters, I think it’s highly likely he read Mailer’s novel about the early CIA, Harlot’s Ghost. There are two hints in Last Magazine that he has read the book, one stronger than the other. In Ghost, there is a prostitute named Libertad La Lengua (from Ghost: “which in loose translation does not signify Freedom of Speech nearly so much as “Ah, Freedom—your tongue!””), who, it turns out is a transsexual. Ghost is filled with spies, double agents, truths given in the cover of falseness, and Libertad embodies this idea of double agency and deception, “She is all the beautiful women put together!” exclaims the narrator, but she is also undercover: “Libertad is an agent in the world of women”.

Peoria has had some skin shaved off of his dick, while Justin Salvador has had the whole thing sheared away. Just as Libertad is a symbol, Justina Salvador is a symbol as well, of the overwhelming change war effects, but her relation to Peoria also represents Hastings’ view of war and the war journalist: war is the woman you can never leave. The narrator of Harlot asks of his attraction to Libertad, “Was he, himself, a homosexual? That stands out, doesn’t it? To be so attracted to a transvestite, or whatever else you could call it—a transsexual?” Justina is a vivid, real character, so vivid that I regret that the book ends so abruptly after she comes onstage, but she’s also very much part of a metaphor, of Peoria wanting to stay close to war, and just the way ordinary life becomes dull to the war junkie, sex with an ordinary woman becomes dull to Peoria. He has the same doubts as Harlot‘s narrator about his attraction, but he is also specifically attracted because of this woman’s past identity:

But as he watched, he instinctively started to touch himself, and he started to hold the images in his head of Thailand, enhancing a sexual experience that he had avoided masturbating to at all costs—he was straight after all, it was his parents who were gay—but the transsexual porn brought these memories back, and he no longer felt revulsion, and in fact, started to get off on the idea that the man fucking the woman was actually fucking a man, a dirty little secret that wasn’t a secret but added a level of fantasy to the moving video clips, a level of fantasy that his own memories augmented.

This attraction is one step beyond what he’s already felt, appetites already sated, a man numbed to the violent intensities of erotica the way a war junkie becomes numb to the intensities of war:

As a young man growing up, photos in magazines were enough to get him off. First, publications like Playboy were good enough, but then he upgraded to Penthouse; the open vaginal and anal shots of Penthouse, still done respectfully, were the next level. Then, he discovered Hustler, and his masturbatorial bar was set even higher—Hustler, now that was explicit, threesomes, full penetration, dripping cum shots, and a new and enticing category called Barely Legal, which forever altered the way he viewed young female teenagers running cash registers at ice cream stands and in grocery stores and Japanese school uniforms and cheerleading outfits.

The Internet proved to be a disruptive force for self-abuse. With the Internet, the sheer range of digital images did the job at first—he was able to stop watching videos on the VHS and start watching, on his computer, acts that he had read about but never seen—women sucking off farm animals, women urinating on the faces of other women, women urinating on the faces of other men, men urinating in clear streams into the open mouths of women, defecating even, strapped and bound with metal and leather contraptions, penetrated with massive objects like baseball bats and giant rubber dildos, a foot in diameter, or shaken soda cans stuffed in rectal canals, and on and on. These images—who was putting them out there? Where was it all coming from?

What he’s watching is changing him in ways that he’s not sure of at all, blankly indifferent to the violence of the imagery, and the connection to a growing numbness to war’s atrocities is obvious. Though the following excerpt is no more grim than that of the suicide bomber aftermath in Afghanistan, I do have to preface that the following is very explicit:

He was not terribly concerned about the moral implications until June 2002, when he’d gotten the fastest speed available and clicked on a link that said “vomit porn,” and at that moment he had a crisis of faith, or the closest thing one who does not believe in anything can have to a crisis of faith.

A white girl, wearing a blue skiers’ tuque with an embroidered golden star, had been kneeling down in front of a crowd and giving head to a black male of significant perpendicular length. Using the now ancient deep-throating technique, she worked the man’s cock avidly, eyes watering, his large hands clasped around her ears, occasionally pulling out to the left or right to make a popping sound against the suction on her cheek. At minute 2:33 into the clip, the standard degradation went off course; at first, the male performer responded as if it were still part of the performance, but then she ripped his hands away and started to crawl away, a desperate move, as if she were a child with motion sickness in the back of the car trying to unroll the window, or a coed searching for a bathroom stall after expecting to come into the restroom only to touch up her makeup. She started to puke, a yellow and a watery flow, all over the ground, and the camera first zoomed in on her face as she vomited, and then the camera pulled back to get the reaction of the cheering crowd and the still-hard penis of the black performer, and then the video ended, and A.E. Peoria himself felt sick, he felt ill, and wondered if maybe he shouldn’t be watching this stuff, maybe it was destroying his soul, if there was such a thing.

That didn’t last long.

This is not, I think, about a man becoming comfortably numb to the images of a girl vomiting, but about becoming comfortably numb to a clump of scalp being picked up, a blood soaked mop of hair, a chunk of flesh, where you become so used to the gore, you make jokes. “Pancakes,” says the soldier shoveling up the flesh, and you’re thinking the same thing. You are repulsed by the image, and yet you end up somehow wanting to see it again and again, going back one more time to Afghanistan or Iraq. Peoria is reminded of this moment of getting into vomit porn when he starts watching the transsexual stuff: “He thinks of it now because he’d had the same first reaction to the transsexual performers: that something was somehow unholy or desperately sick in the acts that were being performed, that it was somehow disturbing to his subconscious that the women being fucked in the ass used to be men.” Peoria and Justina sleep together, and when they are together they both are brought back immediately to the intimacy of war, and maybe that previous intimacy is why they’re attracted to each other now:

He usually has a hard time coming in hot water—he never masturbates in the shower, for instance—but he lets his imagination go, and his imagination goes back to the memory, the first time he had touched Justina, while he was still Justin, his hand warmed by blood, bodies pressed together, the absolute fear and excitement of death enveloping him, a memory so powerful he had pretended it didn’t exist, and with the warm water falling off his short, five-foot-seven frame, splashing to the top of the long black hair at his knees, he lets the memory wash over him, maybe even washing it away however briefly, and he comes.

Swallowing, Justina looks up.

“I know what you were thinking about,” she says. “I was thinking it too.”

They both start to cry.

In the epilogue, we are told Peoria and Salvador eventually get married; Peoria is chained to the war, he cannot let it go, does not want to let it go. Before that, there is the possibility that Peoria will publish Salvador’s story – the war, the gender reassignment, everything – because he’s a reporter and this is what he does. “Justina will be happy to help me tell this story,” he tells himself, but she isn’t. “You can’t do this. You can’t write about me. I’m not ready, I’m not ready for it,” she says. “I’m a fucking story to you,” she says. “I’m a fucking story.” He briefly falls apart, but they are reconciled by the morning. The book ends with Hastings taking Peoria’s notes, and doing the story instead. “I know by taking Peoria’s story, I’m putting the last nail in the coffin of his career, and I know that I’m also jeopardizing the privacy and future of Justina,” he says. But but but, and this is one of the last lines before the epilogue: “But I don’t agonize over it.” If the longing for sex in this book can be seen as a lightly guised account of the longing for war, then this betrayal by Hastings of Justina, and her near betrayal by Peoria, can be seen as Hastings reckoning with something else very real to him, something of the past almost entirely forgotten, something disgusting and outrageous, something to do with Gawker‘s “A Guide to IDing the Real People Disguised in Michael Hastings’ Novel” [archive link], the one identification they get very wrong and the one that’s prominently missing.

INTERMISSION: KARATE DOG

From “Hack: Confessions of a Presidential Campaign Reporter” by Michael Hastings:

In the weeks after New Hampshire, I went down to Florida to watch Giuliani lose for good. I received a press release saying academy award–winning actor jon voight endorses mayor giuliani, which seemed as good a death knell as any. Voight joined the mayor on the campaign trail. Most of Rudy’s senior staff were hiding from the press, so Voight filled the void with an impromptu press conference. He explained how being cast in Midnight Cowboy was similar to Rudy’s decision-making ability on 9/11. It didn’t make sense then, either. After running out of campaign questions—and since nobody cared what Jon Voight thought—a reporter from The New York Observer asked him about his daughter, Angelina Jolie. This was an answer worth listening to. He couldn’t confirm the rumor that she was pregnant, but he did “wish her the best in life.” Then a Fox News embed posted a blog item featuring clips of a movie he did called Karate Dog.

THE KILLING JOKE

“Before we get into it, your career owes a lot to a volcano in Iceland, doesn’t it?” radio host Leonard Lopate asked Hastings about the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which resulted in flight delays that allowed Hastings to spend more conversation time with McChrystal and his aides. “My career owes to a lot of things,” answered Hastings, “that have put me in the wrong place at the right time, or the right place at the wrong time.”21 And one instance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time which may have led to all his later work, which made this ambitious, driven reporter even more driven, was the killing of his fiancé, Andrea Parhamovich, on January 19, 2007. Parhamovich had followed Hastings to Iraq, where she worked for the National Democratic Institute while Hastings was a correspondent for Newsweek. Hastings would make clear the importance of this for everything he did later in an interview with Scott Horton22.

HORTON:
So, now onto our next guest. It’s Michael Hastings. He is a reporter who’s got a new article in GQ magazine, you can find it in men dot style dot com…it’s called “Obama’s War”. Welcome to the show, Michael. How are you?

HASTINGS:
Great. Thanks for having me.

HORTON:
Well, you’re very welcome. I’m really glad you’re here. I’m sorry, I did not take sufficient notes…I know that you wrote a book about, I Lost My Heart in Baghdad or something, tell us about that.

HASTINGS:
Yeah, I wrote a book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story. It came out last year. It was about my girlfriend and fiancé, Andi Parhamovich, who worked for the National Democratic Institute, and she had joined me while I was the Newsweek correspondent in Baghdad. She was, unfortunately and obviously, tragically killed there…so, it was a way…so after that happened, you know, screw it all, I’m going to write (laughs) I’m going to write the truth about what the war’s really like, and what the actual cost is. So, that’s what that book was about.

HORTON:
And so that’s why you’re not at Newsweek any more?

HASTINGS:
Well, you know, I had a great time at Newsweek, you know, great place to sortof come up as a reporter, but one of the things I felt…I wanted to say, I needed a different sort of venue for that. So to speak.

Hastings, in all the appearances I’ve looked at and listned to, comes across as a congenial everyman, and despite being very knowledgable in the areas of politics and war, he never affects smugness or superiority – and yet there is a brief moment in that interview, a moment that recurs in several other places, that is always haunting, and that briefly makes him an alien figure, taking him out of the ordinary. It’s here in the interview, when he says “She was, unfortunately and obviously, tragically killed there…so, it was a way…so after that happened, you know, screw it all, I’m going to write”, and then he laughs, and it’s not like his other laughs, it’s like a laugh at a sick joke nobody back in the world, back in a peaceful United States, back in a country that doesn’t even remember that it’s at war, would know. It’s a laugh without cruelty, a strange mix of being very much a sincere laugh by someone full of passion and energy, but one that stands out as so empty – like the laugh of a ghost or a dead man.

“Reckless and Inspired”, the interview with Jonathan Hastings by “Paleo Retiree”, underlines, if necessary, the impact:

PR: How did your family feel about her [Andi Parhamovich’s] decision to follow Mike to Iraq?

JH: We definitely had misgivings about her going to the mideast. The last time I saw her my parents and I had just had dinner with her. Mike was already back in Iraq, and she was waiting to hear back about whether or not she had gotten the job with NDI in Iraq. I told her, in all seriousness, that I hoped she didn’t get the job. I also talked to Mike about her going and said that I didn’t think it was a good idea. I don’t think HE thought it was a great idea either, but he said that ultimately the decision was up to her — which was true.

PR: How did her death affect him?

JH: He was a real wreck. My parents — my father especially — got him through the first part of all of it.

Hastings would write of the moment before he hears of her death in Lost My Love, as something like the micro inch of time before one is sealed behind a prison door, or before the darkness breaks and the sunlight illuminates the stark and unending landscape of the savage and merciless desert:

There is no pause, but I will pause here. There is this moment before I know, before I have this piece of information. A moment before when life was normal, when life was good, when I was in Baghdad with Andi and my career was skyrocketing and I was writing stories about the war, when we were planning trips to Paris, to Budapest, to Istanbul, when I looked at a diamond ring in Dubai, when I got an American Express Platinum Card because it gave me a free complimentary business or first class ticket so she could join me on my travels. The life before I have this piece of information, before the three missed calls and the three new voice mails and the two cryptic emails, this life, my life, our life. There is the moment when the information has not been delivered. The moment before 7:58P.M., Baghdad time. This moment before I know, but not before I understand because there is no understanding moments like this, the moment before the future no longer matters, before the future is nothing but a wish for the past.

The second half of the Last Magazine devoted to “Michael Hastings” is about his attempts to be published somewhere, anywhere, while he interns at Newsweek – I mean, The Magazine – and so he starts posting to Wretched.com under the pseudonym K. Eric Walters, and this is entirely based on real life. Wretched is actually Gawker (“HA. Subtle.”, Jessica Coen, the site’s then editor would write23), which is edited by “Sarah” (Magazine intro: “She’s cute, and I recognize her face because her picture is always up at Wretched.com”), who is actually Coen. “I remember taking him to random media parties (Molly Jong Fast’s book party at her mother’s condo comes to mind),” and this very item, published as “Team Party Crash: Molly Jong-Fast’s Book Party” [archive link] by “lock” (Lockhart Steele), is there in the book:

The book party is for a daughter of a famous writer who wrote a women’s liberation classic back in the ’70s. The daughter’s memoir is one of those tell-alls about what it was like growing up around all these other famous writers. About all the fucked-up shit she saw at a young age, about the different men who passed through her mother’s life, and how that led, inevitably, to promiscuity, drug addiction, expulsion from high-priced schools, and, finally, a career in writing, the shadow of her mother looming over her.

The shadow has its advantages, like the fact that her mom is a famous writer with a really nice corner apartment on 81st and Park, a perfect place to host a book party.

Afterwards, Hastings is brought in to guest edit, and he uses the same pseudonym, K. Eric Walters (Magazine: “the name of a little-known and short-lived Irish revolutionary who had accidentally punched out a Brit in a drunken brawl, sparking a rebellion that Michael Collins would later take credit for”), that Hastings had when he edited Gawker for a week, from the first post, “Guest Editor: A Brief Introduction” [archive link] (5/16/05) to the last, “Guest Editor: Acknowledgments, Feedback Still Welcome” [archive link] (5/20/05). The workload is grueling, ten posts a day. “Ten posts a day. Where to find them?” There’s a press release on Steven King’s son publishing a collection of short stories. “Think he deserves this on merit?” asks the tipster. Answer: No. “I copy a chunk of the press release then write a few lines about how Stephen King’s son got a book deal because he was Stephen King’s son. Scathing.” Again, from life. “Owen King: In Praise of Nepotism Redux” [archive link] by “kewalters”: “We don’t envy writers who have to scribble away in the shadows of their superstar parents. (See: Amis, Martin; Bellow, Adam.) Actually, we’re lying. They get book deals! We’re so sick with envy we can’t even finish our own ‘works in progress.'” It was through this job that he met Andi Parhamovich.

“How did Mike meet Andi?” asks “Paleo Retiree”. Jonathan Hastings: “I’m pretty sure Mike met Andi when she was working at Air America and he was trying to get on the radio more.” From one epitaph, “Activist slain in Iraq `was an idealist'” by Louise Roug: “Parhamovich met Hastings when he came to interview Jerry Springer, who was on an Air America show in New York.” This interview is in “A Moment With Jerry Springer For Air America” [archive link], a post made two weeks after his guest editing stint24: “So we sent Gawker rentboy K. Eric Walters to brave the salsa at Rosa Mexicano on the Upper West Side”. Interview high point: “Springer: That’s where Democrats are getting it wrong. They’re talking about a strategy to win an election without first understanding that we have to offer a combination that reflects the culture. Hastings: And since your show has been called the lowest point in American culture, you think you can help the Democrats understand?”, though the overall high point is the disclaimer: “K. Eric Walters has never watched a full episode of the Jerry Springer Show, nor listened to any program on Air America. His political biases include NASCAR, Neo-Stalinism, and the Church of Scientology. In fact, he was totally unqualified to conduct this interview.” From “Activist slain”: “”It was the most boring Jerry Springer interview in history,” Hastings recalled. But an e-mail exchange about the story led to that first date — diner milkshakes.”

Hastings would describe their first meeting and the interview, perhaps purposely dull because of his growing disenchantment with an unnamed gossip site’s pointless venom, in Lost My Love:

Despite the training course, I still didn’t know if the magazine [Newsweek] was serious about sending me to Iraq. So I was doing some freelance work to get other kinds of reporting experience, writing under a pseudonym for a website that traffics in New York gossip. My freelance assignment on June 1 was to interview Jerry Springer. The editor had called me in the afternoon to see if I’d like to go to a party hosted by Air America Radio for the launch of Springer’s new radio show. I didn’t really want to go, but I said I would. I took the F train up to 57th Street and walked to Rosa Mexicano, the restaurant where the event was being held. Andi was one of Air America’s two publicists, and she was in charge of hosting and organizing the event. She and her colleagues had flirted with the idea of disinviting me—they didn’t know if it was a good idea for the gossip website to cover the launch after all—but decided that protesting had the potential to make the situation worse.

After the interview, I spoke with Andi for about fifteen more minutes. Her coworkers watched in horror as she talked to “the gossip guy.” I made sure to mention that I was really a Newsweek guy, and that this gossip thing was just for fun. “Real news only,” I told her. “Most of the time, at least.”

“That’s quite a notebook you’re carrying,” she said.

It was a classic reporter’s notebook, spiral bound, sticking out of my back pocket.

“Do you think you’re covering World War II or something? I mean, it’s like you think you’re in the movie, Newsie. Did you leave your fedora at home?”

There was an edge to the flirting. I could tell she thought I was full of myself, and she wanted to take me down a peg.

I transcribed the Springer interview and sent in the piece. There wasn’t much to work with, and beyond that I was no longer in the mood for the casual pettiness the gossip site required. I’d been working with them for a few months, and I’d lost interest in writing about topics that I felt were essentially meaningless. The Springer interview was probably the most boring and harmless item the website ever published. Maybe it was intentional, maybe it was by accident, but her colleagues at Air America would say that it was a “Valentine to Andi.”

From “Activist slain”:

Sunni Muslim insurgents linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility Thursday for the attack that took the lives of the 28-year-old and three bodyguards — a Hungarian, a Croat and an Iraqi. Two other security workers were wounded. None of these other victims’ names had been released.

“She was an idealist,” Hastings said of Parhamovich, who grew up in Perry, Ohio. “She always believed that people were good. Certainly, those ideals were put to the test when she came to Iraq.”

Parhamovich, known as Andi, followed heart and ideals when she came to Baghdad. Hastings, a reporter with Newsweek, was working in Iraq. But Parhamovich was also drawn to political work in Baghdad, teaching Iraqis about voting and how to establish a functional government.

She worked first for the International Republican Institute, joining the National Democratic Institute a few months later.

On Wednesday, Parhamovich had gone to meet a group of Sunni politicians from the Iraqi Islamic Party. “She was really excited about the meeting,” Hastings said.

After Parhamovich conducted her training seminar for the Sunni politicians, she left in a convoy with her armed guards. Moments later, the convoy was ambushed. The guards fought back but were outgunned by the attackers, whose arsenal included grenades.

“With God’s assistance, we have succeeded in the destruction of two SUV vehicles belonging to the Zionist Mossad, killing all who were in them, attacking them by light and medium weapons,” wrote the group that took responsibility, in a statement on a well-known Sunni insurgent website.

The group often refers to its targets as members of Israel’s intelligence service.

But in fact, Hastings said, “they killed a wonderful, unarmed girl.”

Shortly after this incident, Hastings would write a book about Parhamovich, her death, and their time in Iraq. Scott Horton: “I know that you wrote a book about, I Lost My Heart in Baghdad or something, tell us about that.” Hastings: “Yeah, I wrote a book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story. It came out last year. It was about my girlfriend and fiance, Andi Parhamovich, who worked for the National Democratic Institute, and she had joined me while I was the Newsweek correspondent in Baghdad.” Three weeks after her death, Hastings had sent the book’s proposal to agent Andrew Wylie, and there has been some questioning of his Hastings’ motives in coming up with a book so quickly, but I can think of one reason why he did so: Hastings wrote to survive that moment.

In “A Guide to IDing the Real People Disguised in Michael Hastings’ Novel” [archive link], Gawker identifies a character named Brennan Toddly, a journalist who writes for a prestige magazine like The New Yorker, someone who meets with Iraqi dissident Kanan Makiya, someone who’s an advocate for the war, and Gawker names, wrongly, Jeffrey Goldberg. It was left to Tom Gallagher in his review in the L.A. Review of Books, “Michael Hastings Skewers Them From the Grave (with a Scoop of Gawker)”, to do excellent work making the case that this writer is actually George Packer. He notes that Toddly’s books – A Peaceful Village (1989 memoir about the Peace Corps), The Typewriter Artist (1996 novel), Awash in Red (1999 memoir of self-discovery on whether to stay a socialist) – line up almost exactly with Packer’s: The Village of Waiting (1988 memoir about the Peace Corps), Central Square (1996 novel), Blood of the Liberals (2000 memoir about deciding to leave the Democratic Socialist Party of America). One other similarity that Gallagher leaves out is Packer’s pre-war 2003 “Dreaming Of Democracy”, which features a meeting with Maikya whose elements are slightly re-written for Magazine, but whose source remains obvious.

This is an excerpt from one of Toddly’s articles in The Magazine:

After the panel discussion, I made my way backstage, where I encountered Kanan Makiya. I introduced myself to Makiya. He invited me to his home for tea. We walked across the campus yard, where a new class of coeds had just arrived, playing Frisbee and hacky sack. Easy, carefree thoughts. The opposite of what Makiya was thinking. “This is what Iraq was like when I was a child, before I had to leave,” he told me. “You Americans are finally paying attention. You must finally take action.” Three hours later, I had left his office, a bladder full of sweet chai, convinced. But the arguments with myself would continue.

This is “Dreaming”:

Last summer, the State Department convened a number of Iraqi exiles to advise the United States government on the problems that Iraq would face after the fall of Saddam Hussein. It was called, rather grandly, the Future of Iraq Project. Among the topics was democracy, and among the Iraqis invited to join was a dissident named Kanan Makiya.

“It’s the architect in me,” he says, nursing a cold over Japanese tea in Cambridge, Mass., where he lives. Makiya is a balding and somewhat disheveled Brandeis University professor of Middle East studies with a soft, intense manner. His office in a Cambridge apartment is lined with leatherbound books on Islamic history and literature. When his cellphone rings, he apologizes for having temporarily acquired one — “a disaster for a writer.” The immediate world of waitresses and crosswalks constantly surprises Makiya out of his thoughts, which these days are elsewhere. This unlikely revolutionary is taking the huge gamble that by riding on the back of an American war, he can hold the Americans to their own talk and help direct the outcome.

There is no single sentence substitute for “But the arguments with myself would continue”, but there is this paragraph later on:

The unease among Americans, even those who support the president, about the war and its aftermath is certainly due to fear of unknown consequences. It might also come from the sense that we’re trying to have it both ways — guns and butter, war without sacrifice, intervention without commitment. If Iraq succeeds in becoming a democracy under American protection, it will represent the triumph of hope over experience for both countries. It’s a notion that I always found easier to imagine when I was within earshot of Kanan Makiya.

“Frankly, I was tickled to see George pilloried in this book — even though it appears that few have realized he was part of its inspiration,” is one sentence filled with Gallagher’s glee over his ideological opponent being made a target. Though he does excellent deductive work, Gallagher does not seem to know why Hastings has picked out this particular war advocate, that the choice was not arbitrary, and Hastings’ animus is not due entirely to Packer’s position on the war. It was Packer who reviewed I Lost My Love in Baghdad for the New York Times, “What She Did for Love”. It is not an uncharitable or unnecessarily cruel review. There are two stories in this book, writes Packer, and “[o]ne senses that the war story, conveying an experience that consumed Michael Hastings during a crucial period in his mid-20s, is the book he really wanted to write. It is better written, more vividly rendered, more intensely felt”. And there is the second storyline: “The love story is told with greater insistence and less conviction, without memorable passages or surprising recognitions. It accounts for the embarrassing title and the whiff of exploitation that hangs over “I Lost My Love in Baghdad.”” Packer compliments Hastings’ succinct descriptive skill, as a journalist who “learned his trade and kept his eyes open amid the grotesque history being made around him”, and picks out this description of Saddam Hussein in a courtroom, after the nimbus of power was gone: “He had the look of a depressed businessman, a former C.E.O. in a corporate fraud case.” When it comes to the second plot, this writer’s power fails: “Why is Hastings unable to summon anything like this facility when describing Andi Parhamovich, the young woman whose death prompted him to write this book?”

There are many sections in the review that might have roused Hastings’ anger, none more than the last:

Hastings comes close to blaming the N.D.I. [National Democratic Institute, the NGO which Parhamovich worked for] for Andi’s death. It seems senseless to him, inevitably — not just because of his anger and grief, but because he has little to say about the substance of her work there and her attitude toward it. Beneath the literary shortcomings in the love story there is a deeper flaw. Hastings didn’t take the time to struggle with the issues that writing this book should have forced him to face: the nature of Andi’s motives and his own, the conflict between work and love, between ambition and a normal life, and his sense of the degree, however small, of his own responsibility. That effort would have made a better — though more painful — whole of the book’s two halves.

Hastings would release his venom toward Packer in two places besides The Last Magazine. Packer would review Mark Danner’s Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War in the Times in 2009, “Heart of the Matter”. This would provoke a lengthy letter from Danner, “‘Stripping Bare the Body’: Letters”, where Danner took exception to Packer not making his early support for the war explicit and clear in the review: “Whatever this may say about eccentric attitudes toward journalistic fairness or personal integrity, it certainly shows contempt for Times readers, who might have found themselves puzzled by the oddly personal and defensive tone of the review and many of its gratuitously nasty and distinctly strange observations”. Hastings would send in his own letter during the controversy to Editor & Publisher, “UPDATED: Packer Responds to Hastings Letter on ‘NYT’ Book Review”:

I saw your story [“UPDATED: Danner Challenges ‘NYT’ Choice of Book Reviewer in Lengthy Letter — Packer Responds”] on the Mark Danner versus George Packer controversy. This isn’t the first time George Packer has reviewed an Iraq book in the New York Times that should have raised conflict of interest questions. In April 2008, he gave a fairly negative review of my book, “I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story.” My book was also very critical of the war in Iraq, a war that Packer supported. He did not disclose his support for the war in that review.

The more egregious conflict of interest, though, was his close relationship with the National Demoractic Institute, an NGO that I was highly critical of. (Andi Parhamovich, the women I was set to marry, was working for NDI when she was killed, in a large part due to NDI’s failure to provide proper security.) Packer had even met with the president of NDI, Kenneth Wollack in the spring of 2007; in the meeting, her death was discussed. A year later, the negative review in the Times came out, defending NDI, and parroting NDI’s talking points against the book. (NDI refused to cooperate with the writing of the book, and it was only under great pressure that they even shared details of what happened with Andi’s family, almost nine months later, another fact Packer failed to mention.)

At the time, I decided to take my lumps–bad reviews are part of the deal, and the majority of reviews the book got were favorable. However, I actually happen to have just read Mark Danner’s “Stripping Bare the Body.” It is an excellent work, and for Packer to have reviewed it seems quite unfair. Obviously, I’m not a neutral observer, but there does appear to be a pattern. (For the record, I have great admiration for Danner’s reportage, and I think Packer is a talented journalist, though I’ve never met either of them.)

What seems to bug Packer about Danner’s book is similar to what bugged him about mine: the books focus on the what Packer calls the “creepy” details of the consequences of war, details which clearly make him uncomfortable. That is, what war actually does to human beings, and how human beings actually behave. After having been one of the many thoughtful cheerleaders for the war in Iraq, Packer has never been able to come to terms with the human cost of the bad ideas he promoted. I fear he suffers from the anxiety of getting it wrong — it’s certainly a blow to the ego for a self-styled foreign policy writer to have whiffed on the most critical foreign policy question of this generation. So it’s easier to attack others who got it right, to criticize a writer like Danner who saw the folly of the Iraq excursion before the fact, not after.

Michael Hastings
(the writer is currently in Baghdad)

Packer would respond:

You’re right: my review of “Stripping Bare the Body” didn’t say “history proved Danner’s position on the war right.” That was a loose (maybe too loose) paraphrase of what I did say: “[His] point of view has served Danner well in his far-reaching criticisms of the foreign policy of George W. Bush, especially on Iraq.” The meaning is similar.

I conveyed to the Times in advance that Danner and I knew each other but had no history of friendship or enmity.

The length of Danner’s letter (1400 words, about the length of my original review) and my reply (300 words) might say something about prolixity but not about wrongdoing. I answered Danner’s charges as succinctly as I could, in the belief that readers shouldn’t be subjected to drawn-out quarrels between authors and reviewers.

In my review of Hastings’ “I Lost My Love in Baghdad” (New York Times Book Review, April 20, 2008) [hyperlink added], I wrote that I had met members of the National Democratic Institute on several trips to Iraq. In other words, they were sources of mine, and I was capable of coming to my own conclusions about NDI’s responsibility for Andi Parhamovich’s death (mixed: “a terrible mistake, but not an incomprehensible one”). By Hastings’ standards, it would be unethical for a reporter with sources in the Bush administration to review a book that criticizes the Bush administration. These are the provisional standards of an author who didn’t like the review he got. I gave his book a not-so-good review because it was a not-so-good book–in fact, a bad book, and undeserving of mention alongside Danner’s.

George Packer

Although it goes unmentioned specifically in Hastings’ letter, I would think the sentence that would upset him the most was one of the last in Packer’s review: “Hastings didn’t take the time to struggle with the issues that writing this book should have forced him to face: the nature of Andi’s motives and his own, the conflict between work and love, between ambition and a normal life, and his sense of the degree, however small, of his own responsibility.” Why, Hastings, might ask, is he being charged with confronting responsibility for Parhamovich’s death by someone who advocated in favor of the war? Hastings would underlie this issue on his own blog post devoted to the Danner-Packer argument, “Mark Danner versus George Packer, and the nature of a bad review”: “Packer, a vocal supporter of the war in Iraq, seems to like to trash books that are quite critical of the war in Iraq. And in doing so, he always fails to mention that he was a vocal supporter of war in Iraq.” Even the small parenthetical, “For the record, I have great admiration for Danner’s reportage, and I think Packer is a talented journalist, though I’ve never met either of them,” contains hidden poison. It understates the admiration that Hastings once had for Packer as a journalist, and is something like the dog that doesn’t bark: Hastings had never met Packer, but Andi Parhamovich had. From I Lost My Love in Baghdad:

After two weeks readjusting to Baghdad and her new job, she is making friends. She tells me about a girl named Anne; another blond from the Midwest, also dating a reporter, who shares Andi’s interests in spirituality. Magic stones and whatnot. I smile when I hear this. She is excited because she ran into a reporter from The New Yorker, George Packer, in the lobby of her hotel compound. She says she wished I could have been there, because she knows how much I like his work.

So, this is the misidentification that Gawker makes, and that was caught by Gallagher. There is a missing identification, however, of a very minor character, who is nonetheless given a relatively lengthy descrption in The Last Magazine. His appearance will puzzle most readers, and certainly he puzzled me. Why give so much space to a man who simply appears briefly and then disappears? Gawker most certainly would have been able to make the ID, as he was a prominent and highly placed employee, but they make no such naming. The character appears at a party held at a club called The Dark Room, and we might contrast this figure with the far briefer overview of these other cameos, almost all of whom are limited in appearance to only their names in this paragraph, all of whom are based on actual people:

There is Allan Tool, who holds some kind of deputy managing editor title for Wretched; Franklin Liu, who blogs on Mediabistro; the other Sarah, Sarah Klein, who does Gothamist; some guy named Arnie Cohen, most notorious for his ability to get mentioned on everyone else’s blogs without actually doing anything of note, except hitting on Sarah Klein in the back of a taxicab and then blogging about his rejection; Jennifer Cunningham, who would later have a “crisis of conscience” and leave Wretched to focus more clearly on herself; and on and on, names with a “blogspot” and a “dot com” attached, names that I’ve heard of before by reading one referring to the other. The closest thing to someone from a traditional media outlet, besides myself, is a kid with short dark hair and beady eyes and a skinny tie who works for the New York Herald named Jonathan Lodello—he is here, Sarah whispers, to do a story on the new new media scene, a story that will surely then be linked to on all the blogs of everyone sitting around the table, generating traffic and page views that can help with the advertisers and buzz.

Allan Tool is Lockhart Steele, the managing editor of Gawker Media in 2005; Franklin Liu I have a very good guess for, but since the character does cocaine and people remain uptight about that habit, I’ll keep it to myself; Arnie Cohen is, I think Joshua David Stein, who would go on to write “The Dangers of Blogger Love”, which, disappointingly, is not about a herpes outbreak in the wordpress community; the self-absorbed Jennifer Cunningham can only be Emily Gould, infamous for her self-absorbtion25, and I’ll take a guess later as to why Hastings puts crisis of conscience in such poisonous quotes; Jonathan Lodello is…who knows? Maybe Ben McGrath, who would write probably the best profile of Gawker founder Nick Denton, the New Yorker‘s “Search and Destroy” and whose piece about an artists’ collective which designed habitats for writers, “Writers at Work”, was linked by K. Eric Walters in “The New Yorker Unlocks Secret to Blogging” [archive link]: “The New Yorker‘s always enterprising Ben McGrath made the harrowing, God-awful trek to Queens last week to visit Flux Factory, an alleged artist’s collective.” Maybe Andrew Ross Sorkin, who profiled Denton in 2003 for the Times, “Building a Web Media Empire on a Daily Dose of Fresh Links”. However, a blogger party at some horribly fashionable bar with a journalist looking on, if not partly taken from Hastings’ own experience, is very much from “Everybody Sucks: Gawker and the rage of the creative underclass” by Vanessa Grigoriadis.

Sarah Klein is just about the only character in the paragraph who stays a while on the stage, with her and “Michael Hastings” hooking up that night. Jessica Coen, on Gawker’s “A Guide to IDing the Real People Disguised in Michael Hastings’ Novel” [archive link]: “I am pretty sure he briefly dated Rachel Sklar. Relevant, I know.” “Michael Hastings’ Dangerous Mind: Journalistic Star Was Loved, Feared and Haunted” by Gene Maddaus: “Writer Rachel Sklar met him, and dated him for a few months, when he was living in New York and working for Newsweek.” Sklar in 2005 wasn’t at Gothamist, but MediaBistro’s FishbowlNY (she was, however, profiled on Gothamist: “Rachel Sklar, co-editor and writer of FishbowlNY”, an interview with Rachel Kramer Bussel), would go on to run the Eat the Press blog at the Huffington Post (including the insightful piece on Gawker, “Wow, Everybody Really DOES Suck: Drowning In The Bile Of Gawker, Page Six, and New York”), and now works at The Li.st, a tech start-up. That Sarah Klein is “the other Sarah” might be a joke on the fact that Jessica Coen and Rachel Sklar bear a passing resemblance to each other. Both literati voyeurs and those doubtful that the sex in the book is anything other than an expression of Hastings’ pervy impulses might wish to note that the moment between Sarah going to his apartment after the party and her leaving the next morning is left chastely to the readers’ imagination.

There is one character, the one already referenced several times, who is set aside from this paragraph, and who is given a considerable amount of space, seemingly for no purpose, leaving the reader to wonder: why? Here is the full excerpt in which he appears. I bold the most important lines:

I sit down next to another kid.

“Kelly,” he says.

“Mike,” I say. “Kelly, as in Kelly Treemont?”

“That’s me.”

“I’ve read your blog. I thought you were a woman. The name.”

“I get that. You don’t do the powder either?”

“Nah, I used to do that shit a lot but stopped.”

“Me too,” he says. “I’m very boring now. I live with cats. I’m in recovery.”

“Great. I work for a magazine.”

“Dead tree, oh no.”

“Yeah, the trees are pretty dead.”

“You know, to be honest, I take a little Adderall still,” he says. “It helps me in my writing. I’m working on a memoir. About my experiences with drugs and alcohol, and I don’t know if you know, but I’m gay, so it’s about my experiences with drugs and alcohol and being gay and everything.

“Sounds great,” I say.

“You know, I think it’s been out there, a little, but my experience, I think I have a really unique perspective.”

“How long have you been working on the book?”

“Three years. This blogging, you know. But I found an agent. She’s excited.”

“Very cool. Having fun?”

“I’m waiting for Timothy. He’s supposed to show.”

“Timothy Grove?”

“Of course. He doesn’t like these places—he prefers Balthazar, a place where he can pretend he’s Anna Wintour or Graydon Carter—I think coming here reminds him too much that he’s not really one of them, no matter how hard he tries. He’ll always be more Larry Flynt. But you should watch out. He’s a collector of straights.”

“Is that right?”

“Aren’t you the one they have guest blogging this week?”

“Yeah.”

“There are things you could do, you know, if you want to make it permanent.”

“Things?”

“Yes, things.”

“Good to know. Is that how, uh, I mean, has anyone else ever done those things?”

“Me, of course, but it was brief, and I thought I loved him, though he is such a fucking scumbag.”

“Yeah, sounds like it.”

“Oh, watch this, this should be good.”

The other Sarah, Sarah Klein, stands up from the table and grabs Jonathan Lodello’s hand.

“She has such huge tits,” Kelly says. “You know the backstory?”

“Uh, no.”

“Franklin broke up with her three days ago. She’s totally pissed about it, and she is totally convinced that Franklin is going to go and sleep with Sarah, and so she has to make him jealous by dancing with Lodello. If you want to get laid tonight, you should really talk to her, I’m mean, she is going to be ready to go away with someone cute like you.”

“Oh, thanks, right.”

“You have very nice eyes.”

“Yeah, I appreciate that. They work okay.”

Timothy Grove is a very, very obvious Nick Denton. Kelly Treemont: “He doesn’t like these places—he prefers Balthazar”. Nick Denton runs things from his apartment, according to “Everybody Sucks” by Grigoriadis, “which is around the corner from the Gawker offices and across the street from his unofficial office, Balthazar (hence his faux IM name on Gawker.com, DarkLordBalthazar).” Magazine gives this caricature a guise ridiculous in being so obvious in its inversion. Magazine: “In all the profiles I’d read about him, the writers mention his unusually tiny head on a skinny six-one frame.” From a 2005 New York Observer profile by Tom Scocca, who will be mentioned later and who would go on to be a Gawker editor: Denton’s face “is mounted on a gigantic head, a head worthy of Linus Van Pelt or Antoine Walker.” Kelly Treemont and Timothy Grove have been in a relationship together – “it was brief, and I thought I loved him” – and this is the detail that makes me certain that Hastings had read Harlot’s Ghost. Two major characters in the novel are a high level spy chief and his wife, a researcher-analyst, and we are given their full names on the day of their wedding: “Hadley Kittredge Gardiner [Garden-er] to Hugh Tremont [Tree-mont] Montague.”

One might compare how Hastings views this character, and the man who may be its inspiration, by looking closer at his George Packer, Brennan Toddly. Tom Gallagher might take overwhelming joy in seeing a one time advocate of the Iraq war skewered, but in this case, Hastings’ venom overtakes him, and I think he draws Packer very wrong. He re-makes Packer as a fussy intellectual, whose thoughts are full of inflated, exhibitionist portent. In Packer’s “Dreaming”, he writes of Maikya’s office to establish some sense of the man; in Hastings’ re-writing of the article, the campus details are there to ennoble and elevate above the ordinary folk, who are indifferent to great issues: “We walked across the campus yard, where a new class of coeds had just arrived, playing Frisbee and hacky sack. Easy, carefree thoughts. The opposite of what Makiya was thinking.” There is the final line, “Three hours later, I had left his office, a bladder full of sweet chai, convinced. But the arguments with myself would continue,” which makes Toddly the center of all things: Toddly is important, the arguments with himself are important, his bladder is important too. Again, we can contrast this with the last section of “Dreaming”, where the doubts are not Packer’s, but the entire country’s: “The unease among Americans, even those who support the president, about the war and its aftermath is certainly due to fear of unknown consequences. It might also come from the sense that we’re trying to have it both ways — guns and butter, war without sacrifice, intervention without commitment.” Packer represents himself as a member of that national body: “It’s a notion that I always found easier to imagine when I was within earshot of Kanan Makiya,” and the idea that Iraq could be re-made through American invasion and war was sold through the very equation he gives, “the triumph of hope over experience for both countries.”

I think of Hastings’ animus as rooted in that last paragraph of Packer’s review – that Hastings did not struggle “with the issues that writing this book should have forced him to face”, most specifically, “his sense of the degree, however small, of his own responsibility.” My responsibility, I imagine Hastings thinking. I was against this war from the outset and you were for it. Who are you to speak of my responsibility? Hastings re-builds Packer entirely out of this paragraph of occluding self-importance, and in doing so, makes a caricature that rings false. The question is not whether Hastings is fair or unfair for me, or whether Packer has sufficiently repented, and I make no attempt to involve myself in the fracas between Mark Danner and Packer; only whether we, as readers, think that’s him, and this reader does not. Hastings makes you think Brennan Toddly must be some academic who writes of everything at a great distance, and it’s this quality that made me certain that the ID of Jeffrey Goldberg, who worked for years as a crime reporter26, must be wrong, and that Hastings was aiming for someone more like Paul Berman or Michael Ignatieff. Packer’s book on the Iraq war, The Assassins’ Gate is a devastating history, and its power lies with the diligent, detailed, closely observed reporting, in D.C. and Iraq. The same is true for his recent account of inequality and dysfunctional American life, The Unwinding. The Assassins’ Gate may not have been a sufficient mea culpa for Hastings – perhaps nothing could be – but anyone familiar with the book will find Toddly a false, bad impersonation.

Hastings feels a passionate, live wire anger for Toddly and Packer, a man he feels worthy of hatred, someone with sufficient intelligence and influence to help bring about the war. Hastings may not acknowledge Packer’s skills in his caricature, but he does in his letter – “I think Packer is a talented journalist” – and part of his anger stems from this very fact, the ends to which he put his talents. Hastings’ anger erupts in the one scene where Toddly makes a live appearance, rather than a simulacrum, and the last time he’s referred to in the novel, and the only moment that Toddly and A.E. Peoria meet. It takes place at the Baghdad Hamra Hotel27, at a party after the invasion, when Peoria gets hold of a spray can28:

Holding the spray paint, he steps up to where the water laps against the filter, and he stares at the concrete, water from the pool gathering in small rivulets.

He thinks of two words

NO DIVING.

There is no “No Diving” sign, no warning!

Christine swimming, the crowd getting noisier, louder.

Peoria bends over, arm outstretched, the spray paint can good and shaken.

He starts spraying, in large, yellow, sloppy letters: NO DIVING.

The next few hours: black, image, black, black, image—a face.

The face of Brennan Toddly.

A conversation—no, an altercation.

“I think,” says Brennan Toddly, sitting next to Christine, Peoria sitting next to her poolside, “that what you did was disrespectful.”

“Christine jumping in?” Peoria says.

“No, you. Your spray-painting. That was a sign of disrespect.”

Peoria, yelling, now five months or seven months of what—of anger, of disillusionment, and thinking about the dead Americans and Chipotle without a dick and how cold he was that night in the desert and thinking of those slaughtered goats and donkeys and Iraqis he’d seen on the side of the road on the way into Baghdad, the piles of man shit in the terminals at the newly liberated international airport—is screaming: “Aren’t we a little late for that, Brennan, disrespect? You’re the motherfucker who said this was going to be a great idea, you’re the motherfucker who advocated bombing a city and occupying a country and killing all sorts of fucking people, and you think I’m the one who is being disrespectful? I read your shit, man!”

A salsa bowl spills, a table gets turned over, crashing drinks.

In his review, Gallagher chortles at this, “On behalf of at least a few of Packer’s former colleagues, I’d like to say, “A.E., I couldn’t have said it better.””, and in doing so, he misunderstands why Peoria is made to be so angry at this moment, and it’s for the same reason missing from his review as for why Hastings picks out George Packer, of all the war advocates, to caricature. Toddly has only two lines, and one of them is crucial: “I think that what you did was disrespectful.” Why does he say this? Because Peoria is spray painting “NO DIVING” near the pool. Why does he do this? Because a woman, a correspondent, has dived into the pool, not knowing how deep it is, not knowing how dangerous it is. “Peoria, with his years of being trained in the art of American safety…realizes it is very dangerous, the pool.” And so, Peoria writes a massive warning for others. Again, what does Toddly say right afterwards? “I think that what you did was disrespectful.” Packer doesn’t accuse Hastings of this exactly in his review, but I think he says something of equal meaning: “The love story…accounts for the embarrassing title and the whiff of exploitation that hangs over “I Lost My Love in Baghdad.”” Peoria yells back: “Aren’t we a little late for that, Brennan, disrespect?”, and here we see why, once again, it’s a mistake to think of Peoria as Adam Piore. This is Hastings yelling at Packer, and this scene about graffiti and a pool isn’t about those things at all, but about Hastings’ writing an account of the death of Andi Parhamovich, to give a sense to others of how dangerously wrong things had gotten in Iraq, and Packer alleging that it exploited the dead.

Hastings says something close to this in I Lost My Love in Baghdad, where he writes of his efforts to get as much public exposure of Parhamovich’s death as possible, so there will be some sense of the person who was killed there, and under what circumstances: a woeful lack of preparation for the stunning level of violence and turmoil, a de facto civil war, in Iraq. Without difficulty, one can see Lost as part of the same intent.

Andi’s body is still missing, as Thursday night comes to a close. Her name has been released to the press. Her photograph is released, too. I want to talk to the press about it. I don’t want Andi to be a one-day story. I don’t want her to be just a headline on the wires. I call a friend at the Los Angeles Times. I tell her why I loved Andi; I try to explain who Andi was, what she believed in. It is the first of ten interviews I do on her death. The headline in the L.A. Times on Friday reads: “American Woman Follows Heart, Ideals, to Baghdad.” [the article that run on their website as “Activist slain in Iraq `was an idealist'”] The New York Times also calls; it is their guy from Cleveland [Parhamovich was from Ohio].

The Associated Press, Knight Ridder…I repeat myself. I want her story to be front-page news everywhere. I want people to know what kind of woman has been killed in this war. My editor asks me to send my thoughts about Andi for the “Editor’s Note,” the page at the front of the magazine. I write them down in between interviews. I say that if there was such a thing as love at first sight, this was it. I say that she hated the suffering she saw in Iraq, that she wanted to fix the mistake her country had made. I say she was the best and brightest of her generation. I say she was the best face America could offer to the world.

Again, I make this detour to contrast the intensity of feeling that Hastings has for Brennan Toddly, and what he has for Kelly Treemont. There is the passionate anger that Hastings has for Packer and Toddly, and there is the low volume disdain he has for Kelly Treemont. Almost every detail of Treemont’s character renders him a pathetic figure. He loves Timothy Grove, but he is only badly used in return. “I’m working on a memoir. About my experiences with drugs and alcohol, and I don’t know if you know, but I’m gay, so it’s about my experiences with drugs and alcohol and being gay and everything,” says Treemont, as if such a book by a New York City writer would stand out in any way now, but Treemont thinks it will, thanks to something that’s intended to convey a sense of self-delusion: “I think I have a really unique perspective.” Hastings wrote quickly and wrote a lot, four books including The Last Magazine, and there’s an exchange here to prick writerly self-indulgence. “Michael Hastings”: “How long have you been working on the book?” Kelly Treemont: “Three years.” Treemont has only gotten his position at Wretched by sleeping with Grove, he tells Hastings that he has a chance with Sarah in the sleaziest way possible, he is attracted to Hastings but Hastings wants nothing to do with him. Hastings, the writer, has contempt for this man, but he also feels sorry for him; there is nothing of the deep, lasting anger that he has for Toddly.

The reader is given a few clues as to who this might be. “Kelly, as in Kelly Treemont?” “That’s me.” “I thought you were a woman. The name.” Also this: “I’m very boring now. I live with cats.” “How long have you been working on the book?” “Three years.” I think these small details lead you to one person, involved in one incident which again dealt with Andi Parhamovich and I Lost My Love in Baghdad, and which would have affected me deeply as well. It’s an incident that has been almost entirely forgotten, and I would never have known about it, were it not for its mention in David Weigel’s obituary for Hastings, “”I’m Asking You a Question. That’s My Job.” Michael Hastings, R.I.P.”:

Hastings was a cynic blessed with talent and purpose, and he was a survivor. When he was 25, he moved to Baghdad. His girlfriend followed him there, and died there. He wrote a memoir about his heartbreak and it was leaked to snotty New York literati, who mocked it on the Internet [archive.today link]. The controversy (Hastings would tell people later, with a remarkable lack of bitterness) opened the gate to legal purgatory.

That link, “was leaked to snotty New York literati, who mocked it on the Internet,” goes to a story, “(Not an) April Fools Book Proposal: ‘I Lost My Love in Baghdad'” (link at archive.today) by Jonathan Liu (stories at Gawker credited to “jliu”), which, as Weigel says, was a vicious mocking by the writer and Gawker‘s commenters. Liu was one of the weekend Gawker writers, along with his fellow Harvard grad Leon Neyfakh (stories at Gawker credited to “lneyfakh”)29, and this post was made at noon Saturday. They had obtained the manuscript through the New York Observer, and when literary agent Andrew Wylie asked the Observer to take down the manuscript and for Gawker to stop linking to the material, Gawker mocked the request the following Monday with “The Michael Hastings Memoir: Book Proposals Kill” (link at archive.today), a post written by the site’s then editor, Choire Sicha. For the longest time, I thought this writer was a woman because of the first name, and for the longest time I mispronounced it as SCHWOIR, when it’s got a much simpler sound: Co-ry. Kelly. Cory30.

“I’m very boring now. I live with cats,” says Kelly Treemont, and Sicha mentions his cats quite often. Sample: “Q: How many cats do you have? Do you ever let them drive? etc. Sicha: “I only have two cats…One of them is a fucking ENORMOUS cool black-and-white frat boy. The other is this tiny neurotic gray lady. THEY ARE IN LOVE.””31 Sicha was working on a novel, or non-fiction or memoir presented as a novel, or whatever, for what seems like the longest time, with the book announced in 2009, “It’s going to be about being young in recession-era New York, and it will be published…when he finishes his reporting about a year from now” (from “Choire Sicha, An Ancestor of Ephemeral Gawker, Writes a Book” by former Gawker weekend writer Leon Neyfakh), and Sicha’s Very Recent History finally coming out in 2013.

Though it was published several months after Hastings’ death, it was a novel that felt like it had been conceived entirely so that Sicha could say to the man: yes, you got me entirely. Though Sicha emphasized the reporting he did for the book, it appeared to follow a protagonist who worked for the New York Observer till it was taken over by Jared Kushner, just as Sicha did, who suffered tax problems, as Sicha did, and which very much feels like a not badly written, but very undistinct autobiographical tale of a gay man in New York City in 2009. The unremarkable story is burdened by a unique perspective where mundane aspects of political and economic life are explained in the most tedious, abstract, and unnecessary detail, a kind of “explain our present world to the ten year olds of the distant future.” One example, part of a multi-paragraph explanation on currency:

Those who had very much money, who retained these markers of value, even if the value was very abstracted, could avail themselves of other people’s money. They used their money as an insurance of the borrowed monies’ return. This sort of money might not even be in paper form but might instead just be distributed through banks, whose job it was to hold money, and therefore the “actual” money might be put to thousands of different purposes by those banks and only be registered as attached to the current “owner” of the money by means of records.

These explanations mean that you make it through the familiar points of a narrative about young social life with agonizing slowness, with the young social life itself not terribly interesting. This novel appears to be a preparatory exercise for what it’s like to live in a rather spartan home for the elderly, to know what it’s like to eat milkless cereal after you’ve had a massive stroke. I’ll put in a link to a contrasting perspective from the New Yorker, “Choire Sicha, the Anti-Blogger” by Alice Gregory, which credits Sicha not only with a great novel but with changing the way we speak now, and which, to my mind, has the delusional quality of promotional brochures for real estate inside war zones.

However, I do not want to come off as uncomfortable about literary experimentation. Perhaps the best way, I think, to present Jonathan Liu’s “(Not an) April Fools Book Proposal: ‘I Lost My Love in Baghdad'”, whether it’s because I’m possessed by a desire to be overly clever, or perhaps something else, something darker, is by interweaving his work with the articles on the death of Parhamovich.

The Last Magazine by Michael Hastings

“(Not an) April Fools Book Proposal: ‘I Lost My Love in Baghdad'”: “April Fools’ Day? Tomorrow? No way! That’s it, we’re out for the weekend to plan some cyber-pranks to do on AOL.” “American Killed in Iraq Was Set to Marry” by Kim Gamel: “Andrea Parhamovich was fully in control of her impending engagement, detailing the ring she wanted as well as helping to plan the formal engagement trip [to] Paris, Valentine’s Day.” “April Fools”: “But we won’t leave you hanging without fin-de-semaine reading material.” “Killed in Iraq”: “Parhamovich was killed in an ambush in Baghdad, and the Newsweek reporter in Baghdad who planned to marry her said Friday she had e-mailed him just last week with specifications for the ring.” “April Fools”: “Thanks to the Observer, we’ve read the 131-page proposal for Newsweek reporter Michael Hastings’s upcoming I Lost My Love in Baghdad, which we’re told agent Andrew Wiley has sold to Random House Scribner for a cool north of a cool half-million.” “Killed in Iraq”: “”We were going to formalize everything,” said 26-year-old Michael Hastings, recalling that Parhamovich’s ring finger was a size 6.” “April Fools”: “Far as we can tell, ILMLIB — which begins with epigraphs from Iraq General George Casey, Prussian icon Carl von Clausewitz, and “Angel of the Morning, 1960’s pop song” (!!) — is some sort of experimental memoir about Green Zone romance leading up to the literal (that is, literal literal) January death of Hastings’s gf Andi Parhamovich.” “Activist slain in Iraq `was an idealist'” by Louise Roug: “Hastings hoped they would spend their lives together. But on Wednesday, Parhamovich died in a hail of bullets, ambushed outside a Sunni Arab political office in Baghdad. Sunni Muslim insurgents linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility Thursday for the attack that took the lives of the 28-year-old and three bodyguards — a Hungarian, a Croat and an Iraqi. Two other security workers were wounded. None of these other victims’ names had been released.” “April Fools”: “And, yes, it is called I LOST MY LOVE IN BAGHDAD. Needless to say, this portends the end of Western civilization as such; highlights from the 75,000-word manuscript after the jump.” “Activist Slain”: “”She was an idealist,” Hastings said of Parhamovich, who grew up in Perry, Ohio. “She always believed that people were good. Certainly, those ideals were put to the test when she came to Iraq.””

“Activist Slain”: “Parhamovich, known as Andi, followed heart and ideals when she came to Baghdad. Hastings, a reporter with Newsweek, was working in Iraq. But Parhamovich was also drawn to political work in Baghdad, teaching Iraqis about voting and how to establish a functional government.” “April Fools”: “Yikes. Before “The Day,” Hastings and Parhamovich were just your typical twentysomething Baghdad power-couple:”

The week before a major battle had taken place on Haifa Street, a five minute drive from the bureau but outside the Green Zone… I wanted to get to Haifa street, what was being called “an insurgent stronghold.” It took two days to process the request.

Andi had come over to the bureau Thursday afternoon. Everything was going well until I was about to leave her alone in the office. I got worried she would check my email on the screen of my computer.

“I have to close my email account, I don’t want you looking at my email.”

“What are you hiding,” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said,” but I know if you see the name of any girl you’ll get upset.”

She didn’t like this, and for about fifteen minutes I apologized, before we went to my bedroom.

This time, she forgave me quickly; she seemed to have gotten upset only because that was what was expected, the role we were so used to playing. I say something stupid, or do something stupid, she gets angry at me, I beg and apologize, tell her she is the love of my life, and we make up. We layed down for about an hour or so. We didn’t have sex.

“Activist Slain”: “After Parhamovich conducted her training seminar for the Sunni politicians, she left in a convoy with her armed guards. Moments later, the convoy was ambushed. The guards fought back but were outgunned by the attackers, whose arsenal included grenades.” “April Fools”: “So much smoldering emotion. Almost makes you forget about the massive human suffering taking place out on Haifa Street. There are also text messages involving pandas:”

The messages I sent her from my Iraqna gives me space for only 25 of them, and they don’t have a date.
Love you cub [jan 17.
Love jan 17
Hug panda [jan 17

Cub?
Cub?
Cub love you
Leaving now love
Love cub
Love you
Love
Hi cub
I miss you
Love you cub
Love you baby
Almost over!
Love you
Oh cub
Love you
Love cub
Be careful love
Love
Going home soon

“Activist Slain”: “After graduating from Marietta College in Ohio, Parhamovich worked in the Massachusetts governor’s office. In 2005, she got a job doing fundraising and publicity for Air America.” “April Fools”: “It’s hard to know what to think.” “Activist Slain”: “”She was beautiful,” [Hastings] said. “Funny. Intuitive. Really brilliant. And a bit of a nut.”” “April Fools”: “Personal tragedy bleeds into History; insurgents; lovers’ squabbles; suicide bombs; $500 K book deals.” “Activist Slain”: “Parhamovich thrived, hitting the ground running, Hastings and several of her friends say. “She wanted to be here, at the center of things, helping people,” Hastings said. “She was fearless.”” “April Fools”: “Yeah, someone get us a coping mechanism: things are pretty fucked up.” “Activist Slain”: “”She is pure at heart,” [Hastings] said, bringing her to life — momentarily — in the present tense.” “April Fools”: “April Fools! —Jon”

I have many intellectual failings, and one of them is that I lack the aesthetic genius of Jonathan Liu. One of the last passages of this book, which perhaps provoked hearty laughter from Liu and whose failings my peon ears are deaf to, I find so very deeply haunting, part of a series of powerful chapters where Hastings describes in simple unsentimental detail accompanying the passage of Parhamovich’s body back to the United States in a series of military planes, the grandeur of the ceremony and the colossal engineering power of these steel plated birds as worthless as dust or stale air for bringing the dead back to life, a passage which concludes in apocalypse, death, mass death, and the revelation is that this death has no meaning, because the one most important to you in this world is already among the dead:

My eyes are shut tight and I can see Andi perfectly in the third row and I know exactly what it would look like if we began the spiral down, if this plane crashed, if the cargo bay burst open right now and shot its cargo out, tearing off the metal clasps, the force of the catastrophic failure jettisoning each silver casket, twirling and spinning, mad batons, temperature-controlled containers though probably not too aerodynamic, flags ripping away from them, not at all like parachutes but like magnificent streamers, the twenty-five caskets falling in a beautiful burst, a grand finale, until finally they hit the ocean’s surface one by one, an honorable splash, each making its own powerful ripple but one that will never make it to shore. The war is so far away now. Baghdad is now eight hours ahead, as I move back to the time zone of the United States, and half the passengers on this plane are still dead.

The follow-up piece, “The Michael Hastings Memoir: Book Proposals Kill” by Choire Sicha, had no sympathy whatsoever for Hastings:

On Friday at a little after 5 p.m., the New York Observer posted up a 131-page book proposal by Michael Hastings, a Newsweek Baghdad correspondent. The memoir is about his time overseas and the death of his fiance. The Observer post promptly disappeared. Besides the obvious copyright issues with making the whole shebang available, there was another reason mega-lit agent (and poet!) Andrew Wylie wanted the proposal disappeared from the internet: it was going to get people killed in Iraq.

While al Qaeda doesn’t obsessively monitor Gawker yet, despite the frequent aid we supply to terrorists by means of identifying ideal targets (Simon Hammerstein’s Box theater and Schiller’s Liquor Bar—plus all of Blue States Lose!), there is the question of why then it’d be acceptable for Wylie to distribute a book proposal that identifies targets in the first place.

The Last Magazine by Michael Hastings

The letter from law firm Covington & Burlington gave another reason for why the document should be taken down – there were details that Parhamovich’s family didn’t know about, including that Hastings was writing a book about their daughter:

In addition, please take notice that Mr. Hastings advises us that the Work contains information that relates to the security of personnel at the Baghdad bureau of Newsweek and identifies certain news sources by name. Obviously such material was never intended for public distribution [actually, sic: It’s a manuscript], and by publishing the Work in its website, the Observer is potentially endangering all of these persons. Continued posting of the Work on the Observer’s website only increases the chances that some harm may result.

Furthermore, Mr. Hastings advises us that private and information [sic] regarding the late Andrea Parhamovich, as yet not know [sic] to her own family, is reflected in the Work.

Choire Sicha thought this all was hilarious:

Okay, so, that’s just messed up. The military-industrial-entertainment complex that was so quick to encourage young Hastings to sell his diaries at a tasty price is in way over its head. They felt compelled to put this on the market so fast that no one even did any sort of clearance, including with the family of the woman the book is ostensibly about. Sick. Was there some reason this had to rush to market? Was there a competing, equally tragic memoir? Are purchasing editors going to be “over” Iraq memoirs in the next couple months?

We sorta figured that the whole Didion death memoir thing would go seriously wrong on the next iteration anyway.

Apparently the person that we understand is the purchasing editor, Scribner’s Nan Graham, is qualified to possess material that supposedly endangers Americans abroad—material that, given all these claims, will need to be removed before publication anyway. Meanwhile, Andrew Wylie can’t be enjoying that he’s spending down his $75+K commission on lawyers with minimal English skills. —choire

In his flattering profile of Nick Denton, “The Gawker King”, Tom Scocca, the future Gawker editor, would compare this kind of writing to that of the Algonquin Round Table: “the kind of Internet astringency that Alexander Woollcott and his crew of gossip-wits would almost certainly have been sprinkling on the blog world if they were around to click and cluck in 2005.”

There were various comments for “(Not an) April Fools Book Proposal”.

BarbieBlonde26:

Good thing I took my fucking Zoloft today. All tears aside, good one! Im totally throwing this one at my ex-Marine husband tommorrow. I’ll keep him on edge (weary,forlorn) just long enough to get that new Marc Jacobs bag Ive been dying for. Muhahahha

DaveSingletonDC:

You really had me at “Ever wonder why first-person accounts of terrorism can’t read more like haikus?”

Because I have, dammit.

I Brad Pitt [sic] pre-purchased the film rights, it wouldn’t be such a stretch. Watch what happens. Your April fools post will spur someone to actually do this.

cugat:

I’ve written better Gawker comments. Not that they’ve been published or anything. Buncha fuckheads.

BarbieBlonde26, again:

Best Gawker T-Shirt Ever:

Front:

I lost My Love In Bagdad [sic]…

Back:

April Fools Douches!

There were various comments for “The Michael Hastings Memoir: Book Proposals Kill”.

kerrington.steele:

what is up with the androgynous spellings of “fiancé/e” these days? when I see “fiancé,” I expect the affianced to be a man — so either there have been a lot more gay weddings and engagements recently, or people just can’t be bothered with literacy. Actually, either of those is pretty likely.

JupiterPluvius:

I more often see people referring to “fiancees” with XY chromosomes and external genitalia to match. That’s even more wrong.

And the perfect first line for this book is:

What can you say about a twenty-eight-year-old girl who died IN BAGHDAD?

valet_of_the_dolls:

@JupiterPluvius: A 500k advance means (almost) never having to say you’re sorry?

Another T-Shirt suggestion, this time from JupiterPluvius:

Gawker T-Shirt suggestion:

MY GIRLFRIEND DIED AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY HALF-MILLION DOLLARS!

There was a single comment that expressed anything like sympathy with the subject, from cabbage:

That book proposal is all kinds of redonkulous — but I know Mike and he’s a really decent, friendly guy. Also, have you forgotten that he once guest-edited this site?

There was a disclosure at the end of “Book Proposals Kill”, of the time before Iraq, before Michael Hastings came home and started keeping a gun by the bed: “[Disclosure: According to Radar, Hastings briefly guest-blogged on Gawker anonymously some time ago.]”

In the December 5, 2007 Gothamist interview “Choire Sicha, Ex-Gawker Editor” by John Del Signore, which came after Sicha’s resignation from Gawker, there would be the following question and answer:

Are there any Gawker posts you regret? I don’t know that I regret anything. I know I’ve definitely done misinformed or knee-jerk things. But I think it’s important not to regret anything.

They had not finished entirely with Hastings, yet. There is the line in the blogger party about “Jennifer Cunningham, who would later have a “crisis of conscience” and leave Wretched to focus more clearly on herself,” and this, as said, can only be Emily Gould. For a post made at the end of that week on April 6, 2007, “Gold Star Motel: Trumping In Her Kushner” (archive.today link), a curation by Gould of the site’s best comments of that week, she had picked out a lucky winner from “The Michael Hastings Memoir: Book Proposals Kill”. Stand up, JupiterPluvius, you get a prize: “And the perfect first line for this book is: What can you say about a twenty-eight-year-old girl who died IN BAGHDAD?” This post was made on the same day that Emily Gould would make an infamous appearance on a “Larry King Live” episode hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, devoted to the new paparazzi and Gawker‘s often questionably sourced gossip.

This very moment would be well known enough to be re-played, with dialogue almost verrbatim, in an episode of The Newsroom (via “Sorkin Recreated This 2007 Fight Between Kimmel and Gawker on The Newsroom” by Matt Wilstein):

From the transcript, “Paparazzi: Do They Go Too Far?”:

KIMMEL: My problem is you post things that simply aren’t true on the site and you do no checking on your stories whatsoever. I’ll give you an example. There was a story about me that popped up on my Google search. It said “Daily Gawker Stalker, when isn’t Jimmy Kimmel visibly intoxicated?” And there’s a story about me being visibly intoxicated. I know it may be funny to you but I didn’t find it that amusing.

GOULD: OK.

KIMMEL: And a matter of fact, the story that talks about me being drunk, I was coming home with my cousin’s — my cousin’s 1-year- old birthday party with my elderly aunt and uncle and my kids and my cousins and I was — I may have been loud but I was far from intoxicated and you put these things on there. I mean I know you’re an editor. What exactly are you editing from the website?

GOULD: There’s a whole other aspect of our website that doesn’t have anything to do with the Stalker Map. But what the Stalker Map is citizen journalism. People don’t read with the expectation that every word of it will be gospel. Everyone who reads it knows that it isn’t checked at all.

KIMMEL: Well…

GOULD: What they read it for is immediacy.

KIMMEL: I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

GOULD: You don’t unfilter sort of the way people that perceive celebrities in real time that you don’t get from any other media. And that’s what I think is great about it.

In a long confessional, “Emily Gould – Exposed – Blog-Post Confidential”, Gould would write of the appearance, “Called upon to defend Gawker’s publication of anonymous e-mail tips of celebrity sightings, I was dismissive and flip. My untrained, elastic face betrayed the shock and amusement I was feeling about being asked, somewhat aggressively, to justify something that I thought of as not only harmless but also a given: the idea that anyone who makes their living in public was subject to the public’s scrutiny at all times.” She would react badly to the exposure and the hateful reaction to her appearance: “I started having panic attacks — breathless bouts of terror that left me feeling queasy, drained and hopeless — every day. I didn’t leave my apartment unless I absolutely had to, and because I had the option of working from home, I rarely had to.” Only when she read “Gawker and the Rage of the Creative Underclass” did she realize the harm she was doing: “The article painted Gawker as a clearinghouse for vitriol and me as a semisympathetic naïf who half-loved and half-loathed what her job was forcing her to become,” and this prompted her to resign. Gould would publicly quit the site in November 2007, announcing it in the post, “A Long, Dark Early Evening Of The Soul With Keith Gessen” [archive link], but that time, she was leaving because of the exposé, “Gawker: 2002–2007” written by Carla Blumenkranz and published in n+1, the magazine edited by Keith Gessen, Gould’s future husband. “I took a phone call and when I got back, Choire had told Keith he was quitting Gawker.” Gould: “Yup, we’re quitting!” Gessen: “Because of this?” Gould: “Sort of. Well, not because it was written. But because it’s not untrue.” It’s this context that perhaps makes Hastings’ reference to her, “Jennifer Cunningham, who would later have a “crisis of conscience” and leave Wretched to focus more clearly on herself,” understandable, and why he was filled with sufficient malice to make sure she was on the Wretched staff in 2005 so he could make this crack, even though Gould only joined Gawker in 200632.

A year after Hastings had died, Gould would say the following, in Aaron Hicklin’s “Overstepping the bounds: how blogger Emily Gould has been oversharing”:

“If I wanted to get really melodramatic about it, I could say that I feel like I was punished,” Gould says today. But whatever remorse she feels, it is not for stalking celebrities; it is for making fun of other writers — once a meat-and-potatoes target for Gawker’s editors. “I don’t think people understand that writers, with very few exceptions, aren’t rich and don’t have power,” she says. “I don’t think I understood that when I was at Gawker, and now it’s been made abundantly clear to me, by a God who has a sense of humour, if you want to believe in stuff like that.”

Though the posts making fun of I Lost My Love in Baghdad appear on the second page of results for a search of the name “Michael Hastings” on Gawker (link), this moment was never brought up in his obituary, “Journalist Michael Hastings Killed in Car Accident at 33” (archive.today link) by Taylor Berman – though it did feature links to his older posts as K. Eric Walters, which preceded the “(Not an) April Fools Book Proposal” and “Book Proposals Kill” posts. It was given no mention in the post, “A Guide to IDing the Real People Disguised in Michael Hastings’ Novel” by J.K. Trotter, and as emphasised here, the Choire Sicha caricature of Kelly Treemont was left un-IDed. This was a little surprising, since the allegation that someone only got an editor’s position by sleeping with the publisher is the sort of thing that the old Gawker gorged on.

Jessica Coen, the former editor of Gawker and the later editor of Gawker Media site Jezebel remembers the book party for I Lost My Love in Baghdad, in her letter to Gawker: “He went back, then his fiancée died over there and I recall going to the memorial/book party (which was weird and felt a little garish but sincere at the same time, if that’s possible), and that was when we started to really lose touch.” No mention is made of the leaked proposal to the Observer or Gawker, though I find it difficult to believe that Coen, either now or then, did not know about the leaks and the mocking posts on Gawker.

“The darkness, the darkness, oh the darkness…The darkness in his bedroom had even taken on his scent.” The Magazine‘s A.E. Peoria collapses into a depression when he’s given forced leave after an outcry erupts about his reporting on abuse at Abu Ghraib. He suffers from the memories of the war, his girlfriend has broken up with him, he is utterly alone, and working as a journalist gives him life – but he no longer has his job. “A.E. Peoria had hated the lights at the office, the radiating lights…sucking the soul, draining life from the skin. But how he missed those lights now.” He wants The Magazine to go to hell, he wants it to burn. “But then, like a slave, he thought, he wanted The Magazine to forgive him, he wanted The Magazine back.” This is not, I think, Adam Piore’s life, but Hastings’ life after Andi Parhamovich was killed and his memoir proposal was published in the New York Observer and Gawker. The manuscript showed too much angry criticism towards the American occupation, which Newsweek felt was detrimental to his reporting, and so they gave him leave. This is mentioned in one of the few news pieces to cover the episode of Hastings and Gawker, “A death in Baghdad echoes in blogosphere” by Simon Houpt in The Globe & Mail:

A few days after the funeral, possibly to help himself work through what had happened, Hastings did what reporters do: He began to write. He wrote furiously for a month straight, churning out 75,000 words about Parhamovich’s death, about their relationship (the good and the bad), about his past battles with substance abuse and Parhamovich’s own dark past, about the abysmal security situation in Iraq. His ground-level view of Baghdad is eye-opening and depressing, and he is nakedly dismissive of those at the top. (“Bush proclaims a war and lists excuses for it,” he writes.) Hastings produced a very rough manuscript, bitter and raw and forthright, and it was full of spelling and grammatical errors and some embarrassingly intimate and cheesy prose, but still he gave it to someone at the Wylie Agency, the powerful literary shop with an office across West 57th Street from Newsweek, and they sent it to publishers around town with the title I Lost My Love in Baghdad and sold it on March 29 for a reported $500,000 (U.S.).

The next afternoon, Friday, March 30, someone (perhaps someone at a publishing company that lost out on the book, it’s unclear) e-mailed the manuscript to the New York Observer‘s media blog. Someone there — evidently a junior someone there, possessing limited experience with copyright law and a similar lack of good taste — followed the bloggers’ dictum about information wanting to be free and figured it would be a great idea to post the whole manuscript, all 131 pages of it. The post went up without the participation of the blog’s editor. (The Observer didn’t return requests for comment.) The next day, someone working the weekend shift at Gawker.com — evidently a junior someone there — decided the news about the book and its contents would make for fine comic fodder. He riffed on the text messages between the two lovers that were included in the manuscript, and joked about, “the literal January death,” of Parhamovich.” Never mind that Hastings had actually been on a freelance assignment for Gawker on the night he met Parhamovich; in the blogosphere, it’s all fun and games until someone gets — oh. Sorry.

By Monday, the grown-ups were back in charge. The Observer eradicated the post from its website after receiving a lawyer’s letter which suggested that the manuscript, aside from being copyrighted, contained information about the Baghdad operations of Newsweek that, if disseminated, could endanger people over there.

But there are other consequences to the Observer‘s post. The lawyer’s letter suggests that the manuscript contained private information about Parhamovich that Hastings had not yet related to her family. That’s putting it mildly: In fact, as I discovered over the weekend, Parhamovich’s family didn’t even know Hastings had been working on a book about their daughter.

He’d planned to tell them at some point, perhaps after sitting down with them and telling them about how Parhamovich had died. They don’t yet know all the details. But then, neither does Hastings. He’s back in Baghdad, searching for the truth about her death. That’s the only work he can do over there now. When the book contract was being hammered out, he was in transit to the Middle East, intending to do more reporting for Newsweek. But last Friday, Mark Miller told me the manuscript’s release by the Observer had suddenly scuttled those plans because it exposed Hastings’s cynical view of the war. “We don’t normally want our correspondents to be expressing these kinds of views,” said Miller. “Given that it is out there, I think it’s best that he not be reporting for us from Baghdad. There is a perception issue.”

There is the major misperception here of this being a rogue, unintended action by a Gawker staffer; a weekend writer posted the initial piece, but his editor, the then over-thirty Choire Sicha, backed him up entirely, and piled on in the mockery and ridiculed the idea of taking down the manuscript. Because this moment has been ao little looked at, a central question remains unanswered, in this article and after: how did this manuscript that was at the offices of the Observer, end up at Gawker? Both weekend writers, Jonathan Liu and Leon Neyfakh would go on to work for a long period at the paper, and both Liu and Neyfakh had already published several articles there33. The manuscript was originally excerpted in the Observer‘s “Media Mob” section, which was edited by Tom Scocca, who, two years earlier had done the Denton profile, “King of Gawker”, and would later join Gawker Media, first as an editor at Deadspin, then at Gawker34. Those who’ve read Scocca’s Beijing Welcomes You will know that he was in China at the time, covering the preparations for the Olympics. Scocca is, however, good friends with Sicha. They shared a by-line on “Miracle on 33rd Street”; Scocca has a regular column on The Awl, the site co-founded by Sicha after he left Gawker in 2007; Scocca and Sicha thank each other in their book acknowledgements – Beijing: “Choire Sicha was a good-enough friend and adviser to read the first pile of words, before it even qualified as a manuscript”, while Very Recent History features a half page of names, including Scocca and Emily Gould. Choire Sicha would start out as an editor for Gawker from 2003 to 2005, then go to the Observer as an editor until early 2007, when he returned to Gawker as editor again, before quitting in November and going back eventually to the Observer35. So maybe, while Scocca was in China, Sicha helped manage the “Media Mob” section, and that’s how I Lost My Love in Baghdad made it from Point A to Point B.

Scocca, Liu, Sicha, Gould

(From left to right: Tom Scocca, who was editor of the Media Mob section which first published the “I Lost My Love…” proposal; Jonathan Liu, who wrote “(Not an) April Fools Book Proposal: ‘I Lost My Love in Baghdad'”; Choire Sicha, who was his editor at Gawker, and who afterwards wrote “The Michael Hastings Memoir: Book Proposals Kill”; Emily Gould who would pick out the best comment in “Book Proposals Kill” for their weekly comment round-up, that week titled “Gold Star Motel: Trumping In Her Kushner”. Photo credits, respectively: Riverhead Books, Capital New York, Rachel Sklar, Lisa Corson)

Hastings did not let any feeling of violation easily show through. “I remember getting an e-mail from Mike that was like, ‘Fuck them, I’m on Haifa Street,’” said one close friend36. He did, however, remember. In the obituary, “Michael Hastings Popped The Press Bubble, From The Campaign Trail To The Front Lines”, Michael Calderone would write “The first time I met Michael Hastings, he confronted me.” Calderone had worked at the Media Mob section when they’d published the proposal, and Hastings wanted to know if he’d had anything to do with it. “Despite his suspicions, I had nothing to do with the story. And after a contentious back-and-forth, we ended up chatting over drinks.” For what it’s worth, I believe Calderone’s account. And Hastings must have remembered the incident with some animus at least until 2009: given the shared material of the book and the May 2009 post, “‘The Army Is A 24-Hour Gay Joke'”, he was working on the book as late as then. He remembered what had happened, and he made sure to put in a caricature of Choire Sicha as an inconsequential, pathetic figure.

We do know what someone else felt after their proposal was leaked onto Gawker and published, someone who’d already had to grow a thick skin to all manner of slights and insults, and that was Lena Dunham. “Dunham says the worst Internet-related experience of her career came in December 2012, when Gawker got hold of her book proposal and posted all 66 pages of it,” writes Meghan Daum in “Lena Dunham Is Not Done Confessing”. Dunham: “It felt like such a violation to put my unedited work out into the world. As a writer, there is nothing more violating. I would rather walk down the street naked — no surprise — than to have someone read my unedited work.” This was a much smaller violation than what Gawker did to Hastings, but one can understand the sense of being exposed raw, of being out of control, and one can fathom that Hastings was in an even deeper pit than A.E. Peoria in The Last Magazine: “he had faced the darkness for three days and he didn’t want to move.”

We think of those in mourning as inhabiting a sacred space, a place not to be violated, that we too will feel the same depths that they will when we suffer loss, and that is why we feel the Westboro Baptist Church protests to be obscene, and that is why I think this act was obscene as well. I picture Nick Denton, Choire Sicha, and Jonathan Liu as a bunch of schoolboys coming across a stray dog wailing in the cold, a stray that simply wanted the biting cold to stop, and these schoolboys were bored, so they decided to set this dog on fire to hear what awful cries it would make.

“He’s not a fully human person,” says a former colleague about Nick Denton in Ben McGrath’s profile “Search and Destroy”. “He almost sees people as Legos moving around,” says another. Michael Hastings was a lego piece that didn’t act the way it was supposed to. He was supposed to break here, I guess, to wander off into some job in advertising in the Midwest, to stay away from journalism and war and all the horrific excitement of the world. The only problem was that they had miscalculated how exactly Hastings had been broken by war. He didn’t stay away, but instead kept going back again, and again, and again. I think, against my choice, I am without sentimentality now, but there is a moment in Hastings’ writing that truly gets to me, a small moment in his post from early 2010, “My advice to journalists: Smoke crack, Twitter occasionally”, and it’s not his facetious “I have smoked crack. I recommend it for all writers to try at least once, especially to New Yorker staffers,” but right after the line “It might be that the journalist’s life will be more of a hustle, more entrepreneurial than in the past few decades”, the small parenthetical: “I mean, really, how many times will I have to email Glenn Greenwald before he links to this blog…” Whenever I read that, I make myself ridiculous and have to fight back tears, and I might guess at why: Michael Hastings had no idea how successful he would be, in just a few short months. He would end up lauded one of the best reporters of his generation, a better reporter than Tom Scocca, a better reporter than Choire Sicha, better in this field than any hack to come out of Gawker, whatever small compliment that might be. He did his passionate best to fight against what he thought of as an insane, unending spectacle of death, he committed so much to it in a world where some people couldn’t even be bothered not to laugh at a mourning man. If you were to ask me if I thought his manuscript being leaked and jeered at was a part of the steps which led to his young death, I’d say: these things are somewhat like charity, and every little bit helps.

Let me be clear. The anger displayed here is entirely my own. It does not flow out of any connection to family or friends, or that I think I am acting on their behalf or Michael Hastings. It is my anger. This does not come out of snobbishness, or disdain for the low brow: I love the lowbrow, and I used to read Gawker every day. I’ve promoted Gawker in the past, I’ve promoted The Awl in the past, and I now feel like a fool for doing so. You need look for no other motive for my anger but this vile act. It is this, only this. This. It is a disgust that you can treat someone with such contempt, that someone in the depths of misery should be seen as nothing but one more shattered man, one more near dead body, to be spat on. I hear the ghostly laugh of Michael Hastings when he says “She was, unfortunately and obviously, tragically killed there…so, it was a way…so after that happened, you know, screw it all, I’m going to write,” and it inspires a ghastly, malevolent wish in me, that all those involved in this, all those who abided this, should have the person they love dearest, to whom they are closest, to have that love torn from this life, and as they collapse into weeping over the senselessness of it all, when they are falling in that pit of despair, when they truly wish for some sense of warmth or comfort to reach out in the world, that some fiend cackles at their pathetic form. That is my wish when I hear that laugh, and it is toxic, vile, and inhumane.

Choire Sicha would speak on the subject of reporters’ ethics in a 2012 interview with Ernst-Jan Pfauth, “The blogger and the murderer – an interview with Choire Sicha”, where he cited the usual touchstone on the subject, Janet Malcolm’s The Journalist and the Murderer:

I often profile people for magazines and one of the things I take from Malcolm’s book is being superconscious about what you know and what you assume about your subject. So, if I were to interview you, we would have an engagement, a personal involvement. I’d ask you all these personal questions and then, I could basically betray you and write down my coloured version of everything I thought about you. The book is a reminder about the fact I’m continuously selling people out.

I’m not sure why he felt the need to make such a high minded reference, since he appears entirely okay with betraying the sources of another journalist. In “The Michael Hastings Memoir: Book Proposals Kill”, Sicha writes that Andrew Wylie “wanted the proposal disappeared from the internet: it was going to get people killed in Iraq.” Then: “While al Qaeda doesn’t obsessively monitor Gawker yet, despite the frequent aid we supply to terrorists by means of identifying ideal targets…there is the question of why then it’d be acceptable for Wylie to distribute a book proposal that identifies targets in the first place.” That this material might be redacted or that sources would be given aliases in the published version is never brought up. Hastings’ lack of discretion when writing the proposal could be attributed to a torrent of feeling over the dead, and this is enough to give license to Sicha, Liu, and Gawker to print anything they want. That has nothing to do with Janet Malcolm. That’s just being a scumbag.

Lost My Heart reserves a special section at its end, “Note on Names, Security Procedures, Sources”, about the use of aliases, and that such second names are used for protecting those who live and work in the very dangerous conditions of Iraq, making sure not to reveal some of the details of the Newsweek cars:

Due to the deadly nature of working in Iraq, I’ve changed or used only the first names of the Iraqi security guards and interpreters employed by Newsweek. The exception is Mohammed—his full name is Mohammed Heydar Sideq, and he is currently studying in the United States on a Fulbright scholarship. I have changed the names of the men and women working for NDI and URG. The name of the Mortuary Affairs officer has been changed. The names of the Western security managers working for Newsweek have been changed. Also, Tony is not the real first name of Crazy Tony the German [an interesting and briefly mentioned figure who sells memorabilia].

I have slightly altered one aspect of a Newsweek security procedure described in the book: the color of cars we drive in Iraq. The cars are currently in use, and I do not wish to put anyone’s life at greater risk by giving out those details.

Hastings knew Malcolm’s words as well, and he brings her up in The Operators, when he discusses the editing of “The Runaway General” piece:

Over the next three weeks, Eric [Rolling Stone editor Eric Bates] and I went through two more drafts of the story. Under his guidance, the piece took shape. Eric had more than twenty-five years’ experience in reporting and editing investigative pieces, earning seven National Magazine awards, the industry’s highest honor. I knew McChrystal’s team wouldn’t be happy with the way the story was shaping up. It was the classic journalist dilemma. Janet Malcolm had famously described journalism as the art of seduction and betrayal. Any reporter who didn’t see journalism as “morally indefensible” was either “too stupid” or “too full of himself,” she wrote. I disagreed. Without shutting the door on the possibility that I was both stupid and full of myself, I’d never bought into the seduction and betrayal conceit. At most, journalism—particularly when writing about media-hungry public figures—was like the seduction of a prostitute. The relationship was transactional. They weren’t talking to me because they liked me or because I impressed them; they were talking to me because they wanted the cover of Rolling Stone.

It was one thing for Hastings to speak of a complicit subject like Stanley McChrystal, and another to write of the intimate dead. I sometimes wonder how much Sicha actually knows about the things he cites37, but I have no such questions about Hastings, or that he took such questions seriously. We have, I think, the evidence in The Last Magazine, which ends with A.E. Peoria nearly betraying the trust of Justina Salvador, and then “Michael Hastings” betraying it. The person who publishes the Justina Salvador story, who prints it without her permission, isn’t some otherly villain, but the old Michael Hastings, the earlier Michael Hastings who was working at Gawker, Michael Hastings before he went to war, “Michael Hastings”:

I’d like to say that I agonized over the decision, that I thought twice about it—because I know by taking Peoria’s story, I’m putting the last nail in the coffin of his career, and I know that I’m also jeopardizing the privacy and future of Justina. Who knows how the military is going to react to this? Most likely they’ll strip her of the GI Bill benefits. Who knows how the liberals at Barnard are going to react to having been deceived? Maybe they will support her, maybe not.

But I don’t agonize over it. I don’t want to lose my job, and if Sanders finds out that I’m the leak, then I’m done for too.

Plus, this is a great opportunity. My first cover story for the magazine.

I see this ending as Hastings genuinely struggling with the question of violation when writing about someone dear. They betrayed you, Andi, when they posted the leaked proposal, I imagine him thinking. But did I betray you first? If I was still at Gawker, would I have done what Jonathan Liu did? The book is an attempt to reckon with this whole moment again, but to tell it as fiction, to tell it slantwise, at such a slant as to be an obscurity to most. The graffiti sprayed poolside is writing about the mourned. Rather than to try and get at describing the sick addiction of war, war becomes sex, so The Last Magazine has “unusually detailed sex scenes that are just plain bizarre”, but whose toxic essence is easy to read if you’ve been following the writer’s intent.

Death makes things sacred, properly sacred, a nimbus of protection that is the right of the humblest of souls and which no amount of wealth (such as Nick Denton being worth around $70 million38) or education (Denton is an Oxford grad, Liu is a Harvard grad39) gives you a right to violate. It is the sacred quality of death which makes “Owen King: In Praise of Nepotism Redux” mere rudeness, while “(Not an) April Fools Book Proposal” is morally vile. It is death which dissuades the raising of questions, and death which impels us to raise them, as Hastings so often did. It is death, unexpected youthful death, which casts a nimbus of depth and mystery on the most ordinary moments, such as this one, Hastings’ first appearance on the Sam Seder podcast, “The Majority Report”40.

SEDER:
Alright folks, we are back. This is Sam Seder on The Majority Report. On the phone, it is a pleasure to welcome to the program as he traverses, apparently a snowstorm, on Route 87, he should be able to handle that, I mean the guy’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan, reporting, 87 is a fairly straight road, so uh, I think we’re safe. Michael, welcome to the program.

HASTINGS:
Thanks for having me, yeah, long as the state police don’t mind that I’m probably violating some sort of law while talking on a cellphone while driving, but we won’t tell them about it.

SEDER:
Alright. Let’s assume you’re talking on a headpiece, and…

HASTINGS:
(laughs) Yeah, hands free.

SEDER:
Hands free. In which case, I’m no longer, I’m not aiding and abetting anything.

“I mean the guy’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan, reporting, 87 is a fairly straight road, so uh, I think we’re safe,” is the line, of course, I dwell on. The unfinished, the unexpected blank space, the abrupt silence is thought to contain an exotic conspiratorial mystery, when the mystery may be more tangible, may be elsewhere. There is an exchange early on in Lost My Love In Baghdad, before Andi Parhamovich has left for Iraq. Andi: “You’re not coming home, are you? You’re going to stay there.” Michael: “I am coming home, and I still want to be with you.” In the end, maybe Michael Hastings never left Iraq, maybe neither one of them came home.

Death grants a nimbus to this final moment of Hastings’ last appearance on “The Majority Report”, where he discussed the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell scandal41, and it’s with this exit that I end here.

SEDER:
I have a feeling there’s more to drop. I mean it just seems…

HASTINGS:
Oh yeah.

SEDER:
This thing has a lot of different aspects to it. So, drive carefully. Don’t text while you’re driving. Don’t check your email.

HASTINGS:
Thanks.

SEDER:
Alright buddy.

HASTINGS:
Take care man.

“Whom? In the immortal words of Vladimir Ilich Lenin, ‘Whom? Whom does this all benefit?’”

TO BE CONTINUED

(On January 22nd, 2015 the footnotes, which were out of sync were corrected. On January 24th, the second section’s heading was changed to “My Reality, Your Entertainment” to “The Killing Joke”. Originally this post wrongfully refered to Jessica Coen as the current editor of Jezebel; this post was made on January 21, 2015 and Coen stepped down as Jezebel editor on July 7, 2014 – see “Mixed emotions as Jezebel gets new editor” by Peter Sterne, for one reference. On February 12, 2015, this error was corrected. On April 9th, 2015, this post received another badly needed session of copy editing. Due to various inconveniences, I was only able to get my hands on I Lost My Love in Baghdad after this was published, and was only able to read it in the week leading up to July 1, 2015. Before the copy editing, there was uncertainty about whether all the venom spilled on this page would remain; after re-reading what various Gawker writers did to this man, it was left all in. If Lost My Love had been read before this initial post, the venom would have been even greater. All additions featuring excerpts of the text from Lost My Love were added on July 1, 2015. The paragraph with accompanying excerpt from Lost My Love which begins “Hastings says something close to this…” was added on July 6, 2015. On March 8, 2016, this post was given a very mild copy edit.)

FOOTNOTES

1 This criticism of Hastings’ work can be found in the long footnote to a long piece on Anthony Pellicano, “Rising Sun: The Image of the Desired Japanese Part Three, foonote #214”, and it dealt with his article on John McTiernan’s dealings with the Hollywood detective, “The Tragic Imprisonment Of John McTiernan, Hollywood Icon”. My language is strong, but I do not regret it. I think his editor should have passed on the story as submitted, and he should have either built up his case more against the prosecutor, or made a complex, nuanced piece, where McTiernan was no innocent, and where Pellicano acted illegally under McTiernan’s orders and with his knowledge, but where people who had used Pellicano with far more frequency had escaped prosecution.

I will also say that if you told me that Hastings came across the writing on this site during the 2012 campaign and thought it was the most awful, sycophantic garbage out there, it would not surprise me – I say this to avoid any charges of sentimentality in this post.

2 That Hastings, after a decade of sobriety, had relapsed in the period before his death is not a point of speculation. From “Reckless and Inspired: An Interview With Jonathan Hastings About His Brother, the Journalist Michael Hastings”:

PR [“Paleo Retiree”]: I know you flew out to check in on Mike just a day or two before the crash.

JH: As I told the police out in L.A., a few days before he died, Mike called me and I got the impression that he was having a manic episode, similar to one he had had 15 years ago which he had referred to in his writing. At that time, drugs had been involved, and I suspected that might be the case again. I immediately booked a flight to L.A. for the next day, with the thought that maybe I could convince him to come back to Vermont to dry out or (less likely) get him to go to detox/rehab there in L.A. When I got to L.A. and saw him, I immediately realized that he was not going to go willingly. I started to make arrangements with our other brother to fly out and help me possibly force Mike into checking himself into a hospital or detox center. I’d thought that I had at least convinced Mike to just stay in his apartment and chill out for the next few days, but he snuck out on me when I was sleeping. He crashed his car before anyone could do anything to help him.

3 From the review “Emily Gould Was a Gawker Star—How’s Her Novel?”, and after this superficial dismissal of Hastings’ book, Constant gets a major fact wrong about Gould’s book:

Curiosity will presumably bring lots of readers to Emily Gould’s debut novel, Friendship. Gould earned a certain level of internet notoriety (neteriety?) as a star blogger for Gawker, back when Gawker was a publishing-industry gossip blog and not an edgier Huffington Post. One of the two main characters in Friendship, Amy, has a job as an editor for Yidster (“the third-most-popular online destination for cultural coverage with a modern Jewish angle”), where every day she chooses “a few posts from other blogs for [her employees] to, er, reimagine” and works at the whim of a dilettantish wealthy man who has no idea how blogs are supposed to function. Everybody loves romans à clef, especially when the à clef is cracking open a media outlet that leered at everyone else’s dirty laundry for years.

This suggests that Gould’s writing about Yidster is a veiled look at Gawker, when it’s most certainly not, and most definitely a look at the far more obscure Jewcy, another website where Gould worked. This is not supposition, but something Gould said explicitly in an interview with Maureen O’Connor, “Emily Gould Didn’t Mean to Provoke Lena Dunham”:

So when people say that your foil is Amy, the character who “stood up for her right to be mean on the Internet” by quitting a gossip-blogging job, or that Bev is your Emily Books co-founder Ruth Curry, that’s not the case?

It’s just more complicated than that. Bev definitely has some of Ruth’s background, in terms of her midwestern, evangelical upbringing. Amy looks like me, and I gave her a job that is similar to one I had. The people at that job are made up, but the location of the job, in Dumbo, and also its ridiculous name, Yidster, is something like Jewcy, where I worked for a glorious three months right after I quit Gawker. But now I’m trying to think about what else is autobiographical in the book, because clearly none of that shit happened. Neither Ruth nor I has ever been pregnant. Sally is completely made up. And even though Amy looks like me and does some things that I have done, she’s not me. She’s more like some aspects of me that I’m trying to exorcise.

4 Hastings gives us some sense of Patel’s books in one conversation where a co-worker asks the character “Michael Hastings” whether he’s read Patel’s most recent book and what he thought:

“I thought it was good,” I say. “Especially the parts about transparency and corruption.”

“What’s it about again?” says Jerry, who makes a point not to pay attention to anything Nishant Patel–related that does not directly affect his stories or mood or job security. “Outsourcing, right? That fucking bastard.”

“Uh, sort of. It’s really about benevolent dictatorships.”

The editors are listening to me.

“Benevolent dictatorships. How, you know, democracies evolve, and how they really take time to evolve, and so, though human rights activists like to push for changes really quickly, stability is preferable to quick or immediate change, and expecting immediate change, you know, is really, really a folly. Illiberal democracies. You know, like Tiananmen Square was a good thing, because look at the economic growth of China, when a democracy there could have really fucked—sorry, excuse my language—really slowed everything down.”

“What countries does he talk about?” says Anna.

“Oh, you know, the Middle East, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, the, uh, warm countries. But America too, and he makes this kind of interesting argument that the problem with our government is that it’s too transparent, that it should, I guess, be a little more secretive—that the transparency sort of paralyzes us and prevents good decision making.”

A contrasting global perspective, Hastings’ own, can be found in The Operators, during his brief stopover in Dubai:

This was the role model we’d been pushing on the world. If only Baghdad and Kabul and Kandahar could be like Dubai! If they could all be tax havens and resort towns and business friendly. How beautiful it would be, to remake the entire “arc of instability,” as American war planners called the area stretching from the Middle East to Central Asia, into an archipelago of city-states like Dubai, which boasted the largest shopping mall in the world, the Mall of the Emirates, with boutiques for terrorists and tyrants and businessmen alike. What a model it was! Just ask the Uzbek who had brought up my luggage and the Paki who drove me to the Palm. The world was flat, the edges of the empire jagged and bloody, but we could smooth it all over, eventually.

5 An excerpt from this interview appears in “Crashes of Convenience: Michael Hastings” (7:45-9:38):

CENK UYGUR
So, talk to me about it. So, if you guys don’t know, obviously, Michael, huge story about Michael…about General McChrystal, and eventually General McChrystal stepped down, because of the revelations in Michael’s story…that’s old school journalism, he documented it, he was there, et cetera, and i remember when it came out, I praised you to high heaven, not knowing you at all, because I was like, this is what you’re supposed to do, you’re supposed to cover them, then reveal to people what your government is doing, et cetera et cetera. So, it had real impact. Now, a story like that, Newsweek in the old days, you would think, would have loved, right?

HASTINGS
Right, right. Depending on the…I’ll do a caveat. Newsweek when Jon Meacham was editor, they would not have printed my story. I can guarantee you that, because-

UYGUR
Why do you think that is?

HASTINGS
Political reasons, for reasons that there’s a sense that at Newsweek we were supposed to uphold…that we are supposed to reinforce our societal myths, not deconstruct them, and not kindof expose them. And there’s a real mission there, certainly under Meacham, Meacham sucks. He’s on my eneemies list. One of the people I wanted to go a rant on at some point this week. They’re not going to push the button. Senior military officials, despite how they lied to us through a number of wars, despite the Pentagon Papers, despite all we knew from what we knew from that Newsweek mainstream perspective, we’re going to put them on this pedestal, and we’re not going to criticize them in that way. And I know this for a fact. You can actually go back and read Newsweek‘s profile of McChrystal [most likely “General McChrystal’s Plan for Afghanistan”, which came out September 2009] which was done by a really great reporter, a guy named…I don’t want to get him in trouble [Evan Thomas], but they took this great reporter’s stuff, and then they buried it. So, one of the reasons that I kinda knew there’d be an interesting story here, is when I read this original Newsweek story, a year before mine came out…wow, the reporter is trying to tell the truth here, and the editors are killing it. If you have editors who are kinda willing to let that stuff free, uh, let it go, maybe there can be something.

"Meacham sucks!"

A post shared by Goto Tengo (@gototengo) on

6 The initial Zakaria scandal is discussed in “A Media Personality, Suffering a Blow to His Image, Ponders a Lesson” by Christine Haughney, while the second scandal is discussed in “Fareed Zakaria’s anonymous pursuers: We’re not done yet” by Dylan Byers, on the work done by @crushingbort and @blippoblappo, at Our Bad Media.

7 From Magazine:

Tabby Doling’s thing is that she’s friends with a bunch of famous and important people, media types, heads of state, Academy Award winners from the ’70s. Though she’s partial owner of The Magazine’s parent company, on the masthead she’s listed as “Special Diplomatic Correspondent,” which is kind of a joke, because that would lead readers to assume there are people above her in the hierarchy, which there are not—she even has a floor to herself, the notorious twenty-third floor.

Tabby is one of those people who, if you bring up her name in conversation around New York, you’ll most likely get three or four really great anecdotes about. Everyone who’s met her has a moment to recount, told with the bemused acceptance that if you’re that rich and that eccentric, it’s par for the course. Gary’s [Gary, no last name, Sci/Tech editor at The Magazine] Tabby Doling story, for instance, is that he was standing in the hallway on the sixteenth floor when he heard a knocking on the glass; someone had forgotten their ID. When Gary went to answer it, he saw Tabby through the glass and decided to make one of his customary jokes. “How do I know you’re not a terrorist?” he said, as if he wasn’t going to let her in. And she responded, “I’m Tabby Doling,” with a real flourish and emphasis on both her first and last names. Gary thinks that’s why he got passed over for the domestic sci/tech gig and has been stuck in international. That’s a pretty low-level story, too, not one of her best.

I don’t know her at all and haven’t spent time with her, which isn’t surprising, as she has a $225,000-sticker-price Bentley and a driver I always see idling outside the entrance on Broadway for her—though she did say hello to me in the hallway once, so in my book that’s a plus.

Perhaps one of the best, and easily the most acerbic profiles of Weymouth is in the bygone Spy, “Mom Always Liked Him Best: Why Lally Weymouth, Katharine Graham’s Difficult Daughter Does Not Run The Washington Post” by Henry Alford:

By virtue of being a multimillionaire third-generation V.I.P. – and despite being an occasionally very charming person, a devoted mother and an extremely hard worker—she represents to many people all that is feudal and high-handed in the world, And each time Weymouth confirms These preconceptions—such as the time she ran into an acquaintance at an airport, allowed him to lug her bags aboard the plane and then, once seated, turned to him and said, “So I hear you like Hitler”; or the times she has walked up to Newsweek employees and regally informed them. *My mother is really mad at you—Weymouth’s critics feel slightly more justified, a bit less surprised by her behavior. In effect her critics lower their expectations. Over the years, they have con• tinued to lower their expectations — and Lally Wemouth keeps on meeting the challenge. She is zealous, She is abrupt. She is noisy. In the manner of a rich. brattish child, she throws a brilliant party but can make an unpleasant guest: once. when required to wait about five minutes for a table at a Manhattan restaurant, Weymouth became incensed, screamed at her companion and proceeded to fly into a thrashing, flailing rage She was according to one of the restaurant’s owners, “uncontrollable, completely wacko.”

8 From Magazine:

At that moment, a semicircle of people starts to form, the employees and famous and semi-famous guests (Kissinger, Stephanopoulos, Brokaw, etc.) step away, leaving Sanders Berman, Tabby Doling, and Delray M. Milius in the center. Milius holds up his glass and taps it, chinking and bringing silence to the room.

Delray M. Milius is doughy-faced and five-foot-seven, and I don’t mention his height pejoratively, as I’m only five-foot-nine, and I’ve never put much stock in how tall somebody is in relation to their character. I know big pricks and little pricks, as I’m sure we all do. He’s Sanders Berman’s right-hand man, his hatchet man, if you will, or if you believe the story—and I believe it because it’s true—he’s “that glory hole ass gape cocksucker.” I don’t choose those words lightly, or to offend homosexuals, some of whom are my closest friends, but because those were the words that Matt Healy, a correspondent in the magazine’s Washington, D.C., bureau, put in an email, accidentally cc’ing the entire editorial staff. This was back in ’99, before my time, and when email mistakes like that were more common. It was also back when Healy was in New York. After that email, he was sent to DC in a kind of exile, while Delray M. Milius leveraged the potential sexual harassment suit to get a big promotion to assistant managing editor, where he’s twisted Sanders Berman’s bow tie ever since.

As you can probably guess, Milius isn’t too popular at the magazine. There’s a strong anti-Milius faction, and within this faction, there’s always a running bet about how long Milius is going to last—this time. He’s left and come back to the magazine five times in twelve years. “Don’t let Milius bother you” is the conventional wisdom in how to deal with him. “It’s just a matter of time before he wakes up one morning and just can’t get out of bed and quits again. Paralyzed. By depression, fear, anxiety, who knows—it’s happened before.”

9 From “The Leonard Lopate Show: Michael Hastings on the Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan – WNYC”, this excerpt runs from 2:24 to 2:42 on the audio file.

10 This critique should not mislay anyone to the fact that Dolan is often an excellent and perceptive writer. See “Charlie Hebdo: Unmournable Frenchies”, for instance.

11 This clip is taken from “Journalist Michael Hastings Interview: The Reporter Who Took Down Stanley McChrystal (2011)”, segment runs from 27:17-28:58.

12 From “Crashes of Convenience: Michael Hastings” (20:48-21:06)

13 This excerpt is taken from an email sent in from Coen to J.K. Trotter, and published as a comment to “A Guide to IDing the Real People Disguised in Michael Hastings’ Novel” (direct link).

14 One can contrast this with Hastings’ perspective, expressed on his blog, The Hastings Report, in the post “McNamara and America’s nostalgia for 70 million deaths, part II”:

I think the Greatest Generation mythology that’s taken hold in recent years, and the festishization of World War Two, is a rhetorical trump card that is played too freely when discussing the necessity of going to war. World War II should not firstly be remembered as a triumph of the American Spirit; it should be seen as the most horrible man-made tragedy we’ve yet produced, a conflict that left 50 to 70 million dead.

This nostalgic love for the Great Patriotic War wasn’t always that widely held: contemporary WWII writers saw it as an abomination–read what James Jones and Norman Mailer had to say about it, or the fact that the greatest anti-war classic, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, is about the insaneness of WWII. That being said, I don’t have a good one or two sentence answer to explain how we could have got around fighting it in a way that seems either convincing, or moral. Either did the man who started this debate, Robert McNamara.

The best I can come up with is this.

There are two kinds of wars. Wars of tragic neccesity, and wars of unnecessary tragedy. WWII is about the only one I can think of that falls into the former category; almost every other war we’ve been involved in seems to fit firmly in the latter. Since the atom bomb, we’ve come up with all sorts of ways to still wage war without ever going as far as we did towards total annhilation from 1939 to 1945. These tippy toe wars have been a mistake, I think, from Korea to Vietnam to Iraq. We’ve convinced oursleves that the best way to stop the Ultimate War III is to keep fighting little wars to prevent it. We fought Korea and Vietnam with an eye to avoiding a deadly nuclear confrontation with Russia and now we’re fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to avoid a deadly nuclear confrontation with Islamic terrorists. It has established a dangerous pattern. It encourages our leaders to think that war is something that can be tamed, contained, and waged in a way that seems lawful and just, when really, war is rarely any of those things.

15 This quote is taken from the excerpt fround at footnote #5.

16 From “Scott Horton Interviews Michael Hastings (April 21, 2009)”, segment runs from 19:05-23:12.

17 From I Lost My Love in Baghdad:

At 11 A.M., I’m on a quick helicopter flight with a handful of other journalists out to Camp Victory near the airport, to witness a TOA, pronounced “Toe-Ah,” a transfer of authority ceremony. Lieutenant General Ray Ordierno is taking over daily operations in Iraq from Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli. It marks the completion of Chiarelli’s second Iraq tour. There are a lot of flags and a band, lots of saluting. The military loves their uniforms and flags and salutes. Chiarelli, along with his superior, General George Casey, has presided over a year in Iraq in which the violence has spiraled completely out of control. The attempt to restore security to Baghdad during the summer and fall has failed.

In his farewell address, Chiarelli quotes Teddy Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or whether the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust…who errs and comes short again and again…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly…”

As he speaks, you can hear gunfire and helicopters in the distance.

Chiarelli said he and General Casey had often discussed that quote. I try to figure out if any of the two hundred or so soldiers in the crowd, or any of the other journalists at the ceremony, notice this remark.

This was our military’s attitude behind our Iraq policy? It’s better to have tried and failed daringly than not to have tried at all? Maybe if you’re playing football, but in war?

18 A moment which makes me recall a fragment from The Last Magazine when the character Michael Hastings talks about the seemingly arbitrary rules of what is allowed and not allowed in pornography on cable:

I am disappointed. I should never have trusted Time Warner Cable. They’ve given a nod to some kind of strange decency regulations. Is it a legal thing? Why did they edit it out? Who sets these standards? Who sat around the table, saying gaping assholes okay, assholes to mouth not okay? What does that look like in legal language? Was there a board meeting? “Non-explicit or internal visualizations of sex organs.”

19 In a book where the identities of the roman a clef characters are often obvious, but their pseudonyms carry no linkage to their real names, this one is an exception: “Middle East expert” Daniel Tubes is very obviously “Middle East expert” Daniel Pipes.

20 There is much proof on-line for this, such as “Interview: Writing a ‘big, big, life’ Plus: What Hemingway wrote to Norman Mailer”, his interview with Mailer biographer Michael Lennon, which also mentions his time at the Mailer Writers Colony. There is this question and answer from “Reckless and Inspired”, an interview with Jonathan Hastings:

PR: Did he admire much popular-type writing?

JH: Pop fiction-wise, he loved Stephen King. He also liked some sci-fi, especially what I would characterize as the liberal strain of military sci-fi: Joe Haldeman’s “Forever War,” John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War.” As I mentioned, he liked Philip K. Dick a lot, too, in his case for the ideas more than anything else. I don’t know that he ever finished reading too many of Dick’s novels, but the PKD vibe was important to him. But I’d say that the writers he and I talked the most about over the years were: (1) Stephen King, (2) Norman Mailer, (3) Philip Roth. Although that was probably because I didn’t have too much to say about Hunter S. Thompson … and he didn’t really need to talk about Thompson.

From “Michael Hastings’ Dangerous Mind: Journalistic Star Was Loved, Feared and Haunted “ by Gene Maddaus:

In his 20s, Hastings stayed clean and channeled his manic energies into journalism. Writer Rachel Sklar met him, and dated him for a few months, when he was living in New York and working for Newsweek. She remembers his apartment overflowing with books — Hemingway, Mailer, Roth, A.J. Liebling and many volumes on war.

21 From “The Leonard Lopate Show: Michael Hastings on the Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan – WNYC”, this excerpt runs from 1:04 to 1:17 on the audio file.

22 From “Michael Hastings « Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton” (2009/04/21), this segment runs from 0:14-1:32.

23 From a reply to “A Guide to IDing the Real People Disguised in Michael Hastings’ Novel” (direct link):

WRETCHED DOT COM—HA. Subtle.

Anyhow, I liked Mike a lot—we spent a lot of time together, actually. It was 2004-06, we were all living on the LES and out and about all the time (though I remember Mike was already sober at that point; he had problems in hs and college, I think). I can’t remember for the life of me how we met. He was really friendly but also intense, and intensely ambitious…but also good-natured, at least from where I was standing. He struck me as a lot more “real” then many of the people I was meeting and socializing with at the time. He didn’t care about media hierarchy bullshit, didn’t blow smoke up my ass about Gawker. I remember having a lot of deep and honest conversations over coffee, but also taking him to random media parties (Molly Jong Fast’s book party at her mother’s condo comes to mind).

Mike was enthusiastic about Gawker and kind of game for anything—I think he was freelancing at Newsweek at that point, but I didn’t see a lot of contempt from him towards Gawker. Then again, we were paying him, so he was likely just biting his tongue. But I didn’t love working at Gawker, either—it was a brutal job at the time, I was terrified of Nick and worked 13 hours a day. I know I opened up a lot to him about that.

Eventually Newsweek sent him to Iraq, and after that he was different. He said there was a lot of stuff that I just couldn’t understand. He wasn’t crazy or anything, but he also kept a gun under his bed (futon, actually, in a shitty Allen Street walkup down the street from my shitty Orchard Street walkup). I also remember him saying that he was incapable of relaxing, not even in NYC, after that experience. He was also 100% certain he would go back. It was what he wanted to do. Very Hurt Locker-esque, like one of those people who just couldn’t return to regular life.

He went back, then his fiancée died over there and I recall going to the memorial/book party (which was weird and felt a little garish but sincere at the same time, if that’s possible), and that was when we started to really lose touch.

AJ was probably the last of us to hang out with him, like 2011-ish I think, and Mike was drinking again. But I hadn’t talked to him for years so who knows when that started back up.

Also, I am pretty sure he briefly dated Rachel Sklar. Relevant, I know.

24 Though the majority of posts by K. Eric Walters were made during his guest editing stint, he did several, mostly as part of “Team Party Crash”. Before his stint as guest editor: “WSJ: Who’s Wrong First?” [archive link] (4/26/05 6:10pm), “Team Party Crash: The F-Word Premiere” [archive link] (Party Crash 4/27/05 3:10pm), “Team Party Crash: Air Tahiti Nui Launch” [archive link] (4/29/05 12:06pm).

After this his guest editorship begins: “Rita Cosby: MSNBC Snags Well-Fed Blonde” [archive link] (5/16/05 9:00am), “Slate: Charles Manson is Hilarious!” [archive link] (5/16/05 9:33am), “NYT Makes Your Weekend More Boring” [archive link] (5/16/05 10:55am), “The Drudge Radio Report Report” [archive link] (5/16/05 12:15pm), “Blind Item Guessing Game: Sphincter Held Tight Edition” [archive link] (5/16/05 12:40pm), “iPod Wars Spread To Brooklyn” [archive link] (5/16/05 2:03pm), “NYT: Watch David Brooks Dance for Only $50” [archive link] (5/16/05 3:00pm), “Radar: The Longest 15 Minutes Ever” (5/16/05 4:06pm) [archive link], “Bret Easton Ellis: When Does Stalking Become Art?” [archive link] (5/17/05 10:50am), “The New Yorker Unlocks Secret to Blogging” [archive link] (5/17/05 11:54am), “Fake News Sweeps Peabody Awards; Journalism Dies Another Death” [archive link] (5/17/05 1:15pm), “Radar: Your Party Crashing Guide” [archive link] (5/17/05 4:52pm), “Media Bubble: What do AOL and Joey Have in Common?” [archive link] (5/17/05 5:39pm), “The Anderson Cooper Real Estate Contest Results: A New Roommate?” [archive link] (5/17/05 6:50pm), “Remainders: Fresh Intelligence on the NBC Peacock” [archive link] (5/17/05 7:19pm), “FNC: Bill O’Reilly is Not Part of Aqua Team” [archive link] (5/17/05 3:46pm), “What Bouncers Think When Guidos Attack” [archive link] (5/18/05 8:48am), “Clarification: Radar, Not to be Confused with Swedish Magazine of Same Name” [archive link] (5/18/05 9:30am), ‘Cheap Date’ Takes on Whole New Meaning at Midtown Hotel Bar [archive link] (5/19/05 8:36am), “Donald Trump: Lower Manhattan Needs to be Saved” [archive link] (5/19/05 10:22am), “Owen King: In Praise of Nepotism Redux” [archive link] (5/19/05 11:30am), “PIEGATE: GAWKER MEDIA LAUNCHES OWN INVESTIGATION…” [archive link] (5/19/05 12:39pm), “Sylvester Stallone: Fake Heavyweight Champion Turns Real Magazine Editor?” [archive link] (5/19/05 2:07pm), “Radar: 15 Minutes of Fame?” [archive link] (5/19/05 2:14pm), “Emailing Scary Norwegians From Brooklyn” [archive link] (5/19/05 3:20pm), “Media Bubble: As Words Die, Popularity of eBay Rises” [archive link] (5/19/05 4:40pm), “Remainders: The Nothing About ‘Radar’ Edition (Seriously)” [archive link] (5/19/05 6:20pm), “Drudge: Friday Morning, All is Well” [archive link] (5/20/05 8:18am), “NYT: Putting Us in Our Poverty-Stricken Place” [archive link] (5/20/05 9:20am), “Bill Hemmer: Producers Are There For a Reason” [archive link] (5/20/05 11:25am), “Death by Literature? Or Another Reason to Read Magazines?” [archive link] (5/20/05 12:20pm), “Bill O’Reilly Asks More Tough Questions” [archive link] (5/20/05 12:56pm), “Marquee Bouncers Incite Violence, Bruises At Radar After-Party” [archive link] (5/20/05 1:35pm), “Media Bubble: Unabated, The Mark Burnett Invasion Continues” [archive link] (5/20/05 4:55pm), “Remainders: All Blogs, All the Time, All Wrong” [archive link] (5/20/05 5:40pm), “Team Party Crash: Hamptons Magazine Party” [archive link] (5/26/05 10:52am), “Team Party Crash: The Beauty Bar Glam Pageant” [archive link] (6/06/05 4:40pm).

He also occasionally did correspondent work for Jessica Coen, such as “A Night Out With Page Six’s Chris Wilson” [archive link].

25 Exhibit A of this phenomenon is usually her essay, “Emily Gould – Exposed – Blog-Post Confidential – Gawker”. Essays by others are “5 Things About That Times Magazine Piece On Masturbatory Blogging” by Moe Tkacik, Daily Intel’s “Emily Gould’s ‘Times Magazine’ Story: Give Me an ‘I’!”, and “Emily Gould: New Gloss On An Old Story” by Rachel Sklar.

26 Examples of the past reporter work of Goldberg, often excellent, include “The Don is Done”, a profile of the post-Gotti mafia for the New York Times; “Sammy the Bull Explains How The Mob Got Made” a brief portrait of Gotti’s lieutenant for the Times; for New York magazine: “The Mafia’s Morality Crisis”; “All the Wrong Moves”, about Israeli owned moving companies; “The Decline and Fall of the Upper West Side”; “The Overachievers”, a profile of New York’s Korean community.

27 The Hamra made the international news after it was hit as part of a massive bombing attack in 2010. See “Baghdad Blasts Shatter Sense of Security in Capital” by Anthony Shadid and John Leland. Shadid, another excellent foreign correspondent, would die in 2012.

28 Hastings was not part of the initial invasion force, and the story of someone swimming in the Hamra Hotel pool is likely taken from somewhere else, a story which he mentions in parenthesis in his memoir I Lost My Love in Baghdad about the heady days following the invasion:

I’d arrived two years, five months, and twenty-five days after the war started, and Baghdad was under siege. Gone were the days of journalists traveling freely throughout the country. The stories I’d hear of the wild parties at the Hamra Hotel (“You know her, from Egypt, she swam in her underwear!”), the morning drives to Ramadi and Fallujah, casually searching for stories on the streets of Sadr City, moving without two carloads of armed guards—all of that had disappeared.

29 “Introducing: Gawker Weekend” (archive.today link) by Choire Sicha:

Beginning this weekend, and ending whenever we feel like it, please enjoy Gawker Weekend. On Saturdays and Sundays, Gawker Weekend editors Jonathan Liu and Leon Neyfakh will delve deep into the weekend lifestyle and culture media so beloved, or presumably beloved, by the sorts of people who actually get weekends to shop, relax, and, you know, just be themselves in pictorials with nice furniture. Come with us—if you’re not too busy antiquing!—to the land where newspapers believe that books are extremely decorative and the hustle and bustle of the financial district pales in comparison to the joys of extreme boating, film-going, fun apartment-hunting and the enjoyment of the other advertiser-friendly weekend lifestyle arts.

That Liu and Neyfakh both went to Harvard together is a piece of information that can be found in “Blogging: The I-Banking of Harvard’s Journalists” by Annie Lowrey (archive.today link):

Chen is the most obviously successful of a dozen or so Harvard students who have used their blogs as stepping stones to larger writing opportunities and careers. Harvard Law alum Jeremy Blachman wrote the farcical Anonymous Lawyer blog and the eponymous book. Jonathan C. Liu ’07 and former FM [Fifteen Minutes, the Harvard Crimson magazine] editor-at-large Leon Neyfakh ’07 now write the weekend edition of Gawker. Former FM Chair Elizabeth W. Green ’06 blogs and reports for U.S. News & World Report.

30 The proper pronunciation can be heard in an interview with Sicha, “Longform Podcast #19: Choire Sicha”.

31 “Choire Sicha on ‘Very Recent History,’ a book that is ‘100 percent true'” by Laura June:

I saw a tweet of yours the other day of your two cats in the backseat of your car. It appeared that the cats were in charge. How many cats do you have? Do you ever let them drive? Which of your cats would theoretically make the best driver? Where do you think they would go?

I only have two cats. (“Only.”) They are Miami street rescues. One of them is a fucking ENORMOUS cool black-and-white frat boy. The other is this tiny neurotic gray lady. THEY ARE IN LOVE.

The car thing comes from our last cat, Cat The Cat, RIP. When he was about 18 years old we moved down to Miami for a little while and he spent his last year there. I was back in New York a lot for work, and when I was away, my husband used to drive him around at night. He was this scrawny old beast, but he’d stand up on his hind legs with his front feet on the dashboard and stare out the window, or stand on my husband’s lap while he drove. Cats love cars!

So… yeah. We drive cats around a lot. Looks around awkwardly

32 From “Emily Gould – Exposed – Blog-Post Confidential” by Gould:

In the fall of 2006, I got a call from the managing editor of Gawker Media, a network of highly trafficked blogs, asking me to come by the office in SoHo to talk about a job. Since its birth four years earlier, the company’s flagship blog, Gawker, had purported to be in the business of reporting “Manhattan media gossip,” which it did, sometimes — catty little details about writers and editors and executives, mostly. But it was also a clearinghouse for any random tidbit of information about being young and ambitious in New York. Though Gawker was a must-read for many of the people working at the magazines and newspapers whose editorial decisions the site mocked and dissected, it held an irresistible appeal for desk-bound drones in all fields — tens of thousands of whom visited the site each day.

I had been one of those visitors for as long as I’d had a desk job. Sometimes Gawker felt like a source of essential, exclusive information, tailored to the needs of people just like me. Other times, reading Gawker left me feeling hollow and moody, as if I’d just absentmindedly polished off an entire bag of sickly sweet candy. But when the call came, I brushed this thought aside. For a young blogger in New York in 2006, becoming an editor at Gawker was an achievement so lofty that I had never even imagined it could happen to me. The interview and audition process felt a little surreal, like a dream. But when I got the job, I had the strange and sudden feeling that it had been somehow inevitable. Maybe my whole life — all the trivia I’d collected, the knack for funny meanness I’d been honing since middle school — had been leading up to this moment.

33 Prior to “(Not an) April Fools Book Proposal: ‘I Lost My Love in Baghdad'”, Liu had published at the Observer in 2006, “A Disappointing Pharrell Nurses His Contradictions” (08/07/06), “When Sexy Met Indie: Junior Boys Grow Up Fast” (09/18/06), “The Old Campus Quarrel, Fought to a Standstill Again” (10/09/06), “Fearsome Extremists Massing in Their Pews” (01/22/07), “Neon Bible: Topical Fairy Tales” (03/12/07). He would go on to publish numerous book reviews at the Observer: “Better on the Box: Colbert Book Bombs”, “Maladjusted Men (And Gals!) In Mannerist Short Fiction”, “Bush-Cheney as True Novel”, “Semi-Persuasive Pentagon Paranoia”, “Is America Fiddling at Its Own Funeral?”, “John Edgar Wideman’s Fanon Is Pure Electroclash”, “A Nation of Uncommitted, Distracted Dilettantes”, “Babble On, Revisited”, “Black and White, North and South”, as well as journalism such as “Dinner With the Unknowers: The NYC Skeptics Break Bread”, “Times Art Critic Michael Kimmelman to Take Over as Paper’s Architecture Critic”, “Play It Again, Sam…But Don’t Forget to Pay the 9.1-Cent Mechanical Reproduction Royalty”, etc.

These review links were taken from his blog, jonathanliu.webs.com: reviews (books) (archive.today link), though the links featured there are frequently broken. Later non-literary work was for Vice, “The Rise of Wikipedian Statecraft: How Azawad, Spurned by the U.N., Earned Its Recognition Online”, “The Rise of Wikipedian Statecraft, Part 2”, “The Rise of Wikipedian Statecraft, Part 3”, “Dear Mainstream Media: On the Internet, It’s Clear You’re a Sloppy Arrogant Cur Who Hates Your Readers”, and “The Problem with Christopher Nolan? He’s Fundamentally Uninterested in Cities”. At Capital New York, he would write “Lady Gaga flunks out of the College of American Pop Vestals” and “Taylor Swift’s immodest proposal: One million units of blond suprematism”.

Liu omits any mention of his writing credits on Gawker, except in one place, on his reviews made at The Barnes & Noble reviews listed on his site: “The Birth of Classical Europe” (archive.today link), “Our Tragic Universe”, “A Moment in the Sun”, “Witz”, and “The Sacred Book of the Werewolf”, all of which mention a fuller list of his credits: “Jonathan Liu is a reviewer and journalist who has written for The New York Observer, Gawker.com, and The Harvard Book Review.”

Jonathan Liu credit

His past blog was The Original Endasherpage 2, page 3, page 4, page 5, page 6, page 7, page 8, page 9.

Leon Neyfakh filed many stories at the Observer (link to archive under his name), many on the tech, art, and literary worlds, such as “Salon 2.0: Baby Hackers Gorge on Twizzlers and Red Bull, Coding Till the Sun Comes Up”, “Good Nerd, Bad Nerd” about Mark Zuckerberg, “In Facebook’s Crosshairs”, “Don’t Blow It! New York Tech’s Top Investors Have Bubble Trouble on the Brain”, “David Karp Explains How Companies Can Win Points With Tumblr Users By Boosting Their Self Esteem”, “Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley Talks to Mary Kate Olsen at a Tech Party: A Dramatization”, “OK, Cupid! Baby Angel Alexis Ohanian Comes to New York”, “The Facebook Effect on New York”, “Getting Followed by Kanye On Twitter Will Make You Sad”, “Alternet Uncovers Right-Wing Group Conspiring to Manipulate Digg’s Front Page”, “The Pitchfork Frankenstein Effect: Indie Powerhouse Now Spawns Bands in its Own Image”, “The End of the Empire” (closing of the Empire Diner), “Leo Castelli: This Charming Man”, “The Curious Case of the Missing Naipaul”, “Screech’s Saved by the Bell Tell-All Dropped by Gotham Books, Resold”, “Is Alain de Botton Sorry About Angry Comment Left On Critic’s Blog?”, “Dueling Foster Wallace Bios: Two Hit Market, One Sells”, “John Updike Loved New York” (an epitaph), “Washington Post Kills ‘Book World’ Section”, “Why Do Young Male Writers Love Icky, Tough Guy Deadbeats?”, “In Harper’s, Colson Whitehead Accuses James Wood of Being (Gasp!) an Aesthete and a Traditionalist”, “Judith Regan: Michael Wolff ‘Absurd’; ‘Simply Wants to Spin Facts in Favor of Defaming Me’”, “Michael Wolff Wonders: Why’s Judith Regan After the Spotlight Again?”, “Publishing Bigshots Told to Open Canned Tuna, Eat at Desk”, “Why Obama Can’t Win Author Curses ‘Stupid, Silly Title’”, “Hugh Hewitt’s How Sarah Palin Won the Election…and Saved America Does Not As Yet Have a Publisher”, “Philip Roth Confirms: Indignation’s Narrator Not Dead, At Least Not Until After the Book Ends”, “Roth: Indignation Narrator Not All the Way Dead! Maybe Just On Morphine”, “David Foster Wallace Is Gone—Did He Leave Some ‘Larger Thing’?”, “Postcards From the Red Zone” (a discussion with foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins about his book, The Forever War), “Lady in Maine Insists on Being Stubborn; Refuses to Return ‘Obscene’ Sex Book to Local Library”, “Cindy Adams Is Really Mad About This New Bill Clinton Book”, “Same Photo of Bonobos Doing It Appears on the Cover of Two New Books; Daphne Merkin Blurbs Both”, “James Frey: ‘There Isn’t a Great Deal of Difference Between Fact and Fiction’”, “Jonathan Franzen: Michiko Kakutani Is ‘The Stupidest Person in New York City'”, “Mike Huckabee Gets Book Deal For ‘Optimistic Vision For America’s Future'”, “Rumsfeld Book Deal Will ‘Add to People’s Information About These Times'”, “Edgy Novelist Goes Mainstream”, “Photogenic Calamity Physics Author Goes Random”, “O. J. Simpson’s Former Agent to Publish Book: How I Helped O. J. Get Away With Murder”, “L. A. Times Editor O’Shea Forced Out For Resisting Budget Cuts”, “Canseco Finds New Publisher For Steroids Book, Hires O.J.’S Ghostwriter”, “As Ennui Strikes ‘Creative Class,’ Self-Help Beckons”, “Publisher Shelves Parenting Memoir By Britney Spears’ Mom”, “N+1 on the 5th Anniversary of Gawker”, “The Id (and Imp) of American Literature” (Norman Mailer epitaph), “Norman Mailer in Critical Care at Mount Sinai, Recovering From Surgery (UPDATE)”, “New York’s Liberal Intellectuals Are Back at Each Other’s Throats—Buruma and Berman Slug It Out Over Political Islam”, “Kurt Vonnegut’s Final Interview(s)”, “Ivy League Chick Lit: Extracurricular Exposé” etc.

All these were posted after the Lost My Love in Baghdad posts at Gawker; “Extracurricular Exposé” has a post-date of 07/17/06 12:00am. “A Dean’s Exhortation: Stop Coddling, Harvard!” was posted in the year before, post date: 06/19/06 12:00am, as was “Postcolonial Makeover For Harvard-Bound Girl” (04/03/06 12:00am), “Upbeat, Warm and Sunny, A Band Bids Angst Adieu” (11/06/06 12:00am), “A Mogul in a Muddle: The Un-Retired Jay-Z” (11/27/06 12:00am).

Of special note is a profile of book editor David Rosenthal, “David Rosenthal Puts on His Penguin Suit”, noteworthy because Rosenthal was Hastings’ editor for The Operators, and “After Years of Pursuit, Wylie Signs Updike”, about the Updike estate hiring literary agent Andrew Wylie, as well as “Andrew Wylie Puts Roberto Bolaño On the Market”, “Andrew Wylie Still Hungry For the Dead, Pursuing Graham Greene Estate”, “Wylie in Academe: Students Meet Reality On Topic of Agent”, “Week of the Jackal: Andrew Wylie Devours 3 Giants, One Living”, “Wylie Agency Adds Nabokov Estate To Its Client List”, “Helen DeWitt Trashes Andrew Wylie on Portfolio.com”, “Ooh—Fuzzy! A Kinder, Gentler Jackal (So Far) Settles In at Wylie Agency” also about Wylie, who was Hastings’ literary agent and the man that asked that the Hastings manuscript be taken down.

34 The old “Media Mob” section at the Observer was discontinued; the original page from the week before the item on I Lost My Love in Baghdard was published, can be found at archive.org, with a saved version from April 10, featuring items going all the way back to March 30th (archive.org wayback machine link), though the Lost My Love item is already deleted. Items specifically filed by Michael Calderone bear his name. A screencap of their March 29 archived page with Scocca credited as section editor:

Media Mob

Media Mob close-up

The introuctory text for the item can be found in the Gawker “Book Proposals Kill”:

New Iraq Book Will Chronicle War, Challenging Relationship

New Iraq Book Will Chronicle War, Challenging Relationship

This proposal for a new Iraq memoir was just passed on to The Observer. Written by Newsweek Baghdad correspondent Michael Hastings, it’s called I Lost My Love in Baghdad and chronicles his time there as well as his tumultuous relationship with his fiance Andi Parhamovich, who was killed in Iraq in January while working for the National Democratic Institute. We will refrain from commenting further about the book’s eye-catching title, or what’s inside.

We hear that the book sold for a hefty sum, and to a big name publisher. Guesses?

Posted by The Media Mob on March 30, 2007, 5:12 PM

35 From “Two Gawker Editors Decide Not to Be Douche Bags”, posted in New York‘s “Intel” column:

Holy poop you guys, did you get that IM from the intern down the hall? Something totally crazy is going on at Gawker!! Writer Emily Gould and managing editor Choire Sicha, are QUITTING. Sicha is that hot gay who helped shape the site as its second solo editor from 2003 to 2005. He left to work at the Observer and then came back early this year. Gould has been working on the site since November of last year. Neither have jobs lined up, we hear. SO BRAVE.

Sicha’s trajectory from Gawker to the Observer and back to Gawker again is also described less succintly in Carla Blumenkranz’s essential history, “Gawker: 2002–2007”.

36 From “Who Killed Michael Hastings?” by Benjamin Wallace:

Three weeks after her death, Hastings’s agent Andrew Wylie had a 131-page book proposal in hand, and five weeks later, he sold it to Scribner for an advance reportedly above $500,000. The speed of the deal, and the inclusion of intimate e-mails and texts between Hastings and Parhamovich, riled some in the publishing world. (Gawker dissected the proposal mercilessly, and after the Observer published the document, it received a lawyer letter complaining that it included information that Parhamovich’s family didn’t yet know—such as the fact that Hastings was even writing a book about their daughter.)

Hastings, back in Baghdad after crashing the book, seemed to take the criticism in stride. “I remember getting an e-mail from Mike that was like, ‘Fuck them, I’m on Haifa Street,’” Darman says.

37 From “Let Me Tell You About the Most Heartfelt $200 I Ever Made” by Choire Sicha: “Mark’s Church on the Bowery, once known as the site of the first performance by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye and then suddenly an HBO backdrop…Carrie Bradshaw was the Bernie Goetz of the Bloomberg era, shooting at the walls of heartache, bang-bang,” and I’m not sure if the shift from Patti “Because the Night” Smith to Patti “The Warrior” Smyth is interpolation or mistake.

38 From “The Brit dishing the dirt on America” by Jay Rayner:

Last year Denton made his first appearance in the Sunday Times Rich List, at number 502. He was valued at £140m. As one of our mutual friends put it: ‘Even if they’ve overstated his wealth by a factor of 10, Nick is still a hell of a lot richer than you or me.’

Exchange rate of pound to dollar for March 2008 when that article is published, with one dollar equal to 0.499758 pounds, is taken from X-rates, (link for March 2008).

39 Denton’s Oxford background is discussed in “The new élite who run our equal society” by Simon Kuper, with the helpful subhead, “Behind the mask you’ll find the new ruling caste is just like the old”. Liu’s Harvard background is discussed in footnote #27.

40 This segment runs from 28:10 to 29:00 in the “Majority Report” podcast, “2/29 Dave Weigel, Ruin of GOP & Michael Hastings, DHS monitors OWS”.

41 This segment runs from 46:21 to 46:35 in the “Majority Report” podcast, “11/13 Michael Hastings, The Real David Petraeus Scandals & the Surveillance State”.

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Roger Stone: Pretty Reckless Is Going Straight To Hell Part Ten

ROGER STONE:

PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

(“Fires burn in Maidan,” image by Alexander Koerner via Getty, via Gawker’s “16 Gripping Images from Kiev’s Day of Fire and Blood” [archive link] by Max Read. Photo title is by Read as well.)

These were not men familiar with the day. Darkness was their element, and it will cling to what they did forever.

“Heroic Darkness” by Garry Wills

THE KILLING OF GEORGIY GONGADZE / ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY

What was the impetus for this very long series, what pushed me into writing something about Roger Stone, was not anything that took place in his home country, but far away, and it’s only at this essay’s very end that we have reached it. The impetus lay in the following unexamined detail of Matt Labash’s profile, “Roger Stone, Political Animal”:

I arrange to see Stone in Manhattan, where he spends roughly one day each week, and Miami, where he lives. But beforehand, he threatens to take me to Ukraine, where the local press has outed him as being involved in the parliamentary campaign of Volodymyr Lytvyn, an Orange Revolutionary alum who’s been mentioned as a future president. Like many American political consultants, Stone does the odd election overseas, though he likes to keep it quiet, since it often causes a local furor because “Americans are now hated everywhere in the world–thank you, George W. Bush.”

“I don’t particularly want to go,” he says. “Our lives will be in danger. We will have bodyguards. Plus, the food sucks.” On the upside, he says, we’ll have a buxom translator named Svetlana, and “We can stop over in Amsterdam on the way home, for all the obvious reasons.” But, it turns out we don’t need to go; his guys on the ground have it covered. But it’s a constant struggle, he says: “The Russians love intrigue.” As though he doesn’t.

He is in perpetual dispute with Lytvyn’s local advisers, who he calls the Politburo. They deliberately mistranslate his ads to reflect their own clunky slogans, and he resents their interference, since what could they know about winning free and fair elections, being recently converted Commies and all. The atmosphere is charged enough that he has now taken to sending secret messages directly to the candidate, nicknamed “Mister.” Since his team assumes all their communications are monitored, they use code names such as “Buckwheat” and “Beetle.” Stone’s is “Mr. Pajamas,” the same one used by ur-Nixon Dirty Trickster Murray Chotiner, one of his personal heroes and mentors. (Lytvyn’s party was successful in the elections.)

We have this same campaign mentioned in Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Dirty Trickster”:

He ran one of the quixotic independent bids for New York governor of the billionaire Tom Golisano; helped defeat a pro-environment voter initiative in Florida, in 1996; and ran a political campaign in Ukraine. (“I’m the father of the yard sign in Ukraine,” Stone told me. “They say, ‘Comrade is genius.’”)

The fragment from Labash’s piece illustrates his skills as a writer, why reporters are drawn to Stone as a subject, as well as the limitations of taking Stone mostly on his terms – you get colorful noise, and not much else. We have the buxom translator, the impolitic putdown of George W. Bush, the machinations of the Americans and the locals pitted against each other, all interesting, all excitedly buzzing around the most crucial point, barely noticed and which Labash gets wrong, “the parliamentary campaign of Volodymyr Lytvyn, an Orange Revolutionary alum“. The Orange Revolution, as is generally known, was a revolt against a venal government that was seen as a supplicant and puppet of the Russian state. Ukraine was led by the very corrupt Leonid Kuchma, who then handed over the reins to Viktor Yanukovych, who won in an election that was widely seen as rigged, and this is what triggered the Orange Revolution. After squabbling between the Orange Revolution leaders, Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Russian Yanukovych would return to power, and after the first massive protests since the Orange Revolution, was overthrown this weekend.

This is a very quick and very dirty overview of Ukraine’s political history, and I give it only to place Volodymyr Lytvyn, Roger Stone’s candidate, in context. The phrase “Orange Revolutionary alum” suggests a man from outside the regime. Lytvyn was not only in the Kuchma administration, he ended up one of its highest ranking members. Under Kuchma, he was Head of the Presidential Administration, then became Chairman of the Parliament. Lytvyn’s leaving the Party of Regions, the party of Kuchma and Yanukovych, suggests less a sudden rush of idealism, than opportunism. The eponymous party set up by Lytvyn after leaving Party of Regions, the Lytvyn Bloc, would run in the post-Orange Revolution elections, and eventually end up supporting Yanukovych and the Party of Regions303. This, again, is a rough description of what took place, but my intent is not to give a full detailing of Lytvyn and party politics, but to make clear how misleading “Orange Revolutionary alum” is as a descriptor. All this, however, is momentary exposition for the matter I really want to get to, one of the many events that incited the Orange Revolution, which was heavily reported on in Ukraine, and that Roger Stone, a man who prides himself on his savvy and knowledge of political trickeries must have known of when he took on this client. This man who was so impassioned by the lawless killings which he accuses Lyndon Johnson of, must have known of the allegations made, with far greater support than anything in Stone’s The Man Who Killed Kennedy book, that Volodymyr Lytvyn and Leonid Kuchma had been behind the killing of a journalist who was very critical of the Kuchma regime, a man named Georgiy Gongadze.

Easily the best source for information on this murder that I’ve found is “The Gongadze Inquiry: An investigation into the failure of legal and judicial processes in the case of Georgy Gongadze”, drafted by David Crouch and Simon Pirani. This compilation of reports did not have as its objective the solution of the killing or the indictment of specific assassins, only the assessment of the on-going failure of a proper inquiry into the death, the failure to conduct a thorough investigation. It is a model of a straightforward, diligent investigation – we may perhaps debate what it is to be “unbiased”, but I think every reader knows what it is to have a sense of trust or distrust in a piece of reporting, and never do we distrust what is presented in “The Gongadze Inquiry”.

This investigative failure began immediately with the discovery of Gongadze’s headless body, found near Kiev (Kyiv), in Tarshcha. Rather than give any weight to the details which identified the corpse as that of the missing Gongadze, investigators insisted that the journalist was still alive, then neglected to put the body into the cold storage that would have helped preserve it for a later autopsy. When journalists came to the Tarshcha morgue to claim the body, it was seized by the authorities and taken to Kiev. The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs told parliament that the body was too short to be Gongadze’s, and anyway, this body had been buried in the ground for the past two years304.

The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs would later report that Gongadze had been seen in a café the day after he’d gone missing. The Minister of Internal Affairs would state the same thing. The day after the body was found in Tarshcha, the Prosecutor Geenral would claim that Gongadze had been seen on a train. Later, another Prosecutor General would say he’d received information that Gongadze was still alive. No attempts appear to have been made to investigate any of these claims. DNA tests of the body indicated a 99.6 probability that it was Gongadze’s. The prosecutor general would announce to parliament that there weren’t sufficient grounds for believing the body to be Gongadze’s. When further tests raised the probability to 99.9%, the Proseuctor General finally confirmed the body to be Gongadze’s and launched a murder investigation305.

After London’s The Independent revealed that leaked government documents showed senior government officials obstructing the Gongadze investigation, the Prosecutor General’s Office announced the detention of a “Citizen K” who had not only been prosecuted for other beheading crimes, he had also confessed to the killing of Georgiy Gongadze. “We are almost certain he did it,” announced the Prosecutor General’s Office. A month later, on July 2004, a coalition of groups – the Institute of Mass Information, the Ukrainian Law Organization, the International Federation of Journalists and the National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland – wrote to the Prosecutor General requesting information on the suspect Citizen K, which the office was obliged to give under the Ukrainian Law on Information. Approximately a month later, the coalition would receive a reply from the Proseuctor General’s Office, signed by the Department of the Investigation of Very Important Cases. The reply stated that, contrary to reports, “Citizen K” had not been arrested in connection to the Gongadze killing and that the investigation was on-going. A month later, the Prosecutor General’s Office would make a similar public statement: “Citizen K” had no connection to the Gongadze case, an investigation which was on-going. The lawyer of Georgiy Gongadze was also sent a letter: at the present time, there are no suspects in the killing of Georgiy Gongadze. No arrests have been made306.

“Citizen K” was not the first suspect to be put forward, and then abandonned. There was also “Citizen D” and “Citizen G”, also known respectively as Cyclops and Sailor, also known as Igor Dubrovsky and Pavlo Gulyuvaty, members of a criminal gang who’d disappeared in late 2000. The Prosecutor General would announce with certainty in 2001 that D and G were the killers of Georgiy Gongadze, and the case had been solved. A Kiev newspaper would soon publish that both D and G had been filmed at a wedding the day Gongadze disappeared. It would also soon be discovered that both Citizens D and G had not disappeared, but were alive, well, and outside jail. The claim of the Prosecutor General would be retracted307.

Despite the appearance of these alternate suspects, there was already evidence which pointed a finger to a very specific point, within and at the very apex of the government of Ukraine. These were tapes made by Mykola Melnichenko, a former bodyguard of Leonid Kuchma, of a meeting in which journalist Georgiy Gongadze was discussed. I excerpt the paragraph from “The Gongadze Inquiry” which gives it first mention. I bold two relevant parts:

In November 2000, one of ex-president Kuchma’s guards, Nikolai Melnichenko, released recordings which he claimed he had made in the president’s office. On at least five occasions from 12 June to 3 July 2000, ex-president Kuchma and his ministers — head of the president’s administration Volodymyr Lytvyn, minister for internal affairs Yuriy Kravchenko, chief of the security service Leonid Derkach — discussed following Gongadze closely, “crushing” him, “taking care of” him and “throwing him to the Chechens”. Mr Lytvyn, now speaker of parliament, is apparently heard suggesting to Mr Kuchma that he should “let loose Kravchenko to use alternative methods”.

The Prosecutor General’s office would dismiss the possibility that the recordings were authentic, and open up slander proceedings against Melnichenko. It would be alleged that the Ukrainian opposition had fabricated the recordings in order to frame Kuchma308.

In 2004, the same document leak which unveiled the obstruction of the Gongadze investigation would also reveal that undercover police teams had conducted surveillance of Gongadze up to his abduction and disappearance. These police teams fell under the command of General Oleksiy Pukach, of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, or the MIA. Before his disappearance, Gongadze himself sent an open letter to the Prosecutor General complaining that he was being followed. In the Independent‘s published document leak, on the day after Gongadze disappeared, Pukach would tell his officers to forget that they’d ever followed Gongadze. After this document leak, one investigative possiiblity that was begun was that Gongadze had been murdered by the “werewolves” a group of current and former police officers who kidnapped citizens at random, and sometimes later killed them. The MIA would conduct an internal investigation. They would declare that they had been unable to discover whether or not they’d followed Gongadze because relevant documents had been destroyed and MIA employees had declined to co-operate309.

A year before, in August 2003, an MIA police officer named Ihor Honcharov died while in custody. Letters from Honcharov made public would reveal that he had told the Prosecutor General the names of the police officers involved in the surveillance of Gongadze. He would also allege that Gongadze had been killed on the orders of the then head of the MIA, Yuriy Kravchenko, the same Kravchenko who’d been at the recorded meetings as Lytvyn and Kuchma: “On at least five occasions from 12 June to 3 July 2000, ex-president Kuchma and his ministers — head of the president’s administration Volodymyr Lytvyn, minister for internal affairs Yuriy Kravchenko, chief of the security service Leonid Derkach — discussed following Gongadze closely, “crushing” him, “taking care of” him and “throwing him to the Chechens”.” Honcharov was a former member of the werewolves, and he warned the Kiev directorate in charge of organized crime of their existence, after which he received a savage beating. Two months later, he died in police custody. The leaked results of a secret autopsy concluded that Honcharov’s death was the result of a series of injections of Thiopental which had halted his breathing. There was no legitimate reason for injecting Honcharov with Thiopental, said doctors. Following this break, the Prosecutor General’s Office would declare that they had come close to solving the case. In October 2003, General Pukach would be arrested and charged with destroying evidence. At the end of October, President Kuchma fired the Prosecutor General who’d ordered the arrest. A week later, Pukach was released from prison, and in 2004, before the document leak revealing the MIA surveillance and the “Citizen K” incident, he was cleared of the charges 310

All this was recounted in the first report put out by the coalition of journalist groups looking into the lack of a proper investigation of the death of Gongadze. The second, issued in September 2005, after the Orange Revolution, was titled “The Instigators Are Getting Away”. Mykola Tomenko, who had resigned as deputy prime minister following the start of the rupture between Orange Revolution factions of Yulia Timoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko, would accuse Volodymyr Lytvyn, along with others, of trying to hinder the investigation and doing everything possible to restrict discussion of the Gongadze murder in parliament and the press311.

Since the publication of the first report, Viktor Shokin, deputy Prosecutor General, would allege that Gongadze was kidnapped by a group of serving MIA officers, led by Pukach, who had beaten him, and then strangled Gongadze with Pukach’s belt. Pukach and a second group of people then moved Gongadze’s body to Tarashcha, where it was found. Valeriy Kostenko, Mykola Protasov and Oleksandr Popovych, three of the MIA officers led by Pukach in the kidnapping, would be indicted. All three would implicate Pukach in the killing. All three would eventually confess to committing the murder, with Protasov getting thirteen years, while Kostenko and Popovych would get twelve312. Pukach had fled the country. In 2005, various press would report that Pukach was in Israel. On the Melnichenko tapes, Volodomyr Lytvyn is “apparently heard suggesting to Mr Kuchma that he should “let loose Kravchenko to use alternative methods””. This Kravchenko was Pukach’s superior, Yuriy Kravchenko. On March 3, 2005, President Yushchenko would announce the case solved and the Prosecutor General would make a public statement saying they were inviting Kravchenko to give evidence. The next day, Kravchenko’s dead body was found at his country villa with a note declaring himself innocent of wrong doing, and blaming everything on the intrigue of President Kuchma and his entourage. Both the Ukrainian Security Service and the Prosecutor General’s Office considered the death a suicide, but there was one unusual detail to this suicide – Kuchma was a man of considerable military experience, with the usual weapons training, and this suicide involved being shot twice in the head, with a gunshot wound to the chin, and a gunshot wound to the temple.

Melnichenko, the man who’d recorded the tapes incriminating Kuchma and Lytvyn, would travel to the U.S., where he was granted asylum. Though the Prosecutor General would go to the United States in an attempt to interview Melnichenko, they failed in this task. A friend and frequent collaborator of Melnichenko’s, Aleksandr Litvinenko, would state that Melnichenko had not made the recordings on his own – but had worked with others. Litvinenko, as is well known, would die in 2006, from radiation poisoning which was believed to be a successful assassination attempt313.

In addition to Kravchenko and Pukach, two other senior MIA officers, Eduard Fere and Yuri Dagayev, may have been involved in the Gongadze killing. Aleksandr Popovych, one of the three men found guilty of direct involvement in the murder, would tell investigators that Pukach, Fere and Dagayev had met after the killing to discuss the need to rebury Gongandze’s body. One possibility put forth was that Dagayev, who was also Kuchma’s chief of staff, had conspired with Fere and Pukach to organize the killing, without the knowledge of Kuchma or Kravchenko. “We regard this as a credible hypothesis that should be further tested,” concluded “The Gongadze Inquiry”. In 2003, Fere would suffer a stroke which would put him in a vegetative state. He had fallen into a coma, and lost all muscle movement and power of speech. Three weeks after Fere’s stroke, Dagayev would also suffer from a stroke, which would lead to his death. “Not surprisingly,” wrote the “Inquiry”, “the fates of Dagayev and Fere have been the subject of a considerable amount of media speculation.” Fere would eventually die as well. The “Inquiry” concluded: “Suggestions that they may have been poisoned have been published in the Ukrainian media, and we believe that this issue should be considered by the PGO [Prosecutor’s General Office].”314

“The Instigators Are Getting Away” was not idle in its choice of who had escaped justice – those who had ordered the killing, rather than those who had committed the murder. It described the nature of resistance to a thorough investigation, and the way this resistance had changed from before and after the revolution:

In the period since the “Orange Revolution”, the character of political resistance to the investigation of the Gongadze case has changed. Before then, the pressure was directed to obstructing the investigation at all levels. This year, the pressure appears to us to have been directed towards concentrating attention on some of the immediate perpetrators of the crime in order all the better to prevent those who ordered it being brought to justice.

As we stated in our previous report, it is widely assumed that during the “Orange Revolution” an understanding was reached between former President Kuchma and current President Yushchenko, providing immunity from prosecution for Kuchma and some of his associates, with reference to the Gongadze case and other high-profile cases. This is considered by analysts both within and outside Ukraine as a convincing interpretation of events. President Yushchenko has denied the existence of such a deal. We make no assumptions on this issue.

They give a lengthy quote from Mykola Tomenko, the deputy prime minister who’d resigned after the collapse of the Orange Revolution government, about who the investigation must ultimately look at, and why the investigation was impeded: “For me, the ‘Gongadze affair’, which I wanted so much to speed up, is the case of Leonid Kuchma and, as experts think, Volodymyr Lytvyn. Possibly, there was no arrangement with Kuchma. But there was, to a large extent, a conscious decision not to enter into direct conflict with several political players. I have the feeling that a certain group of politicians have agreed on a collaboration that will guarantee that they won’t come in for any attention from the law-enforcement agencies. I say once again that, if I were the prosecutor, I would start with the case of Kuchma, since the ‘Gongadze affair’ is derivative and is directly connected with the case of Kuchma.”

The most astonishing sign of this resistance was a report on the Gongadze killing which parliament refused to hear or make public – a report written by one of its own parliamentary commissions. The contents of this report are hinted at in “The Instigators Are Getting Away”:

Some indication of the contents of the parliamentary commission’s report, the suppression of which we referred to in our first report, were given by the commission’s chairman, Hryhoriy Omelchenko, in an interview on 18 March 2005. He said that the report names former President Kuchma and former Minister of Internal Affairs Kravchenko as the organisers of the murder; it names parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and former defence minister Leonid Derkach as being responsible for “instigating the perpetration of violent acts” against Gongadze. Omelchenko said that the report had cited evidence from the Melnichenko tapes and “evidence from witnesses”. This all suggests that the motive for preventing publication of the report is precisely that it concentrates on the issue of those who ordered the murder, rather than the perpetrators.

Commission chairman Omelchenko had proposed delivering his report on numerous occasions in 2003-04, and been blocked from doing so. In March 2005, the issue came up again at a meeting of the conciliation commission of parliamentary fractions, which declined to approve the timetabling of a report by the Omelchenko commission. Socialist fraction leader Oleksandr Moroz, addressing a parliamentary session, said the decision was a “disgrace”, aggravated by “dubious excuses that allowing the commission to report would violate some political agreements”. In a subsequent interview, Omelchenko claimed that the pressure to block the commission’s report emanated from President Yushchenko and speaker Lytvyn. He said: “I have exhausted already all the possibilities provided by the law to force this question through. The only things I haven’t done is to smash up the rostrum, seize people by the lapels, tear my shirt or declare a hunger strike in protest. […] at the conciliation council Oleksandr Moroz, Anatoly Matviyenko [deputy from the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc] and your humble servant [i.e. himself] once again demanded from the speaker a hearing of the commission of inquiry’s report. But there was nothing doing. Volodymyr Lytvyn got nervous and looked irritated. And he replied that he had talked with President Yushchenko, and the latter had requested that the report not be heard, in order not to politicise the situation.”

The third, and final, section of the inquiry is titled “Official Obstruction Is Rewarded”. The explanation for the title was given in the following paragraphs:

The title of this third report – Official Obstruction Is Rewarded – refers, in particular, to the award to former Prosecutor General Mikhail Potebenko in February 2007 by President Yushchenko of the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise. It was Potebenko to whom Georgiy Gongadze appealed for help in July 2000, when he realised he was being followed; it was Potebenko who ignored that appeal. It was Potebenko who repeated to the public fanciful and illogical hypotheses about Gongadze’s disappearance, which he probably knew had no foundation. It was Potebenko who continued to obstruct the investigation of the murder by refusing to consider the “Melnichenko tapes” and other crucial evidence. It was Potebenko who was ultimately responsible for carrying out an effective investigation of Gongadze’s murder, which, the European Court later found, the authorities failed to do.

That the Ukrainian president has presented Potebenko with a state honour – while the investigation of those who ordered the murder has moved far too slowly during the two-and-a-half years since the Orange Revolution – epitomises the official indifference, and even opposition, to dealing with many of the issues raised by the case.

It was in this final section that there was a synopsis for Volodymyr Lytvyn, including a transcript of that moment when Georgiy Gongadze’s name came up, and the suggestion was perhaps made to destroy him.

3.5.3 Volodymyr Lytvyn

The involvement in the Gongadze case of Volodymyr Lytvyn, one of Ukraine’s most senior parliamentarians, stems from his alleged participation in conversations with President Kuchma about harming Gongadze that were recorded by Melnichenko. Lytvyn was an aide to President Kuchma from 1994 to 1999, and was then appointed head of the president’s office, a position he held throughout 2000. From 2002 to 2006, i.e. both before and after the Orange Revolution, Lytvyn was the parliamentary speaker. The “Melnichenko tapes” record four conversations where doing harm to Gongadze is discussed, the participants in which are Kuchma, Kravchenko, Leonid Derkach and Lytvyn. The conversation in which Lytvyn allegedly participated reads as follows. This version is based on the copy of the tapes stored at the International Press Institute in Vienna, translated into English by J.V. Koshiw, author of a book on the Gongadze case:

[Kuchma] Give me the same about Ukrayinska Pravda and … And we will decide what to do with him. He has gone too far.

[Lytvyn] I need to begin a [court] case.

[Kuchma] What?

[Lytvyn] Start a case? [undecipherable]

[Kuchma] Good.

[Lytvyn] The case – we will make in duplicates.

[Kuchma] No, I don’t need a case.

[Kuchma] Ukrayinska Pravda [the news website founded and run by Gongadze] well is simply too much – the scum, fucker, Georgian, Georgian.

[Lytvyn] Gongadze?

[Kuchma] Gongadze. Well, who is financing him?

[Lytvyn] Well, he actively works with […] Moroz [Aleksandr Moroz, speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and leader of the Socialist Party], with Grani [a newspaper sponsored by the Socialist party]. On Saturday I saw … with [Socialist MP Volodymyr] Makeyenko.

[Kuchma] Maybe take the MP to court, let the lawyers take it to court. This goes to the prosecutor, right?

[Lytvyn] No, let loose Kravchenko, in my opinion, decide how, and also [Horbanyeyev, or Komanyeyev?] and Kholondovych [who was head of the main directorate for logistic control of the MIA].

[Kuchma] Simply shit – is there any limit, after all, son-of-a-bitch – he needs to be deported – the scum – to Georgia and thrown there on his ass!

[Lytvyn] Take him to Georgia and drop him there.

[Kuchma] The Chechens should kidnap him and ask for a ransom!

(Source: IPI, GO3007p2.dmr, 0:07:38-0:10:45, July 3, 2000).

We have found no record of any comment by Lytvyn on the Gongadze case prior to the Orange Revolution. During the revolution, Lytvyn, who had formerly been a strong Kuchma supporter, switched sides and declared his support for the re-running of the elections that the revolution’s supporters had demanded. Having retained his position as parliamentary speaker, he began to comment publicly on the Gongadze case.

In October 2005, Lytvyn addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Ukrainian integration into European institutions and other issues. The following question was asked by Matyas Eorsi, a Hungarian deputy:

Mr Eorsi (Hungary). We were very pleased to hear President Yushchenko say that the Gongadze case would be investigated, but we also heard that you personally were one of those who were heard on the Melnichenko recording discussing how to get rid of the critical journalist, Gongadze, with former President Kuchma. I should very much like to hear your comments.

The official transcript of the session in English, which is not a literal translation, records the answer as follows:

Mr Lytvyn said the situation was not as clear as had been suggested. Certain phrases had been added to the report [of the Ukrainian parliamentary commission on the Gongadze case], there was no conclusion, and he rejected any suggestion of politicisation.

A reporter from Ukrayinska Pravda was present, and, having heard Lytvyn speaking in Ukrainian, recorded that Lytvyn had also said that “international analysis” had found that the Melnichenko tapes had been doctored. Lytvyn also said that the report of the Ukrainian parliament’s commission on the Gongadze case, which had suggested that Lytvyn was implicated in the murder, was “not objective”. If such “international analysis” exists, it has never been published. On the other hand, the most substantial international analysis of the tapes, by former FBI agent Bruce Koenig – who, unlike the specialists mentioned by Lytvyn, made his conclusions public – showed, on the contrary, that the sections of the “Melnichenko tapes” recording conversations about Gongadze had not been doctored.

In our opinion Lytvyn, who has elsewhere stated that he hopes that the Gongadze case is resolved, could help the investigation by explaining: which “international analysis” showed that the Melnichenko tapes had been doctored and why has it not been published? How does he account for the contradiction between this and the analysis by Koenig and other specialists? Why has he not done more in the years that have passed to resolve these issues? Does he have any record of his conversation with President Kuchma on 3 July 2000, and it what way was it falsified? We have written to Lytvyn to ask for comment on these issues, and received no reply.

In July 2009, General Oleksiy Pukach would be arrested. The deputy Prosecutor General would declare that they had been following Pukach for two years, and had always known where he was. “Why then,” the Gongadze Inquiry report asked the obvious question, “was Pukach arrested in July 2009, and not earlier?” And the second obvious question: “Was he previously under the protection of elements in the law enforcement agencies?” Pukach would direct investigators to Belotserkovsky district where fragments of a human skull were found. Forensic investigators would confirm that the remains were the skull fragments of Georgiy Gongadze. Pukach’s lawyer would tell the press that enough evidence existed to indict Kuchma, Lytvyn, and other top officials. In late January, 2013, Pukach was found guilty of the Gongadze murder, and sentenced to life in prison. One of the presiding judges asked if he accepted this sentence. “I will accept it,” he replied, “when Kuchma and Lytvyn join me in this cage.”315

The preceding, which appears to have been a lengthy tour through the Gongadze report is ultimately a simplification. I have spoken of a single Prosecutor General, as if this was an immutable force out of Kafka, unyielding to appeal, when the Prosecutor General changed several times over the course of time, most notably with the removal of Svyatoslav Piskun, who was dismissed when Pukach was arrested for destroying evidence of Gongadze’s surveillance, only to be reinstated after the Orange Revolution. This simplification also does not fully go into the extent of the intimidation against those simply trying to conduct a proper inquiry into the murder. The preceding synopsis is not intended as a substitute for the actual report, and I would encourage readers to look at the actual “Inquiry” and its thorough examination of a murder case little known in the west, and an investigation seemingly stymied for its inconvenience to the highest powers of the state.

Within this narrative, we might see the death of Georgiy Gongadze as a second pole in the life of Roger Stone, a reprise of an opening melody. Stone began in the Nixon Administration as part of the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP), and it was another associate of CREEP, G. Gordon Liddy, who was tasked with killing Jack Anderson, a reporter who, like Giorgy Gongadze, was making things difficult for the government through his critical reporting. There is some description of this given in Liddy’s memoir, Will, but a more succinct account of the methodology of the planned killing was made when Liddy was a guest on “The Howard Stern Show” (this interview is on youtube, “G Gordon Liddy on Howard Stern Show Full Interview 2015”, and this section comes at 13:35):

STERN
If you had killed Jack Anderson, like you proposed to the Nixon Administration, what would you have used? Because you did advocate an assasination.

LIDDY
Yeah. Well, what we decided to do was…we knew the route he came into the office…and it included a traffic circle.

QUIVERS
You’re going to shoot him in the circle?

LIDDY
No, you’re not gonna shoot him in the circle. There’s a way you hit the car in a certain way, and it would flip and kill him.

STERN
The bullet, when they-

LIDDY
There’s no bullet, there’s a car accident.

QUIVERS
You’re hitting the car with a bullet, right?

LIDDY
No. No. You are hitting the car with another car.

QUIVERS
You know, you had the most imprecise plans. There’s no way you’re gonna guarantee you’re gonna kill a guy in a car.

STERN
No wonder Nixon thought you were nuts. You know I felt bad for Nixon, you nuts were running around, planning assassinations, I don’t think he had any clue-

This last statement eludes – and Liddy allows it to be eluded – that a fellow Watergate burglar had first brought up the possibility of killing Anderson, and he did so at the behest of Charles Colson, very much a close associate of Richard Nixon. The assassination was proposed by Hunt at a luncheon attended by Liddy and a medical doctor named Edward Gunn. Both Gunn and Hunt were former members of the CIA. From Will, the luncheon where this killing was proposed, and where Liddy clearly alleges that this order comes directly from Colson:

The purpose of the luncheon, Hunt had explained to me previously, was to take advantage of the expertise of Dr. Gunn in preparing, for the approval of Hunt’s “principal,” a plan to stop columnist Jack Anderson. Even with each other, Hunt and I often, when discussing the most sensitive of matters, used the term my principal rather than identify our superiors. I, at least, had several. Hunt, to my knowledge, had only one: Chuck Colson.

Anderson, Hunt reported, had now gone too far. As the direct result of an Anderson story, a top U.S. intelligence source abroad had been so compromised that, if not already dead, he would be in a matter of days. That was too much. Something had to be done.

I took the position that, in a hypothetical case in which the target had been the direct cause of the identification and execution of one of our agents abroad, halfway measures were not appropriate. How many of our people should we let him kill before we stop him, I asked rhetorically, still not using Anderson’s name. I urged as the logical and just solution that the target be killed. Quickly.

My suggestion was received with immediate acceptance, almost relief, as if they were just waiting for someone else to say for them what was really on their minds.

Furthermore, Liddy would also allege that he’d been told to go ahead and “get rid of” Anderson by the head of CREEP, Jeb Magruder. The following is the relevant excerpt from Will:

At lunch with [E. Howard Hunt] I brought up the matter of killing Jack Anderson. He told me to forget it, from which I concluded that the decision from Colson, I assumed, was negative. I inquired no further. A short while later Magruder called me into his office to deliver another whining complaint about Anderson. One of my first assignments from him had been to check out a rumor – which proved impossible to substantiate – that Anderson had been involved in a land fraud on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Another was that he had sent someone to break into our committee headquarters but was thwarted by our security. I checked that one with McCord and he knew nothing about it. I was in no mood for any more of Magruder’s petty carping about Anderson, so I tuned him out; but one sentence came through loud and clear: “Gordon, you’re just going to have to get rid of Jack Anderson.”

For serious reasons of state I had just offered to kill Anderson for the White House and been turned down. Now this pipsqueak wanted to put out a contract on him for no more reason than that he was a general pain in the ass.

This, of course, leaves hanging the unanswered question, whether Magruder had authority to sign off on his ownsome, the killing of a well-known journalist, or whether he had to get a head nod or implied assent from someone higher up for this order to be given. That there was no penalty or repercussion for the planning of this assassination is explained in another brief exchange on “The Howard Stern Show”. “Conspiring to murder someone, though, I think would put you in prison for life,” said Stern. “Only if you take, see…the conspiracy laws are very interesting,” replied Liddy. “You and I could sit here, and conspire to kill Bababooey all day long. But unless, and until, either one of us takes one affirmative action to advance that, there’s no crime.” Stern: “So, the planning is not a crime?” Liddy: “No.”316 We might see these two parallel cases of Stone working for politicians associated with the killing of reporters as either an ascent or a descent. He had started out in the employ of an administration where the murder of journalists was only planned, and he had ended up with a client where substantial evidence pointed to him having actually done the deed.

We might return now to the Labash piece where Lytvyn is brought up. “But beforehand, he threatens to take me to Ukraine, where the local press has outed him as being involved in the parliamentary campaign of Volodymyr Lytvyn, an Orange Revolutionary alum who’s been mentioned as a future president.” This is the campaign of 2007, seven years after Gongadze was killed. The Melnichenko recordings were well known throughout Ukraine, and known to many outside the country. The first two reports of “The Gongadze Inquiry”, “The Failure of Legal and Judicial Processes” and “The Instigators are Getting Away”, had already been published in 2005. “But,” writes Labash, “it turns out we don’t need to go; his guys on the ground have it covered.” Stone handled the campaign from a distance, and one of the people who must have handled it on the ground was Michael Caputo. It was Caputo who ran Carl Paladino’s campaign while Stone ran that of Kristin Davis in the 2010 New York governor’s race, with both denying collusion (the governor’s race is discussed in part seven). We know that Caputo was there because that’s where he met his wife. On his old blog, there is the post, “Great News: I’m getting married Sunday!” [archive link], followed by the detail: “I worked on the 2007 Ukrainian Parliament Elections and met my fiance as she worked for my local campaign colleague.”317

It must have been while working on this campaign that Caputo wrote “Ukraine elections” for the Washington Times on September 12, 2007, strangely without any disclosure of his involement in the election which would take place on September 30th. Caputo would give mention of the candidate he worked for near the end of the piece, and I bold it:

[In] late August, Yulia announced she had secretly surveyed 30,000 Ukrainians. Her conclusion: the elections will certainly exclude all parties except hers and those of her top two tormentors. She refused to provide the polling research — perhaps the largest pre-election survey in world history — expecting voters to take her claim as an article of faith. Some are balking, especially in western and northern regions where her failure to back banking reform is blocking cash wired from family expatriates working abroad.

With this, Yulia urged the electorate to choose among mega-blocks instead of wasting votes on smaller parties. But contrary to her mythical survey, reliable research shows other parties may pass the 3 percent minimum threshold and join the Rada. Among them are the communists and the party of democratic reformer Volodymyr Lytvyn, former speaker of the Rada who kept the rowdy legislature from devolving into anarchy during the Orange Revolution. Rested and ready after losing re-election in 2006, he is a fresh face in a tired crowd of self-interested politicians.

What purpose Caputo had for being in Latvia in 2005, when he wrote “Journey to Latvia”, again for the Washington Times, I’m uncertain. Both Lytvyn and the coalition he ended up joining, the Party of Regions, moved towards the Russian axis and away from the EU; “Journey to Latvia” appears to favor such a tilt towards Russia. In both Latvia and Ukraine, a contentious issue is the teaching of Russian as an official language alongside the native language. In 2012, there would be a high turnout as over 75% of Latvians rejected Russian as an official language. It was this very same issue that was so incisive as to finally pull Lytvyn away from his support of the pro-Russian Party of Regions – this, I believe, did not demonstrate anything like idealism on Lytvyn’s part anymore than his movement away from Kuchma expressed idealism, only a practical analysis of what positions are tenable and which aren’t. Caputo does not appear to see this in “Journey to Latvia”, portraying the language issue as an inconsequential football, tossed around by the chattering class: “Only politicians really care about this debate. Comments by a Latvian legislator or Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue, are ignored by most of the young professional class.” One has the sense that Caputo knows far better than native Latvians what is good for Latvia: “[President Vaira Vike-Freiberga] has moved in the right direction recently, mostly because her anti-Soviet administration now recognizes Russia-oriented investment fuels its economic growth. As the historical crossroads of Eastern Europe, Latvia better hope it stays that way: Their economic opportunity will remain anchored in Russia for decades.”318 I am reminded of the comment William Windorf makes regarding the environmental devastation which locals in the Bahamas fear will take place when you have a casino set up with a cruise ship supplying it with Miami tourists every day: “Some locals quite frankly don’t understand that there are natural growing pains whenever a major improvement is brought to an area.”319

Though the Melnichenko recordings had already given proof that Lytvyn was involved in the orders to kill Georgiy Gongadze when Caputo worked for the candidate, and though Lytvyn would go on to support the Yanukovych government, which might be seen as either pro-Russian or making Ukraine into a vassal state of Russia, and all this might be seen as support for authoritarianism, do not think this meant that Caputo had anything like open mindedness about political beliefs back in the United States. “Commie Book Ban” by Rob Jordan would describe the briefly successful attempts by Frank Bolaños to have a Miami-Dade school board ban a comic book from the early 1960s, Vamos a Cuba, which gave no mention of the political persecutions of Castro. Bolaños would make an attempt at the Florida state Senate, Caputo was his press officer, and they made sure to emphasize the issue of Bolaños’s stand on the comic book. That you might be against communism and still think this all was obnoxious grandstanding, was a view Caputo had no tolerance for. “The last vestiges of Communism will live and breathe in America. It’s in the school system.” This comic book was brought in with the specific intention of roiling the Cuban community, Caputo alleged. These events took place in 2006, a year before Caputo would help Volodymyr Lytvyn get elected. “He needs to be deported – the scum – to Georgia and thrown there on his ass!,” said Leonid Kuchma on the Melnichenko recording. “Take him to Georgia and drop him there,” said Caputo’s candidate, about the reporter whose headless corpse would later be found. Frank Bolaños would lose the election. One teacher at the high school where Vamos a Cuba had been pulled, who was also a Cuban exile, had a blunt reaction to the scandal about the comic book, that might be taken as a reaction to other things as well: “These people make me vomit.”320

Though this post was originally written and posted on February 24th, I briefly move both forward and backward at once in time, making an addition on the 2nd of March, where I quote from a WBEN radio broadcast made by Michael Caputo where he speaks eloquently and movingly about what was taking place in Ukraine on the day of that radiocast, February 20th, the events which would culminate in the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich, and, at this date, the takeover of parts of Crimea by a Russian sponsored private army, with the very real possibility of war between Ukraine and Russia. From that February 20th broadcast, perhaps unnecessarily, I bold the second to last sentence, which stands out for me (taken from the beginning of “2-20 Michael Caputo in for Sandy Hour 2”):

What a day. I know we talk a lot abou this…college diplomas for rapists idea, from our quizzical governor…I don’t know, really, if this is the most important thing going on today…I’ve been up for several hours, I’ve had trouble sleeping…I don’t know if you’re catching the news…it’s been on our news break on the hour. They are murdering people in the streets of Kiev today. My in-laws are in Ukraine, my brother-in-law lives in Kiev, he sides with the protesters, and luckily for our family, he has not been spending recently his time in the Maidan Square there. I woke up…of course, as some of you know, my wife and I have an eighteen month old…at fifty one years old that was not done on a dare. But she woke me up a little bit this morning, a little early this morning, I have not been able to get back to sleep because the images coming out of Kiev, they are frightening. Just frightening. And uh, a very important point was made on twitter today, by somebody who I follow, I forget who made it, but this violence, in Kiev, in just the last couple of days, is far worse than any of the violence when the wall was falling back in ’89-’90. Those time frames. If you remember the violence that was happening then, it was wall to wall on our news stations. In Kiev, they’re actually firing right into the crowd, with AK-47s. Firing straight into the crowd. The hotel that is right on Maidan Square, the Kiev Hotel, the Kiev Hotel is now an emergency room. It’s a triage. People are dying right and left. By the way, so are the police. The police are mostly being injured and kiled by firebombs, by Molotov cocktails. And what bothers me is- I have a direct connection with this, because my in-laws are there, my wife is from there, we spend time there, it’s a frightening thing. I have been trying to talk to my in-laws about coming over to the United States, maybe staying here, and now we may escalate that. It’s really frightening, I mean, we don’t know here in the United States, the kind of life that they lead in places like Ukraine, which was devastated, whole cities leveled during World War II. And now the…after that, they suffered under the yoke of communism for many, many years. And the last several years, they have suffered under the oligarchs and the relative fascists who run the country, and basically, do not respond to the people, we’ve seen democratic oriented leaders poisoned over there, we’ve seen people killed, journalists murdered. And now the people, in the Square, in Maidan Square, being shot down like dogs.

On March 1st, a moronic troublemaker would try to reconcile this lamentation with his past election work, by raising the issue of Volodymyr Lytvyn and Georgiy Gongadze on twitter. Caputo would soundly dismiss any implications of the tweet, whether it be his connections with Lytvyn, or links between Lytvyn and Gongadze’s murder, I have no certainty:

I leave this brief shift forward to the future of this edit, and return to the original post.

Caputo was on the ground in Ukraine, and Stone was planning the campaign from afar, but they were not the only Americans involved in the country at that time. “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington” by Glenn R. Simpson and Mary Jacoby would describe how various top tier americans went into the former Soviet colony to, as they say, help out. There was the notable example of William Sessions, the former head of the FBI, who’d become a lawyer for Semyon Mogilevich, who his former agency considered one of Russia’s most powerful organized crime figures and had the distinction of being on their “most wanted” list. Sessions would approach his former agency with a deal: Mogilevich would provide them with vital information related to Islamist terrorism, if they could work out his legal problems. The FBI turned down the offer321. The European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU) was an advocacy group for Viktor Yanukovych and his political bloc, The Party of Regions, co-founded by Leonid Khazara, another Party of Regions member, and Tony Podesta, of the lobby shop the Podesta Group and brother of Clinton chief of staff Jon Podesta, and it was formed to lobby in favor of Yanukovych and the Party of Regions without registering under the Foreign Agent Act, all of which was described in “How Foreign Governments Make Sure You Don’t Know They’re Lobbying You” by Rosie Gray322.

It would do so through various methods, and one of them was by paying bloggers to write stories in favor of Yanukovych, and being nasty with the opposition. On Breitbart News, the story on the current uprising in Ukraine which led to the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych, “Chaos in Kiev: Yanukovych flees, Tymoshenko free”, would receive the comment from the charmingly named “gun_nut”, “Ukraine is a reminder on how quickly freedom can be lost, but that it can be regained when good people stand together for freedom. I only wish my fellow Americans had such courage.”323 At the time of the Ukraine elections, Ben Shapiro of the same site would write, “Yanukovych is not the pro-Putin stooge many make him out to be, and Tymoshenko is not the pro-Western ally many make her out to be.” Later, Shapiro would write, “It’s no surprise to see the woman who once hugged Suha Arafat shilling for a Ukrainian opposition that makes governing deals with reported Nazi knockoffs,” when Hillary Clinton supported the opposition. The ECFMU would re-tweet two of the Breitbart pro-Yanukovych stories. “Exclusive: How Ukraine Wooed Conservative Websites”, again, by Rosie Gray, would go into great detail in the ways in which conservative bloggers were paid off to portray Yanykovych as a force for stability and those protesting his regime as jew hating monsters324. The founder of Breitbart had often raved about “the well-funded, well-oiled, John Podesta–led machinery” and the “Clinton/Podesta cabal”. Perhaps it would gladden his heart that after his death, the Podesta cabal and the Breitbart cabal had finally found a way to work together, for a greater purpose325.

Yanukovych was able to win his way back to power through the work of political consultant Paul Davis, and there was a strange contradiction here, because Davis was also a high level consultant to the McCain campaign, and John McCain was passionately against the pro-Russia shift that Yanukovych represented. This was not an outlier or an exception – this same Janus phenomenon would take place again in 2012, with Mitt Romney taking a hard line against Russia, while one of his top advisors, Vin Weber, worked for the ECFMU326. Davis was a partner in a lobbying firm, a firm that was a shifting chimera that somehow has managed to show up in many stages of this piece, constantly changing its name, and the other name in that firm, the man whom Davis had served as deputy when he’d managed the Republican convention in 1996, was in Ukraine as well, and he’d also played a very big part in the election of Viktor Yanukovych327. He’s right there in Marc Champion’s “In Ukraine, a Friend of Russia Stages Sweeping Political Makeover”:

As Mr. Yanukovich prepared for parliamentary elections due the following spring, one of his key backers — Rinat Akhmetov, a billionaire metals magnate from Donetsk — recommended he hire Paul Manafort, who had worked on then-Sen. Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. Mr. Manafort, now a prominent Washington lobbyist, had been advising Mr. Akhmetov as he explored taking his business, SCM Holdings, public on Western financial markets.

With another election fast approaching, Mr. Manafort declined in an interview to talk about the specifics of the campaign advice he gave Mr. Yanukovich. But according to people involved in the Party of the Regions’ campaign in spring 2006, Mr. Manafort advised on such basics as how to target and appeal to voters. He also produced a slick campaign film and coached Mr. Yanukovich on his presentation.

Yanukovych was also helped out by Bruce Jackson, who arranged the visit of Yanukovych to D.C., where the future head of Ukraine met with Vice President Dick Cheney. Rinat Akhmetov, the Ukrainian metals magnate billionaire, would give $300 000 to the human rights charity of Jackson’s wife328. “A lot of people are making a lot of money off Ukraine’s political competition,” Jackson would say in “With cash, Ukraine’s political foes bring fight to Washington” by Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel. “The Yulia-Yanukovich competition has definitely spilled out of the country. Both sides are heavily invested in representation in Washington.” He and his group, the Project on Transitional Democracies, however “did not lobby”329. “How Democracy Fails: Ukraine is the case in point” was a piece by Jackson in the Weekly Standard, the same venue for Matt Labash’s profile “Roger Stone, Political Animal”, deeply critical of the leaders of the Orange Revolution.

However, democracy made a surprising recovery under Yanukovych, according to an interview with Jackson, “A year of Yanukovych, seen from abroad” by Mykola Siruk, written in 2011: “If we look at the objective facts, President Viktor Yanukovych and the new government had a very good year in 2010.” How could you not get objective facts from Bruce Pitcairn Jackson? “Generally, we can consider Ukraine a ‘new Poland,’ not a new Belarus. This is all very good. But Yanukovych isn’t getting any credit for it. Everyone hates the government.” Why do you think that is, he’s asked, and there followed a moment of confusion in the answer. “The mentality of the SBU [Ukrainian Security Service] is not helpful. I met the head of the SBU. Maybe he is a little naive, a little young, and maybe not everything is under his control. But this is not a thug. He is trainable and we can fix it.”330 Who, you wonder, is this we that can fix this? The Ukrainians? Jackson, Manafort, and whatever hacks Rinat Akhmetov throws money at?

“If you are a dictator, you know that the end of your ruling is near the moment you hear that a man named Bruce Pitcairn Jackson is taking a closer look at your case,” was the fulsome intro to another Jackson interview for the World Security Network, one that made you feel like an old cartoon where someone had switched the exit and entrance signs. “Berlin sees itself as the busines partner of Moscow and the explainer of Kremlin activities to the West…The positions which Germany has chosen for itself are quite controversial and have encountered significant criticism,” said Jackson in the 2008 interview331 Sometimes, Jackson sounded an awful lot like William Windorf, Karla Von Stetten, Philip Dodge, Richard Knox, Facebook persons who enthused unending belief in Genting, Scott Israel for Broward sheriff, and buying a copy of The Man Who Killed Kennedy, so much that you weren’t sure these people existed, they sounded so much like they were under the control of someone else332. As a reader, you were confused as to why Berlin being a business partner of Moscow was now a bad thing, because a year earlier, in “Ukraine Votes: The country faces enormous economic challenges as it heads to the polls”, Jackson tells us that Ukraine’s destiny was between the economies of both Russia and Europe: “The culture and history that Ukraine shares with Russia is a matter of historical fact, and history cannot be rewritten by election or referendum. Similarly, the intimacy of Ukraine’s relations with Europe is established by history, geography, and shared economic interest. Ukraine will always be close to and independent of both Russia and Europe, and there is nothing any of Ukraine’s parties can do about it.” It sometimes felt as if the only person with freedom of movement in this world was Bruce Jackson333

“Why We Need a Reset” was also by Bruce Jackson, about the U.S. taking a new approach after the election of Yanukovych: “Over the past two decades we have been consistently wrong about the political character of Ukraine, the values and aspirations of its people, and the profound weaknesses of its government and economy.” You wonder again about that we. By we, do you mean you, Mr. Jackson? “Washington has neither seen Ukraine clearly as it is nor understood its aspirations properly.” Among the many mistakes it had made, according to Jackson, was accusing “former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma of murdering journalist Georgiy Gongadze before having second thoughts.” Jackson had more to teach the reader. “Washington’s engagement should not be limited to the most prominent political personalities.”334 The next part was the most fascinating:

It must also normalize relations with the Ukrainian business community, particularly with the so-called “oligarchs.” The top ten business leaders in Ukraine control vast industrial conglomerates each of which employs as many as a quarter of a million workers directly and supports several million Ukrainians indirectly. For better or for worse, these oligarchs are the single most important political constituency in Ukrainian politics, the source of funding for all political parties, and the most pro-European voice in Ukrainian society. Their self-interest lies in closer relations with the European Union to gain market access, in political stability to improve the business environment, and in the reform of a government whose past dysfunction has only devalued their assets. Engaging Ukrainian politicians without engaging their constituency is a mistake.

As said, Rinat Akhmetov, one of those oligarchs, gave over a quarter of million dollars to a charity of Bruce Jackson’s wife. If you wanted to find some background on Jackson, there was “Minister Without Portfolio” by John Judis from 2003. It described a free floating shadow, who worked for Lockheed Martin while also promoting the expansion of NATO, fundraising for the Republicans, and was finance co-chairman of Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign. A “prominent neoconservative” is quoted as saying that Jackson is the “nexus between the defense industry and the neoconservatives. He translates us to them, and them to us.”335 You had to wonder at all that “translate” contained. One paragraph of “Portfolio” gave a very clear idea of the nexus:

Jackson maintains that Lockheed actually disapproved of his work on the committee and even tried to fire him, but that seems difficult to believe. In the mid-1990s, Lockheed, like other defense firms, was suffering from the post-Cold War stagnation in the U.S. defense budget. The company knew that once countries from Eastern Europe were admitted into NATO, these nations would have to make their equipment, much of which was manufactured in Russia, “interoperable” with U.S. and Western European military hardware. That might well have meant that they’d have to buy new planes from Lockheed. If the countries didn’t have the money, Congress could supply the loan guarantees.

Jackson would then be brought in by the Bush adminstration to rally support for the Iraq war, and it was Jackson who was behind the idea of the Vilnius 10, a group of european nations who would join the coalition of the willing. The article emphasized that this may have been a coalition sometimes more willed than willing. “When the war began,” wrote Judis, “Slovenian Prime Minister Anton Rop finally said it had been a mistake to sign the declaration. The Slovenian press blamed pressure from Jackson, acting on behalf of the United States, for the initial decision to sign.” A Slovenian columnist would refer to the “Bruce Jackson threat” as the force which moved Slovenia to war336. This was written in 2003, before the consequences of the war became an obvious disaster, and before his involvement in Ukraine, yet something about Jackson deeply alarmed Judis then, the idea that a man unknown, unaccountable, unvoted on by any man or woman, had such power.

Whatever one thinks of NATO expansion and the war in Iraq, it should be clear that something is very wrong here. NATO expansion is not necessarily a bad thing. And some countries may have wanted to endorse the American invasion of Iraq. But the Bush administration shouldn’t be holding entry into NATO hostage to support for its war in Iraq, or trying to gull the public about the size of its “Coalition of the Willing.” Even worse, it shouldn’t be getting a private citizen — with no accountability to the public, the Congress or even the administration itself — to do its dirty work.

The Iraq war would end up a fiasco of poor to no planning, one which cost the lives of too many for the creation of a corrupt and dysfunctional state, where ten, twenty, or more, now sometimes die in a single day from the bombs of Al-Qaeda. Viktor Yanukovych, the man who Jackson cheerleadered on, is, at the time of my writing this post, on the run and wanted for murder. Those are what I think Bruce Jackson might refer to as objective facts.

We have here the mess of points that might usually be called conspiracy, with a hidden order unveiled through a conspiracy theory. We have near invisible powers exerting great influence at a distance, and distorting how the world is seen according to their convenience. Paul Manafort helps get Viktor Yanukovych elected, Roger Stone and Michael Caputo work to get Volodymyr Lytvyn into parliament, and Lytvyn will support Yanukovych in exchange for getting to be speaker of the parliament again. Jackson will arrange a meeting between Yanukovych and Dick Cheney, a meeting that is possible through Jackson’s work in Iraq, where he was able to strongarm various countries into joining up as a condition for belonging to NATO, after which they would have to buy equipment from his former employer, Lockheed Martin. Caputo will chastise the opposition to Lytvyn all while presenting himself as a fair-minded man without a stake in the fire. Caputo and Jackson, another fair-minded source, will dismiss the issue of what the official languages of countries like Ukraine and Latvia are as things of no consequence. We have the eerie quality of the octopus somehow playing all parts; though Breitbart was founded by a man who despised John Podesta, they write supportive pieces of Yanukovych out of service to his brother. Unlike a conspiracy theory where some mystic order is hidden, here the arrangement is obvious and in plain sight. This was only a hidden order if you were surprised that practical financial considerations would be overwhelmed by ideology or moral virtue.

It all reminded me of an old piece from 1988 I’d just come across, “Panamania” by Joe Klein, which involved the complicated case of the former ruler of Panama, Manuel Noriega. Though the explicit line of the U.S. government was that it wished Noriega to step down, apparently he’d also been visited by a political consultant, Daniel Murphy, who was former deupty director of the CIA and George H. W. Bush’s former chief of staff, and Murphy had given Noriega an entirely different message, that he did not have to step down right away, but could wait until the next year. Noriega supposedly placed greater weight on the counsel of the private consultant than the public statements of the government337. “Why,” asked this article, “would Noriega give more credence to a private businessman than to ‘official’ representatives of the U.S. government?” Answer: “Ever since the CIA overthrew the government of Guatemala in 1954, the notion that there are two U.S. governments has been quite popular in Latin America,” says Frank McNeil, a former ambassador to Costa Rica. “There is the official government, which says one thing; and then there is the CIA and Pentagon, which pursue our real interests. A lot of this is myth and nonsense, of course, but some of it is based on experience.”

We might speak of a first state, those who hold public office, a second secret state, that of national security, and a third invisible state, belonging to no nation, whose interests are entirely its own, occasionally allied with representatives of the first and second states, or employing them as a convenient enemy, though this opposition reflect nothing of their actual political identity, which was somewhat apolitical, part of the third state. So you have the phenomenon of Ben Shapiro attacking Hillary Clinton over her support of the opposition in Ukraine, which he does at the bidding of Tony Podesta’s ECFMU, while Rick Davis advises John McCain, who also supports the Ukrainian opposition, while Davis and his partner, Paul Manafort, support Yanukovych. Viktor Yanukovych may well have seen this mix of voices in a similar manner as Noriega did, that the true state, the important state, is the third shadow state of political consultants and secret money, not the first state, which ultimately derives its power from the third, rather than the other way around. This is the most cynical and sinister reading of this mess of relationships, and I don’t know if I believe in it, but I consider it a possibility.

Within this same third state was Roger Stone, who’d later try to raise a few bucks by peddling a conspiracy story involving Lyndon Johnson, which based on his unpublished memoir, Stone didn’t even believe. It was a tale with Lyndon Johnson committing eight murders out of rancid political ambition, while Stone himself had worked for Volodymyr Lytvyn, who appeared to have been involved in a plot of far more substantial basis, which started with the killing of a reporter, and then resulted in Yuriy Kravchenko committing suicide by shooting himself twice in the head, while two other members of his ministry, also believed complicit in the plot, would suffer from devastating strokes within the same year, strokes which would kill both off338. Why invent a story, you might want to ask Roger Stone, when you could just write what you know? The story of Volodymyr Lytvyn and Georgiy Gongadze, or Paul Manafort getting mixed up with a front group for Pakistani intelligence, or who exactly gave $150 000 to set up Take Back Our Judiciary, that Florida group in the 2000 election, or whether there’s any link between a war continued in Angola and a war begun in Iraq over chemical weapons where the evidence turns out to be bunk and with the same woman from Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly involved in both cases, or whether the Libertarian Party in 2012 was taken over for the purpose of a vote split?

There was no hidden order, no masons, no lizard kings to any of this. People did things for money. You won elections so a certain select group could collect prizes, while the only thing that majority got was having their seething rage briefly fed. Those who had wealth to spare to sink into Super PACs, those who Bruce Jackson refers to as a politician’s “constituency”, would get whatever they wanted, while the rest of us would have to beg for clean food, unpoisoned water, and the possibility of children not shot dead by random lunatics, and all you’d get instead was virulent anger, pitting all against all, and you could always count on some large part of opinionmakers to give a hard, smug sneer at how powerless and impoverished we were, how we were always losing politically because we were too amoral, or too angry, or too stupid, or too inconsistent, never because we simply lacked the money to buy the politicians so we might actually get the sparest conditions of a decent life.

You just needed a certain gift to do that kind of work, a kind of sociopathy which reduced the human beings you dealt with to nothingness, a nothingness where nothing human was hurt or destroyed as a result of your gambits, and I will not grant Roger Stone much, but I will grant him that: I think he has that gift. That Roger Stone is both part of various conspiracies, and publishes a conspiracy theory might be viewed by some as ironic, two sensibilities in contradiction, when I see them as two sides of the same coin, people as mere marionettes, who you place in your plots accoring to your convenience. Stone ends The Man Who Killed Kennedy with the often cited fact that of the fourteen hundred witnesses to the Kennedy assassination, seventy had died unnaturally – their deaths are torn from whatever circumstances might have caused them, so they might be given sense in the conspiracy superstructure339. We might move away from abstractions to one of the actual lives lost, briefly but very well-sketched in Lawrence Wright’s memoir, In the New World, when Wright goes to find an exotic dancer for his fraternity’s party:

I took a seat. In a moment Delilah came out and shimmied through her big number. She had a shiny appendectomy scar that I hadn’t noticed before, but in the stage lights it seemed phosphorescent. Then, to the admiring astonishment of the Iowans, Delilah came to my table and ordered a Dr Pepper. She was in her mid-thirties, I calculated, or a little older—twice my age, in any case. She had black hair and olive-toned skin, which was probably the inspiration for casting herself as an Egyptian. However, she affected a Zsa Zsa Gabor accent along the lines of “Vere are you from, dahlink?” She was a walking cultural malaprop.

I admitted I was from Dallas.

“No kidding? Dallas?”

Her Hungarian accent fell aside and was replaced by the more familiar nasal tones of North Texas. I asked if she knew Dallas. “Yeah,” she said, “I know that goddamn town too well.” We sat quietly for a moment. Being from Dallas was an awkward bond to share.

“I used to work for Jack Ruby,” she volunteered.

She seemed to want to talk about him. He was a nice man, she remembered, but “a little crazy.” It was Ruby, the Jewish impresario, who put her together with “Hava Nagila.” Delilah gave me her telephone number, and I told her I would call next semester concerning her performance at Tulane. She said I could come to her apartment for “coffee.”

All summer long I thought about that invitation.

I was already alarmed at the direction my life was taking. When I fled Dallas for the university, I left behind a sweet Christian girlfriend. She had given me a Bible for my eighteenth birthday. “Cherish this book always, Larry, and diligently read it,” she admonished on the flyleaf, but I had fallen into the hands of the Sybarites and the existentialists, and when I returned to Dallas that summer I felt like a moral double agent. Half of me was sitting with my girlfriend in church, underlining Scripture with a yellow marker, and half (more than half) was scheming of ways to lead my little Christian exemplar into one of life’s dark passageways.

I was lying on her lap, with that thought in mind, watching the ten o’clock news, when a photograph of a black-haired woman in a belly dancing costume flashed on the screen.

“That’s Delilah!” I said, sitting up.

What?”

“Shh. I know her.”

Her name, it turned out, was Marilyn Magyar Walle. She had just been murdered in Omaha, shot eight times by a man she had been married to for a month. Her association with Jack Ruby was noted. My girlfriend looked at me with an expression of confounded decency.

“Do you have something you want to tell me, Larry?”

I wasn’t the only one who marked Delilah’s death. The conspiracists were keeping a list of “witnesses” who had died since the assassination, a list that grew and grew. By February 1967 seventeen others had died, including two more strippers who had worked for Ruby (one was shot to death, the other was found hanging by her toreador pants in a Dallas jail cell). Most of these deaths were from natural causes or explainable under other circumstances, but in the aggregate they had a weight they wouldn’t have had by themselves. Seven of the victims had given testimony to the Warren Commission, six others had been interviewed by the Dallas police or the FBI. What are the chances, one might wonder, that so many people connected with the assassination would be dead in three and a half years? An actuary in London said the odds against all of them being dead in that time were 100,000 trillion to one—a figure that throws mysterious shadows across the otherwise unmysterious fates of car wrecks, failing hearts, jealous husbands, and disappointed suicides.

This moment, succinct and without wasted space, affected me deeply, and it is without difficulty that one can imagine why this small portion of time and space persisted in Wright’s memory, while all other moments around it melted away. It shows us nothing extraordinary, only a woman doing her best under shabby circumstances, yet it suggests the vast unimagined expanse of those other seventy lives, for which their crisscross over the assassination was but a single incidental point. I do not think Roger Stone has the possibility of conceiving that expanse, only seeing people as points that might be co-ordinated in one pattern or another340. The most apt passage for a long essay on Roger Stone comes not from any book on politics, but an examination of sociopathy, A Criminal History of Mankind by Colin Wilson, which notes that crime is often an act of domination, an expression that the perpetrator is strong and the victim is weak, that the most violent and disturbing crimes often lack a material motive or practical reason, because their sole purpose is domination. This, I think, is the prime mover of Roger Stone, whether it be the Redlich mailer, or yelling at Eliot Spitzer’s father, or making up stories about Eliot Spitzer and black socks, or labeling Hesham El-Meligy the Al-Qaeda candidate, none of which have any political purpose, but are done solely to hurt the victims. Stone’s career is forever bound to a sex scandal and there is something connected to sex in the criminal act, and this act of humilation as well, which Wilson illustrates through a quote from De Sade’s Justine341:

That night, after a quick round of buggery with Saint-Fond, I withdrew to my apartment. But I couldn’t sleep: so stirred up was I by Clairwil’s violent words and actions, I had to commit a crime of my own.

My heart beating wildly at the evil thoughts racing through my brain, I leapt out of bed and dashed to the servants’ quarters. There I stole a butler’s clothes and a guard’s pistol. Then, looking very much like a gentleman of fashion [the narrator is a woman], I slipped into the night.

At the first street corner to which I came, I stationed myself inside a doorway and waited for someone to pass. The prospect of the crime which I was about to commit thrilled me like nothing I had ever experienced. My body glistened with sweat. My insides churned with the turmoil which precedes sexual congress – a fundamental excitement which honed all my senses to a fine cutting edge. I was aflame, ablaze now, for a victim.

Roger Stone begins work at the White House, and he is soon brought into the realm where he might exercise his will. The head of CREEP says “there would be some “after hours work” if I proved to be a young man who had the ability to keep his mouth shut,” Roger Stone writes in his unpublished memoir. “I had an immediate erection.”342 Roger Stone’s life is a pornography by a man who elected anti-pornography presidents, where victims have the desires of others imposed on them, the entire mass of their life reduced to an infinitely small point in space. This essay is an attempt at anti-pornography by an infinitessimally small point in space, resistant to all restriction, constraint, and limiting.

POSTSCRIPT (March 8th, 2014):

Bruce Jackson had cheerleadered the election of Viktor Yanukovych, and praised Yanukovych during his time in power, and he appeared, without shame or remorse, to offer more advice after this very man had slaughtered those who’d protested his regime. The important thing, now that the protesters were in power, was for Kiev to compromise. “Kiev has always been more of a compromise than a capital, and if it loses the ability to compromise, it loses its credibility as a capital,” said Jackson in Steven Erlanger’s “After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility”:

What worries him, Mr. Jackson said, is that the new government is too beholden to the people’s movement on the Maidan. He is also concerned that it is not reaching out sufficiently to the east and needs the credibility of both presidential and parliamentary elections to answer Mr. Yanukovych’s charge, echoed in Moscow, that those politicians of western Ukraine, who have regularly lost elections, have seized power instead.

In essence, he suggested, the revolutionaries “have knocked out the foundations of modern Ukraine,” and they need to be restored in a way that recognizes the diversity of the country.

Sudden, unmediated political change in countries like Ukraine rarely goes smoothly, he said, pointing to the Rose Revolution in Georgia, whose main proponents are now out of office and many in exile after an administration that inevitably produced some achievements but considerable disappointments, aided by Russian efforts to keep Georgia unstable.

The Times story made no mention of Jackson’s past praise of Yanukovych, or the quarter million dollars that Rinat Akhmetov, the magnate who’d given heavy financial backing to Yanukovych, had contributed to the charity of Jackson’s wife.

Jackson still didn’t think much of Europe, offering a few dismissive comments over the concerns that their diplomats were spied on in “Scandale Prism : la NSA aurait aussi espionné l’Union européenne” by Laure Mandeville (my translation from the french). The emotion of the europeans over this is ridculous, said Jackson. “Any partnerships that work will require surveilling.” “The whole world spies on itself,” he would continue. Whatever could be learned from spying on a diplomatic european delegation would be of little interest anyway343.

On March 6th, Stone’s frequent associate would point out something already obvious to many, that RT.com (Russian Televsion) is a Kremlin controlled network, and as a result any coverage of the conflict in Ukraine would be slanted heavily in favor of Russia:

These tweets warning away viewers from the Kremlin dominated programming were notable for the following reason. In November of last year, two weeks before the protests began, Roger Stone promoted his book, The Man Who Killed Kennedy, on this very network in an appearance on “Breaking the Set” (youtube link) with Abby Martin; it was Martin, along with Liz Wahl, who would publicly dissent over the network’s coverage of the Ukrainian crisis344. James Kirchick, in “Watch RT, Putin’s TV Network, Call the Cops on Me” would portrary Russian Television (RT) as a happy outlet for the fringier elements of american dissent, “a willing disseminator for their angry and conspiratorial worldview,” and that was the ideal place for Stone to advertise his book on how an american vice president killed an american president.

On March 5th, Politico would publish a brief profile, “Mystery man: Ukraine’s U.S. political fixer” by Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, of Paul Manafort, whose whereabouts remained unknown after the exile of Yanukovych:

His friends once called him the Count of Monte Cristo.

Today, Paul Manafort is more like The Invisible Man — a worldly political pro whose latest adventure, whispering in the ear of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, has handed him a supporting role in a bona fide international crisis.

On Monday, as Russian gunships menaced the Ukrainian fleet in the Black Sea, Manafort’s former business partner Roger Stone sent out an email to a small group of friends asking wryly: “Where is Paul Manafort?”

A multiple-choice list of options followed, including: “Was seen chauffeuring Yanukovych around Moscow,” and “Was seen loading gold bullion on an Army Transport plane from a remote airstrip outside Kiev and taking off seconds before a mob arrived at the site.” The final option was: “Is playing Golf in Palm Beach.”

The answer to Stone’s query is currently unclear. Manafort’s current location and involvement in Ukraine, not surprisingly, are a mystery. He did not respond to messages sent to half a dozen email accounts or answer calls to nearly as many phone numbers at addresses in Virginia and South Florida.

What’s already certain is this: Even among the many American strategists who test their fortunes abroad, Manafort’s journey from the front lines of the Reagan revolution to the right hand of a Moscow-backed Eastern bloc pol straight out of central casting ranks as one of the more unusual escapades of the Washington consulting class.

On March 5th and 6th, Stone would tweet the following:

POSTSCRIPT (March 9th, 2014):

On March 8th, Roger Stone and one of his associates found an interesting way to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Stone would retweet the following:

This would prompt the reply from the writer Rebecca Jaramillo (@RebeccazWriting), “Stay Klassy – and way to woo the womens, #GOP!”, which would lead to an interchange between Jaramillo and Stone, culminating in the following: “Ignorant Bitch!”345:

After this, Andrew Miller (@andrewmiller83) would also attack Jaramillo. Miller worked on the Johnson campaign, as well as the campaigns of Carl Paladino and Kristin Davis. He is the stepson of Dianne Thorne, a longtime associate of Stone’s who would end up working in the sheriff’s office of Scott Israel. The work of Miller and Thorne on the Johnson campaign is described in part eight, while Thorne’s association with Stone is written about in parts six and seven. Miller would tweet that “@RebeccazWriting is one mouthy, loud-mouthed ignorant cunt”346:

Miller would also tweet “@rebeccawriting. You should stop tweeting about politics- you only betray you stupidity.- YOU started the name calling- bitch.”:

There was something strange to this last tweet, reminiscent of the identities of William Windorf, Philip Dodge and others described in part nine. It was the exact same tweet, word for word, which was sent out by Roger Stone, even the mistake of it being sent out to @rebeccawriting instead of @rebeccazwriting, “@rebeccawriting. You should stop tweeting about politics- you only betray you stupidity.- YOU started the name calling- bitch.”:

This of course raises the question of whether Andrew Miller is especially slavish in his devotion to his master, or whether these last two tweets were made by Stone, taking over Miller’s handle as a convenient cut-out. Both outbursts led to obvious reactions from @rebeccawriting, Rebecca Wells347:

The allegations mentioned by Stone against Bill Clinton are refuted, I believe, in Jeffrey Toobin’s A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. Fred Dicker’s “Assault claim vs. Carl’s aide Stone” describes the assault allegations made against Roger Stone in the 2010 election for New York’s governor. Whether these allegations have ever been refuted in any place is unknown to me:

The key campaign adviser to Republican gubernato rial candidate Carl Paladino once attacked and injured an attorney who was working as his aide in what a police source described as a “domestic incident,” the upstate woman has claimed.

The alleged assault by Roger Stone against Lora Como, 40, a former employee of the state Senate, occurred inside his Chelsea apartment last Thanksgiving weekend and left her with bruised ribs, Como told The Post.

Como, who says she spent months working for Stone, 58, in Florida and New York, claims they had a confrontation at his studio apartment at Chelsea Landmark, 55 West 25th St., after he allegedly flew into a rage because she had smoked a cigarette and he didn’t like the smell.

“He threw me to the ground and bruised my ribs. He was hostile and menacing and I wanted him arrested for assault and I went to the police,” said Como, who state payroll records show worked as a Senate research analyst from September 2006 to April 2009.

Stone, who is married, acknowledged that he had a major disagreement with Como at his apartment, but denied her version of the events.

“When I asked [her] to leave she became irate. I completely reject her assertion that I ever hit her or abused her in any physical way,” Stone said.

This is how Roger Stone and his associate, the former leadership of the 2012 third party campaign that was portrayed as an idealistic alternative to the amoral duoply of the United States, celebrated International Women’s Day348.

POSTSCRIPT (17/12/2014):

On November 7, 2014, Roger Stone was a guest on Red Ice Radio, a program hosted by Henrik Palmgren, a man strongly sympathetic to Adolf Hitler, and the idea that the holocaust never took place. This paradox, that a supposed liberal minded Republican operative would appear on a program with a host of such views, is not a paradox at all, if one sees his career as one of vicious, ruthless opportunism, which can easily abide these views if it means selling books. It also makes clear that Stone’s natural audience all along was not among progressives, but with the hard right. The following youtube clip features excerpts from Stone’s appearance as well as that of Dennis Wise, an ardent denier of the holocaust and Hitler fanboy, whose episode makes clear Palmgren’s own views.

POSTSCRIPT (28/06/2015):

The Libertarian Party was often presented to progressives, especially during the 2008 and 2012 elections, as the real progressive party, the political group which is front and center in areas of prison reform, drug sentencing, and freedom from government intrusion in your private, intimate affairs. A key issue in the last area is gay rights and same sex marriage – simply, that there is no diminuition of your rights, your protections, your possibility of marital union if your partner is of the same gender. Following the June 26th marriage ruling, I thought it would be interesting to look at the reactions of three prominent libertarians on twitter.

This was the only tweet of Bob Barr, 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate, to anything regarding the decision (tweetsave):

These were the tweets from Wayne Allyn Root, the man in the vice presidential slot in the 2008 Libertarian Party ticket (respectively, tweetsave #1 and tweetsave #2):

A week beforehand, Roger Stone had tweeted out the following to historian Tim Naftali, after his appearance on an episode of the CNN documentary series The Seventies: “Watched you–you aren’t a historian – you are a lying cocksucker. Nixon was a great President, you are a duplicitous little fag.” It was deleted, but saved by Michael Moynihan:

This humble website also managed to tweetsave it – tweetsave link. This humble website also brought up this tweet in reaction to the following tweet by Politico’s senior media writer Jack Shafer:

Which produced the following reaction from David Boaz of the Cato Institute:

And here, I have to disagree with Boaz. This is “Roger Stone’s Steakhouse Politics” by the justly reputable and solid journalist Gabriel Sherman, a profile of Stone at the 2012 GOP convention. The bolds are in an obvious place:

Officially, Stone was in town for work. This winter, he publicly announced he was quitting the GOP to become a libertarian and signed up to manage former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson’s quixotic White House bid.

Stone tweeted no reaction to the Supreme Court ruling.

So yes, I agree with Boaz’s principle that every candidate has their share of noxious supporters, and I have perhaps often fallen among that number – but Stone was Johnson’s campaign manager, in title and in fact. I do think there should be chastisement for easy triumphalism in this moment; it is always easy to crow victory when among the winning majority than fight alongside a spat upon minority. The twitter feed of David Auerbach (@AuerbachKeller) has been a solid and sane reminder of this. I do think, however, that if we are to speak bluntly of the crude panderings and surrenders of others, we might as well have a blunt vision of the alternatives: a party that catered entirely to the beliefs of the hardline religious right and a party which embraced candidates that were certain to toe the line on taxes and regulation, and whose attitudes about same sex marriage were given little inspection, at the same time that the party’s progressive virtues were trumpeted loudly from every mountain. Arguably, the principles of those on a party’s ticket don’t reflect the body of the party, but I do think they are still very consequential.

If, after losing the 2008 election, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and David Axelrod were to tweet out the messages just given here in the wake of this same ruling given during the second term of a John McCain administration, I would think we could properly call the Democratic Party’s embrace of queer values and its solicitation of queer votes to be a cruel and despicable sham. That the views of the past candidates for the Libertarian Party are given the same prolonged scrutiny as the sexual life of Millard Fillmore is a mercy granted by others which allows for this hypocrisy. This mercy goes ungranted here, and this poison is made open and visible.

POSTSCRIPT (14/08/2015):

After exiting his role as manager of the Donald Trump presidential campaign, Roger Stone would have a higher profile than he had in years. Most of this coverage was superficial, sycophantic, and an indictment of the wretched state of the American press. Many of the nether points of Stone’s career – the blood stained clients of BMS&K, the killing of Georgiy Gongadze, the suppression of black votes in the 1981 New Jersey election – all went unmentioned, for a portrait of a lovable mischievous dandy. The supposed dialogue which took place before the break-up which shows up in Marc Caputo’s “Sources: Roger Stone quit, wasn’t fired by Donald Trump in campaign shakeup” was laughably synthetic, a devil’s council re-written as idealistic wrangling by Aaron Sorkin. To my mind, the most realistic account showed up in “Inside Story: Behind Trump’s Breakup With Consultant Roger Stone” by Joe Conason, which most certainly relied on Stone as a source, but not without skepticism. Most of these profiles depicted Stone as a ne plus ultra consultant, somehow forgetting that his last few runs had been failures in the minor leagues, running the losing campaign for the mayor of Miami Beach and losing to Warren Redlich in the race for the New York Libertarian Party goverrnor’s ticket after a smear campaign in which Redlich was falsely accused of being a pedophile. Others saw Stone’s dismissal in favor of campaign manager Cory Landowski as an example of Trump’s amateurism, and I saw it as something different and very frightening: Trump is very serious about becoming president, and had no patience for Stone’s rusty shenanigans.

I believe Trump’s candidacy is unmistakably intended to draw on the anger of the white working class, the economically disenfranchised, and that such angry feeling will persist and remain a dangerous element in American politics for as long as devastating economic inequality remains, and that we should take no cheer at Trump’s possible failure – I wish I could say inevitable failure, but I cannot. Given this strategy, it is perhaps useful to look back at what Roger Stone had to say about Strom Thurmond, the ardent segregationist and South Carolina Senator, in 2007 during an interview with Reason TV.

The help which Stone gave to Lee Atwater and the 1978 Strom Thurmond campaign can be found in “2 Faces Of Atwater: Shrewd Tactician And Adroit Agitator” by Carl M. Cannon:

Bush and his running mate, Sen. Dan Quayle, have alleged that Dukakis once said, “I don’t believe in people owning guns, only the police and the military.”

Dukakis says he never made the remark, and there is no independent record that shows that he did.

The Bush camp was pressured to reveal where it had gotten the quote. It turned out to be from a publication called Gun Week, which opposes all controls on firearms and said it was quoting a pro-gun activist who said Dukakis had told him that in private.

Atwater defends the tactic, saying that Dukakis has favored some controls on firearms.

“I go through trade publications and small newspapers looking for things that a guy said that he wouldn’t say back home so I can nail a guy,” Atwater says.

This maneuver – using an obscure publication as a source of a dubious quote about an opponent – was used by Atwater and his colleague Roger Stone against Charles “Pug” Ravenel in 1978 when Ravenel ran against Strom Thurmond for the U.S. Senate.

In that instance, Stone was in a grocery store line in Manhattan when he noticed that a weekly shopper quoted Ravenel at a New York fund-raising event as saying he would represent New York in the Senate as well as South Carolina.

By the time Atwater and Stone got through with it, Ravenel was being denounced on television ads for promising to be a “third senator” from New York. Ravenel denies ever saying any such thing.

POSTSCRIPT (05/05/2017):

Many things would take place after this series was completed and after the last postscript for this tenth post. My vision did not try to encompass this wide tapestry, but instead focused on a narrow, small, and very important point, best given over to a briefer, less encumbered form than a standard written essay: “Theory that Roger Stone’s back channel to Wikileaks was Randy Credico”.

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

(from “Pictures from the TPM Holiday Party”, photo of Roger Stone by Victor G Jeffreys II.)

(Some small edits to improve comprehension or make simpler, more effective sentences were made on February 25th, 2014. The section on the attempted killing of Jack Anderson was also added on that date. A few footnotes on this date were added as well, such as footnote #340, quoting from The Man Who Killed Kennedy on the statistically high number of as well as the list of people who appear to have been killed in association with the Gongadze case. The paragraph about the third state, also added on the same 25th. Februayr 26th, 2014: the addition of footnote #341 with the excerpts from Colin Wilson’s Criminal History of Mankind. Footnote #325 was added on February 28th. The adding of the Wills epigraph was made on March 8th, 2014. On March 10th, some edits were made to the second postscript for reasons of better readability – nothing in meaning or implication was changed, and the screenshots of the page as it was with the twitter embeds extant were added. On March 22nd, the material on the luncheon of G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, and Edward Gunn where they spoke about assassinating Jack Anderson was added. Originally, this site linked to the Gongadze Inquiry report on the website for the International Federation of Journalists; however, this resource would go missing on the site sometime in 2014, and so on July 31st, 2014, links to the inquiry report were re-directed to an upload of the report on scribd. On April 9th, 2015, this post underwent another sessionf of copy editing. On April 13, 2015, to improve readability, some long paragraphs were split up.)

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

FOOTNOTES

303 Two articles which provide a good illustration of the Orange Revolution’s collapase are “Ukraine’s Political Paralysis Gives Black Eyes to Orange Revolution Heroes” by Clifford J. Levy and “Former Ukraine Premier Is Jailed for 7 Years” by Ellen Barry. The death of Georgiy Gongadze is mentioned in “Soviet Shadows, Ukrainian Ghosts” by Nicholas Kristof.

A quick overview of Lytvyn’s career is “Volodymyr Lytvyn: The Cry-Baby Candidate” by Serhiy Kudelia:

The speaker of Ukrainian parliament Volodymyr Lytvyn rose to prominence as President Kuchma’s political protégé. He joined Kuchma’s presidential administration in mid-1990s and rose through the ranks to become its chief in 1999. Despite his academic background (he taught history in Kyiv University prior to joining government), Lytvyn proved to be a master of political intrigue.

During his years in the Presidential Administration, Lytvyn played the role of a grey cardinal supplying Kuchma with information about his critics and planning tactical moves to eliminate opposition. He first became the parliament’s chairman in 2002 with a heavy-handed pressure over MPs from Kuchma. Once in his new role, Lytvyn distanced himself from his boss and tried to establish himself as a politician in his own right. His constant maneuvering between Kuchma’s loyalists and opposition allowed Lytvyn to broker round-table talks in the heyday of the Orange Revolution resulting in the constitutional compromise.

Following a defeat in 2006 parliamentary election, his bloc gained enough votes from disillusioned Yushchenko’s supporters in the Central Ukraine to get into the parliament in 2007. Since then he played his cards as a leader of the faction, which can tip the balance in the parliament in favor of one of the two largest factions. This helped him to return in the speaker’s chair following a deal with Prime Minister Tymoshenko during a 2008 crisis, when the parliament was on the verge of a dissolution.

That Lytvyn would go on to support Yanukovych is well-known, and there in the BBC story “BBC News – Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych forms coalition”:

Ukraine president forms coalition

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has secured a coalition in parliament and one of his loyalists has been named as the new prime minister.

Parliament approved the nomination of ex-Finance Minister Mykola Azarov as prime minister shortly after the coalition agreement was announced.

Mr Azarov said his priority was to push through a “realistic” budget for 2010.

Mr Yanukovych had been trying to pull together a loyal coalition after winning presidential polls last month.

He has faced resistance from defeated presidential contender and outgoing Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was forced out in a vote of no confidence last week.

On Thursday Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn said that the coalition had been formed on the basis of an agreement signed by the Party of the Regions, the Communist Party, and his Lytvyn bloc.

304 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 12)”:

After a corpse had been found in Tarashcha, a town near Kyiv, on 2 November 2000, in the space of two weeks information was revealed which indicated that the headless torso was probably Gongadze: its physical dimensions, jewellery found with the corpse, the stomach contents, and shrapnel wounds to the hand. However, rather than allowing for this probability, which soon became a certainty, investigators tried to convince the public that the corpse was not Gongadze’s and that he was still alive.

It is reported that Ukraine’s chief coroner, Yuriy Shupyk, removed the stomach contents but gave no instructions for the rest of the body to be moved to cold storage in Kyiv. The corpse therefore continued to decompose in the local morgue. On 15 November journalists arrived at the Tarashcha morgue to claim the corpse, which was suddenly and inexplicably seized by the police and taken to Kyiv. The next day, deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Mykola Dzhyha told parliament the corpse was too short to be Gongadze and had been in the ground for two years.

305 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 12)”:

In the meantime, officials emphasised that there were sound reasons to believe Gongadze might still be alive. On 25 September, Mr Dzhyha said Gongadze had been seen in a Kyiv café the day after he disappeared; the Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Kravchenko repeated this information on 6 October. On the day after the corpse was found, [first] deputy Prosecutor General Serhiy Vynokurov announced that Gongadze had been seen on a train in Donetsk Region. On 10 January 2001, Prosecutor General Mykhaylo Potebenko told the media he had received new information which “suggests that the journalist is still alive”.

In January 2001, Russian forensic experts issued the results of DNA tests on the corpse, which indicated a 99.6 per cent probability that it was Gongadze’s. Despite this, the Prosecutor General announced in parliament: “There are no sufficient grounds to say that the body is that of journalist Gongadze unless additional forensic examination is made.” He said Gongadze could have been kidnapped by Ukrainian politicians in order to discredit their political opponents.

Six weeks later (22 February 2001), however, the Russians forensic experts raised their estimate of the probability to 99.9 per cent. On 26 February, the Prosecutor General confirmed that the corpse found in Tarashcha was Gongadze’s, based on these results. Only then did he launch a murder investigation. In other words, at least another six weeks had been lost in the investigation just because of a 0.3 per cent probability that the corpse was not Gongadze’s.

306 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 16)”:

On 21 June 2004, the press department of the Prosecutor General’s Office declared that a suspect, “Citizen K”, had said he killed Gongadze. A spokesperson announced: “The man’s testimony is corroborated by the circumstances of the crime, such the time [of the crime] and some other key facts established by the investigation, including the beheading [of Gongadze].” 30 Citizen K had previously been prosecuted for several other murders that involved beheading, the spokesperson said.

In July 2004, the Institute of Mass Information, the Ukrainian Law Organization, the International Federation of Journalists and the National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland wrote a formal letter of inquiry to the Prosecutor General to ask for information about Citizen K under article 9/32/33 of the Ukrainian Law on Information. A reply was received from the Prosecutor General’s Office on 13 August, signed by chief of the Department of the Investigation of Very Important Cases. Mr A. Chumachenko stated that Citizen K had not been arrested as part of the Gongadze case, and that an investigation was continuing. His letter said only that all theories would be examined and none had yet been ruled out

307 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 17)”:

Dated 1 March 2001, the Ukrainian delegation’s report to the Council of Europe stated that the Prosecutor General’s office was analysing the possible involvement in Gongadze’s murder of “Citizens D and G”, who belonged to an organised criminal group and whose corpses had been found and identified. The report stated: “The Prosecutor General of Ukraine is analysing the information on [the] possible involvement in the murder of G. Gongadze of Kyiv residents belonging to one of the organised criminal groups — citizens D. and G., who disappeared at the beginning of November 2000.

“Citizens D and G” stood for Igor Dubrovsky and Pavlo Gulyuvaty, also known by their nicknames Tsyklop (Cyclops) and Matros (Sailor). The president of Ukraine, the Minister of Internal Affairs and his deputy, the Prosecutor General and his deputy, all proceeded to announce that the case had been solved and that citizens D and G had murdered Gongadze.

Within a few months, however, this allegation was revealed to be completely untrue, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office were forced to retract their earlier statements.

On 6 March 2001, the deputy prosecutor general in charge of the Gongadze case, Mr Bahanets, said on Ukrainian television that: “A group of people from a criminal group may have been involved in Georgy Gongadze’s disappearance. One of them has a nickname Cyclops. They took a journalist, a Georgian, to a forest to get him to pay some debts.”

However, on 25 May a Kyiv newspaper revealed that the two criminals blamed for Gongadze’s death had both been filmed at a wedding on the day Gongadzedisappeared.

308 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 21)”; Svyatoslav Piskun was the Prosecutor General, and Victor Shokin was his deputy:

Mr Piskun spelled out the implication: that the Ukrainian opposition had fabricated the recordings, and possibly murdered Gongadze, in order to frame ex-president Kuchma for the murder. Mr Shokin repeated this allegation: “The motive was indeed to frame the president.”

309 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 25)”:

On 14 July 2000, Georgy Gongadze sent an open letter to the Prosecutor General to complain he was being followed. Senior Ukrainian state officials at first denied the fact of surveillance, then made contradictory statements which continue to this day, despite prima facie evidence of Gongadze’s surveillance by police before he was murdered.

From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 26)”:

In June 2004, information from leaked documents from the prosecutor’s investigations in 2003 was published in the Independent (London). The documents appeared to show that MIA undercover police teams carried out surveillance on Gongadze for weeks until the time of his abduction on the orders of General Pukach. They showed that the surveillance continued until Gongadze’s disappearance on 16 September 2000; on that day, Pukach told officers to forget that there had been any surveillance operation against Gongadze. The original documents were later published on a website. At first Prosecutor General Vasylyev stated that he was “very dubious about [publications] with quotations from anonymous sources, or from mythical employees of law enforcement bodies”. Only six weeks later did the Prosecutor General’s office state at a press conference that the documents were genuine.

From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 27)”:

Despite this clear statement confirming the surveillance of Gongadze, the MIA announced a new investigation into the matter. On 14 September, the ministry reported the results of its investigation, saying it had not been able to establish whether Gongadze had been followed because documents had been destroyed and employees denied any surveillance. Two days later the ministry qualified its initial statement, telling journalists that it was in no position to say yes or no.

310 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 63)”:

Ihor Honcharov, the witness who died in custody in August 2003, gave detailed evidence of the operation of a gang, whose members of which included policemen, who kidnapped and murdered people for money. This gang, of which Mr Honcharov was a member, has become known in the press as the “werewolves”. Mr Honcharov alleged that the gang abducted and killed Gongadze on the orders of Internal Affairs Minister Kravchenko. He also said that, after he informed the head of Kyiv’s directorate for combating organized crime about these facts, he was given a savage beating and warned not to tell anyone else. Two months later he died in custody and the body was hastily cremated. Fearing for his life, Mr Honcharov had written letters, referring to these issues, and requested they be published in the event of his death.

Mr Honcharov’s evidence points to the possible existence and operation of illegal “death squads” within the Ukrainian state. Despite the seriousness of this evidence, and the authority of its source, the evidence available to this inquiry strongly suggests that the Ukrainian authorities have failed to mount a proper investigation. Very early on, suspicions were aired that Mr Honcharov did not die a natural death. In November 2003, the respected Ukrainian newspaper “Zerkalo Nedeli” revealed that specialists had concluded that Mr Honcharov was administered a series of injections, in particular a preparation that paralysed the breathing. In December 2003, however, Prosecutor General Vasylyev told a news conference: “A medical examination did not establish the cause of death as violent.”

In June 2004, the “Independent” (London) published information based on leaked documents, including a secret autopsy on Mr Honcharov which showed he was injected with a drug called Thiopental, an anaesthetic. The newspaper concluded: “The autopsy and tests performed for the government by six experts show Honcharov was injected with Thiopental, which the experts said probably led to death. Doctors have told The “Independent” that there would have been no legitimate medical reason to use the drug.” 117 Only after this publication did prosecutors for the first time say that a Mr Honcharov did not die of natural causes, as previously claimed, although they denied that the death was caused by injection of drugs. The Prosecutor General’s office said it had opened a criminal investigation into Mr Honcharov’s death in May, 2004; the results showed the cause of death was a blow to the spine.

From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 29)”:

In October 2003, the investigation appeared to have reached a climax with the arrest of General Pukach in the Gongadze murder case, charged with destroying evidence of Gongadze’s surveillance by police. At this point, however, further progress of this investigation was halted. On 29 October Mr Piskun was sacked by President Kuchma, for reasons that are still unclear. Mr Pukach was released from custody a week later (he was cleared by a Kyiv court in April 2004). Ex-President Kuchma dismissed Mr Piskun after a request from the Presidential Coordinating Committee for Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption, which accused Mr Piskun of “committing serious breaches of current legislation and committing dishonest actions”. The committee further accused Mr Piskun of “over-politicising” his office, of failing to implement presidential decrees, and of large-scale corruption.

311 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 63)”:

The issue of political interference in the Gongadze case was raised. Mykola Tomenko, having resigned as deputy prime minister, accused Petr Poroshenko, leader of the Our Ukraine group in parliament; Mykola Martyninko, senior aide to Yushchenko; Oleksandr Tretyakov; and Volodymyr Lytvyn, parliamentary speaker, of trying to hinder the investigation and of “doing everything they could” to hinder discussion of the Gongadze case in parliament and in the media. Lytvyn dismissed Tomenko’s statement as “nonsense”. Myroslava Gongadze, widow of Georgiy, said at a news conference that Lytvyn should explain what role he had played in the case, and said that she was “alarmed” by Yushchenko’s position on the issue and the “lack of political will” to drive forward the investigation.

312 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 64)”:

A detailed account of how the murder was committed, based on statements by the accused and by witnesses, had previously been given in interviews by Viktor Shokin, deputy Prosecutor General. According to Shokin, Gongadze was kidnapped by a group of serving MIA officers (i.e. policemen), led by Pukach and including the three mentioned above. Gongadze was taken to the Belotserkovsky district, where he was beaten and then strangled with his own belt by Pukach. Pukach and a second, different, group of people, subsequently moved Gongadze’s body to Tarashcha, where it was discovered.

From the BBC’s “Ukraine journalist killers jailed”:

A court in Ukraine has sentenced three former police officers to prison for the murder of investigative journalist Georgiy Gongadze.

Mykola Protasov was given a sentence of 13 years, while Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych were each handed 12-year terms.

Mr Gongadze’s death, in 2000, sparked widespread protests in the Ukraine.

His family said the high-profile trial had failed to bring the masterminds behind the killing to justice.

313 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 70)”:

On 4 March, the following day, Kravchenko’s body was found at his country villa, with two gunshot wounds, one to the chin and one to the temple. A note to his family, found on his body, said he was innocent of wrong-doing and had “fallen victim to the political intrigues of President Kuchma and his entourage”. SBU director Turchynov and other officials have stated that the available evidence shows that Kravchenko committed suicide. The PGO also considers that the death was suicide, although it has opened a murder case with respect to it. Interior affairs minister Lutsenko has stated, “I have doubts about this suicide, but nothing more than that”.

314 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 88)”:

The death of Dagayev and illness of Fere, together with the death of interior minister Kravchenko and the disappearance of Pukach, mean that, with respect to the organisation of Gongadze’s murder within the MIA, none of the most important potential witnesses known to investigators can be questioned. Not surprisingly, the fates of Dagayev and Fere have been the subject of a considerable amount of media speculation. Fere suffered from a stroke in June 2003 that left him in a vegetative state; since then he has been in a coma, in the central MIA hospital, and is not expected to recover; he has lost his functions of muscle movement and speech. Three weeks after Fere’s stroke, Dagayev also suffered from a stroke which led, after an unsuccessful operation at an Austrian clinic, to his death. Suggestions that they may have been poisoned have been published in the Ukrainian media, and we believe that this issue should be considered by the PGO.

315 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 115)”:

On 21 July this year, Pukach was arrested in the village of Molochky in Zhytomyr Region, in an operation conducted jointly by the Prosecutor’s General Office (PGO) and officers of the Ukrainian security service (SBU). The PGO stated subsequently that, during questioning, Pukach told investigating officers where Gongadze’s head was buried. The site was searched, and in August, a skull that is almost certainly Gongadze’s was found.

From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 115)”:

On 28 July, the PGO confirmed at a press conference that fragments of a human skull, which investigators believed to be Gongadze’s, had been found in Belotserkovsky district in Kyiv Region, near Sukholisy. Investigators had searched a site the location of which had been identified by Pukach. In the weeks that followed, Ukrainian forensic experts confirmed that the skull belonged to Georgiy Gongadze. Investigators have now decided, with the agreement of Myroslava Gongadze, to arrange for further confirmation of the identity of the skull, by foreign experts using DNA techniques, working together with their Ukrainian colleagues.

From “Kiev police chief jailed for Gongadze murder” by Roman Olearchyk:

A senior police officer found guilty of carrying out the gruesome murder of a journalist 13 years ago implicated a former Ukrainian president and his aide as he was sentenced on Tuesday.

The parting words of General Oleksiy Pukach will mean doubts will linger over the case that has haunted Ukraine ever since September 2000, when Georgy Gongadze, an opposition journalist, disappeared.

His headless corpse was discovered two months later in a forest 75 miles from Kiev.

Listening from behind courtroom bars while Kiev’s Pechersk district court read out its guilty verdict, Pukach, 60, grasped a prayer book and bowed as he was jailed for life.

But when one of the three judges asked if he accepted their verdict, he replied: “I will accept it when Kuchma and Lytvyn join me in this cage” – a reference to Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine’s president from 1994 to 2005, and Volodymyr Lytvyn, the former speaker in parliament, whom Pukach accuses of ordering the murder.

“Ukraine Gongadze case: Court convicts journalist’s killer” by Irena Taranyuk:

A Ukrainian court has convicted a former police chief of murdering journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2000, a crime which rocked the country.

The court in Kiev found that Olexiy Pukach had killed the journalist, then cut off his head. It sentenced Pukach to life imprisonment.

Pukach confessed but said he had acted on the orders of the late Interior Minister, Yuri Kravchenko.

The murder sparked protests against the president at the time, Leonid Kuchma.

An attempt to prosecute Mr Kuchma for ordering the killing collapsed in December 2011 when a judge ruled that secret audio recordings which apparently incriminated him could not be used as evidence, as they had been obtained through “illegal means”.

316 From “Howard Stern – G. Gordon Liddy interview 1 of 4” (4:35-5:16):

STERN
Conspiring to murder someone, though, I think would put you in prison for life.

LIDDY
Only if you take, see…the conspiracy laws are very interesting. You and I could sit here, and conspire to kill Bababooey all day long. But unless, and until, either one of us takes one affirmative action to advance that, there’s no crime.

STERN
So, the planning is not a crime?

LIDDY
No.

STERN
It’s the efforts.

STERN
Right. We got a plan to rob the bank. No problem. One of us goes out steals a car for the getaway. Now, there’s a problem.

317 From “Reasonable Shade of Green : Michael R. Caputo” [archive link], a screenshot of the post:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

That Caputo worked with Stone on the campaign in Ukraine is also evidenced in this piece, “The Quiet Americans” by Chris Bragg, on Caputo working again in that country in 2011:

How do you follow up managing a campaign for a candidate who made anti-gay remarks, was caught forwarding pornographic emails and nearly traded blows with a newspaper columnist?

Apparently you hightail it for Ukraine, a place where things can also get pretty hairy.

“Last time around, my Ukrainian campaign manager was murdered,” said Michael Caputo, Carl Paladino’s former campaign manager, via an email from that country. “Tough place, but Ukraine is a cakewalk compared to the New York governor’s race—and off Fred Dicker’s beat, thankfully.”

Caputo, a sharp-witted consultant who has worked everywhere from Nicaragua to Russia, has returned to Ukraine to work as a strategist during that country’s parliamentary elections. He is one of a number of New York consultants who have gravitated to the sometimes risky business of working for foreign clients, a trade that can prove especially appealing during off-year election cycles in New York.

On Caputo’s previous campaign in Ukraine alone, he was joined by flamboyant Republican strategist Roger Stone and Western New York Democratic operative Steve Pigeon—a veritable dream team of New York dirty tricksters.

“Last time around, my Ukrainian campaign manager was murdered,” Caputo is quoted as saying. This is Oleg Sheremet. It was a killing that received no notice or mention that I can find in the western press.

“Murder of Political Strategist from Litvin’s Bloc: New Blood to be Shed?!” (no credited author):

On November, 30 in the evening unknowns shot down political strategist from Litvin’s Bloc, “Land and resource clearing centre” commercial manager Oleg Sheremet in Borispol. According to Litvin’s bloc representatives, he had been advising on land issues. According to Interior Ministry Chief department PR centre in the Kyiv Region, the day before at 11:20 p.m. militia was informed by a nurse from city hospital in Borispol citizen of Ukraine was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds. He died of injuries in the hospital.

The regional department of the Interior Ministry brought an action on that incident. Sheremet was murdered near the entrance to his house on Holovatogo, 69 with 5 shots.

Ukrainian politicians gave their comments on murder of Oleg Sheremet, 41. Particularly, the Party of the Regions’ people’s deputy Vladimir Sivkovich considers the murder of “land and resource clearing centre” commercial manager happened as a result of the land conflict between two business groups.

“Sheremet was on the side of one of the business-groups which struggled for land shares concerned with Bolshaya Alexandrovka rural residents. Some entrepreneurs purchased shares. Other businessmen forged documents, were successful in the actions and sold that land one more time”, told Vladimir Sivkovich in the commentary for Segodnaya.

According to deputy, 2-3 owners were pretenders at one ground area. “Sheremet had been drawing those procedures. Also he was a middleman. As a result, both business-groups suffered from it. According to my data, the matter is about only over US $50 mn”, reported Vladimir Sivkovich.

Besides, one advisory institute for land valuation in the Kyiv Region has been involved into scandal. It is founded in order to monopolize information about lands, shares, its sellers, purchasers, owners and centralized bribes scheme has been made. “It should be liquidated. Otherwise blood will be shed one more time”, ProUa cites people’s deputy as saying.

From Caputo’s Public Relations photos on his site, Caputo is the leftmost:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

The photo carries the caption: “In Kiev for 2007 Ukraine parliament elections (RIP Oleg Sheremet)”

318 From “Journey to Latvia”:

Unlike any other residents, Russians who want citizenship must endure a Latvian language proficiency exam. The accompanying bureaucracy takes sometimes up to a year to finalize applications. Meanwhile, passports are held for paperwork purposes and the Byzantine process frustrates applicants at every turn.

But local Russians like Alexander Nacharov aren’t much concerned about citizenship. Born and raised in Latvia, his Russian parents sent him to Moscow where he graduated from TOURO College in finance. Today, as the head of Baltic operations for a leading global investment firm, he embodies the “noncitizen” debate. Like many Russians at the entrepreneurial core of Latvia, he is unwilling to forgo the international travel associated with his nascent business.

“I am Russian to my toes,” Mr. Nacharov told me over lunch in Jurmala, the picturesque nearby Baltic Sea resort. “I am also very proud of my Latvian roots. I don’t think I truly suffer from discrimination; it’s more an inconvenience, like a traffic jam.”

In fact, his opinion mirrored those of most young Latvians I met: Only politicians really care about this debate. Comments by a Latvian legislator or Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue, are ignored by most of the young professional class.

Despite popular indifference, the “noncitizen” issue repeatedly lights up the political landscape. Mrs. Vike-Freiberga has moved in the right direction recently, mostly because her anti-Soviet administration now recognizes Russia-oriented investment fuels its economic growth. As the historical crossroads of Eastern Europe, Latvia better hope it stays that way: Their economic opportunity will remain anchored in Russia for decades.

Perhaps the Bush Summit will help steer the Latvians away from this reeking policy of discrimination. But for everyday Latvians and Russians, who still rarely mix, the visit is politics as usual. “We know the debate must work itself out soon,” Mr. Nacharov told me. “Meanwhile, I am a man without a country who is willing to wait and see.”

A piece on the strong reaction to the official language bill in Latvia is “Latvians reject Russian as official language” by Associated Press and one on the strong reaction to the idea in Ukraine is “Political Maneuvering Stalls Language Bill in Ukraine” by David M. Herszenhorn.

319 A screenshot from “Bahamas National Trust calls for disclosure on Bimini facility”:

William Windorf Bahamas National Trust cropped

William Windorf or “William Windorf” is discussed in part nine, under the section “Empty Voices, Empty Rooms / I Bring the Applause”.

320 From “Commie Book Ban” by Rob Jordan:

The first to seize the talisman was school board member Frank Bolaños. Within days of Amador’s formal complaint, he called for a suspension of the standard review process and an immediate ban of the book. His proposal shifted the debate from a nuanced discussion to a polarizing yes-or-no vote.

When, at the April meeting, school board member Ana Rivas-Logan voted to allow a review process instead of an immediate ban, she found herself targeted by Radio Mambí, a popular station among hard-line exiles. Rivas-Logan, who was born in Nicaragua after her family fled Cuba in 1960, paraphrased one commentator’s advice to listeners: “Let’s not forget, when it comes to election time, that Ms. Rivas-Logan is Nicaraguan.” Other board members who voted to review rather than ban the book were labeled Communist and anti-Cuban.

Two months later, when the issue came before the board again, Bolaños challenged his colleagues in stark terms. “They will have a choice to either define themselves on the side of truth and with the Cuban community or on the side of lies and against the Cuban community,” he said. Board vice president Perla Tabares-Hantman, running for re-election, said she was fulfilling her “duty as a Cuban-American” in voting to ban the book. Board member Marta Pérez, also up for re-election, compared the book to “pornography” and “books about Devil worship,” saying there was no place in school libraries for such things.

After Tabares-Hantman and Pérez had weighed in, board member Evelyn Langlieb Greer, appearing exhausted and exasperated, warned of “caving to political imperative” and urged common sense in the wider community. “Your fight is with [Castro],” Greer said to the vocal, exile-filled audience. “Your fight is not with the Miami-Dade County school system over a book for five-year-olds.”

Historians chalked up another only-in-Miami moment that day when the school board voted to override the committees’ recommendations and ban Vamos a Cuba. The board also circumvented its own review process by banning all 24 books in the elementary-level travel series.

The excerpt dealing with Caputo:

This, believe it or not, was Seamans in a diplomatic mood. In another e-mail, he called Bolaños an “absolute idiot … grubbing for votes,” and referred to his press officer, Michael Caputo, as an “insignificant terd [sic].” The latter comment was in response to a Caputo e-mail implying Seamans had lost his colleagues’ respect and was surrounded by sycophants as he “preen[ed] and careen[ed] about town.”

A political operative and head of his own public relations firm in Miami Beach, Caputo boasts credentials that include work on the presidential campaigns of George Bush Sr. and Jack Kemp, Boris Yeltsin in Russia, and rightist Alfredo Cristiani in El Salvador. So why is Caputo working on the campaign of an aspiring state senator? He says he joined Bolaños’s campaign because he admired the candidate for showing “real stones” in taking up the fight against Vamos a Cuba.

Killing time outside a Little Havana restaurant, with his candidate still inside, Caputo radiated a focused intensity. The 44-year-old consultant described himself as a “cold warrior” who is also, oddly enough, a Grateful Dead fanatic. He maintained that the book-banning issue has been a “gift” to his candidate. Campaign contributions to Bolaños skyrocketed in the weeks after he took his stance, and droves of reporters have descended on the relatively unknown politician.

For the opposition — those, like Seamans, who say Bolaños is grandstanding for political gain — Caputo had no patience. People might not want to face this ugly truth, he said, but America and its freedoms are still under attack from an old foe. “The last vestiges of Communism will live and breathe in America. It’s in the school system. Some bureaucrat bought [Vamos a Cuba] …” with the intention of tweaking the Cuban exile community, Caputo said as he stabbed the air with an imaginary shiv. “Somebody did this.”

What Caputo considers an act of principled self-defense has been largely viewed, outside the exile community, as shameless pandering. Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, for instance, decried the creation of an atmosphere “where you can get pelted with batteries for being insufficiently anti-Castro.” Ray Taseff, chairman of the ACLU Greater Miami Chapter Legal Panel, called Bolaños’s stance “irresponsible. It’s demagoguery at its best.”

Coky Michel, a Coral Gables Senior High School teacher and Cuban immigrant, put it more succinctly: “These people make me vomit.” Michel said she’s tired of a vocal and extreme minority speaking for all Cuban-Americans.

That Frank Bolaños lost his election is mentioned in “There’s Something Fowl in North Miami” by Francisco Alvarado, a brief piece on other Caputo shenanigans:

Local campaign strategist Michael Caputo likes to employ some fowl play in his election day tactics.

In the mid-1990s, Caputo busted out his patent-pending tactic of using a man-in-a-chicken-suit-to-tail-opponents when he worked for Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s campaign.

Back when he was spokesman for ex-School Board Member Frank Bolanos’ failed campaign against state Sen. Alex Villalobos, Caputo had a volunteer don a chicken suit too. Bright yellow and bearing the nickname, “Demolobos,” the chicken trailed Villalobos when both camps failed to agree on a debate.

321 From “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington” by Glenn R. Simpson and Mary Jacoby:

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation director William Sessions once condemned Russia’s rising mafia. “We can beat organized crime,” he told a Moscow security conference in 1997.

Today, Mr. Sessions is a lawyer for one of the FBI’s “Most Wanted”: Semyon Mogilevich, a Ukraine-born Russian whom the FBI says is one of Russia’s most powerful organized-crime figures.

Mr. Sessions is trying to negotiate a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice for his client, who is charged with racketeering and is a key figure in a separate Justice Department probe of energy deals between Russia and Ukraine.

Mr. Sessions’s client, Mr. Mogilevich, is accused in a 45-count racketeering and money-laundering indictment in Philadelphia of masterminding an elaborate stock fraud using a web of shell companies in Europe. The Justice Department also is investigating whether there are any ties between Mr. Mogilevich and a recent series of billion-dollar natural-gas deals between Russian gas giant OAO Gazprom NRGP.RS 0.00% and Ukraine, people familiar with the matter said. The probe is being led by the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.

According to people familiar with the matter, Mr. Sessions recently approached former colleagues at Justice with an unusual offer: Mr. Mogilevich would provide the U.S. with intelligence on Islamist terrorism if prosecutors opened negotiations to resolve his legal problems in the U.S. Federal prosecutors rejected that offer, lawyers and others familiar with the matter said.

322 From “How Foreign Governments Make Sure You Don’t Know They’re Lobbying You” by Rosie Gray:

WASHINGTON — The European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, an obscure nonprofit based in Belgium, was founded by a former top official in Ukraine’s governing party and appears to be a proxy for the country’s pro-Russian government. In 2012, the group hired a pair of high-powered American lobbying firms to advocate on its behalf.

But what those lobbyists, who include Obama-era Democratic superlobbyist Tony Podesta, are actually doing is a mystery. Unlike the Washington firms hired directly by foreign governments, Ukraine’s leadership has slipped its American agenda through an increasingly popular loophole in the federal law intended to regulate foreign activity in the United States, allowing it to follow the minimal disclosure practices required of domestic corporate lobbies, not the extensive ones demanded of registered foreign agents. It’s a loophole now used by a range of post-communist governments, in particular, with money to burn and no particular love of transparency. And it offers a path to the end of a disclosure regime put in place in 1938, amid American concern over the effects of Nazi propaganda.

Any entity controlled and funded by a foreign government is formally required to be registered as a foreign principal. But as long as the entity is formally a nongovernmental organization and isn’t funded by a government — a chamber of commerce, an advocacy group, or some other entity — the law does not apply.

“For better or for worse, it’s legal,” said Joseph Sandler, a Democratic lawyer and expert on FARA law.

Those groups register instead under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, whose roots are in anti-corruption crusades of the 1990s, but which is far less onerous. The two laws “evolved in completely different ways,” Sandler said. In particular, an LDA filing shows you very little about what the lobbyists actually did for their clients, while FARA filings require disclosures of specific duties and expenses.

The European Centre for a Modern Ukraine offers a particularly clear case study in this method. The Center is a nongovernmental organization in Brussels that, its website says, is “a unique ‘Modern Ukraine’ organisation based in Brussels and operating internationally as an advocate for enhancing EU-Ukraine relations.”

The group has a strong tie to Ukraine’s government: It was founded by Leonid Khazara, a former senior member of parliament from Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. The Centre is established as a nongovernmental organization in Brussels. It lists no staff on its website save for two employees on the Contact page, and a spokesperson didn’t return requests for comment.

But for that skeleton staff, the ECFMU was represented by two lobbying firms, the Podesta Group and Mercury/Clark & Weinstock, during a period in which a flurry of pro-Yanukovych stories appeared in the American conservative blogosphere. The EFCMU’s managing director, Ina Kirsch, tweeted out two of the stories, from Breitbart News. The bloggers declined to identify the source of the stories’ pitches, and said they hadn’t been compensated for writing them.

From “American Bloggers Praised Ukrainian President Before Election” by Associated Press:

At Breitbart, Ben Shapiro also dove into Ukrainian matters around the time of the election. On October 22nd, he wrote, “Yanukovych is not the pro-Putin stooge many make him out to be, and Tymoshenko is not the pro-Western ally many make her out to be.” And “President Obama’s flip-flopping on the Yanukovych administration is accomplishing nothing but driving Yanukovych closer to Moscow. No wonder Ukraine is falling back into the Russian sphere of influence.”

Later, he criticized Hillary Clinton for allegedly siding with the Ukrainian opposition despite its forming a coalition with far-right nationalist party Svoboda, and trying to “throw the election from Viktor Yanukovich to his opposition.”

“It’s no surprise to see the woman who once hugged Suha Arafat shilling for a Ukrainian opposition that makes governing deals with reported Nazi knockoffs,” Shapiro wrote.

323 A screenshot of the comment from “Chaos in Kiev: Yanukovych flees, Tymoshenko free”:

breitbart ukraine revolt screenshot

324 That this slur was used against the Ukrainian opposition is not to dismiss that this vile passion is there in the country, and that it is there among some members of the opposition.

“Are Ukraine’s Jews Screwed?” [archive link] by Adam Weinstein attempts to get at the question, and that this hateful feeling is there among both supporters and opponents of Viktor Yanukovych:

In this atmosphere, plenty of critics are asking: Should the West distance itself from the revolutionaries?

This is not an academic question reserved for uppity web pundits. Anti-Semitism has a long and hoary history in Ukraine. I should know; my Weinstein ancestors supposedly braved pogroms by Cossacks and Tatars for centuries in Kamenetz-Podolsk, a western citadel town, before bugging out in the 19th century—part of numerous waves of Jewish refugees who fled the nation to join the diaspora in Western Europe, the U.S., and eventually, Israel. World War II and the Holocaust are believed to have wiped out two-thirds of those who remained.

This is the pre-revolutionary cultural status quo in Ukraine.

Now, take away street policing. Make this a state that’s somewhat drunkenly weaving between stable governments, goaded on not just by native rightists but by Russian puppeteers and their sympathizers, too. In the absence of laws, and enforcers of laws, all of that cultural antipathy starbursts, and it burns the Jewish community, and every other hated group that doesn’t have a champion.

So: Yes, there are anti-Semitic, fascist elements who are relatively well-placed among the revolutionaries who booted Viktor Yanukovich out of the presidential mansion. But the revolution itself isn’t a Nazi revolution, and defenders of the previous oligarchy aren’t exactly friends of the tribe, either. No side is especially friendly to Jews or any other religious, ethnic, or sexual minority, because this is Ukraine.

But there are rays of hope: First, among young Jews themselves, many of whom have been on the front lines in Kiev. “I want to let you know that lots of people who study Hebrew together with me are going to Euromaidan after classes every single day,” one young woman says on a video recorded on the street several weeks ago. “My friends, my coworkers from the Jewish Channel go to the Maidan too… Here, at Euromaidan, it doesn’t matter which nationality you are.”

Then there are the antifascists, the students, the left-leaning demonstrators, the pacifists, who estimate that right-wing dullards make up about 30 percent of the protesters—an outsize bunch, considering their poor showings at the polls. “Lots of people want to manipulate the people here,” one antifascist says. But on the whole, they’re simply against the old order and in favor of a more participatory democracy.

Some of the complexities are also described in “Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine” by Timothy Snyder:

What does it mean when the wolf cries wolf? Most obviously, propagandists in Moscow and Kiev take us for fools—which by many indications is quite justified.

More subtly, what this campaign does is attempt to reduce the social tensions in a complex country to a battle of symbols about the past. Ukraine is not a theater for the historical propaganda of others or a puzzle from which pieces can be removed. It is a major European country whose citizens have important cultural and economic ties with both the European Union and Russia. To set its own course, Ukraine needs normal public debate, the restoration of parliamentary democracy, and workable relations with all of its neighbors. Ukraine is full of sophisticated and ambitious people. If people in the West become caught up in the question of whether they are largely Nazis or not, then they may miss the central issues in the present crisis.

In fact, Ukrainians are in a struggle against both the concentration of wealth and the concentration of armed force in the hands of Viktor Yanukovych and his close allies. The protesters might be seen as setting an example of courage for Americans of both the left and the right. Ukrainians make real sacrifices for the hope of joining the European Union. Might there be something to be learned from that among Euroskeptics in London or elsewhere? This is a dialogue that is not taking place.

The history of the Holocaust is part of our own public discourse, our agora, or maidan. The current Russian attempt to manipulate the memory of the Holocaust is so blatant and cynical that those who are so foolish to fall for it will one day have to ask themselves just how, and in the service of what, they have been taken in. If fascists take over the mantle of antifascism, the memory of the Holocaust will itself be altered. It will be more difficult in the future to refer to the Holocaust in the service of any good cause, be it the particular one of Jewish history or the general one of human rights.

325 From Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!, the excerpts where John Podesta gets a mention:

And you could tell right away that her well-funded, well-oiled, John Podesta–led machinery was of no use to her at a moment when Americans were connected like never before, when wedges were blunted and impotent.

He isolates threats to the reign of the far left and the reign of his father’s cabal of Clinton/Podesta and the organized left. He’s a vicious guy. He falsely slandered James O’Keefe as a racist, we disproved it—

Perhaps I’m being a bit hubristic, but I’m convinced that this was the meeting in which Obama and Clinton decided to put John Podesta in charge of the ACORN response team.

Naturally, the usual Podesta/Media Matters apologists leaped to diminish the encounter (which was fairly widely reported). Media Matters “Senior Fellow” Eric Boehlert called my oral and written reports about the event “the Phantom Egg,” calling into question my truthfulness.

326 “Vin Weber, Top Romney Adviser, Lobbying for Ukraine Group” by Eli Lake:

One of Mitt Romney’s top foreign-policy advisers recently took a side job: Burnishing the reputation of the government of Ukraine, a country condemned by international human rights groups and European governments for alleged corruption, unlawful imprisonment of opposition figures and a slide into authoritarianism reminiscent of Putin’s Russia.

According to forms filed in May under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, Vin Weber, a former Minnesota Congressman and special adviser to Romney, is a registered lobbyist for a Brussels-based group known as the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. The group’s mission, according to its website, is to push for a comprehensive trade agreement between the European Union and to strengthen ties with the United States. Its founding president was Leonid Kozhara, a senior member of parliament for Ukraine’s ruling Party of Regions.

On the campaign trail and on his website, Romney has criticized Russia, promising that as president he would “be forthright in confronting the Russian government over its authoritarian practices,” and contrasting his more-hawkish stance with President Obama’s “reset” of U.S.-Russia relations. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has at times sought closer ties with Vladimir Putin even as he has courted the West. In 2010, Yanukovych extended the lease for the Russian Navy’s use of a Black Sea port in Sevastopol. This week, he will meet with Putin in Yalta for a major summit.

327 From “New Questions Over McCain Campaign Chief’s Ties To Ukraine” by Seth Colter Walls:

How much does John McCain know about his campaign manager’s lobbying history and potential current business interests inside Ukraine — and when did he know it?

The stakes of the answer to that question are increasing, due both to the continuing controversy over the role of lobbyists in McCain’s second presidential run, as well as the press inquiry into the connections between McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and the global business and political interests in Ukraine, a country represented by the lobbying firm that bears his name — Davis-Manafort.

The Davis lobbying firm offered political consulting services to the pro-Russian “Party of Regions” inside Ukraine. (To do so, the firm did not have to register as a “foreign agent” under U.S. law, because it was operating outside the United States.) The Party of Regions wound up on the wrong side of the 2004 “Orange Revolution” that captured many a heart in the West (including John McCain’s). Since then, the firm, which Davis co-founded, has been described as instrumental in organizing a political comeback for the once-discredited Party of Regions, which emerged victorious in 2006 legislative elections.

From “Lawmakers Seek to Close Foreign Lobbyist Loopholes” by Barry Meier:

For instance, a lobbying firm owned by Rick Davis, the McCain campaign manager, has worked in recent years for a Ukraine politician, Viktor Yanukovich. Both Mr. McCain and the Bush administration supported the opponent of Mr. Yanukovich, who had close ties to Vladimir V. Putin, then the president of Russia and now prime minister.

During this time, however, Mr. Davis’s firm, Davis Manafort, never registered as a lobbyist for Mr. Yanukovich even though Paul Manafort, Mr. Davis’s business partner, had met with the United States ambassador in Kiev on Mr. Yanukovich’s behalf.

In a related development, Mr. McCain may have first become aware of Davis Manafort’s activities in Ukraine as far back as 2005. At that time, a staff member at the National Security Council called Mr. McCain’s Senate office to complain that Mr. Davis’s lobbying firm was undercutting American foreign policy in Ukraine, said a person with direct knowledge of the phone call who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A campaign spokesman, when asked whether such a call had occurred, referred a reporter to Mr. McCain’s office. The spokesman there, Robert Fischer, did not respond to repeated inquiries.

Such a call might mean that Mr. McCain has been long aware of Mr. Davis’s foreign clients. Mr. Davis took a leave from his firm at the end of 2006.

328 From “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington” by Glenn R. Simpson and Mary Jacoby:

The former Dole strategist Mr. Manafort and a former Dole fund raiser, Bruce Jackson, have received fees and donations from Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, the political patron of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yanukovich.

Messrs. Manafort and Jackson played prominent roles in the Ukrainian’s recent visit to Washington. The visit included meetings with U.S. officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney. A company controlled by Mr. Akhmetov donated $300,000 in 2005 to a human-rights charity run by Mr. Jackson and his wife, an Internal Revenue Service document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal shows. Mr. Jackson said he was grateful for the support.

329 From “With cash, Ukraine’s political foes bring fight to Washington” by Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel:

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) – Rival political factions facing each other on the streets of Ukraine have also enlisted heavyweight lobbyists in Washington, some with connections at the highest levels of U.S. government, to promote their causes to American policymakers, media and members of Congress.

Among the high-profile lobbyists registered to represent organizations backing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s government are prominent Democratic lobbyist Anthony Podesta and former Republican congressional leaders Vin Weber and Billy Tauzin.

Meanwhile, Yanukovich’s most prominent political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister who is serving a seven-year prison term for alleged abuse of power, is represented in Washington by former Democratic Congressman Jim Slattery, a partner in the law firm Wiley Rein LLP.

The sums of money involved are substantial. Over the last two years, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a Brussels-based organization sympathetic to Yanukovich and his political party, has paid $560,000 to Weber’s firm, Mercury, and another $900,000 to Podesta Group Inc, for a total outlay of $1.46 million, according to a U.S. Senate database.

The database shows total payments over the same two years of $810,000 to Wiley Rein by Oleksandr Tymoshenko, a Ukrainian businessman and husband of Yulia.

“A lot of people are making a lot of money off Ukraine’s political competition,” said Bruce Jackson, president of the Project on Transitional Democracies, which advocates Western-oriented reforms in Eastern Europe.

“The Yulia-Yanukovich competition has definitely spilled out of the country. Both sides are heavily invested in representation in Washington,” Jackson said. He said he and his group do not lobby.

330 From “A year of Yanukovych, seen from abroad”:

Mr. Jackson, you usually visit our country in critical moments. You may know that early this year European Commissioner Stefan Fule and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia visited our country. They both expressed concern regarding the “selective” political prosecution of the opposition during their negotiations with the Ukrainian authorities. What can you say about it?

“Yes, this is a critical time. If we look at the objective facts, President Viktor Yanukovych and the new government had a very good year in 2010. They reached an agreement with the IMF, initiated intense negotiations regarding the free trade area with the EU, signed the Action Plan on visa regime liberalization. They saw the country growing again, and did not go bankrupt like Greece. Generally, we can consider Ukraine a ‘new Poland,’ not a new Belarus. This is all very good. But Yanukovych isn’t getting any credit for it. Everyone hates the government.”

Why do you think this happens?

“I would say there are three explanations. First, the judiciary in Ukraine is a disaster.

“Second, the mentality of the SBU is not helpful. I met the head of the SBU. Maybe he is a little naive, a little young, and maybe not everything is under his control. But this is not a thug. He is trainable and we can fix it. I’ve been in Bulgaria and Romania and I’ve seen much worse. The third reason is that now that political ‘water’ has receded and there is no political fighting, we can look directly at the economy of Ukraine. We see a serious corruption problem. People are saying it’s getting worse and worse. I am not sure it’s worse. I think it’s the first time we really looked at it. If there were no big companies here before, now those who came here are drawing more attention to it. The corruption here is a precondition of doing business. And I don’t think it’s all government corruption, I think we’ve got traffic police, doctors, education — it’s the entire structure of the economy.”

331 From an interview in August 8, 2008, a World Security Network interview with Nathalie Vogel:

WSN: It seems that for the US administration, even the French are better Atlanticists than the Germans nowadays, why is it so?

Bruce Jackson: President Sarkozy is immensely popular in Washington and seems to us to say all the right things. I suspect that the perceived difference in French and German foreign policies lies in what they have chosen as priorities. Sarkozy emphasizes his commitment to make the EU more efficient by implementing the Lisbon Treaty, making Europe stronger by building up ESDP [European Spatial Development Perspective, document involved in the implementation of the European Union], and by reaching out to North Africa in a Mediterranean Union. These initiatives are non-controversial and modestly popular here. Conversely, Berlin sees itself as the business partner of Moscow and the explainer of Kremlin anxieties to the West. And, on occasion, Chancellor Merkel sees herself as the “schoolmarm” of Europe who restrains the excessive enthusiasm of the new democracies in Europe’s East by saying “Not so fast, boys.” The positions which Germany has chosen for itself are quite controversial and have encountered significant criticism.

332 Those for whom the names William Windorf, Karla Von Stetten, Philip Dodge, Richard Knox mean nothing will find more about these people in part nine, under the section “Empty Voices, Empty Rooms / I Bring the Applause”.

333 From “Ukraine Votes: The country faces enormous economic challenges as it heads to the polls”:

Various theories have been advanced to explain the prolonged political crisis in Ukraine, all of them at best partially true and most completely false. The original explanation was that Ukraine’s frequent, indecisive elections were part of the process of building a Ukrainian nation. While there may be some superficial truth to the perception that people from Lvov, Odessa, and Dnipropetrovs’k are not overly fond of each other, everyone believes (even politicians) they are part of a Ukrainian nation and are fiercely patriotic.

About a year ago, a second theory appeared which held that the elections would be a decision on whether Ukraine would be a pro-Russian state or a pro-European state. This theory is demonstrably false and intentionally misleading. The culture and history that Ukraine shares with Russia is a matter of historical fact, and history cannot be rewritten by election or referendum. Similarly, the intimacy of Ukraine’s relations with Europe is established by history, geography, and shared economic interest. Ukraine will always be close to and independent of both Russia and Europe, and there is nothing any of Ukraine’s parties can do about it. We can be confident that this election is not about violating the iron laws of geopolitics.

334 From “Why We Need a Reset”:

Over the past two decades we have been consistently wrong about the political character of Ukraine, the values and aspirations of its people, and the profound weaknesses of its government and economy. With the exception of the success in dismantling Ukraine’s strategic nuclear forces, the United States has gotten very little if anything right about Ukraine or its politics. Beginning with the infamous “Chicken Kiev” speech in July 1991 wherein U.S. President George H.W. Bush exhorted Ukraine to stay within the Soviet Union through the apotheosis of the democratic credentials of Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, Washington has neither seen Ukraine clearly as it is nor understood its aspirations properly. Along the way, U.S. diplomacy has isolated Ukraine for selling Kulchga radars to Iraq that turned out never to have occurred, accused former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma of murdering journalist Georgiy Gongadze before having second thoughts, and has driven public support for NATO from roughly 50 percent in the late 1990’s to less than 10 percent today.

335 From “Minister Without Portfolio” by John Judis:

One prominent neoconservative familiar with Jackson describes him as the “nexus between the defense industry and the neoconservatives. He translates us to them, and them to us.” After Jackson had left the government, he joined Martin Marietta in 1993, which merged in 1995 with Lockheed to become part of the nation’s largest defense contractor. In 1997 he became director of global development and was put in charge of finding new international markets for Lockheed.

Jackson was extremely active in Republican politics. He was finance co-chairman of Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign and drafted the foreign-policy plank of the 2000 Republican convention platform. But his most important outside work was with the U.S. Committee on NATO, which he founded in 1996 and on which he served as president. Board members included Perle, Wolfowitz and Stephen Hadley, now the deputy national-security adviser but then a partner in the Shea & Gardner law firm, which represented Lockheed.

336 On the Vilnius 10 declaration, from “Minister Without Portfolio” by John Judis:

The declaration not only angered the French and Germans, it didn’t sit well with some of the governments that signed it. In Slovenia, Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel came under attack for signing the declaration. On Feb. 13, he distanced himself from the declaration. “In everything that it does … Slovenia is representing the stance that the Iraqi crisis must be resolved within the United Nations, i.e., within the Security Council,” he said. When the war began, Slovenian Prime Minister Anton Rop finally said it had been a mistake to sign the declaration. The Slovenian press blamed pressure from Jackson, acting on behalf of the United States, for the initial decision to sign. Rupel, columnist Sasa Vidmajer wrote, had “buckled under … Bruce Jackson’s threat.”

337 From “Panamania” by Joe Klein, on the mixed signals of the United States to Manuel Noriega:

Who is Admiral Daniel Murphy and why should we be intrigued by his visit with Noriega in Panama last November?

Murphy says he was there as a private businessman, a political consultant for undisclosed clients. This may, in fact, be true – but there is far more to Murphy than that: He is George Bush

“Noriega was ready to go,” says José Blandón, the Panamanian who represented Noriega in the negotiations. “He knew the drug indictment was coming. He knew the Panamanian economy was in trouble. He was tired and wanted out. In September, he told me to negotiate a deal for him.”

This was Blandón’s deal: If the pending drug indictment could be quietly forgotten, Noriega and his top henchmen would leave the country in April 1988. Blandón says Elliott Abrams, the assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, agreed to the package – Abrams won’t comment – in early November, and Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage gave Noriega the official word in late December. By then, however, it was too late.

“Noriega started to back off after he spoke to Murphy in November,” Blandón says. “He said Murphy offered him a better deal: He could stay until March of 1989. He said Murphy had spoken to George Schultz and Colin Powell about it – and he began to question my loyalty and wonder why he could get a better deal from Murphy than from me.”

338 The figure of Johnson and eight murders is mentioned many times in The Man Who Killed Kennedy, here is one:

The former president was racked not only with pain in his final days but guilt, undergoing psychotherapy in an attempt to unburden himself from a political past that included as many as eight murders and was ended in shame. Intimates said that Johnson had even smoked marijuana to deal with his demons—the pastime of the counter-culture that had driven him from the White House.

339 From The Man Who Killed Kennedy:

It is also astounding how many witnesses and those believed intimately connected to the Kennedy assassination met untimely and abnormal deaths. In his recent work, Hit List, which contextualized the many bizarre circumstances of deaths surrounding the assassination, Richard Belzer estimated that in the fourteen years following the incident, out of the approximately 1,400 witnesses, seventy have died unnaturally. The odds of this happening has been mathematically calculated as 1 in 715 million trillion trillion.

It should be noted that the death of witnesses from what appear to be death under such unusual circumstances as to suggest assassination, is far more striking and more substantial in Gongadze case. From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 107)”:

Finally we draw attention to the opinion of Vasily Silchenko, deputy chairman of the parliamentary commission, who felt able to reinforce Moisyk’s conclusions more forcefully outside the formalities of parliament, in an article that called for a change to the law on the protection of witnesses:

The strange and unexpected death of the nurse from the Tarashcha morgue, the early death of Dagayev, the coma that has struck Fere, the “suicide” of Kravchenko … And more: the death in a custody cell of Goncharhov, the grenade attack on Nesterov, a member of the “werewolves” gang, who was being guarded by the militia […], the disappearance of Pukach even after he was arrested, the “small calibre bullet” in the skull of Irina Radzievskaya [an important witness in the case of the death of Kravchenko]. … And these were all important witnesses, who had things to say about the Gongadze case! And they all in one way or another were in the field of vision of the law enforcement agencies or special forces. How many more “coincidental” deaths must there be in this chain, until it becomes impossible to refute the obvious logic?

340 A very similar point is made about Stone’s CREEP associate in “Johann Hari: My Interview with G. Gordon Liddy”:

He says that the US has shown insufficient Will (the way he says it, the word should always be capitalized) in its foreign policy too. While the Nixon administration was spraying tonnes of napalm and poison over Vietnam, he complained the policy was “too soft.” He says now, “I wanted to bomb the Red River dykes. It would have drowned half the country and starved the other half. There would have been no way the Viet Cong could have operated if we had the will-power to do that.”

But what about the millions of innocent people who would have been murdered? “Look at Dresden. Millions of people died there too.” And it hits me: he just can’t see them. They are un-people, specks of red dust on a distant map, obstacles to his Will. Their suffering is as irrelevant as that of the chickens he decapitated with such glee sixty years ago in New Jersey.

341 Three appropriate excerpts rom Criminal History of Mankind:

Most children experience curiosity about sex; in the criminal, it seems to be an obsession that narrows down the focus of his consciousness to the idea of exploring the forbidden, of committing stealthy violations of privacy. His sexuality becomes tinged with violence and his criminality with sex. One of the most puzzling things about many cases of rape is the damage inflicted on the victim, even when she makes no resistance. This is because, in the criminal mind, sex is a form of crime, and crime a form of sex. The passage from de Sade is a remarkable illustration of this connection – Juliette’s intense sexual excitement as she waits to commit a crime.

THE DISADVANTAGES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
One day in 1960, at precisely ninety seconds before midday, a young student named Klaus Gosmann walked into a block of flats on the Tuchergarten Strasse in Hersbruch, near Nuremberg. He was a quiet, serious young man, known to his few acquaintances for his deep interest in mystical theology: his daydream was to find a job as pastor at some quiet little country village, where he could lead a life of dedicated service.

He chose a flat at random and knocked on the door. A young man opened it. It was thirty seconds to midday. Gosmann said: ‘Sir, I wish to ask you a question and I shall not repeat it.’ ‘What?’ ‘Your money or your lives?’ At that moment, the bells of the local churches began to chime midday, making a deafening noise. Gosmann drew a revolver from his pocket and carefully shot the young man in the heart. The man’s fiancée, who was looking curiously over his shoulder, began to scream. Gosmann shot her through the head. Then, before the bells had finished chiming, he turned and walked home. There he wrote up the story of the murder in his diary. He was pleased that he had timed it to a second – so that the bells would drown the shots – and that he had remained perfectly calm and controlled.

Gosmann committed four more murders during the next seven years. One was of a bank director – again at precisely midday – from whose desk Gosmann snatched a few thousand marks. Another was of a doorman in a bank he had just robbed – the man was reaching to his pocket for his glasses when Gosmann fired. And to obtain more weapons, Gosmann shot the widow who ran a gun-shop in Nuremberg and her twenty-nine-year-old son. His next crime was his undoing. In July 1967, he snatched the handbag of a woman in a department store; when she screamed he fired at her but missed. He also fired at a store official who chased him and hit his briefcase. Beaten to the ground, he was thinking; ‘How ridiculous – it can’t be happening.’ He fired one more shot, killing the man who had chased him. Then he was arrested.

Why did Gosmann kill? No doubt a psychiatrist would be able to uncover the roots of the obsessions and emotional disorders that turned his thoughts towards crime. (He revered the memory of his father, an army captain, who had been shot by the Americans at the end of the war.) But the central motivation was undoubtedly the need to bolster his self-esteem. Gosmann felt himself to be weak and inadequate – a thinker who was incapable of action. His crimes were a deliberate attempt to strengthen his identity. And just as some couples enjoy sex more if they can see themselves in a mirror, so Gosmann tried to add a dimension of reality to his crimes by describing them in his diary. In prison he wrote in his journal: ‘I would say there is a great difference between me and Raskolnikov [in Crime and Punishment]. Just as long as I don’t get it in the neck from the judge, I don’t have to consider myself as the perpetrator. Raskolnikov always thought of himself as the perpetrator…’ It is an interesting comment that reveals that even his present situation had not succeeded in rescuing him from his sense of unreality: ‘How ridiculous – it can’t be happening.’ Gosmann did ‘get it in the neck’ from the judge; he was sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of release.

Crime is basically the assertion of the ‘I’. ‘I’ strike someone in the face; ‘I’ order the bank clerk to hand over the money; ‘I’ pull the trigger.

342 From Dirty Tricks:

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

343 The original french text from “Scandale Prism : la NSA aurait aussi espionné l’Union européenne” by Laure Mandeville:

Ces nouvelles révélations ne tombent pas bien pour Washington, confronté, sur le dossier Snowden, à des tensions avec Moscou et Pékin. «Si ces révélations sont vraies, nous allons avoir des semaines de rhétorique européenne dure, mais j’ai du mal à imaginer que cela puisse faire dérailler les négociations sur l’accord de libre-échange dont l’Europe a plus besoin que nous», commente Sean West, de l’Eurasia Group. Le lobbyiste républicain Bruce Jackson, expert des relations transatlantiques, a relativisé la polémique, jugeant «ridicule» l’émoi des Européens et estimant «que tout mariage qui marche a besoin de renseignements». «Tout le monde espionne tout le monde», a-t-il dit, doutant en revanche de la réalité des écoutes de la délégation diplomatique européenne, vu le «peu d’intérêt» qu’elle représenterait en termes de renseignement.

344 From “Russia Today presenter hits out at Moscow over Ukraine” by The Guardian:

An American anchor on Russian state television has delivered an emotional rebuke of Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine and criticised the media’s biased news coverage.

Russia Today responded by saying it was sending Abby Martin to Crimea so she could learn more about the situation.

Martin, a Washington-based journalist with the English-language channel, wrapped up her show on Tuesday by saying “what Russia did is wrong” and that military intervention was never the answer.

“Exclusive: RT Anchor Liz Wahl Explains Why She Quit” by James Kirchik describes the story behind Wahl’s dramatic exit.

345 Should the tweets of Roger Stone relevant to this episode be deleted, the following are screenshots:

roger stone twitter misogyny part1 roger stone twitter misogyny pt2

346 Should the tweets of Andrew Miller relevant to this episode be deleted, the following are screenshots:

andrew miller tweets

347 Should the tweets relevant to the Rebecca Wells part of this episode be deleted, the following are screenshots:

rebecca wells pt1 rebecca wells screeenshots pt2

348 Should the tweets on this page be deleted, the following are screenshots of the page as it appeared when the tweets were still extant:

part ten with tweets pt1 part ten with tweets pt2

part ten with tweets pt3 part ten with tweets pt4

part ten with tweets pt5 part ten with tweets pt6

part ten with tweets pt7 part ten with tweets pt8

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Roger Stone: Pretty Reckless Is Going Straight To Hell Part Nine

ROGER STONE:

PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

(Originally, this piece was intended to be made up only of nine parts. Due to the already excessive length of this section, there will now be a tenth, which will be posted on February 24th.)

He stood still on the sidewalk for several seconds: How had it all begun? Why had Liddy asked them to go into the DNC? The radio had this morning mentioned that Brezhnev would be visiting Cuba this week. Détente or no détente, the fundamentals still applied. Maybe there had been Cuban money going to the DNC. For the first time, standing here by a curb, Hunt asked himself: Had Manuel Artime – wasn’t he a friend of Rebozo’s? – somehow been connected to the burglary? Perhaps even been its prime mover? Had Manuel asked him to do it?

He was certain of nothing. While outlining his memoirs, he had noticed how speculations kept getting tangled in actualities, how he sometimes disappeared into several narratives concurrently and ended up unsure of which one he’d really lived.

–Thomas Mallon’s Watergate

For instance, we may be getting ready to decide that the CIA was the real producer of Watergate (that avant-garde show!), but where is the proof? We have come to a circular place. The CIA occupies that region in the modern mind where every truth is obliged to live in its denial; facts are wiped out by artifacts; proof enters the logic of counterproof and we are in the dream; matter breathes next to antimatter.

“A Harlot High and Low: Reconnoitering through the secret government” by Norman Mailer

“Because your crystal ball / Ain’t so crystal clear”
“Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys

THE WELL DRESSED MAN PART NINE: I PALINDROME I / MARTYRS / THE SECRET HISTORIES / EMPTY VOICES, EMPTY ROOMS

Part eight of this long piece ended on political characters seemingly playing their very opposite, where we lose certainty of whether anyone is truly playing their role, or whether they’re playing a double game. Roger Stone works on a series of conservative causes, claims that he wishes the United States had gone to war against Saudi Arabia, but also laments the fact that both parties are in favor of military intervention and manages the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential ticket. His company uses its connections to Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum to get a military contract, then he appears at a Quincy Tea Party rally decrying excessive federal spending. He is saddened that there are only two parties, yet he proudly claims that he helped destroy a third choice, the Reform Party. “The republican establishment in Washington does not like John McCain,” he says on November 3, 2008. “He really is a maverick.” One month later, he complains that “McCain, who’s an establishment figure,” cut his own throat when he signed the bailout bill in the summer of that year, that his being part of the establishment is what lost him the race. “Why consider running for Governor? And why now?” he is asked, when he briefly made noises about running as the head of the Florida state. “Like most Floridians, I am dissatisfied with our choices,” he replies. Rick Scott has lost his way, he says. Charlie Crist, on the other hand, “is a dangerous chameleon that believes in nothing.”242

That he often appears to have no connection to any position, except his own practical interest, makes one wonder if perhaps Stone might not have been playing a true role as a consultant for the Gary Johnson campaign, but rather, attempting to achieve the very opposite, a split vote to bring about a victory for Mitt Romney. There is the equal question of Bruce Fein, who took a very hard right position with regards to war and foreign intervention, a commaless approach to capturing and killing terrorists, before suddenly changing position and demanding that Dick Cheney be brought to trial. He works as a consultant for Ron Paul, a lawyer for Lon Snowdon, Edward’s father, and works on Rand Paul’s lawsuit against the NSA – though at two crucial points, there are outbursts that seemingly sabotage the proceedings. He expresses suspicion that Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange may be exploiting Snowden. He and his wife accuse Rand Paul of plagiarism. His wife, Mattie Fein (also known as Mattie Lolavar), has an equally strange history, heading up a think tank whose purpose was setting up a government in Iran after a regime change, and who was allegedly part of a political operation with Roger Stone’s consulting firm, IKON, which involved obtaining information from Israeli intelligence, while at the same time making sure never to attribute the information from this source. We might ask if Bruce Fein is also playing a dual role, a man who is a mole within the anti-surveillance community, attempting to cripple it from within. This question does not arise, I think, out of paranoia, but a secrecy as plentiful and ever present as oxygen, placing all characters under suspicion – is this person’s outward intent in fact obscuring the actual intent, an intent that is entirely its inverse?

I PALINDROME I

The secrecy that surrounds Bruce Fein is that of the defense industry and the surveillance state. The obscurity surrounding Roger Stone is the vast force of secret money now ever present in elections. As for how this enshrouds everything in mystery, I give as an example an incident from the 2012 Broward Sheriff’s race, a race already touched on in part seven. As already said, this was a campaign between Al Lamberti and Scott Israel, with heavy money for Israel’s political advertising going to the controversial Elnatan Rudolph. The anti-Lamberti ads were bought by Citizens United for Reform, and all of these ads can be seen on the Citizens United for Reform channel on youtube. During this barrage against Lamberti, a set of mysterious videos were uploaded to youtube. They were short simple monologues by a woman obviously reading a script, who accused Scott Israel of having an affair with her when she was seventeen and forcing her to get an abortion. They had the qualities of attacks associated with Roger Stone, personal and cruel, like the Warren Redlich mailer, like calling Hesham El-Meligy the Al-Qaeda candidate, like Janet Rzewnicki and Ann Stone alleging that Tom Carper hit his wife, that Dan Gelber was against jewish schools, like Stone claiming with certainty that a Michelle Obama “whitey” tape exists243 – yet in this case the attacks were launched against the very candidate that Stone was alleged to be helping, a candidate who would later hire two of his associates, Dianne Thorne, longtime girl friday, and Michale Colapietro, his ghostwriter on The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. All three of these monologues are still on youtube, “ScottIsrael2012: The Real Scott Israel for Broward Sheriff”, “ScottIsrael2012: The Real Scott Israel for Broward Sheriff – Take 2”, “ScottIsrael2012: The Real Scott Israel for Broward Sheriff – Take 3”, and I give a still accompanied by a transcript from the third (stills and accompanying transcripts for the other two are at the footnote)244:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Hi Scott, it’s me again. You know, that…at seventeen, because of you, I had to have an abortion. And now, I’m finding out that you have three kids. And a kid from another marriage. And a kid from another marriage. And a wife of twenty years. And you’re happily married. Like…are you serious? Do you really think I’m stupid? I mean…we’ve been, you know, working together. For quite a while. And, I’m just finding this out now. I’m pretty taken back, especially for a former policeman, Susan must be really happy with you. She must be so thrilled with you for having an affair. With a seventeen year old girl. Who you got pregnant. And had to have an abortion. Yeah, I’m sure she’ll be really happy about that one. Well, good luck.

Israel would immediately issue an angry response. It was another ad funded by Citizens United for Reform, this one featuring the candidate’s wife, “Susan Israel’s Statement on Sheriff Al Lamberti’s Lies”. The following is a transcript of the ad:

Sheriff Al Lamberti and his supporters have sunk to a new low. Attacking my family and falsely accusing my husband, Scott Israel, of marital infidelity. I know politics is dirty, but this is too much. As a wife and a mother, I have to speak out. Al Lamberti has gone too far. Hiring some actress to make false claims of marital infidelity against my husband in a dirty video is low. Even for a Republican like Al Lamberti. Accusing my husband of statutory rape? A crime? This is an outrageous lie. Al Lamberti should be ashamed of himself. Lamberti has smeared my husband, Scott Israel, with a video that attacks my family, and even makes fun of my children. Scott Israel is a good and honest man. A good father, and a good husband. These attacks are despicable lies. It’s an assault on my family, on my husband of twenty one years. It’s disgusting, hurtful, and it’s absolutely false. Bringing up my children is beyond the pale. It tells you what kind of man Al Lamberti is. On TV, Al Lamberti is lying about my husband’s twenty five year record in law enforcement. He knows that the charges of misconduct against my husband were fully investigated and proven false. Lamberti knows the files are not missing, but legally expunged because the claims were false. My husband is a good man. Scott Israel will end the politics and the self-dealing in the sheriff’s office. He’ll bring diversity to the top ranks of BSO [Broward Sheriff’s Office] and he’ll end racial profiling, and protect the rights of gays and lesbians who work at BSO, which isn’t happening today. Al Lamberti, you should be ashamed. Don’t believe the lies about my husband, Scott Israel. Scott Israel is a good man, and qualified to be sheriff.

These youtube clips were properly considered contemptible – yet here is where my suspicion comes in, where things are their opposite, an optical illusion in which black birds flying east are suddenly white birds flying west. Would it not be incredibly effective to post a group of gutterball smears, against your own candidate, as a kind of effective fire insurance for your own attacks 245? Your candidate is not the villain, but the victim. I do not suggest these things out of any feeling against Scott Israel or for Al Lamberti – only that the attack made by this woman, one that is cruel, stupid, and obvious, is seemingly so much like a Roger Stone attack, and because of the secrecy surrounding the massive funding of any campaign now, even a tiny sheriff’s race in Broward, Florida. Perhaps the only route to an answer to who was behind these youtube clips, and what their true intent was, lies with an ancient and well-worn directive: cherchez la femme. Who is this woman, and were these clips a misguided act of malign volunteerism, or was she hired, and by whom?

This strange attack leads us into another unusual event, one entirely forgotten and one unknown to me until my research for this post, during the 2011 Republican primary. Though now forgotten, there was a time when Texas governor Rick Perry was high up in the polls, on the cover of Time, a formidable threat to Romney, and a strong contender for the party’s nomination. It was during this brief moment of crackling desire for a Rick Perry presidency that someone took out a full page ad in the Austin Chronicle weekly, a simple question in the large black font best associated with six episodes of a galactic saga246: “HAVE YOU EVER HAD SEX WITH RICK PERRY?” After that was a more specific, equally blunt question in smaller type: “Are you a stripper, an escort, or just a ‘young hottie’ impressed by an arrogant, entitled governor of Texas?” The man who’d paid for this ad was an Austin resident named Robert Morrow, and he’d soon explain why he’d put up this ad. “What it boils down to is this: is that Rick Perry is a man who campaigns on christian values,” he said on the Alex Jones “Infowars Nightly News: Special Report” (on youtube: “Infowars TV Interviews Rick Perry Sex Scandal Accuser 1/2” and “Infowars TV Interviews Rick Perry Sex Scandal Accuser 2/2”) “He uses bible buzzwords for political gain, he appears on-stage in Houston with all these preachers, yet he’s living a double life.” How did Robert Morrow know about Rick Perry’s infidelities? “The reason I know that, Alex, is because Rick Perry, his enabling entourage and I, like the same women.” (partial transcript at the footnote)247

JONES
Well, that’s quite a charge. Again, I’m gonna be honest with you, Robert. You wouldn’t even be here right now if a lot of people I know vouched for you, and said you were a stand-up guy, they’ve known you for many many years. Some of them a decade, I’ve known for a decade. And, I’m not saying, oh, you’re lucky to be here. I’m saying, I wouldn’t have you here, if a lot of people I know and trust, said you were a stand-up guy. That means two things are happening. Either all these people who are telling you this information are lying to you; or they’re telling the truth. And either way, this is dangerous. So, let’s get into the allegations.

MORROW
Okay, the reason they’re credible is because there are multiple allegations. I met a stripper a couple years ago, she said “I was working on-stage in a club, and a man comes up to me, and he says, ‘Here’s five hundred dollars. That’s just for starters if you come with me.'” Because that’s what a dancer might make in a whole night, with table dances and tips like that. She said, “Sure, I’ll do it,” and she got into her regular clothes, and she was delivered to…Rick Perry. And when she got to Rick Perry, she told me a couple years ago, before the 2010 gubernatorial race, she said that she and Rick Perry started fooling around, and she was trying to give him a “Monica Lewinsky”, I think it was oral sex, and her words to me were, “I think he was too coked up, to get it up.” K? After they’d been playing around for a while, and it was time for her to go, Rick Perry paid her an outrageous sum of money well into the four digits. Rick Perry’s not a rich man; he’s only worth a million or two dollars. It’s not a lot of money compared to who he runs around with. It makes me think that Rick Perry is taking bribes and illegal gifts from his entourage to fund his extra-curricular activities. And that was just one lady.

Morrow on Jones from behind

Morrow on Jones front view

Jones holding newspaper

Morrow didn’t just have one reliable source for the information, so far he had two. “I know other women in town, strippers, young hotties, some escorts, and this is what blew me away: I heard from another lady, who’s had direct dealings with Rick Perry’s entourage.” She had met with Rick Perry’s entourage- no, actually, she’d heard from an unnamed man, a story about Rick Perry and his entourage.

MORROW
I know other women in town, strippers, young hotties, some escorts, and this is what blew me away: I heard from another lady, who’s had direct dealings with Rick Perry’s entourage. And she told me, this man told her, when Rick Perry goes on the road, he gets the quote “young hotties”. Hence, I use the phrase “young hotties” in my ad. And he told her, he says that they take these young women and they go back to Rick Perry’s hotel room, and they’re literally having orgies and group sex in the hotel room. Perhaps, maybe, Rick Perry is having sex with a woman on a sofa and his friend is having sex with another young hottie on a bed. So, that was two. Now, the second person who told me this, is very credible, she’s educated, she knows her way around the world politically here in Austin, she’s not some sortof seventeen year old runaway on drugs or something. She’s somebody who runs with the elite of Austin, Texas. So that was the second source on that. So, after I heard that, I said, “It is confirmed.” Rick Perry is obviously being flagrantly adulterous, his entourage is procuring strippers for him, renting the hotel rooms, calling the escort services, then recently, this week, yet another young lady who’s friends with yet another popular, long-time escort, said that, yeah, you know, this lady, her friend, had a tryst with Rick Perry in one of the nicer hotels in Austin, Texas. So, that’s three right there. And I’ve been unable to get these people to go public for obvious reasons, you know, trying to get a stripper, or an escort, or a gay, closeted gay man, to go public is very difficult for obvious reasons, hence my ad. So I took out this ad, “Have you ever had sex with Rick Perry?” as a plea, to the greater community, to quit covering for Rick Perry, this you know, christian buzzword spouting hypocrite, who’s leading a double life.

It is confirmed. Rick Perry, Morrow assured Jones, was in a dangerous place. Rick Perry was sitting on a keg of “slut fueled nitroglycerine,” according to Morrow. “On the womanizing,” said Morrow, “I’m not just 99% sure that Rick Perry’s running around with strippers and hookers, I’M ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SURE ON THAT.” If you were willing to shout it out on TV, how could it possibly be wrong? There were the strippers, the escorts, the young hotties, but there were also something else. Alex Jones had done his research, and he knew something about the Republican party: “the main way to enter the upper echelons of the Republican party is homosexual sex.” That’s what goes on in Bohemian Grove, that’s what goes on in Skull and Bones, that’s what goes on in Gayle, as Jones says it. Rick Perry had an honor known to only a select few: “you type Rick Perry into Google for years, and ‘gay’ comes up.” Morrow had confirmation on this rumor as well. An “incensed homosexual man” had revealed that an ex of an ex had had sex with Perry. It is confirmed.

JONES
Well, I’ve gotta say, Robert, that…we’ve seen what’s happened with a New York governor who passed a law to take the property away from men who hire prostitutes, throw them under the jail, while he was visiting high end prostitutes. We’ve seen all these Republican leaders caught in bathrooms, and going after their pages. We know about Bohemian Grove. And so, doing my research, I know that to get into the upper echelons of the Republican party, especially, they don’t feel comfortable around you, unless you’ve done some things they can use against you. And the main way to enter the upper echelons of the Republican party is homosexual sex. That’s what goes on in Skull and Bones, in Gayle [this is exactly how I hear Jones say it, and I think his implication is clear], that’s what goes on at the same time in Bohemian Grove. So I know that stuff goes on. Again, I mainly stick with the issues that I can prove. And we’ve all heard these rumors living in Austin. And there’s been newscasts about the rumors of Rick Perry…I would completely, still, ignore all of this if he wasn’t out there saying, I’m a christian conservative leader, you need to get behind me.

And then knowing, he’s actually the opposite in his real policies. And even in the last election cycle for governor, conservative groups did actually discover his bankrolling of porno parlors across Texas. And that’s now a big issue again. And then, when I first saw this, I didn’t believe it, I went and found it on the state ethics commission website, it is true, that when he was in Florida, in a famously alternative life-style area, I want you to talk about that, he visited the La Te Da, men in drag, cabaret. And he later said, “Well, no, my wife visited that.” Yeah, right. So, it just continues to crop up. And so because it was christian conservatives that have gone after him in the last few campaigns over some of these reports, he’s now trying to become that. And I saw Ron Paul supporters really getting after him in events in the last few years, so now he’s trying to become Ron Paul. He is a political chameleon. And so, the question comes down to: is this some elaborate hoax, where people are lying to you? Are you lying? Which people who know you say you’re not. Or, is this a dirty trick? Of disinformation. Or is it true? But, what do you say about the porno parlor bankrolling and the transvestite visiting?

MORROW
Okay. Well, Alex, as you know, living here in Austin, Texas, the rumors of Rick Perry’s homosexuality and gay affairs have been voluminous, intense, and will just not go away.

JONES
Oh, you type Rick Perry into Google for years, and “gay” comes up.

MORROW
And, there’s-

JONES
The first thing.

MORROW
There’s so much smoke…that it has to be fire. And I want to tell you something, Alex. I never believed the gay rumors on Rick Perry for years and years and years, and then I certainly didn’t believe them when I found out all about these stirppers and escorts, he and his entourage are cavorting with. That has changed. I’ve come into credible information that Rick Perry is a rampant bisexual adulterer, not just strippers and young hotties, but gay men as well. This monday, before I even ran this ad, an incensed homosexual man contacted me, and he says, “You know what? After seeing Rick Perry on that stage in Houston, with all those extremist preachers, all that hardcore anti-gay rhetoric, I just can’t take it any more.”

He said that an ex of his ex, had sex with Rick Perry. A gay fling many years before he became governor, and that he wants to take this guy public, and he and his friend are going to approach this man, who had sex with Rick Perry according to them, and get him to go public. And I said, well, what I did was I gave them to a reporter who’s working the gay angle on Rick Perry, and he’s having some progress, by the way, and so maybe, eventually, in a few months, these reporters work these stories, nail down these sources, we will move beyond the hearsay stage on Rick Perry as a rampant bisexual adulterer, to the credibility stage of people coming forward. So, the whole point of me running that ad is folks, there is so much stuff out there, you know, if you know, if you’ve been involved with him, sexually at all, or you know people who have, please come forward. And let’s go on the record, and get it above board, because people need to know.

Morrow’s anger over Perry’s bisexuality may not have been entirely anger over hypocrisy. In 2005, the same Robert Morrow would send out an email accusing Margot Clarke, who was running for a city council seat, of only caring about three groups of people. “Clarke’s supporters are … environmental radicals, socialists, and ‘in-your-face’ homosexuals who demand that the rest of society worship salamanders and support ‘gay’ marriage.” You can google an article I wrote on Perry, said Morrow on the radio show “Outcast Austin” (episode “OutCast Austin – Volume 173 – 08/23/2011 – Interview with Robert Morrow”), when his Perry ad appeared. “It’s called ‘Tea Party Fraud Rick Perry is Political Herpes’.” “You’re a very subtle man, I see, Robert,” replied the host, Steve Rice248.

Though Jones has a reputation of being a hard nosed skeptic, he gave a credulous reception to Morrow’s claims. However, it was on the “Exclusive Interview: Rick Perry Smear Artist Speaks Out” episode of “The Gill Report” (parts one and two) that Morrow was asked harder questions. He opened early with a variation on the same line, “Rick Perry, his enabling entourage and I, like the same women,” that he also used on “Outcast Austin”, “Rick Perry, his entourage and I, like the same women. How can I be more clear than that?” Asked the “Outcast Austin” host, “Those are nice wholesome girls, is that what you mean?”249 When did you discover that Rick Perry had this propensity for hotties, asked Steve Gill, the host of “The Gill Report”. Was it before 2006, the last time you’d voted for him? “Well, it’s…no. It was not, actually it’s because I have a propensity for hotties. And it just turns out that Rick Perry, his entourage, and I, like the same women.” There was something strangely insistent by Robert Morrow that he liked the same women as Rick Perry, as if it were a talking point, and so perhaps the next part of “The Gill Report” was inevitable250:

GILL
Now, your facebook says you like guys too, there have been a lot of stories that you also swing the other way as well. I mean, is that, like-251

MORROW
Well, on facebook it says who do you want to be friends with, and I want to be friends on facebook with both men and women. So- I’m just interested in women in-

GILL
You do not have sexual relationships with men? So, the claims that you’re gay are not true?

MORROW
It’s ridiculous. I will say this-

GILL
But you’re also saying that Rick Perry’s gay too. You’re saying Rick Perry not only likes young women, you’re also throwing out the implication that he’s also gay.

MORROW
Absolutely. I want to tell you that that second one right there. About the womanizing, I am 100% sure on that, because like I said I know strippers, young hotties, people who’ve been with Rick Perry and his entourage. I never believed the gay rumors about Rick Perry that have been going around for about eight years now. Especially when I learned about the womanizing, I did not believe them. However, that has changed, because I’ve been in contact with some very angry homosexuals who’ve called me about Rick Perry.

GILL
And it’s easy for someone to say I had sex with somebody. I mean, a gay guy could call me today and say, “You know, I had sex with Robert Morrow,” and I could take out a full page ad and that would have the same credibility in terms of fact based that you’re relying on.

MORROW
Well, but- that’s true. On Monday-

When the host made this simple testing of Morrow’s claims, the confidence ended, and was replaced by angry, nervous insistence:

GILL
So, should we traffic in these kind of unsubstantiated rumors in the political arena? Is that the Ron Paul way?

MORROW
I have nothing to do with Ron Paul’s campaign.

GILL
Wait- wait- you just said you’ve campaigned and you’ve been a Ron Paul supporter.

MORROW
I think, you know, Ron Paul is not putting me up to this, because Ron Paul doesn’t run around with the young hotties that me and Rick Perry, and his entourage do.

GILL
We don’t know. Somebody could call me today and say “I had sex with Ron Paul,” and we could put it out there as the fact, and it would be just as based as what you’re doing. I mean, anybody can say anything.

MORROW
Listen carefully to me, okay? I met a stripper about two years ago. And, before the 2010 governor’s race, and she told me, that she was in the club one night. And a guy comes up to her and says, “Here’s five hundred dollars. Just come with me.” And of course, five hundred dollars is about what a dancer would make all night-

GILL
Keep in mind, you weren’t there, all you’re saying is that what a stripper, because man, I know, strippers, and hookers on drugs, if I’m gonna go for somebody that’s absolutely is credible, that is absolutely believable, no question about it, are you operating on is what a stripper told you, right?

MORROW
Steve, hold on for a second.

GILL
Well, isn’t that the case.

MORROW
Go ahead. Hold on for a second. She was very credible, and she told me these things-

GILL
She’s a very credible stripper.

MORROW
Hold on, hold on. She told me these things in confidence, not in the context of a presidential campaign or a gubernatorial campaign. So she says she was taken to Rick Perry, because Rick Perry does not go into strip clubs himself, he has an entourage go grab the girls, and so she was taken to him, and then they started-

GILL
Based on what she says. Based on what she says.

MORROW
I-i-i-it’s true.

Morrow couldn’t challenge the fact that it was all secondhand information, rumor and innuendo, because all he had was the hot gas of rumor and innuendo.

GILL
It’s true because she said it.

MORROW
I don’t have a blue dress with Rick Perry’s semen on it. I have reports from credible women in Austin, Texas-

GILL
Who are strippers and prostitutes and hookers.

MORROW
Strippers and hoo- Escorts and people- And friends who have-

GILL
Who get paid money to do whatever somebody wants them to do. Do you think there might at least be the shred, Robert, that somebody might be paying her to tell stories?

MORROW
Yes-

GILL
Because she’ll take money to do other things.

MORROW
Well Steve, you have to understand that- There’s a couple things. I learned about these things several years ago, not in the context of a presidential or gubenatorial race. They had no idea I was a political activist, who happens to hate Rick Perry’s guts, which I do for many reasons, but politically, and from what I know about his personal life. And so the reason-

GILL
But all you know about his, again, all you know about his personal life is what these hookers, strippers, and prostitutes have told you.

“The Gill Report” then got closer to the essential question of almost all politics, the one Alex Jones somehow had never been able to ask, “Who’s funding this? Who’s funding these ads?”:

MORROW
You know, it’s true, unless you’re there yourself, you don’t know to the one hundredth percent level-

GILL
You don’t know on any percent, other than, they are telling you a story that you can’t verify at all. Let me move to the other- Who’s funding this? Who’s funding these ads?

MORROW
I pay for it myself.

GILL
What do you do for a living?

MORROW
I’m a self-employed investor.

GILL
Self-employed investor. And apparently, you’ve done real well for yourself, if you can take out full page ads.

MORROW
Yeah.

GILL
What’s the source of your investments?

MORROW
It’s a local paper, you know, it was a pretty piece of coin, but it’s not nearly the money Rick Perry and his entourage- Here’s what goes on: Rick Perry does not get the girls himself. He has an enabling entourage, who gets the girls, in ritzy hotel rooms, very nice ones here in Austin, and they’re the ones who call the escort services, just like Tiger Woods entourage would be getting girls for him.

GILL
But you actually had the girls coming forth and saying this. That’s what your ad is trying to do, is get some girls to come forth and say, okay, I had sex with Rick Perry.

MORROW
Here’s where we’re at, Steve. I’ve been unable to get these women to go public, to go on the record, in front of a reporter-

GILL
Maybe because it’s not true.

MORROW
It is true.

GILL
Okay. Because you’re gonna believe your hooker friends.

“The Gill Report” soon returned to the question of the ad. Did Morrow pay for the ad to run in a weekly newspaper, or a daily newspaper?

MORROW
It’s a local weekly newspaper. The Austin Chronicle.

GILL
How much is this thing costing you?

MORROW
No comment. I pay for it with my own money, though.

GILL
Did they give it to you for free?

MORROW
Noooooo. No.

GILL
So…why won’t you tell us what you’re paying for it?

MORROW
I just keep that private. That’s the only thing I’m not releasing.

GILL
I mean, their ad rates are public, aren’t they?

MORROW
Yeah, I pay normal ad rates. You can call them and find out how much I pay.

GILL
Now you said you were an investor, I’m a little bit intrigued by that. What kind of investments do you make on behalf of people?

MORROW
Oh. I’m a self-employed investor. I don’t manage other people’s money. I never said that I did, so don’t, don’t make that assumption.

This simple and most essential question, what Robert Morrow paid for the ad, he refused to say. It all came from the money he’d earned as an independent investor. An article from 2008, “Some people just love to hate the Clintons” by Adam C. Smith, would suggest that the money Morrow paid for this ad didn’t come from his brilliant investment skills, but the privileges of the one percent. In “Some people,” he was described as someone “who has no steady job but enjoys a family inheritance.” Back then, he was obsessed with the Clintons. Smith meets with Morrow for lunch. “Chelsea is the seed of Web Hubbell and not Bill Clinton. Would I bet my life on it? No. I would bet my pickup truck,” he says, the angry stream interrupted by chomps of salmon. “Hillary Clinton was sleeping with both of her law partners, Webb Hubbell and Vince Foster. And she’s a lesbian, too.”252

Robert Morrow was obsessed with Hillary Clinton. Robert Morrow was obsessed with Rick Perry. But there was one man, more than any of the others, who Robert Morrow was especially obsessed with, and that was the man who’d murdered JFK. “You’re also real big into the whole CIA killed JFK business-” said Steve Gill. “I think Lyndon Johnson and his Texas oilmen used their CIA military connections to kill John Kennedy,” Morrow replied. “That is my personal opinion. Many people think that.” Morrow would make this belief into his personal identity. His twitter handle was @LBJCIAkilledJFK. It was a belief that was the very same as the thesis of Roger Stone’s book, The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. The book’s preface had the line, “This book stands on the research of citizens who have doubted the government’s version of events as depicted by the Warren Commission, including,” and there among the included was the man who’d fought Hillary Clinton between bites of salmon his parents’ wealth had bought. The book’s chapter, “Lyndon Johnson – The Man,” carries the indictment “Veteran JFK assassination researcher Robert Morrow correctly labels Johnson a ‘functioning lunatic.'” I’d say it takes one to know one, but how well functioning is Robert Morrow? In the last chapter, there is a final mention, hosannas to the martyred few who dare to ask questions about that terrible day: “Anyone who asks probing questions, no matter how sound, are dismissed as crackpots. Courageous Americans who have dedicated their lives to seeking the facts of the assassination-citizens like Mark Lane, Vincent Salandria, Robert Morrow, Raymond Marcus, and Mary Ferrell-have earned this flaky distinction.” Oh, I don’t think Morrow is a crackpot because he investigates Kennedy assassination theories. I think he’s a crackpot because he writes things like “George Herbert Walker Bush and his Homosexual Pedophilia”: “George Herbert Walker Bush is a notorious and long time homosexual pedophile – both from his days as a Houston congressman in the late 1960’s and his involvement with the Franklin pedophile ring, based in Omaha NE and run by Bush friend Lawrence E. King, of the 1980’s.” “This book will change history forever!” is one enthusiastic blurb on Amazon for The Man Who Killed Kennedy, a blurb by a historian named Robert Morrow253. In a Reason TV interview promoting the book, “Did LBJ Kill Kennedy? (And Why It Matters): Q/A with Roger Stone”, Stone was asked about his next book project. “Talk a little bit about your future,” the interviewer prompts. “Yeah, I’ve got a couple different books in mind,” Stone replied. “I’d like to do a book on Hillary Clinton. I don’t believe Chelsea Clinton- I believe Chelsea Clinton is the daughter of Webb Hubbell, and Hillary Clinton, and I’m gonna try and prove that in print.”254

Stone Morrow and activist

(activist Mary Krenek, Roger Stone, and Robert Morrow at an event promoting The Man Who Killed Kennedy255)

I note the obvious qualities of the Perry attack which are so similar to others launched by Stone, that it is personal, cruel, obvious, and stupid. The ad was supposedly paid for by Morrow, a man who occasionally traded stocks, but otherwise without work, who refused to say exactly how much he had to shell out for the full page, insisting that it was the one thing he would not reveal. As mentioned in part eight, Stone’s old colleague, Charlie Black, was on the Romney team as an informal adviser. Evangelicals were resistant to Romney, a Mormon, while Perry could reliably count on their support – unless, of course, they started believing the rumor that he was unfaithful, or that he was in the closet. The ad was paid for by CASH, Citizens Against Sexual Hypocrisy, and in 2008, Stone had set up a group called CUNT, against Hillary Clinton, whose letters stood for Citizens United Not Timid. Stone had a simple rule for these kinds of nasty attacks, one given in Stone’s Rules: “Use a cut-out. Front men are indispensible.”

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

MARTYRS

I will not give a thorough review of The Man Who Killed Kennedy, and if the book has not been soundly dismissed as lousy scholarship, that is only because it has been largely considered amateur hour work beneath consideration. Its only notable aspect is that it might be seen as a continuation of Stone’s attempt to redeem the administration he was inextricably part of, the one headed by the master criminal whose every grin appeared a rictus of pain, whose face now lodged between the hard old deltoids of Roger Stone, a clump of thousands of dark points. The Man Who Killed Kennedy puts forth the thesis that it was Lyndon Johnson who was behind the killing of the 35th president, acting out of hatred for the man at the top of the ticket, and to halt an ongoing investigation into one of his aides, Bobby Baker, which threatened to destroy his career. Watergate comes about not because of the paranoia and arrogance of the Nixon administration, but because Nixon demanded certain classified files from the CIA related to the Kennedy assassination. “Nixon’s effort to obtain the JFK assassination records,” writes Stone, “was an attempt to seize leverage over the rogue agency. This was to be Nixon’s “insurance policy” against the CIA.” The agency, feeling threatened, deliberately placed double agents among the Watergate break-in team, who made sure that they would be arrested, the team would be found out, the plot discovered, and Nixon forced to resign. “This is why I believe Watergate was a CIA operation,” writes Stone, “that capitalized on the stupidity and amateurishness of G. Gordon Liddy, CREEP Campaign Director Jeb Magruder, and John Dean, the three Nixon aides who advanced the plans for the Watergate break-in, which leaked to the CIA.”256 Watergate is no longer an act of executive arrogance, but a martyrdom that comes about as a president wrestles with an out of control security state.

Rather than go through the book’s main plot point by point – and leaving out entirely tangential areas like George H.W. Bush’s supposed complicity257 – I think I can show the overall extraordinarily poor scholarship of The Man Who Killed by looking at two crucial areas. Stone’s thesis hinges on a group of men who were part of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, including CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, being involved in the assassination of the president. A key piece of supporting evidence is Hunt confessing to his part in the assassination on his deathbed, with this confession made public by his son, Saint John Hunt258. Stone makes no mention of Hunt denying for decades that he had any part in the assassination, going so far as to sue the writer Jim Maars for defamation when he wrote an article that alleged he took part in the killing. We are told in Stone’s book of a Marita Lorenz testifying under oath that she saw Hunt pay off an assassination team, testimony that was made at this very defamation trial – yet the context of a libel trial goes entirely unsaid in the book. Most of the Hunt family was estranged from Saint John Hunt, who’d had a difficult life dealing with drug addiction, and they were vocal in condemning the confession as exploitation of a man who was eighty eight and suffering from the effects of old age259. I will confess to be a non-conspiracy theorist with regards to the Kennedy assassination; however, I can conceive without difficulty a far more convincing and honest presentation of a hypothesis where Hunt is a key player, yet one which acknowledges his lifelong denial and the conditions of his near-death confession. Stone’s book does not simply not acknowledge these things, it refuses to even admit them, giving no mention of these details – Hunt’s lifelong denial, the lawsuit, the family’s condemnation of the confession as exploitation – that have just been given here.

The book is premised on Stone’s authority, that he was there, or at one of the theres, the Nixon White House when Watergate went down, and yet the work involving this subject might be even shoddier. As said, Stone lays out a hypothesis that the CIA agents on the team, James McCord and E. Howard Hunt, deliberately sabotaged the mission in order to bring down the White House. Again, Stone makes no effort to acknowledge the accounts which might utterly annihilate this thesis. G. Gordon Liddy, a Watergate veteran who achieved even greater fame than Stone by making himself into a flat cartoon, the congenial neo-fascist, would write of his role in various CREEP activities in what should be considered an essential book of american history, the memoir Will. Though I am unsympathetic towards Liddy, I find his account to have an honest tone, without exaggeration, where the writer appears to have no hesitation presenting himself as ridiculous, brutal, or unsympathetic. Woodward’s blurb on Amazon strikes a similar note: “His story rings true…It is credible.” Liddy is a former FBI agent, with no experience in the CIA, and Stone alleges no such experience in his book. Liddy is explicit in his memoir that it is he who brought both Hunt and McCord onto the team260. The CREEP plumber team’s break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters was to begin with their going into the Watergate hotel, taping down some of the locks on the inside, then re-entering the hotel once the DNC offices were empty. During this operation, a security guard removes the tape placed on the locks, which causes incredible tension among the Watergate team. After being caught, Hunt would eventually plead guilty, something Liddy would refuse to do, with Liddy never speaking to Hunt again as a result. I emphasize this point to make clear that Liddy does not write anything in his memoir to exculpate Hunt out of sympathy for the man. He is, however, very clear that it was his decision and his decision alone that they went into the Watergate after that, which would result in them being caught. Hunt, Stone’s supposed double agent, is depicted as passionately opposed to the decision to go forward. After it’s discovered that the tape’s been removed, “Hunt was sure it had been a guard. He wanted to abort [my italics].” It is Liddy, the former FBI agent, the man with no experience in the CIA, who overrules the seniormost man in the team who is conneted to the CIA, Hunt, in order to send them back into the hotel, and it is because of that decision that the team is caught261. You might attempt to put forth a theory which includes Liddy’s role, or finds some evidence that disproves his account in Will; however, any serious piece of scholarship must reckon with Liddy’s account, and The Man Who Killed Kennedy does nothing of the kind.

Most peculiar is Stone’s citation of Watergate: The Hidden History by Lamar Waldron for his theory on the Watergate burglary: “Investigative journalist Lamar Waldron makes a compelling case in his book, Watergate: The Hidden History, that the purpose of the break-in was to obtain records detailing Nixon’s authorization as vice president for the CIA recruitment of Mob assassins to assist in the assassination of Fidel Castro.” Stone’s praise does not appear isolated to the space within his own book – a user named “Roger J. Stone” on Amazon also gives a full throated endorsement of the work (link): “Although as a long time Aide to Richard Nixon I interpret some things differently, Waldron’s scholarship cannot be questioned. This is a fascinating history with starts [sic] to connect the Bay of Pigs invasion, the JFK Assassination , Watergate and the Nixon pardon. I cannot recommend this book enough.”262 The praise is unexpected, in part, because the Nixon of Waldron’s book is one of the most unsympathetic portrayals out there, an incredibly corrupt man whose path to the White House is funded by mob money, and who wins elections through lowball anti-semitic attacks. The Nixon White House of Waldron’s book resembles less a political operation and more a criminal enterprise. There is another, more germane point as to why Stone’s praise is unexpected. To re-iterate, Stone’s thesis is that Watergate was the result of the CIA taking out Nixon after he asked for files incriminating the agency in the Kennedy assassination. Waldron’s thesis, directly and explicitly, contradicts this. The first chapter of Hidden History gives an overview of its perspective:

This book carefully documents how Nixon’s ties to the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Fidel Castro became inexorably linked to the Mafia’s two massive Hoffa bribes to Nixon. While CIA assassination plots with the Mafia may seem like old news now, it’s important to remember they were only first revealed to the American public in 1975, after Nixon’s 1974 resignation. In 1972, Nixon-and his CIA Director, Richard Helms-would have gone to any lengths to keep voters from finding out about his Castro assassination plots. Those plots were entwined with Nixon’s huge Mafia bribes for Hoffa, and the exposure of those massive payoffs during the 1972 campaign would have dominated the headlines and shattered Nixon’s chances of winning reelection. Richard Nixon was worried that the Democrats (and the Chilean embassy) had one specific Dossier that, if released, could unravel everything. That Dossier-the previously mentioned compilation of CIA attempts to assassinate Castro, which spanned Nixon’s terms as Vice President and President-was the main target of the Watergate burglars, as one of them admitted after his arrest.

It is the paragraph on CIA head Richard Helms, and his protégé, E. Howard Hunt, that includes a sentence that runs entirely counter to Stone’s thesis. I bold it:

Once Hunt was a White House operative, he continued his close ties to Helms and was in a position to provide a steady stream of important information to his mentor. CIA Director Helms was so fond of Hunt that he gave visitors to his office copies of the hack spy novels Hunt wrote. More important, it’s now documented that in the weeks leading up to Watergate, Helms was involved with pitching a TV series based on Hunt’s novels to Hollywood producers. That should end speculation that has persisted for years, that the failure of the last Watergate break-in was a CIA operation deliberately designed to bring down Nixon.

Again, there is nothing wrong with praising a book as quality scholarship, and then arguing with one of its key points. However, if you cite such a work, offer the highest praise for its diligence, then I think you are obligated to address why such a book is wrong on a central interpretation with which you disagree. The Man Who Killed Kennedy offers nothing of the kind.

The most important point of Stone’s book, one unnoticed by its largely sympathetic reviewers on the fringe right, is that the concept of Watergate as a CIA coup was an idea already pushed at the time of the break-in by the Nixon White House, as an attempt to shift blame for this engulfing disaster. The following excerpt from Johnathan Schell’s The Time of Illusion, an excellent history of the Nixon years, conveys this well:

All the Watergate defendants but one were following the White House scenario to the letter. The exception was James McCord. He was seething with scenarios of his own. He hoped to have the charges dismissed, and besides, he had been angered by what he understood as a suggestion from one of his lawyers that the blame for the Watergate break-in be assigned to the C.I.A., his old outfit, to which he retained an intense loyalty. There was some irony in the fact that McCord’s anger had been aroused by an Administration plan to involve the C.I.A. in its crimes. McCord believed that Nixon’s removal of C.I.A. director Richard Helms, in December of 1972 – at the very time that McCord himself was being urged to lay the blame for Watergate at the door of the C.I.A. – was designed to pave the way for an attempt by the Administration itself to blame the break-in on the agency and for a takeover of the agency by the White House. He had worked for the White House, but he did not see the reorganizational wars from the White House point of view. He saw them from the bureaucrats’ point of view; in his opinion, President Nixon was attempting to take over the C.I.A. in a manner reminiscent of attempts by Hitler to take control of German intelligence agencies before the Second World War. The White House, that is, belatedly discovered that it had a disgruntled “holdover” on its hands. And this particular holdover really was prepared to perform sabotage; he was prepared, indeed, to sabotage not just the President’s policies but the President himself, and, what was more, he had the means to do it. McCord was putting together a scenario that could destroy the Nixon administration. In a letter delivered in December, to his White House contact, the undercover operative John Caulfield, McCord pronounced a dread warning: If the WHite House continued to try to have the C.I.A. take responsibility for the Watergate burglary, “every tree in the forest will fall,” and “it will be a scorched desert.” Piling on yet another metaphor of catastrophe, he wrote, “Pass the message that if they want it to blow, they are on exactly the right course. I am sorry that you will get hurt in the fallout.” McCord was the first person in the Watergate conspiracy to put in writing exactly what the magnitude of th Watergate scandal was. Many observers had been amazed at the extreme hard line that the President had taken since his landslide reelection – the firings in the bureaucracies, the incomprehensible continuation of the attacks on Senator McGovern, the renewed attacks on the press, the attacks on Congress’s power of the purse, the bombing of Hanoi. They could not know that at the exact moment when President Nixon was wreaking devastation on North Vietnam, James McCord was threatening to wreak devastation on him.

That there was a deliberate attempt from almost immediately after the break-in to try and mislead FBI investigators into thinking it was a CIA operation, and this attempt was initiated from the apex of the White House, is conveyed effectively in the invaluable Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes by Stanley Kutler. Here is when the idea is first given mention:

JUNE 21, 1972: THE PRESIDENT AND COLSON, 4:00-5:15 P.M., EXECUTIVE OFFICE BUILDING

Nixon aides, such as Haldeman and Colson, later developed a fondness for explanations that blamed the CIA for Watergate. This conversation is probably the origin of the idea, anxious as they were to “develop a theory.” It probably also is the beginning of their notion that “Watergate was stupid and therefore the President could not have done it.” Throughout the affair, Nixon contemptuously dismissed wiretapping as a serious issue; he insisted that he had been bugged in 1968, typically adding, “Everyone did it.”

SEGMENT 1

COLSON
…I think that, I think that we could develop a theory as to the CIA if we wanted to. We know that he [Hunt] has all these ties with these people.

PRESIDENT NIXON
He worked with them.

COLSON
Oh, he was their boss, and they were all CIA. You take the cash, you go down to Latin America.

These excerpts further show the development of blaming the break-in on the CIA, of lying about CIA association to the FBI to stop the investigation, but begin first with the possibility of blaming the break-in on the columnist Jack Anderson:

JUNE 22, 1972: THE PRESIDENT AND HALDEMAN, 9:40-11:25 A.M., EXECUTIVE OFFICE BUILDING

HALDEMAN
Yes. We’ve got another thing which has taken hold a little bit, which is we’ve started moving on the Hill, letting it come out from there, which is that this whole thing is a Jack Anderson thing, that Jack Anderson did it. That’s what the Hill guys think, that this is – and we’re trying to move that around now. We started a rumor yesterday morning and it’s starting to come back already.

PRESIDENT NIXON
What?

HALDEMAN
That Jack Anderson has put all of this together, he was bugging the Democratic offices.

PRESIDENT NIXON
Oh, yes.

HALDEMAN
Becaue these Cubans are tied to him. These are agents he’s used, and now he’s trying to do a diversionary cover-up of this other thing, and all this other stuff. The great thing about this is it is so totally fucked up and so badly done that nobody believes-

PRESIDENT NIXON
That we could have done it.

HALDEMAN
That’s right…

PRESIDENT NIXON
Well, it sounds like comic opera, really.

HALDEMAN
It really does. It would make a funny Goddamn movie.

PRESIDENT NIXON
I mean, you know, here’s these Cubans with their accents. [Laughing]

HALDEMAN
Wearing these rubber gloves, standing there in their well-made, their expensive well-made business suits, wearing rubber gloves, and put their hands up and shouting “Don’t shoot” when the police come in. It really is like a comic opera…Also they have no case on Hunt.

PRESIDENT NIXON
Why?

HALDEMAN
Because there is no case on Hunt. They have not been able to make him. They can’t put him into the scene at alll.

PRESIDENT NIXON
We know where he was, though.

HALDEMAN
But they don’t. The FBI doesn’t.

PRESIDENT NIXON
That’s right.

HALDEMAN
They’ve pursued him and been unable to tie him in at all to the case.

PRESIDENT NIXON
What about the disappearance? He’ll come back?

HALDEMAN
Well, they’ve got no warrant for him, so they don’t care whether he disappeared.

PRESIDENT NIXON
He has disappeared?

HALDEMAN
He has disappeared.

PRESIDENT NIXON
Yes, the Hunt thing is beginning to run out recently.

HALDEMAN
The legal people, the FBI, who are running the investigation, have no – there’s no way to fix Hunt on the case. They have issued no warrant for him. They don’t care whether he disappears or not. The only thing is, is his name’s in the phone book, in the guy’s address book. But so is the hotel clerk’s name.

JUNE 23, 1972: THE PRESIDENT AND HALDEMAN, 10:04-11:39 A.M., OVAL OFFICE

HALDEMAN
The FBI interviewed Colson yesterday. They determined that would be a good thing to do…An interrogation, which he did, and that, the FBI guys working the case had concluded that there are one or two possibilities: one, that this was a White House [operation], they don’t think that there is anything at the Election Committee – they think it was either a White House operation and they had some obscure reasons for it…Or it was a-

PRESIDENT NIXON
Cuban thing-

HALDEMAN
-Cubans and the CIA. And after their interrogation of-

PRESIDENT NIXON
Colson.

HALDEMAN
-Colson, yesterday, they concluded it was not the White House, but are now convinced it’s the CIA thing, so the CIA turnoff would-

PRESIDENT NIXON
Well, not sure of their analysis, I’m not going to get that involved…

HALDEMAN
No, sir. We don’t want you to.

PRESIDENT NIXON
You call them in. Good. Good deal. Play it tough. That’s the way they play it and that’s the way we are going to play it.

HALDEMAN
O.K. We’ll do it.

PRESIDENT NIXON
Yeah, when I saw that news summary item, I of course knew it was a bunch of crap, but I thought, that, well it’s good to have them off on this wild hare thing because when they start bugging us, which they have, we’ll know our little boys will not know how to handle it. I hope they will though.

HALDEMAN
Good, you never know. Maybe, you think about it…

PRESIDENT NIXON
When you get in these people…say: “Look, the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the President just feels that” – without going into the details – don’t, don’t lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it. “The President’s belief is that this is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again. And because these people are plugging for, for keeps, and that they should call the FBI and say that we wish for the country, don’t go any further into this case,” period…

JUNE 23, 1972: THE PRESIDENT AND HALDEMAN, 1:04-1:13 P.M., OVAL OFFICE

PRESIDENT NIXON
…Hunt….knows too damn much and he was involved, we have to know that. And that it gets out…this is all involved in the Cuban thing, that it’s a fiasco, and it’s going to make the FB – ah CIA – look bad, it’s going to make Hunt look bad, and it’s likely to blow the whole, uh, Bay of Pigs thing, which we think would be very unfortunate for the CIA and for the country at this time, and for American foreign policy, and he’s just gotta tell ’em “lay off”…

HALDEMAN
Yeah, that’s, that’s the basis we’ll do it on and just leave it at that.

PRESIDENT NIXON
I don’t want them to get any ideas we’re doing it because our concern is political.

HALDEMAN
Right.

PRESIDENT NIXON
And at the same time, I wouldn’t tell them it is not political…

HALDEMAN
Right.

PRESIDENT NIXON
I would just say, “Look, it’s because of the Hunt involvement.”…

That what took place under the Nixon administration was in fact a centralization of power, a creation of an octopus of executive overreach, with such agencies as the FBI, the CIA, and the IRS made into weapons against any enemy of the Nixon White House, is a point obviously ignored by Stone and, again, well conveyed by Schell. I give lengthy excerpt:

In 1969, the Administration had sought to establish working links between the Justice Department and the C.I.A., among others; now, in June of 1970, the President ordered a “reassessment” of the government’s intelligence-gathering activities at the highest level. Haldeman assigned Tom Huston, who had once been an Army intelligence officer, and who described himself as a “Jeffersonian Republican,” to oversee the work. On June 5th, as the uproar over the invasion of Cambodia was subsiding, the President called in Director Helms of the C.I.A.; the Director of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover; the head of the National Security Agency, Vice-Admiral Noel Gayler; and the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Donald Bennett. He asked them all to meet with Huston to work out a coordinated plan for dealing with internal threats. At the first meeting, Huston informed the group of a decision by President Nixon that in facing the domestic threat, “everything is valid, everything is possible.” After several meetings, the group agreed on a plan. A secret corps made up of representatives of the four intelligence agencies; the counter-intelligence agencies of the Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force; and – if the Interagency Group on Domestic Intelligence and Internal Security, as the new corps was to be called, thought it necessary – the State Department, “and such other agencies which may have investigative or law-enforcement responsibilities touching on domestic intelligence or internal security matters,” and overseen by the White House, would be, in effect, empowered to commit a wide variety of crimes against the members of any group that it suspected of being subversive. The Interagency Group would be empowered to open mail, to tap telephones without warrants, and to break into people’s houses and offices. Huston knew that these activities were criminal: he wrote that surreptitious entry was “clearly illegal” and “could result in great embarrassment if exposed.” Of course, the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. had been doing all of these things for years without written instructions from the White House; yet the Nixon Administration, in proposing the new plan, was attempting to do much more than ratify an existing state of affairs. For one thing, the White House envisioned a broadened scale of operation, and one objective of the Interagency Group was to be “maximum use of all special investigtive techniques, including increased agent and informant penetration by both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A.” For another thing, whereas in earlier days, the unlawful spying upon and harassment of American citizens had had to be secret to some extent from the highest officers of the government, now an instruction had gone out from a President ordering the agencies to break the law. In other words, all restraints internal to the executive branch were to be lifted. The proposed coordination of the agencies into a single force would be an important step, too. The citizen who ran afoul of the F.B.I.’s Cointelpro program or the I.R.S.’s Special Service Group might suffer serious interference in his life, but the person whose name got onto the computers of an organization that commanded the combined resources of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the N.S.A., the D.I.A., and the I.R.S., not to mention the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the other agencies and departments of the government, would be up against a virtually irresistible foe. He would be up against a secret police organization that could reach into his life in countless ways – into his work, into his public life. Even more dangerous, however, than the links of the agencies to each other would be their link to the White House. By placing the Interagency Group under White House guidance, the Administration would be able to direct it towards targets of its own choosing; and since the President was inclined to believe that his political adversaries were also adversaries of the nation – for no number of C.I.A. reports could shake his conviction that the disorders at home were planned abroad – the new group could become a powerful political instrument in his hands.

Those who wish to hear members of the Nixon administration discuss the Interagency group, also known as “The Huston Plan” (after Tom Huston, a top level aide in the Nixon White House), can hear them talk about its inception and abandonment in the face of opposition from J. Edgar Hoover (who resisted any such security program outside of his control) in a series of recordings after the Watergate scandal had engulfed top members of the administration and presidential counsel John Dean had revealed the existence of the plan to the Senate Committee investigating Watergate: “Richard Nixon Fred Buzhardt Huston Plan (Domestic Surveillance) May 16 1973 9:48-9:54 A.M.”, “Richard Nixon Fred Buzhardt Discuss Huston Plan May 16 1973 10:23-10:25 AM”, “Fred Buzhardt Talks to Robert Mardian About the Huston Plan (Domestic Surveillance) May 16 1973”, “Nixon Haig Fred Buzhardt Discuss the Huston Plan (Domestic Surveillance) May 16 1973”, “Nixon Speaks to Haldeman on Watergate Strategy, Plumbers, Huston Plan May 20 1973 12:26-12:54 PM” and “Nixon Fred Buzhardt Al Haig Talk Huston Plan (Domestic Surveillance) 8:45-9:33 PM May 23 1973”.

The frightening creation of the Interagency Group on Domestic Intelligence and Internal Security, an incredibly powerful entity for surveillance and persecution, an obvious first step for police state tyranny, goes expectedly unmentioned by Stone, as this would immediately make his claim of a CIA coup ridiculous, that these entities which had been designed to enforce state laws had already had their independence subverted, so that they would enforce or not enforce the law as it convenienced Richard Nixon. It is perhaps equally to be expected that Stone cleaves off the work of the plumbers as rogue actions, separate from CREEP activities. When one looks at Liddy’s main project, a series of coded assignments under the umbrella name of GEMSTONE, it becomes very obvious that Liddy’s work was very close to that of CREEP, and to that of Stone throughout his career: the secretly funded subversion of the opposition, through smears, division, pranks, and surveillance. Among GEMSTONE projects, there was RUBY, the secret infiltration of democratic campaigns, just like Sedan Chair II, the mole hired by Roger Stone. There was COAL, and you really had to give an unfriendly laugh to that name, because that GEMSTONE project involved the clandestine funding of a candidate who was a black woman, which would “force Democratic candidates to fight off a black woman, bound to generate ill-feeling among the black community and, we hoped, cause them difficulty with women.”263

This, of course, bears an obvious similarity to Stone’s work on the 2004 Sharpton campaign, which he helped staff and made loans to, in order to create dissent within the Democratic primary, and which, hopefully, would diminish the enthusiasm of black voters in the general election. Liddy and Hunt simply took these activities a step further. Gaining opposition research not just through moles placed in rival campaigns, but through break-ins and burglaries. This leads to another striking omission in Stone’s discussion of Watergate: Stone doesn’t write at all of the fact that the first target of the Watergate burglary team was Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon war secrets. Ellsberg was smeared, the office of his psychiatrist was broken into in an attempt to find some compromising material, and when he spoke at an anti-war rally the Watergate burglar team tried to give him a severe beating264. None of this, nothing related to the case of Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the defining whistleblower case of that era, is mentioned by Stone. This is, perhaps, a canny move on his part. There are differences, but there are also striking similarities between Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, two men who helped expose secret histories, and the way in which the Nixon White House used every lowball tactic to destroy Ellsberg would make obvious that Nixon was no victim of the security state, but one who used the security state as a mafioso uses a baseball bat and a quarry, as tools to dispose of one’s enemies.

When Watergate erupted, it exposed the long use of the surveillance state inside the country, which in turn would set off the investigations into the secrets of what might be called the hidden state within the state. It would be thanks to the Church Committee, headed up by senator Frank Church, that the history of clandestine warfare and secret assassination attempts would be exposed. This point also goes unmentioned by Stone in The Man Who Killed Kennedy, most likely because it makes his whole ludicrous schemata even more ludicrous. The CIA wants to bring down Nixon because he’s trying to rein them in, so they take him down through the use of CIA double agents on his plumber team, even though the very use of such agents is what triggers an in-depth investigation into the agency and greater oversight than they’ve had in decades. Frank Church, the man who headed up the committee, would lose his seat in 1980, thanks to the work of Roger Stone’s NCPAC. In Secrets, Daniel Ellsberg explains the various attempts he makes to leak the information of the Pentagon Papers out to the public. Before going to the New York Times with the Papers, Ellsberg contacted several politicians about conducting a filibuster and reading the Papers into the congressional record. Among those he went to were George McGovern and Mike Gravel. Though McGovern was initially fully willing to take on the responsibility of reading the papers, he would eventually back down out of fear of reprisals. Gravel, however, would never abate in his commitment to read the papers on the floor of congress, if such a step was necessary. McGovern would also be defeated through the efforts of NCPAC in 1980. Gravel would lose the race for the vice president’s slot on the 2008 Libertarian Party ticket to scamdicapper Wayne Allyn Root265.

THE SECRET HISTORIES

The Man Who Killed Kennedy is rooted in the author’s revelation that what he writes of is a secret he’s been privileged with, an extraordinary message that has had to be held tight until this time. It includes moments that no doubt any person would remember the rest of their lives, such as president Nixon abruptly startled when he realizes he’s met Jack Ruby before, or an American ambassador stating outright that there was a secret plot to the assassination, or an Attorney General encouraging Stone to write a book on the secret plan behind the murder – though only at a safe fifty year distance. I do not make these episodes more melodramatic than they are, they are inherently melodramatic, and if they actually took place, the events themsleves could not help but be sick with the gravitas of a world suddenly shaken and tilted, the supposed clean lines of history now revealed to be a schizophrenic dust cloud.

This is a moment from the introduction involving former ambassador John Davis Lodge, brother of former ambassador to Vietnam during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Henry Cabot Lodge:

In 1979, we sat in his Westport, Connecticut, home enjoying a cocktail. I knew that JFK had planned to fire ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge upon his return from Dallas on November 24, 1963. I also know that Lodge knew why he had been summoned to see the President.

Lodge had done Kennedy’s dirty work coordinating a campaign with the CIA to assassinate Catholic Vietnamese President Diem. I couldn’t resist asking John Lodge about his brother.

“Did you ever ask your brother who really killed Kennedy?” I said.

His lips spread in a tight grin. “Cabot said it was the Agency boys, some Mafiosi,” he looked me in the eye . . . “and Lyndon.”

“Did your brother know in advance?” I asked.

Lodge took a sip of his Manhattan.”He knew Kennedy wouldn’t be around to fire him. LBJ kept him at his post so he could serve his country.”

This episode has such a powerful effect on Stone that it puts him on the fateful path by which he now gives us the secrets of the killing, “It was then that I eventually decided to write this book.”

This is another moment, with the former president:

I spent hours talking one-on-one with former President Nixon in his office at 26 Federal Plaza in downtown Manhattan, his apartment on the East Side, and later in his modestly appointed townhouse in Saddle River, New Jersey. Nixon was neither introspective nor retrospective in the conversations. “The old man,” as staff called him behind his back, was passionately interested in what was happening today and what would happen in the future, but it was difficult to get him to dwell on the past. Generally speaking, when we talked about his peers and the circumstances surrounding the Kennedy assassination, he would grow taciturn, blunt, and sometimes cryptic. When I asked him point blank about the conclusions of the Warren Commission into the assassination of President Kennedy, he said “Bullshit” with a growl, but refused to elaborate.

It is Nixon who gives him the kindling for Stone’s theory:

Based on my conversations with him contained in this book, Nixon indicated that Johnson was a conspirator and ordered the CIA to deliver all records pertaining to the Kennedy assassination to the White House after his inauguration in 1969 in order to confirm his belief. As we will see later, this request would play a key role in Nixon’s downfall in Watergate.

The moment with John Mitchell, former Attorney General:

When I was on the Committee to Re-elect the President staff in 1972, direct communications with “Mr. Mitchell” as everyone called him, were a violation of the chain of command. I reconnected with the former attorney general during my service in Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign. Mitchell helped recruit former Kentucky Governor Louie Nunn for the small Reagan for President Committee headed by Senator Paul Laxalt. I saw Mitchell pretty regularly from 1976 to 1988.

Mitchell, who had discussed Nixon’s thoughts and beliefs regarding the Bay of Pigs and the JFK assassination, helped me interpret many of Nixon’s more oblique references to both. Mitchell knew he was revealing truths that, prior to the 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations hearings, would be viewed as “kooky.”

Even then, I was fascinated by the controversy surrounding JFK’s murder. “I might write a book about it someday,” I told Mitchell. He took the out the pipe that had been clenched between his teeth, “Wait until the fiftieth anniversary,” he said. I agreed. For those who wonder why I have waited until now to write this book, you now have your answer.

Here’s when Nixon reveals that he once knew Jack Ruby:

“Johnson was vain, cruel, loud, devious, and driven,” Nixon told me.

Many of the same Texas oilmen who wrote big checks for Dick Nixon also wrote big checks for Johnson.

“He liked to squeeze their nuts,” Nixon said. “He would tell them the oil-depletion allowance was in trouble unless they coughed up cash—and milked ‘em.”

“That was the difference between Lyndon and me,” Nixon snorted after a very dry martini in his Saddle River, New Jersey home. “I wasn’t willing to kill for it . . .” Nixon grew silent and pensive, staring into his martini. I knew from my years as a Nixon loyalist and “Nixon’s man in Washington” during his post-presidential years when a conversation with “RN” was over and when not to speak.

Nixon stirred.

“It’s a hell of a thing. I actually knew this Jack Ruby fella. Murray Chotiner brought him in back in ’47. Went by the name Rubinstein. An informant. Murray said he was one of Lyndon Johnson’s boys . . . we put him on the payroll,” Nixon’s voice trailed off.

What went unsaid was that Nixon had realized the connection between Johnson and the execution of Lee Harvey Oswald. I knew Murray Chotiner had been the eminence grise of Nixon’s early political career. Chotiner was a Los Angeles mob lawyer who ran Nixon’s first campaign for Congress in 1946 and his 1950 campaign for the Senate. That Chotiner brought Ruby in was no surprise—his mob connections ran deep. Chotiner had strong connections with Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, and Mickey Cohen. He was also the middleman between Louisiana mob kingpin Carlos Marcello and Nixon.

This is further confirmed, in a colorful anecdote by Nick Ruwe, Nixon’s former deputy chief of protocol:

Nick Ruwe told me that, on November 24, 1963, he arrived at Nixon’s Fifth Avenue apartment—an address he shared with Nelson Rockefeller ironically—to accompany Nixon to a lunch with Mary Roebling, a New Jersey socialite and Nixon family friend at Cote Basque. It was 12:30. Ruwe came into the room as Nixon turned the TV off. He had just witnessed Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruwe told me, “The Old Man was white as a ghost. I asked him if everything was all right.” “I know that guy,” Nixon muttered. Ruwe said that Nixon didn’t elaborate. He knew better than to ask questions.

I think whatever eventful life you’d led, you would always remember these moments, that they would be like a powerful magnet buried within you, distorting anything you saw on the assassination, as if you’d seen an unveiled vision no one else had, and any history without its mention would seem false to you. Henry Cabot Lodge believed that the vice president had killed the president of the United States. Richard Nixon recognised Jack Ruby because he’d known Jack Ruby. All of history would contort around those poles, and any time you’d speak or write about the assassination, those two details would inevitably protrude, and one could understand, without difficulty, that Roger Stone could, rightly or wrongly, believe that Lyndon Johnson had been behind the assassination, that some malevolent puppeteer was behind Jack Ruby, that Ruby’s killing of Oswald was a killing for hire. Whatever oaths I swore, my sense of that event would distort in that fashion. Lyndon Johnson was directly involved in the killing of the president, he’d known Ruby and put him on Nixon’s payroll, which meant he’d been behind the killing of Oswald, he’d been behind the whole shebang.

Now, Roger Stone has accued Lyndon Johnson of murder, murder of a president, and it is perhaps an idiosyncrasy that we treat death due to warmaking as a different category than plain old murder, but we do. If Stone were to level these same charges, with plausible accompanying evidence, when Johnson was alive, then he would face trial for murder, a separate and unrelated judgement from the obscenity of the Vietnam war. I’ve given this lengthy preface, because if a man makes such a charge of murder, not a random or provoked outburst, but hundreds of pages devoted to the allegation, and there is evidence that the accuser does not believe the allegation, then I think it is incumbent to publish such evidence. As said at the very beginning of this long piece, I came across what appears to be a memoir of Roger Stone’s on a very public, very legal document sharing site, which displays a voice uncannily like that of Stone’s, and replete with obscure details which would not be easy to pull off by a casual hoaxer. In this memoir, he also gives lengthy space to the assassination, and he does mention Lyndon Johnson as a possible player. The essential, indisputable players, however, the ones to which he gives the majority of his focus, is the mob. He makes no mention of this Lodge anecdote. He makes no mention that Nixon knew Ruby. He does not write at all of Ruby being put on anyone’s payroll, or Johnson knowing Ruby in any way. Though he writes of politicos such as Nixon at great length in other parts of the book, he does not write at all of Nixon, of Lodge, of Ruwe, or of Mitchell clamping down on his pipe and giving fateful suggestion. These episodes that would reverberate through anybody’s life, are not there at all, as if they never took place.

That Stone’s perspective on the assassination in his memoir causes one not simply to question the credibility of the theory he puts forth, but whether he even believes his own allegation, is why I now give lengthy excerpt to the relevant sections in his memoir. The excerpt starts from his discussion of the mafia’s involvement in politics and the presidential killing, continues through his bringing up Lyndon Johnson as a possible player, to the chapter’s very end. I note, perhaps unncesssarily, that this memoir was written in 2008, after his conflicts with Eliot Spitzer, and long after any discussions with Nixon, Lodge, Mitchell and Ruwe (who died in 1990266) would have occurred:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

I make the concluding note that Stone himself is quite severe on those who he believes manufacture or embellish history. According to Nixon, the supposed lies of The Final Days caused Pat Nixon to have her stroke. This, it should be emphasized, is according to Richard Nixon, which, in turn, is according to Roger Stone in Dirty Tricks. “There is simply is no corroboration that the 37th president walked around late at night talking to the Presidential portraits,” writes Stone. In the next paragraph, he smears Carl Bernstein by having him hit someone up for a loan for ten grand after they’ve just met. Again – this bears the caveat, according to Roger Stone. During a recent conference on the anniversary of Watergate, Stone would tweet out a blurred photo of Bernstein holding his book as a kind of endorsement. When you’re trying to hawk a book with a conspiracy that you don’t even believe, and your most prestigious promotional venues are “Off the Grid with Jesse Ventura”, I guess you take what you can get267. “When I wrote about Roger Stone 28 years ago,” Jacob Weisberg tweeted, who’d written the first and now unavailable profile of Stone, “State-of-the-art Sleazeball” [re-published in August 2016 in Slate, “State-of-the-art Sleazeball”], “I thought he was a menace.” With the publication of The Man Who Killed Kennedy, Weisberg had changed his mind. “Turned out he was merely a fool.”268

EMPTY VOICES, EMPTY ROOMS / I BRING THE APPLAUSE

I have stressed that Roger Stone is a man of no fixed beliefs, and yet reading about the Nixon era also clarifies what is permanent in the man, that the tactics and tools of that time would be used the rest of his life. When such gutterball shivings were exposed during the Watergate hearings, the reaction was of horror. That these same tactics were then recounted in Matt Labash’s “Roger Stone, Political Animal” and Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Dirty Trickster” as funny games, suggest an apathy in the press and a gangrene in democracy itself: we are powerless, and we will be badly treated, so we may as well laugh at the tricks of those who maltreat us. One reads Liddy’s memoir, and you suddenly sit up when he describes a counterdemonstration organized to attract attention away from anti-war rallies which take place after the mining of Haiphong harbor, because this organization of an almost entirely Cuban crowd in Miami suddenly makes you think of the faction of the Brooks Brother riot that Roger Stone supposedly organized in Miami during the 2000 election, not the Republican operatives inside the building, but a mainly Cuban crowd outside, a crowd that nobody appears to have seen except Roger Stone269. There are also these two moments, again from Schell’s The Time of Illusion, both showing off the same tactic, which might cause those familiar with Roger Stone’s career to suddenly laugh in recognition.

Here is one instance:

Charles Colson, using a White House apparatus for placing spurious advertisements in the press, ran an ad in the Times titled “The People vs. the New York Times” and taking the Times to task for an editorial critical of the mining [of Haiphong]. The advertisement did not say so, but “The People” in this case were the people in the White House. Over at the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, part of the staff was put to work sending in thousands of fraudulent “votes” to an informal television poll of public reaction to the mining. Donald Segretti got in touch with a number of his saboteurs in Florida and ordered them to stop harassing the Democrats long enough to send in messages of support. When all the instructions had gone out just about every spy, saboteur, con man, extortionist, forger, impostor, informer, burglar, mugger, and bagman – for that, astonishingly, is what they were – in the employ of the White House was at work manufacturing the appearance of public support for the President.

Here is another:

The Republican Convention brought to perfection in microcosm a Nixonian style of action which had been developing since he first assumed office. For years, the President’s speechwriters and public relations advisers had been engaged in a novel enterprise. Most Presidential speechwriters have restricted themselves to writing what the President employing them is to say, but President Nixon’s speechwriters also involved themselves in writing what was said about the President by others. They wrote the plays, and they wrote the reviews, too. The White House writers wrote speeches for Administration officials and friendly members of Congress to deliver about the President. (At the Convnetion, they even wrote the cues for the applause to those speeches.) They wrote rigged letters-to-the-editor and telegrams-to-the-editor with messages like “Thank goodness this country has President Nixon.” They had organized campaigns of telegrams of support to be sent to the White House, tried to arrange for newspaper columns to be written supporting the President. And, since the President’s speechwriters are, probably to a greater degree than any other employees of the government, creatures of his power – are, in fact, his alter egos, or “ghosts” – it could be said that the praise for the President which they arranged was in fact praise of the President for himself.

Whenever anybody wrote anything about Stone on-line, or about The Man Who Killed Kennedy, or sheriff Scott Israel, or the gaming company Genting, you started to notice a pattern in the comments. Enthusiastic support from the same names, over and over again, people who commented only about those things and nothing else, a tiny loud tribe of obsessives who wrote with ardor only of Roger Stone, a Broward sheriff’s race, Genting, and The Man Who Killed Kennedy.

There was someone named “Philip Dodge”, who showed up in the small number of comments for “The FishbowlDC Interview With Roger Stone”. Commenter mucholderguy had a nasty, funny quip: “He’s real brilliant in his own mind, isn’t he?” Philip Dodge had a lengthy reply: “Stone is playing with the reporter. For whatever reason he is being disarming and you seemed to have bought a ticket, too! Don’t be fooled. This is the man that advised Ronald Reagan how to win the cold war and saved us all from annihilation.” SteveGreer70 was as unimpressed as mucholderguy: “Roger needs better hair” Dodge, again: “Stone has been known to wildishly alter his coiffure over the years. Looks to me like he’s setting in for some serious business. The Libertarian Party is currently buzzing with rumors about a big move Stone is considering and I don’t mean the news that he has his favorite candidate the Manhattan madam Kristin Davis running for Mayor of New York City.”270 Who Philip Dodge was, and why he was so passionate about Roger Stone remained mysterious. The Philip Dodge Facebook page was minimal – he was a member of the Libertarian Party of Florida, a fan of Ron Paul’s, a man whose activities were entirely devoted to The Man Who Killed Kennedy, with one strange quality to his physical appearance in his AV. It was not that of a celebrity, but of another unknown man entirely, that of Hal Jones, President and CEO of Hal Jones Development, who was involved in Destination Resorts. Whether this was a case of Jones posting comments endorsing Roger Stone’s book under an alias, while retaining his own profile picture, or someone creating a dummy acount and carelessly filching the picture of Hal Jones for the profile, unaware of how easily these things can be traced, I leave to the reader’s judgement.

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

(Taken from “The FishbowlDC Interview With Roger Stone”; the Facebook page of Philip Dodge; “Circuit Events Host Committee – Circuit of The Americas – Home of the Formula 1 US Grand Prix | Nov. 15-17 2013”)

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

(Hal Jones headshot, taken from “Circuit Events Host Committee – Circuit of The Americas – Home of the Formula 1 US Grand Prix | Nov. 15-17 2013” and the headshot from Philip Dodge’s Facebook)

“Of course I read it and found it fascinating,” commented Philip Dodge in the story “Roger Stone’s New Book Says LBJ Killed JFK”. “Not only is it impossible to put down once you start reading sensational detail after sensational detail, but Stone supplies evidence every step of the way to make his case.”271 “Corsi challenges Bill O’Reilly to JFK-assassination debate”, was the headline, and Philip Dodge had something to say: “Roger Stone is the only one in the mix that actually sat in on many a secret meeting alongside Tricky Dick in the post-LBJ White House.” Anything else? “Sources like Daily Beast and National Enquirer all indicate the Roger Stone book will be the ‘history changing’ epic among the latest crop of books and that’s probably why it has risen to #1 in presales at Amazon.”272 “Ventura: LBJ Had The Most To Gain From JFK Assassination”. Philip Dodge, the comment below: “The important book to remember will be Roger Stone’s which doesn’t come out for two more weeks. In the book ‘The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ’ Roger Stone performed laborious research on subject matter and materials that he gleaned from a place no one else has, namely the Post-LBJ White House right at Nixon’s side when many a secret was bandied about. It is no accident that Jesse Ventura’s book makes the same assertions but it is the Stone book that will be providing the proof including fingerprints.”273 There was “The List: Facts about President John F. Kennedy’s love of sports”, which Philip Dodge managed to make about his usual obsession. “There are many, many new revelations about JFK, LBJ and Nixon in Roger Stone’s new book ‘The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ’ where Stone uses his insider knowledge having served presidents to spell out the truth about corruption, power, greed and the greatest crime of the 20th century.”274 Surprisingly, Philip Dodge had something to comment on at “Roger Stone: ‘Nixon thought LBJ killed Kennedy'”: “This book is an amazing work. While nearly a hundred books about JFK were written this season, this one has risen to number #3 with it having been in circulation for less than three weeks and that happened for a reason. Roger Stone is a stickler on the facts. He performs exhaustive research. For those of you who have not read the book yet I would suggest that you do it sooner rather than later.”275 “NY Times best selling author Roger Stone to visit Palm Beach for book signing” had this comment by Doug: “This guy’s conclusions are flimsier than one-ply toilet paper.” Philip Dodge replied: “Anybody with a wit of sense that really read Stone’s book could not make such a statement. It is chock full of multiple arguments that would stand up well in a court of law. I would urge readers to examine it for themselves and not rely on worthless internet chatter.”276

jakeslaw would comment on “Ex-GOP Bad Boy Roger Stone Eyes Florida Run”, “Roger stone and his wife Ann were part of the problems that the GOP has had these many years. They would compromise on principles to gain power. They support abortion and think it is just about money.” Philip Dodge: “Stone was smart enough to jump ship to the Libertarians at the last minute before the smell came in. Chastise him as you may, he in ernest [sic] represents the same values we believe in and I would take a governor founded in Barry Goldwater’s conservatism any day compared to a pompus [sic] Rick Scott who looks like a bald-headed turtle or a ‘not yet out of the closet’ former gov like Crist.”277 – incidentally, in 2011, Roger Stone joined the board of GOProud278. “Roger Stone pondering a campaign for Florida governor with an emphasis on pot”, once again, had Philip Dodge: “I am grateful to Stone for advising Reagan how to win the cold war and the result was that we were all saved from oblivion. Stone possesses the brass to turn Florida into the leading state to save the entire country. I know he has the money to beat Rick Scott and Charlie Crist is now a joke so the question is: Are Floridians ready to embrace a third party Libertarian candidate? I dare say, yes!” There was also a comment from a lovely blonde, Juanita Feenis: “Rick Scott and Charlie Crist are wimps. Stone represents a kind of personality with guys and wisdom that would rival Chris Christie’s ‘baron of governors’ status.”279 Feenis had also commented on “Ex-GOP Bad Boy Roger Stone Eyes Florida Run”: “When I grew up, my father would watch Roger Stone on CNN’s ‘Crossfire’ all the time and remarked how much sense Stone made. That was back when CNN actually had some ratings. As far as I’m concerned, Stone is well qualified, better known and better liked than the current or former governor in the upcoming election. If he runs, he will have my vote.”280 Feenis also had an opinion on “CBS Omits Spitzer’s Political Opponent Allegedly Provided Him With Prostitutes”: “Jay Leno asked Eliot Spitzer ‘How could you be so stupid?’ and Eliot Spitzer had a rambling answer. I don’t think Spitzer is sane. The disgraced former Governor and AG is not the right person to control the taxpayers money. He has the temperament of a pit bull. I’ll take calm, cool, collected, and smart any day when it comes to handling money which is why I think Kristin Davis is a better fit for the job.”281 “Eliot Spitzer to Jay Leno: ‘Hubris’ was my failing”: Ms. Feenis: “Folks, he is nuts. I don’t want him controlling my money. Spitzer makes Kristin Davis look more and more like the best candidate for comptroller with every appearance he makes.”282

Feenis was a fascinating, well rounded woman. She wanted to see Roger Stone elected governor of Florida, she wanted Kristin Davis as comptroller of New York City, but she also had a passionate interest in the gambling industry. She had something to say with regards to “Boyd Gaming retains ownership of the name ‘Stardust'”: “While the casino industry has been ever expanding in America, the economic strain and ubiquity of gambling houses has created a slump in general revenue. Certain Asian sectors like the one’s [sic] Genting thrives in are not experiencing any slump at all. They can bring in beaucoup hard dollars and entice foreign tourism like no one else.”283 “Genting buys Echelon for $2 billion Resorts World Las Vegas”: “It is a great day for Las Vegas! Genting will literally bring in billions per year to the economy. Jobs, local money, Vegas is back! Sheldon Adelson is turning over in his grave…oh wait, he’s not dead yet! No matter. Genting will be bringing in enough rich Asians to provide the entire city with a much needed stimulus even the Sands.” Here, she was joined by another woman, Karla von Stetten: “Genting resorts have their own fanbase. This new complex will bring in droves of foreign tourists. After four years of misery we now have been presented with salvation. Go Genting!”284

What were Von Stetten’s other interests? “Who was Lee Harvey Oswald? Questions linger after John F Kennedy’s assassination”, Von Stetten: “The new Roger Stone book ‘The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ’ explains all these things once and for all and does so in a very entertaining and authoritative manner. Remember, Stone was Nixon’s side kick back in those days and they discussed many a secret.”285 “CNN’s Tapper to Eliot Spitzer: Shouldn’t You Have Gone to Jail?” Von Stetten: “Spitzer is a vile and contemptible individual that should never be permitted to hold public office.”286 “Manhattan Madam to Eliot Spitzer: ‘Gosh, It’s Going to Be a Fun Race!'” Karla Von Stetten says: “Throughout his career he has been a bully who used underhanded tactics on anyone (including innocents) that got in his way. He had a miserable record as a prosecutor losing almost all of his trials. Spitzer has never paid for any of his illegal acts. He should go away and live off the rest of his father’s money and not that of the taxpayers. I’m voting for Kristin Davis.”287 “Letters at 3AM: JFK and That Hard Rain” Karla von Stetten: “TUESDAY. ‘The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ’ author Roger Stone will visit Austin to answer questions and sign books. As a longtime political operative, Roger Stone advised every Republican president from Nixon to ‘W.'” This got a reply from another commenter, Richard Knox: “I always enjoyed watching Roger Stone on the old CNN Crossfire when he would guest host. I am excited to hear he has a best seller. Where will he be appearing in Austin on Tuesday?”288

Just as Philip Dodge bore a startling resemblance to Hal Jones, Karla Von Stetten appeared to be an exact double for a Michèle, who appeared in a German magazine as their “Page One girl”, “Michèle of Stetten AG” (NSFW), or “Michèle aus Stetten AG”. Stetten AG is, I believe, Stetten, of the canton Aargau (AG) of Switzerland.

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

(first image taken from screenshot of “CNN’s Tapper to Eliot Spitzer: Shouldn’t You Have Gone to Jail?”, second is a screenshot of Von Stetten’s Disqus profile from the same link, third is a screenshot of the twitter handle @KarlavonStetten, fourth is taken from “Michèle of Stetten AG” – NSFW)

The Richard Knox who replied to Von Stetten shared many of her interests, as well as those of Philip Dodge, and Juanita Feenis. “Eliot Spitzer to Jay Leno: Wall Street Rooting Against Me” Knox: “Spitzer seemed at home in Hollywood. That’s where he should stay. What are the statutes of limitations on blackmail, whore-mongering or the Mann Act? We don’t need a lunatic to take care of NY taxpayers hard earned money. California is the ideal place for him where he will fit in fine with celebrity reprobates.”289 “Florida poll: Charlie Crist tops Rick Scott” “Good news for Charlie Crist, right? Maybe not,” wrote Knox. “Now that he has flip-flopped on the marijuana issue to help his lawyer pal John Morgan line his pockets, Crist has further alienated even the most disenchanted Republicans. Now please tell me what’s the chance that Charlie Crist who is despised among black voters given his ‘Chain-Gang’ Charlie reputation oppressing minorities is going to shine in the Democratic strongholds of Florida like Miami-Dade?”290 Knox was incredibly knowledgeable about some obscure politicos. “FBI Arrest Mayors Of Miami Lakes and Sweetwater in Florida: Mike Pizzi, Manuel Morono Charged in Corruption Schemes” Knox: “Today’s environment where government employees feel empowered to make up stories against decent public servants like Michael Pizzi makes me scratch my head and wonder if America will ever come back from the cataclysmic brink. Pizzi is about as innocent as they come. The consulting firm of Becker & poliakoff hired a bottom feeding individual Jose Keichi Fuentes along with his partner Richard Candia. When the firm got put in a spotlight implicating them of having conducted criminal acts, the various stooges had to get thrown under the bus starting with Candia who was also arrested in this recent bust. I do not trust the FBI.”291

Knox’s interest in obscure politicians was matched by William Windorf, a man with a single Like on his Facebook page, for The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. “Cats would not ‘grab a banana and eat it’ because he knew it was sprayed with camouflage to disguise the fact that the fruits and vegetables were all past their prime at Gristedes,” Windorf posted to “John Catsimatidis Spending Big on Billboards, Lip Balm and Candy”, about John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota’s opponent in the New York City Republican mayoral primary. “This is why he was fined over and over again along with selling tainted meat and fish. Where did you think all the money came from to pay for billboards?” “Few Mayoral Candidates Stand Up to Chassidim on ‘Metzitzah B’peh'” provoked this reaction from Windorf: “I heard Catsimatidis had been repeatedly fined for foisting bad food products on the customers and I knew he was vulgar from his cussing remarks at the Republican meeting but what I just leanred was that he maintains no personal hygiene whatsoever.” This comment at The Jewish Press also featured a complaint from Philip Dodge. “Catsimatidis used to spray dye coloring on his fruits and vegetables at Gristedes to conceal they were rotten inside from the unsuspecting public. Talk about non Kosher he received fines for selling rotting meat and fish. This is not the man I want for my mayor.”292 Karla Von Stetten was equally upset about the hygiene of Catsimatidis. “Daughter of Republican Mayoral Hopeful John Catsimatidis is Sort of a Mini-Celebrity in China”, Von Stetten: “Her appearance is quite provocative to the Chinese. It is notable that she has been quoted in the Times for repeated scolding her mayoral candidate father just how dirty Gristedes is.” “Which NYC Mayoral Candidates Think Spying on American Muslims is Unconstitutional?”, Von Stetten: “I see they left Catsimatidis out, probably strategically. According to the Empire State Ledger nobody wants to sit next to him because he hasn’t bathed or brushed his teeth.”293

“Roger Stone previews ‘CIA coup’ theory of Watergate at Woodward-Bernstein event” got this comment from Windorf: “I am delighted to hear that Roger Stone is releasing another book. “The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ” was an excellent book which I keep on my coffee table in the living room. It always draws comments from my guests. Stone being the greatest living authority on Nixon means we will finally be presented with the truth about Watergate.”294 “How a Texas Paper Brought Down Billie Sol Estes”, also had Windorf: “It is curious for him to die right when his name comes back into the news thanks to Roger Stone’s new book implicating LBJ and pals in the Kennedy assassination. Billy Sol Estes is a key figure in the book,” which prompted this reply from David: “Mr. Windorf – Roger Stone’s book is not to be released until later this year. I am curious as to where you saw the information about Billie Sol Estes.” David received no reply from Windorf295. “Bimini SuperFast Makes Inaugural Voyage” was a story about a cruise from Miami to a gambling resort on Bimini. The enterprise was owned and run by the gaming company Genting, also known as Resorts World, and the story got a comment from Windorf. “I had a really good time on the ship, especially in the Aqua Bar and Grill. I would highly recommend this get-away for anyone with an extra $49 bucks and some time to kill while visiting Miami.” Windorf had other things to say about the Bimini SuperFast and Genting. “Controversial resort opens up Bimini to the world”, Windorf: “Resorts World is well known for making dramatic improvements to anywhere they set up shop. Because Bimini is environmentally sensitive, you can’t rush them with their plans to carefully tip-toe through the offshore area in a way to preserve and protect the reefs and beaches. Some locals quite frankly don’t understand that there are natural growing pains whenever a major improvement is brought to an area.” “Bahamas National Trust calls for disclosure on Bimini facility”, Windorf: “The Genting Group is known worldwide for being highly sensitive to the well being of local areas where they break ground. Environmentalists can expect to finally have an ecosystem that is well protected and living symbiotically with the activities of the mooring dock. It is a win-win situation.”296 “Analysts give mixed reviews for Genting’s Strip plans” prompted a lengthy reply from Windorf. “Genting has performed a bit of magic and Las Vegas will greatly benefit from it. Genting will pull in rich tourists from all over Asia. Vegas gets plenty of fresh dollars and the other Genting properties like New York which is oing quite well and Miami, yet to be built see first hand how Genting a formidable and well respected world player brings prosperity wherever they set up stakes.” He was not alone in his enthusiasm for the gaming multi-national. “Analysts aside, there is no other force on this Earth that is willing and able to do what Genting is doing in Las Vegas,” said Juanita Freenis297. “Disney Said to Be Dishing Big Bucks in Tallahassee, Preparing for Destination Casino Fight”, again brought out Windorf, against Disney and someone he saw as one of their paid for allies. “There should be a moratorium how many times “expert” testimony spouted by academicians like Robert Jarvis, obviously a paid hack, gets published.” His appearance was notable here, because right below he was joined by Philip Dodge, making a similar complaint. “I follow the casino/gambling fight carefully and frequently see Robert Jarvis on the wrong side of the issue. He is right that Disney is scared but in this case Disney and No Casinos are stealing from Florida’s future,” Dodge wrote. “Jarvis has worn out any credibility he might have once had by being a go-to professor willing to say whatever any reporter wants to hear in order to further his name recognition.”298

“Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb: Brawling Over Her Ex on New Year’s Eve?”, about a financial executive who briefly considered a Florida Senate run and his better known actress girlfriend, featured a strange moment of fusion. There was William Windorf commenting on the story, “Nick and Sofia were not fighting with each other. Rather, they were fighting off the bodyguards of well known South Beach thug Ferrydoun Khalilian who has a way of rubbing people the wrong way. It’s over now and Khalilian will soon be deported anyway”; but there was the profile picture of Philip Dodge, the profile pic of Hal Jones. This was a subject which clearly impassioned William Windorf, because he also commented on “Sofia Vergara & Boyfriend’s NYE Fight Caused Boob Explosion?!”: “Despite reports like these, Nick and Sopia were not fighting with each other, rather they were fighting with moronic bodyguards from Iranian thug Ferrydoun Khalilian who’s claim to fame was co-owning failed nightclubs with Paris Hilton. Now he’ll have a hard time staying at a Hilton.” 299

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Depending on who was behind “William Windorf” and “Philip Dodge”, we might have had a confrontation between two old adversaries in the comments for the Independent Political Report post, “Roger Stone Considers Run for Florida Governor”. Both Dodge and Windorf made enthusiastic noises about a Stone candidacy. Dodge: “Nixon and Reagan were not advocating the legalization of marijuana but Roger Stone is along with promoting a number of forward thinking Libertarian ideals. He could bring nationwide publicity to the Libertarian Party. Let’s see what he has to say at his next appearance.” “Roger Stone might have some detractors here at IPR (Do I detect some jealously?),” wrote Windorf. “Libertarians do not otherwise have any candidates in Florida that could even come close to Stone in political savvy, financial resources and national notoriety.” Dodge’s claims got a reply from Warren Redlich, the man who’d been smeared by Roger Stone and who’d soundly beat Stone’s own candidate Kristin Davis in the 2010 New York governor’s election. “By all means listen to his lies and decide how good they sound.” Redlich had a fairly strong suspicion of what was taking place. “Would anyone be surprised that this is William Windorf’s only comments on IPR, and Phillip Dodge only has 2 comments, both supporting Stone,” wrote Redlich. “I smell troll.”300

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

(Profile pictures of Juanita Feenis and William Windorf, taken from the Facebook pages of Windorf and Feenis.)

All of these characters were passionately interested in the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and all of them were strongly supportive of Scott Israel. Most of them were there for “Update: Demos Fed Up With Sheriff’s Blunders”. William Windorf: “Where is the poll to prove the assertion that the ‘demos are fed up?’ No evidence, no proof whatsoever is cited. Citizens who know the crime rate has gone down (not conspiracists who think the statistics are faked) feel the sheriff has done quite well during the first leg of his service.” Karla von Stetten: “What I glean from this hatchet job of reporting and commentary is that the so-called missteps of the sheriff have reduced the crime in the country. Good job Israel. Have the rest of you Lamberti loving whiners considered that your vehemence bring down the Esprit de corps at BSO, diminishes the respect of the community for the department and actually makes Broward a more dangerous place to live?” Dick Knox: “Let’s face it, the few democrats mentioned never supported Israel to begin with. I’ll bet Israel requested that budget increase to keep veteran officers on the job and maybe get them a tiny raise. You can’t blame him for that.”301 Richard Knox would also comment on two stories by Bob Norman. One dealt with the past record of one of the sheriff’s hires, “Legal problems may stop BSO hiring”, Knox: “Am I the only one that looks at this report and smells something bad? It looks like Sheriff Scott Israel’s office unearthed the legal ‘trouble’ that she forewarned the Sheriff about namely some bounced checks from her college days which she made restitution on. Does that warrant a big investigative news story? Oh wait, there were some unpaid traffic tickets too! Watch out!” The other had to do with the hiring of associates of Roger Stone, “Sheriff Scott Israel makes new hires to ‘connect with community'”. Knox: “Dianne Thorne was briefly involved with a different Tea Party than the one Bob Norman is trying to associate her with. It really seems like Bob Norman is accusing Sheriff Israel of somehow playing dirty pool here but is doing so without any evidence.”302

One might play this game endlessly, and so I stop now, to give thanks303. Thank goodness this country has President Nixon. Thank goodness this country has Sheriff Scott Israel. Thank goodness this country has Genting. Thank goodness this country has Roger Stone, the man who saved our world from nuclear annihilation.

POST-SCRIPT (05/11/2014):

A video of Roger Stone on tour to promote his book, Nixon’s Secrets, when he was at Avenue Books on October 24th, 2014, has him introduced and shaking hands with Robert Morrow, before Stone addressed the overflow crowd at the vast venue. From the video “Roger Stone Presentation on “Nixon’s Secrets” at Brave New Books”:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

(Since publication, some small errors in spelling have been made. Some pictures of Johnson and Dodge were added for comparison, and the point about the striking similarity between Von Stetten and a page one model was added on February 23rd. The comments Von Stetten made about John Catsimatidis and the detail about Robert Morrow’s Margot Clarke email were added on that date as well. February 23rd, 2014 also saw the addition of the material on William Windorf and the Bimini SuperFast. On February 26th, the material on Charlie Crist and Stone’s contradictary statements on John McCain were added to the opening paragraph. On that same date, the reference to Dodge and Windorf both showing up on the page “Disney Said to Be Dishing Big Bucks in Tallahassee”, about the fight between Disney and Genting, was added. The points about Carl Bernstein and the accompanying footnote were added as well. Jacob Weisberg’s tweet – also added on February 26th. The footnote #256 dealing with Jennifer Fitzgerald, James Parrott, and George H.W. Bush was added on February 28th, as was the footnote dealing with other possible sock puppets like Adele Jeter and Erica Benafucci. Footnote #245 dealing with smears used as a counterattack on “Buzzsaw” was added on March 3rd, and the epigraph from Norman Mailer’s “A Harlot High and Low” was added on the 4th. On March 15th, the section dealing with Stanley Kutler’s Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes was added. On April 9th, 2015, this post underwent a session of copy editing. On April 18, 2015, links to the recordings in which members of the Nixon administration discuss the Huston plan were added.)

ROGER STONE:

PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

FOOTNOTES

242 Most of these contradictions have already been discussed, and sourced, in previous parts. The use of earmarks is discussed in part six. The strange contradictions are discussed in part six and briefly in part eight. Stone’s use and misuse of third parties, alongside his mourning the lack of a third party is discussed in part eight.

I give a partial transcript of his speech at Quincy, “quincy 912 09 Roger Stone” (part one) and “quincy 912 10 Roger Stone” (part two).

From “quincy 912 09 Roger Stone”, 5:02 to 6:25:

There is no doubt that when the Republicans had the leadership in the White House and in Congress, we did spend more than we should have, both parties, including my own, are complicit in what has happened to America. Because since Ronald Reagan was president, I’m sorry, conservatism in our domestic policy has not been tried, and therefore, has not failed. Now, I think it’s funny that those on the left, the people who so revere the civil rights protests, and anti-Vietnam war protests, of the 1970s and the sixtires. The anti-war movement. When it was them, who were screaming the obscenities…but now, they say, that you, all of you, well, most of you…were paid by the insurance companies to be here. Put up your hands, how many got paid to be here today? The HMOs, did they pay you? The insurance companies? Exactly. This is a real grass roots rebellion. As I said earlier, this White House has their head in the sand.

The quote about McCain being a member of an establishment and an actual maverick comes from “Roger Stone on New Media and Old Campaign Tricks” conducted on November 3, 2008. The following is taken from a partial transcript that can be found in part eight, footnote #204. I bold the mention:

GILLESPIE
How brilliant a political strategy was the Palin pick? [the delivery conveys no irony, and there is no subsequent laughter]

STONE
Breathtaking. Because it takes advantage of discord in the democratic party caused essentially by the dumping of Hillary Clinton. They not only don’t nominate her, even though she gets eighteen million votes, they don’t consider her seriously for the ticket, leaving the Republican party a big fat opening. Now, a lot of people thought that all of the women who supported Hillary were ultra-liberals and therefore they couldn’t possibly be attracted by a Palin candidacy. That’s turned out to be false. Many of the women who supported Hillary supported her because they felt it was important to elect a woman president, they thought the role of women was expanding, this would be history making. We’re gonna get thirty percent of the people who voted for Hillary. They’re gonna vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. And that’s very significant. I also like it because it wrenched control of the Republican party away from the party establishment. The republican establishment in Washington does not like John McCain. They don’t like him because they can’t trust him to go along and keep his mouth shut. He really is a maverick, I disagree with Matt Welch in this regard. [a reference to the Matt Welch book: McCain: The Myth of a Maverick] And Sarah Palin didn’t go to Yale. She’s not part of the fraternity here in town. She’s truly an outsider in the sense that McCain is an outsider. So I think that she is out of the Goldwater Reagan Laxalt brand of western frontier conservatism which is not an Ivy league establishment eastern institution brand of republicanism. I think she’s a breath of fresh air.

The quote about McCain being an establishment figure is taken from the interview, “TPMtv: Josh Marshall Enters… THE STONE ZONE”, conducted on December 3, 2008:

JOSH MARSHALL
What about the whole thing suspending the campaign…there was a big rap against McCain towards the end for just being erratic…That was obviously a key word for the Obama campaign…

STONE
The problem here…I never thought there was anything wrong with suspending his campaign…and going to Washington as a device that served to get everybody’s attention. The problem is what he did when he got to Washington, which was, in essence, embrace a bailout that now, in retrospect, doesn’t smell too good. Both its efficiency, its effectiveness, really did what it was supposed to do…in fact, the money’s going to places we told people it was going to. McCain’s classic mistake: he had no rationale for his candidacy, in the post-economic crash period. He was handed one: folks, I went to Washington, I saw the deal on the table. I agree with the House Republicans, it stinks. It’s not a main street deal, it’s a Wall Street deal. It’s bailing out the same thieves that got us into this mess. I’m against it. Evidently, Senator Obama and his party are for it. That’s the difference between us and them. Let him struggle. Now he has a rationale to run on this campaign and close on it. Instead, McCain, who’s an establishment figure, goes to Washington, signs on the Goldman bill, of, by, and for Goldman Sachs…we bail out AIG because Goldman has a position there…but we don’t bail out Lehman Brothers because they’re not in the Goldman quagmire…I mean, it’s an amazing piece of legerdemain to come to the legislature…McCain shouldn’t have endorsed it, he’d have had a populist issue to close on, and he might have won the race.

The quote about Crist being a chameleon who believes nothing is taken from “Roger Stone: A gallus-snapping campaign for governor?” by Jacob Engels:

Why consider running for Governor? And why now?

Like most Floridians, I am dissatisfied with our choices. As someone who believes in limited government and fiscal responsibly, I have become disappointed in Governor Scott as of late. He founded his political career opposing government-mandated healthcare and he is now embracing it.

He seems to be abandoning what got him elected. Throwing money at teachers won’t fix our broken education system yet that is what he seems to be proposing. Former Governor Charlie Crist is even more dangerous. He seems to change positions like the wind. I’m not sure what he stands for, other than the election of Charlie Crist.

Scott is a good man who seems to have lost his way. Crist is a dangerous chameleon that believes in nothing. We’ll see.

243 The following is a transcript of “Roger Stone Brings Up the Infamous ‘Whitey’ Tape!” (youtube). The bolded sections are where Stone gives it mention:

GERALDO RIVERA
Roger, I want to start with you. You have some news, or at least your own incendiary prediction on Michelle Obama’s allged vulnerabilities. What do you know, or at least, what do you think you know?

STONE
Well, there’s a buzz which I believe now to be credible, some indelible record exists of public remarks that Michelle Obama allegedly made, which are outrageous at worst – at best – but could be termed racist, including some reference to white people as “whiteys”. Allegedly. And there’s been a race here, Geraldo-

RIVERA
Now, wait a sec- wait a sec- Roger, you can’t just say that when there’s no proof for it-

STONE
No no, let me finish. There’s been a race here between Clinton research people who are seeking this tape, and the republican opposition researchers and the Republican National Committee. I now believe a network has this tape, I believe that reliably, something like that could roil the race, which explains why, to me, Hillary Clinton is staying in this race. What other reason is there to stay in this race, other than hoping that there is a bomb, at high level, Clinton operatives say there is a bomb of this nature. I have heard that from credible-

RIVERA
Hold it there…okay. We hear that you heard it. Let me go to Michael Brown for his response, and let me also point out that Roger Stone was the person who said that he heard that New York governor Eliot Spitzer was using the services of prostitutes, and at least in that incendiary allegation, there was some facts behind it, and ultimately it was proven true. But Michael Brown why don’t you respond to what you just heard from Roger Stone?

BROWN
Well, I’m not gonna question whether he believes what he’s saying is true. But I will say that the Republicans are up to their usual stuff, when they cannot beat Democrats on issues, they always go personal negative. That’s what this is all about. We’re gonna see this for the next six months from the Republican party, this is what they do. I don’t know why we should be shocked by all of this. I think they’re starting a little early, they’re probably off their timeline a little bit…I’m not surprised by this, it has nothing to do with anything except flat-out politics, and it’s ugly, and these are the kinda things that don’t help the American people come to the polls to vote. They don’t keep people inspired and I’m sure the Obamas will obviously prevail on issues like this and stay focused on issues, assuming he’s the nominee.

STONE
This really has very little to do with the general election, this has a lot to do with why Hillary Clinton is staying in this race. Look, there’s already a buzz in Washington. At least seven news organizations have contacted me, wanting to know, how to get their hands on this tape, giving me more information than I had after I spoke to each one of them. I now believe the tape exists, I believe a network has it. If this pans out to be true, based on Michelle Obama’s previous comment, that this was the first that she had been proud of her country…which I think shows, an attitude that is problematic.

RIVERA
And I’ll give you a hundred bucks if it’s true. I’ll give you a hundred bucks if it’s true. I don’t believe it’s true. Michael Brown, you respond.

BROWN
Well, his premise is that this is why Hillary Clinton is staying in, hoping that this bombshell derails Senator Obama’s nomination effort. That’s not why Senator Clinton is staying in the race. She’s staying in the race, hoping that now she has the popular vote lead, the superdelegates will say, maybe Senator Clinton is the best person to take on John McCain. That’s why she’s staying in the race. She wants to make the argument to superdelegates. And to obviously put out this notion that there’s some race between the Clinton campaign and the news media organization is nonsense. This is a republican tactic-

STONE
And the republicans.

BROWN
And the republicans. Roger, you and I both know that this is a republican tactic, this is what they do. And this is what we’re going to continue to see for the next six months, because they have no answer about the war, they have no answer about gas prices, they have no answers about health care, so they do smear. That’s what they do.

RIVERA
Michael Brown, thank you. Roger Stone, thank you, we’ll see.

244 A still from the first along with transcript:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Hey, Scott. You never told me you were a policeman. And as for Susan, twenty years of marriage, I thought it was only fifteen. Yeah. So, I guess you didn’t include that in our…six month little relationship we’ve been having. But of course, that’s between you and me. Let’s hope no one, including your triplets, see this video. Have a nice night.

A still from “Take 2” along with transcript:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Hi, Scott. So, you already know I had to have an abortion because you have a wife and three kids. Really, Scott? Twenty years? A wife of twenty years? Susan, or whatever her name is. Triplets? I mean- Is this for real? Like, you know I was only seventeen when this had to happen, honestly I just can’t believe this.

245 I believe there is evidence of Richard Nixon emplying a similar tactic at some point during his career, it is just a question of finding it. However, Stone is certainly familiar with this approach, as might be seen in a fragment from the episode of “Buzzsaw: LBJ and the Killing of JFK with Roger Stone (Nov 24, 2013)”. I make no attempts to argue the many claims made in – that Robert Kennedy’s catholicism and Barack Obama’s race were advantages in their elections – only quote this to make clear that Stone is familiar with this method of attack, and that he considers it an effective form of attack. Excerpt runs from 34:33 to 35:56, I bold the relevant portion:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

ROGER STONE
The military industrial complex is not ideological. They’re about money and power. They’re neither right nor left. They will invent a candidate on the right and left if they need one. So, people were upset about George W. Bush; so, they created Barack Obama. Who’s fully unqualified to be president of the United States. Who served in the state Senate, and the U.S. Senate, and has written two biographies, but no major legislation of any kind. So, the military industrial complex, the American media establishment, they can go either right or left depending on what’s required at the time.

TYREL VENTURA
And it makes sense, coming out of the Bush presidency, with Cheney and all of that, we’re feeling very constricted, we’re feeling very down, we need a new champion of the people.

STONE
Plus they take advantage of the democratic [sic – most likely “demographic” is meant here] change. We have more and more minority voters. So, maybe it was time for the first minority president. Being black was not a detriment to his candidacy, it was an asset to his candidacy. Just like Kennedy’s being catholic was a benefit, not a drawback. In fact, Bobby Kennedy had millions of pieces of violently anti-catholic literature attacking John Kennedy printed, he put Hubert Humphrey’s name on it, and he mailed it to the voters in West Virginia. All the catholic households, only.

246 The incongruous use of this font was brought up in many places, including the comments for “‘Have You Had Sex with Rick Perry?’ Asks Ad” [archive link] by Maureen O’Connor, such as devinhoward’s “Interesting font choice. Is CASH going to use the information to exploit weaknesses in a large battle station? A small exhaust port maybe?” (link)

247 Quotes and excerpts of this Alex Jones program taken from the following partial transcript:

JONES
We are joined by Robert Morrow, the man of the hour, to tell us about himself and why he’s running this ad, and what evidence he has that indeed Rick Perry is gallavanting around, being a hypocrite, telling us he has all these christian values…I should add that it’s also coming out in newspapers across the country that Rick Perry is an investor in a chain of porno movie outlets. That’s all over mainstream news. And the religious right is running an attack ad against him for that. And, I did confirm in the Texas ethics commission, filings that Rick Perry reportedly did go in Florida to a male drag queen…uh…strip club to see some type of event…and there’s reports on that going back two years. So we’re gonna talk about it all. Where there’s smoke, is there fire? I mean, I’ve heard these rumors for many, many years. Robert Morrow, tell us a little bit about yourself, and then why you’re doing this.

MORROW
Well, Alex, I’m a local political activist here in Texas. I’m a three time delegate to the Texas state Republican convention, 2006, 2008, 2010. I have voted for Rick Perry in the past, 1998, 2002, 2006. What it boils down to is this: is that Rick Perry is a man who campaigns on christian values. He uses bible buzzwords for political gain, he appears on-stage in Houston with all these preachers, yet he’s living a double life. The reason I know that, Alex, is because Rick Perry, his enabling entourage and I, like the same women.

JONES
Well, that’s quite a charge. Again, I’m gonna be honest with you, Robert. You wouldn’t even be here right now if a lot of people I know vouched for you, and said you were a stand-up guy, they’ve known you for many many years. Some of them a decade, I’ve known for a decade. And, I’m not saying, oh, you’re lucky to be here. I’m saying, I wouldn’t have you here, if a lot of people I know and trust, said you were a stand-up guy. That means two things are happening. Either all these people who are telling you this information are lying to you; or they’re telling the truth. And either way, this is dangerous. So, let’s get into the allegations.

MORROW
Okay, the reason they’re credible is because there are multiple allegations. I met a stripper a couple years ago, she said “I was working on-stage in a club, and a man comes up to me, and he says, ‘Here’s five hundred dollars. That’s just for starters if you come with me.'” Because that’s what a dancer might make in a whole night, with table dances and tips like that. She said, “Sure, I’ll do it,” and she got into her regular clothes, and she was delivered to…Rick Perry. And when she got to Rick Perry, she told me a couple years ago, before the 2010 gubernatorial race, she said that she and Rick Perry started fooling around, and she was trying to give him a “Monica Lewinsky”, I think it was oral sex, and her words to me were, “I think he was too coked up, to get it up.” K? After they’d been playing around for a while, and it was time for her to go, Rick Perry paid her an outrageous sum of money well into the four digits. Rick Perry’s not a rich man; he’s only worth a million or two dollars. It’s not a lot of money compared to who he runs around with. It makes me think that Rick Perry is taking bribes and illegal gifts from his entourage to fund his extra-curricular activities. And that was just one lady.

JONES
Well, that’s one source. Before you went public with all of this, and contacted me a month ago, you say you were contacted by high-end escorts as well.

MORROW
I know other women in town, strippers, young hotties, some escorts, and this is what blew me away: I heard from another lady, who’s had direct dealings with Rick Perry’s entourage. And she told me, this man told her, when Rick Perry goes on the road, he gets the quote “young hotties”. Hence, I use the phrase “young hotties” in my ad. And he told her, he says that they take these young women and they go back to Rick Perry’s hotel room, and they’re literally having orgies and group sex in the hotel room. Perhaps, maybe, Rick Perry is having sex with a woman on a sofa and his friend is having sex with another young hottie on a bed. So, that was two. Now, the second person who told me this, is very credible, she’s educated, she knows her way around the world politically here in Austin, she’s not some sortof seventeen year old runaway on drugs or something. She’s somebody who runs with the elite of Austin, Texas. So that was the second source on that. So, after I heard that, I said, “It is confirmed.” Rick Perry is obviously being flagrantly adulterous, his entourage is procuring strippers for him, renting the hotel rooms, calling the escort services, then recently, this week, yet another young lady who’s friends with yet another popular, long-time escort, said that, yeah, you know, this lady, her friend, had a tryst with Rick Perry in one of the nicer hotels in Austin, Texas. So, that’s three right there. And I’ve been unable to get these people to go public for obvious reasons, you know, trying to get a stripper, or an escort, or a gay, closeted gay man, to go public is very difficult for obvious reasons, hence my ad. So I took out this ad, “Have you ever had sex with Rick Perry?” as a plea, to the greater community, to quit covering for Rick Perry, this you know, christian buzzword spouting hypocrite, who’s leading a double life.

JONES
Well, I’ve gotta say, Robert, that…we’ve seen what’s happened with a New York governor who passed a law to take the property away from men who hire prostitutes, throw them under the jail, while he was visiting high end prostitutes. We’ve seen all these Republican leaders caught in bathrooms, and going after their pages. We know about Bohemian Grove. And so, doing my research, I know that to get into the upper echelons of the Republican party, especially, they don’t feel comfortable around you, unless you’ve done some things they can use against you. And the main way to enter the upper echelons of the Republican party is homosexual sex. That’s what goes on in Skull and Bones, in Gayle [this is exactly how I hear Jones say it, and I think his implication is clear], that’s what goes on at the same time in Bohemian Grove. So I know that stuff goes on. Again, I mainly stick with the issues that I can prove. And we’ve all heard these rumors living in Austin. And there’s been newscasts about the rumors of Rick Perry…I would completely, still, ignore all of this if he wasn’t out there saying, I’m a christian conservative leader, you need to get behind me. And then knowing, he’s actually the opposite in his real policies. And even in the last election cycle for governor, conservative groups did actually discover his bankrolling of porno parlors across Texas. And that’s now a big issue again. And then, when I first saw this, I didn’t believe it, I went and found it on the state ethics commission website, it is true, that when he was in Florida, in a famously alternative life-style area, I want you to talk about that, he visited the La Te Da, men in drag, cabaret. And he later said, “Well, no, my wife visited that.” Yeah, right. So, it just continues to crop up. And so because it was christian conservatives that have gone after him in the last few campaigns over some of these reports, he’s now trying to become that. And I saw Ron Paul supporters really getting after him in events in the last few years, so now he’s trying to become Ron Paul. He is a political chameleon. And so, the question comes down to: is this some elaborate hoax, where people are lying to you? Are you lying? Which people who know you say you’re not. Or, is this a dirty trick? Of disinformation. Or is it true? But, what do you say about the porno parlor bankrolling and the transvestite visiting?

MORROW
Okay. Well, Alex, as you know, living here in Austin, Texas, the rumors of Rick Perry’s homosexuality and gay affairs have been voluminous, intense, and will just not go away.

JONES
Oh, you type Rick Perry into Google for years, and “gay” comes up.

MORROW
And, there’s-

JONES
The first thing.

MORROW
There’s so much smoke…that it has to be fire. And I want to tell you something, Alex. I never believed the gay rumors on Rick Perry for years and years and years, and then I certainly didn’t believe them when I found out all about these stirppers and escorts, he and his entourage are cavorting with. That has changed. I’ve come into credible information that Rick Perry is a rampant bisexual adulterer, not just strippers and young hotties, but gay men as well. This monday, before I even ran this ad, an incensed homosexual man contacted me, and he says, “You know what? After seeing Rick Perry on that stage in Houston, with all those extremist preachers, all that hardcore anti-gay rhetoric, I just can’t take it any more.” He said that an ex of his ex, had sex with Rick Perry. A gay fling many years before he became governor, and that he wants to take this guy public, and he and his friend are going to approach this man, who had sex with Rick Perry according to them, and get him to go public. And I said, well, what I did was I gave them to a reporter who’s working the gay angle on Rick Perry, and he’s having some progress, by the way, and so maybe, eventually, in a few months, these reporters work these stories, nail down these sources, we will move beyond the hearsay stage on Rick Perry as a rampant bisexual adulterer, to the credibility stage of people coming forward. So, the whole point of me running that ad is folks, there is so much stuff out there, you know, if you know, if you’ve been involved with him, sexually at all, or you know people who have, please come forward. And let’s go on the record, and get it above board, because people need to know.

JONES
Well, these rumors have been rampant around here in Austin since high school, but…they could just be that, political…retribution against Perry by his enemies, then the rumor gets picked up, and gets parroted by people that are seeking private attention, “Oh, I know Rick Perry,” that could be a possibility, where it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, that this rumor got started, and now different groups are lying to you.

MORROW
Well, Alex, on the womanizing, I’m not just 99% sure that Rick Perry’s running around with strippers and hookers, I’M ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SURE ON THAT.

JONES
Well, you told me that you liked…these women…and that you go to some of these and separately, without them knowing you’re politically active, they were volunteering this?

MORROW
What makes their story so credible is, that these ladies, who are about the age of Rick Perry’s twenty-four year old daughter, Sidney, they’re in their mid-twenties, they told me these things in confidence, and not in the context of a presidential campaign or a gubenatorial campaign. It was just chitchat. They had no idea I was a political activist, they had no idea I hated Rick Perry’s guts for other reasons, because of political reasons and so forth.

MORROW
I’ll tell you this. Rick Perry, Alex, is sitting on a keg of…slut fueled nitroglycerine that if it ever exploded would make Anthony Weiner look like a mere pimple popping.

248 Robert Morrow’s email is mentioned in “Naked City: News briefs from Austin, the region, and elsewhere.” edited by Lee Nichols and Cheryl Smith:

With the Place 3 run-off election only hours away – election day is Saturday, June 11 – charges and countercharges were flying from the Jennifer Kim and Margot Clarke campaigns. On the Kim side, the attacks were mostly surrogate: The Austin Apartment Association, which has endorsed Kim, distributed Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy’s scurrilous attack letter (see “Frontrunner Dues and Blues,” June 3), and Robert Morrow, a local GOP precinct chair, sent out a flaming e-mail diatribe, heavy on the gay-bashing, that makes Levy’s letter look mild by comparison. (Sample Morrow rhetoric: “Clarke’s supporters are … environmental radicals, socialists, and ‘in-your-face’ homosexuals who demand that the rest of society worship salamanders and support ‘gay’ marriage.”) Meanwhile, the Clarke campaign reviewed Kim’s campaign finance filings, and with the Toll Party’s Sal Costello issued a press release charging that Kim has reneged on a pledge to reject contributions from the “toll lobby.” (Kim’s latest filing is indeed heavy with developers, RECA members, and related business sources.) The Clarke campaign has actually been distributing Morrow’s hysterical letter to their own supporters, with the comment, “Don’t let them win!” – M.K. (Michael King)

That this is the same Morrow as the one who would publish the RIck Perry ad is confirmed in “Point Austin: Have You Been Screwed by Rick Perry?” by Michael King:

I’m sure most of you have been checking your old date books to determine whether you’ve ever had sex with Rick Perry. Of course, you might not remember, since Perry’s talents as a paramour likely mirror his narcissistic approach to public policy.

That sort of foolishness is brought to you courtesy of Robert Morrow, the Austinite who garnered national coverage last week with his full-page Chronicle ad requesting leads on the new presidential candidate’s sex life. For the record, Morrow placed his ad (and alerted other publications) on his own; this news desk read it when our readers did. Morrow’s a hard-right GOP activist (of the Ron Paul variety), and his obsessively sexual conspiracy theories are old hat around here. He first came to Austin’s attention with a viciously gay-bashing attack on former state rep Glen Maxey, a strong supporter of former City Coun­cil candidate Margot Clarke in the 2005 election.

The quote from “Outcast Austin” is taken from the very partial transcript in the footnote below.

249 Quotes from “OutCast Austin – Volume 173 – 08/23/2011” are taken from a transcript made only of its opening and ending:

RICE
So, what inspired you to put this ad in The Chronicle?

MORROW
Well, Steven. Rick Perry, his entourage and I, like the same women. How can I be more clear than that?

RICE
That. Uh. Okay. Sorry. Those are nice wholesome girls, is that what you mean?

RICE
So, what’s the next step for you from here?

MORROW
Uh, there is no next step. If people know things, related to Rick Perry, the way he lives his double life in the gutter, which I’m-, see what you have to understand is, I’m not 99% sure that Rick Perry runs around with strippers, young hotties, and escorts – I’m one hundred percent sure.

RICE
Wow. All right. Well, do you want to give out your email address to everyone one more time?

MORROW
My email address is- You can also google an article I wrote on Rick Perry. It’s called “Tea Party Fraud Rick Perry is Political Herpes”.

RICE
(laughs) So, you’re a very subtle man, I see, Robert.

MORROW
Straight to the point, my friend.

250 Excerpts and quotes are made from the program’s full transcript:

GILL
Robert Morrow is on our newsmakers line today. Robert, welcome to the show.

MORROW
Great to be here Steve.

GILL
Now, tell us a little bit about your background, because obviously you’ve got a bone to pick with Rick Perry. Do you know Rick Perry?

MORROW
No…I’ve met him a couple of times. I’ve been involved in local Texas politics, you’re correct, I’ve been a delegate to the Texas state Republican convention, 2006, 2008, 2010.

GILL
And…have you run for office, run campaigns for others for office?

MORROW
No, I’m just a grass roots volunteer for Ron Paul. Actually, I started volunteering for Ron Paul four years ago in 2008. And, by the way, I have voted for Rick Perry in the past, in 1998, 2002, and 2006. But I’ll never do it again.

GILL
Now, when did you discover that he had this propensity for hotties? Was it before 2006?

MORROW
Well, it’s…no. It was not, actually it’s because I have a propensity for hotties. And it just turns out that Rick Perry, his entourage, and I, like the same women.

GILL
Now, your facebook says you like guys too, there have been a lot of stories that you also swing the other way as well. I mean, is that, like-

MORROW
Well, on facebook it says who do you want to be friends with, and I want to be friends on facebook with both men and women. So- I’m just interested in women in-

GILL
You do not have sexual relationships with men? So, the claims that you’re gay are not true?

MORROW
It’s ridiculous. I will say this-

GILL
But you’re also saying that Rick Perry’s gay too. You’re saying Rick Perry not only likes young women, you’re also throwing out the implication that he’s also gay.

MORROW
Absolutely. I want to tell you that that second one right there. About the womanizing, I am 100% sure on that, because like I said I know strippers, young hotties, people who’ve been with Rick Perry and his entourage. I never believed the gay rumors about Rick Perry that have been going around for about eight years now. Especially when I learned about the womanizing, I did not believe them. However, that has changed, because I’ve been in contact with some very angry homosexuals who’ve called me about Rick Perry.

GILL
And it’s easy for someone to say I had sex with somebody. I mean, a gay guy could call me today and say, “You know, I had sex with Robert Morrow,” and I could take out a full page ad and that would have the same credibility in terms of fact based that you’re relying on.

MORROW
Well, but- that’s true. On Monday-

GILL
So, should we traffic in these kind of unsubstantiated rumors in the political arena? Is that the Ron Paul way?

MORROW
I have nothing to do with Ron Paul’s campaign.

GILL
Wait- wait- you just said you’ve campaigned and you’ve been a Ron Paul supporter.

MORROW
I think, you know, Ron Paul is not putting me up to this, because Ron Paul doesn’t run around with the young hotties that me and Rick Perry , and his entourage do.

GILL
We don’t know. Somebody could call me today and say “I had sex with Ron Paul,” and we could put it out there as the fact, and it would be just as based as what you’re doing. I mean, anybody can say anything.

MORROW
Listen carefully to me, okay? I met a stripper about two years ago. And, before the 2010 governor’s race, and she told me, that she was in the club one night. And a guy comes up to her and says, “Here’s five hundred dollars. Just come with me.” And of course, five hundred dollars is about what a dancer would make all night-

GILL
Keep in mind, you weren’t there, all you’re saying is that what a stripper, because man, I know, strippers, and hookers on drugs, if I’m gonna go for somebody that’s absolutely is credible, that is absolutely believable, no question about it, are you operating on is what a stripper told you, right?

MORROW
Steve, hold on for a second.

GILL
Well, isn’t that the case.

MORROW
Go ahead. Hold on for a second. She was very credible, and she told me these things-

GILL
She’s a very credible stripper.

MORROW
Hold on, hold on. She told me these things in confidence, not in the context of a presidential campaign or a gubernatorial campaign. So she says she was taken to Rick Perry, because Rick Perry does not go into strip clubs himself, he has an entourage go grab the girls, and so she was taken to him, and then they started-

GILL
Based on what she says. Based on what she says.

MORROW
I-i-i-it’s true.

GILL
It’s true because she said it.

MORROW
I don’t have a blue dress with Rick Perry’s semen on it. I have reports from credible women in Austin, Texas-

GILL
Who are strippers and prostitutes and hookers.

MORROW
Strippers and hoo- Escorts and people- And friends who have-

GILL
Who get paid money to do whatever somebody wants them to do. Do you think there might at least be the shred, Robert, that somebody might be paying her to tell stories?

MORROW
Yes-

GILL
Because she’ll take money to do other things.

MORROW
Well Steve, you have to understand that- There’s a couple things. I learned about these things several years ago, not in the context of a presidential or gubenatorial race. They had no idea I was a political activist, who happens to hate Rick Perry’s guts, which I do for many reasons, but politically, and from what I know about his personal life. And so the reason-

GILL
But all you know about his, again, all you know about his personal life is what these hookers, strippers, and prostitutes have told you.

MORROW
That’s the women he runs with. And by the way-

GILL
Wait. That have said he runs with them. I mean, you don’t know if he actually spends time with them. You know they say that.

MORROW
Well, you don’t know because you’re not in the room yourself

GILL
So, it’s not- It’s secondhand information.

MORROW
Well, actually, this lady was firsthand.

GILL
And if she was calling and saying “My name is Jonelle, I’ve got pictures, here’s my story,” that would be different than her telling somebody else, maybe get a bigger tip from you-

MORROW
It wasn’t in the context of any presidential or gubernatorial race. That’s why it’s so- Be patient with me, Steve. I’m gonna walk you through this.

GILL
But my point is still, all of this is not what you know, it’s what somebody that we don’t know, we have no way to judge her credibility-

MORROW
You know, it’s true, unless you’re there yourself, you don’t know to the one hundredth percent level-

GILL
You don’t know on any percent, other than, they are telling you a story that you can’t verify at all. Let me move to the other- Who’s funding this? Who’s funding these ads?

MORROW
I pay for it myself.

GILL
What do you do for a living?

MORROW
I’m a self-employed investor.

GILL
Self-employed investor. And apparently, you’ve done real well for yourself, if you can take out full page ads.

MORROW
Yeah.

GILL
What’s the source of your investments?

MORROW
It’s a local paper, you know, it was a pretty piece of coin, but it’s not nearly the money Rick Perry and his entourage- Here’s what goes on: Rick Perry does not get the girls himself. He has an enabling entourage, who gets the girls, in ritzy hotel rooms, very nice ones here in Austin, and they’re the ones who call the escort services, just like Tiger Woods entourage would be getting girls for him.

GILL
But you actually had the girls coming forth and saying this. That’s what your ad is trying to do, is get some girls to come forth and say, okay, I had sex with Rick Perry.

MORROW
Here’s where we’re at, Steve. I’ve been unable to get these women to go public, to go on the record, in front of a reporter-

GILL
Maybe because it’s not true.

MORROW
It is true.

GILL
Okay. Because you’re gonna believe your hooker friends.

MORROW
-an escort, or a gay person. It’s very hard to get those people to go forward and tell the truth. You know, your aunt might not know that you’re a stripper, your family might now know you’re a closeted gay guy. So, the reason, the point of the ad is this. Asking people to quit covering for Rick Perry. And come forward, and tell the truth about the way this man really lives his life.

GILL
Will you run a similar ad asking people to come forth and tell the truth about Ron Paul and his propensity for pork barrel spending? I mean, he votes against the pork barrel spending, but gets it for his district. Does that hypocrisy bother you?

MORROW
Ron Paul does not vote for pork barrel spending, what he does-

GILL
He just accepts it.

MORROW
Hold on. When anybody wants to come into his office, he will sign a piece of paper saying, yes, he’s for the earmark, but then he votes the reconciliation bill on the very last vote, and that’s the vote that counts.

GILL
He just doesn’t want his fingerprints on it, he wants the other guys in congress to pass it, as part of the big package, so his district gets it, his supporters get the money, he just doesn’t want to vote for it himself. That seems hypocritical.

MORROW
I don’t think Ron Paul should be signing thess earmarks-

GILL
Will you run a full page ad pointing out that he’s a hypocrite? Because that’s what you’ve done with Rick Perry.

MORROW
Well, uh, I agree, I happen to agree with you on this, Steve.

GILL
Well, will you run an ad? Will you put your money where your mouth is?

MORROW
Well, you know, there are a thousand other things that I think are more important than that. I mean, he votes against the trillion dollar wars, he protects your civil-

GILL
So, it’s okay he’s a hypocrite, as long as he votes the way you like, most of the time. Is this ad a once a week newspaper, or is it a daily newspaper, I don’t know anything about this.

MORROW
It’s a local weekly newspaper. The Austin Chronicle.

GILL
How much is this thing costing you?

MORROW
No comment. I pay for it with my own money, though.

GILL
Did they give it to you for free?

MORROW
Noooooo. No.

GILL
So…why won’t you tell us what you’re paying for it?

MORROW
I just keep that private. That’s the only thing I’m not releasing.

GILL
I mean, their ad rates are public, aren’t they?

MORROW
Yeah, I pay normal ad rates. You can call them and find out how much I pay.

GILL
Now you said you were an investor, I’m a little bit intrigued by that. What kind of investments do you make on behalf of people?

MORROW
Oh. I’m a self-employed investor. I don’t manage other people’s money. I never said that I did, so don’t, don’t make that assumption.

GILL
That’s what I’m trying to figure out. You say you just take your money and you just invest it.

MORROW
That is correct, absolutely.

GILL
Now there’s a Robert Morrow, because you’re also real big into the whole CIA killed JFK business-

MORROW
I think Lyndon Johnson and his Texas oilmen used their CIA military connections to kill John Kennedy. That is my personal opinion. Many people think that.

GILL
There’s another guy named Robert Morrow who claimed he worked for the CIA and did this, is he any relation to you?

MORROW
No, that’s a different one. He died around 1998 or 99. He really did work for the CIA, but it’s not me.

GILL
Okay, I just saw the meaning of the name was the same, and the conspiracy theory’s kinda the same as well- Talk a little bit more about this business, your bone to pick with Rick Perry. We got the young hotties, that bothers you, you think he’s gay, that bothers you, you think he’s a hypocrite because the HPV-L virus injections that he went along with-

MORROW
He went along because his former chief of staff Mike Toomey is a lobbyist for Merck, the maker of Gardicil, and gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s why- If you wave a dollar bill in front of Rick Perry’s nose he’ll do anything. Kinda like the girls he hangs out with.

GILL
And the girls you hang out with. Because these are the girls you hang out with as well.

MORROW
Fair enough.

GILL
If it is low moral character for Rick Perry to do this, why is it not low moral character for you to hang out with hookers, escorts, strippers, and gay men?

MORROW
Well…number one, I’m not married. Number two, I don’t base my campaigns on christian terminology and bible talk like he does. Number three, I don’t appear on a stage in Houston, Texas, with extremist preachers spouting anti-gay rhetoric while living a double life.

GILL
And again, all your knowledge of Rick Perry, I just want to make sure that I’m understanding, is not based on anything you are personally aware of, it is all based on what somebody has told you. So, it’s all basically second-hand information.

MORROW
Well, yeah, I’m not in a hotel room while Rick Perry and his entourage after they carded an escort service or having their fun and games, I’m not personally there. I don’t socialize with the man.

GILL
But again we don’t- And that’s okay, you’re just, again, basing it on what people who’ve told you, that you’re putting your trust in, and which are the hookers, the escorts, and the-

MORROW
That’s the- let’s take a moment and walk through the credibility of the people I’m talking about. The first one was a stripper, who told me she tried to have sex with Rick Perry, and her quote to me was: “I think he was too coked up to get it up.” That’s what she said to me. And when it came time for her to leave, Rick Perry gave her an outrageous amount of money, well into the four digits, so much so it makes me think he’s taking either bribes or illegal gifts from his entourage to fund his extracurricular activities.

GILL
Again, based on what this hooker said-

MORROW
YES! OF COURSE, GILL! YOU ARE CORRECT!

GILL
Now, does she- let’s see, if she’s a hooker, she’s also- last time I checked, I don’t think prostitution is legal in the state of Texas. So, we now know she’s a criminal, and therefore-

MORROW
Not only that, Rick Perry signed a law that stiffened the laws that send you to state prison-

GILL
No pun intended.

MORROW
-if you commit a felony under Rick Perry. Even more than-

GILL
So you’ve got a woman who’s breaking the law, but you’re gonna put your trust that she’s telling you the truth- do you know if she’s used drugs?

MORROW
Uh, I don’t know, I will tell you this, that you know Steve, who’re you going to trust, a stripper, a hooker, or a politician?

GILL
Now, granted, I will give you that one, Robert. When it comes to credibility issues, if I have the stripper here telling me and Rick Perry sitting next to her telling me his side of the story, I’m not sure who I’m gonna believe in terms of which one’s actually screwing people for money. But. I’ll give you that one.

MORROW
John Edwards-

GILL
But we don’t have her saying this. And again, unless your ad produces people, we don’t have people who we can judge their credibility of, okay, you’re a drugged up prostitute breaking the law, and we’re gonna believe what you say. Granted, if you’re gonna break the law, you’re gonna be breaking the law with other lawbreakers, and they’re gonna be the ones who can be witnesses-

MORROW
EXACTLY, of course, hey remember-

GILL
But we don’t have her coming forth. We have her telling you.

MORROW
Do you remember the Bobby Ann Williams story, with Bill Clinton? Twenty years ago?

GILL
Yes. Yes.

MORROW
She was telling the truth. By the way, I’m the nation’s #1 anti-Hillary activist. If you google Robert Morrow Hillary Clinton, you’ll see a lot of my work.

GILL
And I like the fact that on your ad you completely exclude folks who wear Hillary Clinton pantsuits and boots, I think, was the phrasing of it, which I appreciate.

MORROW
The ad was not targeted to Anita Perry, because she, like Hillary, knows exactly what Rick Perry is doing, so she’s wearing her Hillary Clinton boots. But anyhow, back to the point: in 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for president, by that time, he’d had hundreds of women, right? Would you agree on that?

GILL
Yeah. But we’ve had women come forward.

MORROW
Yeah. At that time, only three women came forward: Gennifer Flowers, Sally Purdue, and Bobby Ann Williams. And all three of those were subjected to the Clinton terror campaign, Hillary’s private detectives, Jack Paladino, Anthony Pellicano…so it’s really hard to get folks to go forward when, you know-

GILL
But you’re saying this thing’s been going on for twenty years, when he was merely a state representative, when he was merely an agriculture commissioner for Texas, he’s governor…I mean, again, this woman who’s telling you all this stuff, it’s not like Rick Perry’s somebody no one’s ever heard of, she’s telling gossip about a guy who’s governor. I mean, people gossip and lies about people all the time.

MORROW
And…so was Gennifer Flowers, Sally Purdue, and Bobbi Ann Williams, my friend, okay?

GILL
But just because other people came forward and could prove their story by access, by I was with the governor, I mean you’ve got plenty of people who have proof in those cases, that’s the biggest thing I see that’s missing in this one, but hey if your ad produces results, we’ll see what happens. Robert Morrow, thanks for being with us.

251 The information Steve Gill mentions is taken from Robert Morrow’s about section on his Facebook page, of which the following is a screenshot:

robert morrow about page cropped

252 From “Some people just love to hate the Clintons” by Adam C. Smith:

“I’ve got other aspects of my life when I’m not, you know, stopping Clinton pond scum,” insists Morrow, who has no steady job but enjoys a family inheritance. “Um, I like to work out at the gym. I like to go hiking. I like to ride my bicycle.”

253 The blurb can be found on the Amazon page for The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, and the following are screenshots of the editorial endorsements, with Morrow’s the last in the second screenshot:

man who killed kennedy amazon reviews cropped pa man who killed kennedy amazon reviews cropped pa

254 From “Did LBJ Kill Kennedy? (And Why It Matters): Q/A with Roger Stone”:

NICK GILLESPIE
And this is published by Skyhorse books, which publishes a wide range of things, some are in the conspiracy frame, Jesse Ventura is one of their authors, they do other kinds of various things. You’re going to be doing more books with them. Talk a little bit about your future.

STONE
Yeah, I’ve got a couple different books in mind. I’d like to do a book on Hillary Clinton. I don’t believe Chelsea Clinton- I believe Chelsea Clinton is the daughter of Webb Hubbell, and Hillary Clinton, and I’m gonna try and prove that in print.

255 I make the identification of Mary Krenek from the Facebook page of Robert Morrow, when the picture was his av. Dave Nalle I have no idea what that photo means Robert Morrow just liberty activist Mary Krenek kissing Roger Stone at his book signing at BNBooks.

Of incidental interest is the following exchange: James Thompson Sr. This is got to be the dumbest thing I have ever seen your [sic] a real fool, from a viet nam vet Robert Morrow James Thompson – Vietnam Vet – go fuck yourself. You were the fool for murdering all those people in Vietnam. Go to hell. James Thompson Sr. Sounds like your [sic] already in hell , you damned fool

robert morrow facebook comments

256 From The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ by Roger Stone and Michael Colapietro:

From the beginning of his presidency, Nixon sought the CIA records that would prove the connection of the Bay of Pig veterans to the Kennedy assassination. Although White House Chief of Staff H. R. “Bob” Haldeman said that Nixon had turned him down when he suggested reopening and gathering the facts surrounding the JFK assassination, Nixon’s White House domestic policy advisor John Ehrlichman said that Nixon had requested all of the CIA records on the Kennedy assassination and had been rebuffed by the agency. It is logical that Nixon, a lawyer, would ask Ehrlichman, a fellow lawyer, to obtain the records rather than Haldeman, who was not.

Nixon’s effort to obtain the JFK assassination records was an attempt to seize leverage over the rogue agency. This was to be Nixon’s “insurance policy” against the CIA. If threatened, Nixon would expose the agency’s involvement in Kennedy’s death, which took place at the time that he, Nixon, was in political exile without formal governmental influence of any kind.

This is why I believe Watergate was a CIA operation that capitalized on the stupidity and amateurishness of G. Gordon Liddy, CREEP Campaign Director Jeb Magruder, and John Dean, the three Nixon aides who advanced the plans for the Watergate break-in, which leaked to the CIA.

257 The suggestion made in The Man Who Killed Kennedy is that Bush was somehow complicit in the killing as well, and the fact that he was a former head of the CIA is played up in this regard. I will not deal with this allegation, except to one detail. We are given the sinister point that Bush passed on to the FBI that a James Milton Parrott had made threats against the president. The theory put forth is that Bush was trying to set Parrott up as a kind of patsy in the killing:

Before leaving for Dallas, Bush called the Houston FBI field office at 1:45 p.m. and promptly identified himself and his location in Tyler, Texas. “Bush stated that he wanted [the call] to be kept confidential but wanted to furnish hearsay that he recalled hearing in recent days . . . He stated that one James Milton Parrott has been talking of killing the president when he comes to Houston.”

Bush dropped a dime on an unemployed twenty-four-year-old Air Force veteran who had been honorably discharged, albeit upon the recommendation of a psychiatrist. During questioning, Parrott acknowledged that he was a member of the Texas Young Republicans and had been active in picketing members of the Kennedy administration. He also insisted that he had not threatened the president’s life.

Parrott was a member of the ultra-rightwing John Birch Society and had vigorously opposed Bush during his campaign for GOP chairman of Harris County—a major offense to Bush running for a minor office, and he never forgot the offender. Parrott had been painting “Bush for Senate? signs when the FBI arrived to question him. Ironically, Parrott would surface again—as a volunteer for George Bush’s 1988 Presidential campaign. Was Parrott also a Patsy?

This very story is listed as the secondmost among the points of why voters should not re-elect Bush in a 1992 feature from the extinct Spy magazine, “1000 Reasons not to vote for George Bush”. It would be surprising if Stone were not somewhat familiar with this piece, since the major part of it is the topmost point, “No.1: He cheats on his wife”, and the author is Joe Conason, a man who’s used Stone as a source in the past, most recently for a Chris Christie Bridgegate story, “To Roger Stone, Bridgegate ‘Cover-Up’ Is Another Watergate — And He Would Know”. A substantial amount of space in the piece is given over to Bush mistress Jennifer Fitzgerald, who is also given mention in The Man Who Killed Kennedy, a rather inflammatory allegation of sexual impropriety, but one that few reviewers have noted, and which should be a lesson to future controversy dwellers – if you want accusations of presidential infidelity to go unnoticed, stick it next to accusations of presidential murder. From The Man Who Killed Kennedy:

Bush’s 1980 campaign was hampered when it hired his long-time mistress, Jennifer Fitzgerald, as his scheduler. Fitzgerald hoarded information; power struggles plagued the campaign. Barbara Bush once famously exploded at Fitzgerald in the back of a limousine when she touched Bush’s knee. Senior campaign aides plotted to remove Fitzgerald, and eventually Bush’s savvy campaign chief James A. Baker, III gave Bush a “her or me” ultimatum. Fitzgerald would leave the campaign, only to be hired later to handle the vice president’s schedule (she was kept in the vice president’s ceremonial Capitol Hill office rather than the White House). Fitzgerald let it be know that she had a trove of love letters from the vice president and wouldn’t be going anywhere.

The story of this affair is also told in Dirty Tricks, with a slightly nastier tone:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

The Jennifer Fitzgerald affair is the firstmost point in the thousandfold series of points in the Spy piece, and the second deals with this same James Parrott. It also has a conspiratorial take, though it also has a lastmost sentence which Stone makes no acknowledgement of ever having read, but which make him a strange kind of patsy for a plot involving Stone’s suspect. What kind of patsy is in the employ of one of those complicit in the assassination, but can’t even be bothered to stay silent about the true culprit? I bold the final, and most crucial sentence from “No. 2: The JFK Thing” by David Robb:

Internal FBI memos indicate that on November 22, 1963, “reputable businessman” George H.W. Bush “telephonically advised that he wanted to relate some hearsay that he had heard in recent weeks, date and source unknown. He advised that one James Parrott has been talking of killing the president when he comes to Houston.” Who? Agents investigated and found that 24-year-old James Parrott was a Young Republican who regularly picketed Kennedy-administration officials when they visited Houston. The FBI also learned that the Secret Service in Houston had been told that in 1961, Parrott had said he “would kill President Kennedy if he got near him.” Parrott, however, had not been near the president, or even in Dallas, on November 22. Was Bush just being a misguided do-good weenie? Or was he trying to throw the FBI off the trail? (Conspiracy theorists have linked Bush with the assassination in part because of the appearance of his name in the address book of one George de Morenschildt, a Dallas aristocrat who had befriended Lee Harvey Oswald.) Parrott, now a GOP functionary, told us he is a Bush supporter, at least since Pat Buchanan was eliminated. He denies having threatened JFK and believes Oswald shot him – under orders from Khruschev, Castro and Lyndon Johnson – and that there is still a Communist plot to take over the U.S.

258 From The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ by Roger Stone and Michael Colapietro:

The cooperation of Operation 40 and the mafia element is integral to the assassination of John Kennedy. They would be necessary to Lyndon Johnson because this was not good ‘ole boy Texas justice-a more sophisticated plan was needed. The CIA and Mafia element would likewise be dependent on LBJ to effectively control the location, chain of command, and evidence.

“I can just visualize Harvey and LBJ forming a kind of a thieves, compact between them,” said Operation 40 agent and Watergate recruiter and organizer E. Howard Hunt. “I think that LBJ was an opportunist, and he would have not hesitated to get rid of obstacles in his way.”

“There was no other group that honored, if I can use that term, the clandestine limitations the way the CIA did,” Hunt added. “They could do something, turn their back on it, then move on to something else.”

Hunt, who was on his deathbed at the time of his confession, said that he was approached to be a “benchwarmer” on the assassination, which was known in certain channels as “The Big Event.” Was Hunt in Dallas on November 22, 1963? In 1974, the Rockefeller Commission concluded that Hunt used eleven hours of sick leave from the CIA in the two-week period preceding the assassination. Saint John Hunt, E. Howard’s son, remembered his mother informing him on November 22, 1963 that Howard was on a “business trip” to Dallas that day. Later, eyewitness Marita Lorenz testified under oath in a district court case in Florida that she saw Hunt pay off an assassination team in Dallas the night before Kennedy’s murder. Saint John Hunt: “One of the things he [E. Howard Hunt] liked to say around the house was let’s finish the job,” said Saint John Hunt. “Let’s hit Ted [Kennedy].”

Saint John Hunt explained that the reason why his father had waited until he was dying to confess was his fear for the lives of himself and his family. Hunt’s wife Dorothy had died in a commercial plane crash in Chicago, which killed forty-five people in 1972. Hunt did not believe it was an accident.

“Later on in his life at one of these bedside confessions, tears started welling up in his eyes, and he said, ‘You know, Saint, I was so deeply concerned that what they did to your mother they could have done to you children, and that caused the hair on my neck to stand up.’ That was the first disclosure from my father that he thought there was something else going on besides sheer pilot error,” said Saint John Hunt.

259 The appeal, E. Howard Hunt, Jr. v. Victor L. Marchetti Nos. 85-5400, 85-6078 contains many of the facts of the trial, the initially successful libel suit on the part of Hunt, followed by a reversal. The judgement was upheld in this appeal:

1 E. Howard Hunt, Jr., appeals three district court rulings made during the retrial of his libel suit against Liberty Lobby, Inc. The jury on retrial rendered a verdict for Liberty Lobby. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

2 In 1978, Liberty Lobby published in its nationally distributed weekly newspaper, the Spotlight, an article which stated that the Central Intelligence Agency would attempt to implicate Hunt and others in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Hunt filed suit against Liberty Lobby seeking damages for libel. A jury trial resulted in an award to Hunt of $650,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. A panel of this court reversed. Hunt v. Liberty Lobby, 720 F.2d 631 (11th Cir.1983). On retrial, the jury rendered a verdict for Liberty Lobby. In this appeal, Hunt asserts the following errors in the conduct of the second trial: (1) that the district court improperly permitted Liberty Lobby to withdraw an oral stipulation made during the first trial that Hunt was not in Dallas on the day of the Kennedy assassination; (2) that the court improperly charged the jury that any wrongdoing by the article’s author could not be imputed to Liberty Lobby; and (3) that the court improperly excluded from evidence a portion of the deposition testimony of the publisher of Spotlight.

Note that despite the upholding of the verdict, the publishers conceded that Hunt was not in Dallas, to prevent Hunt from introducing evidence to contradict this claim.

II. WITHDRAWAL OF THE STIPULATION

3 In his opening statement at the first trial, the attorney for Liberty Lobby stated, “We are not going to come forward and try to prove that Mr. Hunt was involved in the Kennedy assassination…. [T]here is no question in my mind that he was not involved. There is no question in the minds of the people at Liberty Lobby.” Later, out of the presence of the jury, the attorney further stated, “I think I stipulated in opening argument, in my opinion, in our opinion, that [Hunt] probably was not there [in Dallas]. We are not going to prove that he was in Dallas.” The court explained to the jury that “for the purposes of this trial, the defendants have acknowledged and conceded that [Hunt] was not in Dallas, Texas, on the date of the assassination of President Kennedy.” To this statement, the attorney for Liberty Lobby responded, “So stipulated, your Honor.” Later in the trial, the Liberty Lobby attorney was able to rely upon the stipulation to prevent Hunt from introducing evidence regarding his whereabouts on the date of the assassination.

The controversy of Hunt’s deathbed confession is best conveyed in “Watergate plotter may have a last tale” by Carol J. Williams; the Kevan mentioned is Kevan Hunt, the late spy’s daughter:

St. John was estranged from his father from the late 1970s to the start of this decade.

He was convicted twice on felony drug charges in the Bay Area but served no prison time. When he became homeless, he renounced his drug habit, renewed ties with his father and siblings and moved to this Pacific Coast timber and fishing town. He now works assisting elderly patients in their homes and is a student at College of the Redwoods.

David, now 43, also abused drugs after his mother’s death and the years he spent in the violent milieu of Cuban exile politics. He now sells Jacuzzis at a West L.A. spa shop.

The sisters remain estranged from the brothers but all were on good terms with Hunt and his widow Laura and their children, Austin and Hollis, when the veteran CIA operative and spy novelist died.

Despite the brothers’ efforts, their father’s role will probably never be known.

The materials they offer to substantiate their story, examined by the Los Angeles Times, are inconclusive.

Hunt answers questions on a videotape using speculative phrases, observing that various named figures were “possibly” involved. A chart Hunt sketched during one conversation with St. John shows the same rogue CIA operation he describes in the memoir. None of the accounts provides evidence to convincingly validate that their father disclosed anything revelatory.

Hunt’s widow and her two children, 27-year-old Austin and 23-year-old Hollis, dismiss the brothers’ story, saying it is the result of coaching an old man whose lucidity waxed and waned in his final months.

Kevan bitterly accuses her brothers of “elder abuse,” saying they pressured their father for dramatic scenarios for their own financial gain. Hunt’s longtime lawyer, Bill Snyder, says: “Howard was just speculating. He had no hard evidence.”

260 From The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ by Roger Stone and Michael Colapietro:

Watergate is no less a coup d’état by the CIA than the assassination of JFK by a rogue faction of the CIA, working in concert with elements of organized crime and at the direction of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Serving as the youngest member of the notorious Committee to Re-elect the President in 1972, I knew Watergate burglars James McCord, the security director at CREEP, and G. Gordon Liddy, the general consul to the CREEP finance committee by day and seeker of covert intelligence by night.

That anyone would use actual CREEP personnel who could be traced directly to the President’s re-election committee in a covert operation shows the amateurish nature of the Watergate break-in. That some burglars carried address books with White House phone numbers in them shows either a stunning ineptness or an effort to take Nixon down. Indeed, the mistakes in Watergate were legion.

White House plumber G. Gordon Liddy’s grandiose plan to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters, the search for files, and the planting of listening devices was no doubt reported to the CIA once Liddy recruited James McCord, Security Director for CREEP and long-time CIA asset. I believe that the company saw the opportunity to remove the threat of Nixon’s exposing their role in JFK’s murder. It is not coincidental that it was McCord who wrote a letter to the Watergate burglars’ trial judge John J. Siricia, exposing the cover-up and pointing to higher-ups in the White House and CREEP.

McCord was likely a double agent, who intentionally botched the surreptitious entry into the Watergate. It was McCord who re-taped an office door after security guards had already found it taped and removed the adhesive once. The taping of the door was unnecessary because the door opened, unlocked, without a key. But the tape served its purpose as a clear signal to security. Following the break-in, McCord left tape on some of the doors. McCord also burned all of his files in his home fireplace, with a CIA agent present to witness the paper conflagration.

261 From Will by G. Gordon Liddy:

The decision was up to me. I was the leader and it was my responsibility. The others accepted that and would abide by my judgeement. I knew that lock-taping was a common, if disapproved, practice of maintenance personnel in large builings. That should not have alarmed the guard, who could be expecte to remove it. I saw no reason that the guard should think anything other than that the maintenance people would have to be letured.

I left McCord and said to Howard: “Jim doesn’t share your concern. He’s willing to go, wants to get it over with.” I pointed out that it had been a while since the tapes were put on and that if here’d been any commotion we’d have heard about it from the observation post or our men downstairs. “Everything seem quiet,” I said. “All things considered, I think we should go.”

From Will, on the permanent separation between Hunt and Liddy, during a conference between them at the time of the Watergate grand jury:

“There’s no sene in holding out any longer,” Hunt began, “they know everything.”

“What do you mean, ‘everything’?” I interrupted.

“I mean they’ve got it all. They know all about the Beverly Hills entry. They’ve got the ODESSA files.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“They showed them to me.”

“O.K. So somehow they got the ODESSA files. Why help the bastards?”

“Gordon, I may as well tell you now. I’m not holding out any longer. There’s no point to it. I’m co-operating with the prosecutors.”

I stood and moved back from Hunt’s side as if from a loathsome thing, I started to say something, thought better of it, and walked out. I have never spoken another word to Howard Hunt.

262 From “Product Reviews: Watergate: The Hidden History: Nixon, The Mafia, and The CIA” on Amazon:

Although as a long time Aide to Richard Nixon I interpret some things differently, Waldron’s scholarship cannot be questioned. This is a fascinating history with starts to connect the Bay of Pigs invasion, the JFK Assassination, Watergate and the Nixon pardon. I cannot recommend this book enough.

A screenshot:

Roger Stone praises Road to Watergate

263 From Will by G. Gordon Liddy, a report on the counter-demonstration organized in Miami:

RUBY concerned the infiltration of spies into the camp of Democratic contenders, then the successful candidate himself. COAL was the program to furnish money clandestinely to Shirley Chisholm of New York to finance her as a contender and force Democratic candidates to fight off a black woman, bound to generate ill-feeling among the black community and, we hoped, cause them difficulty with women.

I presented a plan for four black-bag jobs, OPALs I through IV. They were clandestine entries at which microphone surveillances could be placed, as well as TOPAZ: photographs taken of any documents available, including those under lock.

264 The Nixon administration’s attempts to smear Ellsberg, and break into his psychiatrist’s office, are described in Secrets:

These were the objectives of a Hunt memo to Colson on July 28, 1971, which came out almost two years later as a result of an inquiry launched in our courtroom. The subject heading was “Neutralization of Ellsberg.” It began: “I am proposing a skeletal operations plan aimed at building a file on Ellsberg that will contain all available overt, covert and derogatory information. This basic tool is essential to determining how to destroy his public image and credibility.”

There followed a list of eight “items” that represented “desiderata,” identifying potentially useful sources of information to this end, ranging from clearance materials to interviews with my former wife and former colleagues at Rand and ISA. Two of these items were: “Request CIA to perform a covert psychological assessment/evaluation on Ellsberg” and, fatefully, “Obtain Ellsberg’s files from his psychiatric analysis.”

The last proposal, which led to the burglary of the office of my former psychoanalyst in Beverly Hills, Dr. Lewis Fielding, and the hiring of Howard Hunt have commonly been seen, with reason, as a beginning of the undoing of the Nixon administration. The motives that lay behind both of these have scarcely been guessed at, however, and the guesses have been wide of the mark. The most authoritative statement of the aims both of the SIU and of the Fielding break-in is by the man in charge of the unit, Egil Krogh, who is at the same time the only one who has been thoroughly candid. In his statement to Judge Gerhart Gesell at his sentencing, after a guilty plea for approving the Fielding break-in, he laid out both the aims of the burglary and the intended uses of the information sought from it. “The aims of the operation were many.” One of these aims was “to ascertain if prosecution of Dr. Ellsberg would induce him to make further disclosures that he otherwise would not.”

The failed assault on Ellsberg during an anti-war rally; the NSSM-1 mentioned is a National Security Study Memorandum overseen by Ellsberg, which concluded that an unfavorable resolution of the Viet Nam conflict, the withdrawl of the United States, would not lead to other countries falling under communism:

The reason for Nixon’s direct involvement, as early as June 23, 1972, and continuing, has turned out to be his concern to keep Howard Hunt from revealing the earlier Fielding break-in and other illegal actions of the Plumbers. As I learned later, the burglary of my psychoanalyst’s office in September 1971, though best known, was not the last or most dramatic of these. Eight months later, on May 3, 1972, on orders from Colson to Liddy and Hunt, the White House secretly flew a dozen Cuban-American CIA “assets” from Miami to Washington to disrupt a rally that I and others were addressing on the steps of the Capitol and to assault me physically.

This was the rally described earlier, five days before the mining of Haiphong and eight days after Senator Gravel had released NSSM-1 to the press. The purpose of the planned assault on me remains obscure. However, an Oval Office tape of May 2 reveals that Nixon was aware that I had chosen this moment to reveal NSSM-1 at last. Whatever else I had from NSC files could be presumed to be on the verge of disclosure. According to Nick Akerman, the attorney on the Watergate Special Prosecution Task Force (WSPTF) who investigated this incident (with over one hundred interviews), some members of the team from Miami had orders “to incapacitate [me] totally” Different members of the team had different perspectives on their functions. All of them reported that Hunt and Liddy had shown them my picture (and that of Bill Kunstler, also at the rally) and told them I was the “target.” Several told the FBI or WSPTF that, as one put it to Time, “We were to call him ‘traitor’ and punch him in the nose.” Bernard Barker (who with Eugenio Martinez recruited the team in Miami) told the journalist Lloyd Shearer later that his orders had been to “break both [my] legs.” (The team found the crowd too friendly to me to make it safe to carry out their mission. Some of them instead assaulted young participants on the edge of the crowd and were led away by police, who released them to two men showing government credentials. Several of them were driven that night by Hunt and Liddy to reconnoiter “their next objective,” the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee.) Just weeks after this, several who had participated in both of these criminal efforts directed by the White House – the Fielding burglary and the roughing up of demonstrators on May 3 – were arrested in connection with the Watergate break-in.

265 From Secrets by Daniel Ellsberg:

Tuesday night, June 29, Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska cast his whole vote, twice: first on the Senate floor, where he was the only senator to attempt a filibuster against the war and finally the only one to accept the Pentagon Papers from me and try to read them into the record; second, later that night, in a hearing of the Subcommittee on Buildings and Grounds of the Senate Public Works Committee that he had hastily called.

He had rushed up from the Senate gym on Friday, June 18, to take a phone call that his aide suspected was from me. (The Washington Post published its first story that morning and was clearly about to be enjoined.) Without introducing myself, I asked him from a pay phone whether he was serious about conducting a filibuster, and if he would like to use the Pentagon Papers for this purpose. He said yes to both questions firmly. On June 24, Ben Bagdikian, despite his qualms as a journalist, carried out his promise to me to transfer the box with a second set of the papers to Gravel (from one car to another in front of the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue).

At 5:55 P.M. on Tuesday, June 29, Senator Gravel was blocked by a Republican parliamentary maneuver from launching a one-man filibuster in the Senate chamber that he meant to last till the draft expired thirty hours later on Wednesday midnight. He proceeded to use his whole influence, as no other senator had dared. He called a night hearing of the obscure subcommittee of which he was chairman and, as the only senator present, began reading the Pentagon Papers into the hearing record at 9:45 P.M. in front of television cameras. He inserted the rest of the papers that Bagdikian had conveyed to him into the record as he adjourned the one-man hearing at 1 A.M. Then, with the help of his staff, he distributed great bundles of previously unpublished top secret documents to a crowd of newsmen and to the Associated Press, which put them on its news wire across the country. He did this without the assurance of congressional immunity for these actions, and with a strong prospect (partly realized) of ostracism by his colleagues, with possible censure or loss of his seat.

Gravel’s introduction in “Freedom Freaks”, an account of the 2008 Libertarian Party convention by Michael Idov:

With Barr otherwise engaged, the biggest name on the debate dais is former Alaska senator Mike Gravel. Another neophyte, he joined the party nearly three months ago after bowing out of a run for the Democratic nomination. Gravel used his time in the national spotlight to tape ornery cable appearances and inscrutable YouTube promos, all of which are now running on a loop at his booth (including a seasonal one that informs us, in song, that he’s “running for president, and he’s filled with Christmas cheer”). Gravel is candid about his motives and expectations. He’s mostly mad at the Democrats—who, he says, pushed him out of the race for criticizing the U.S. stance on Iran—and would enjoy a platform from which to dish out some mild payback. His floor team includes Neal, a long-haired Wiccan who has a beef with Barr “because he tried to stop Wiccans from worshiping in the military” and granddaughter Renee, 20 years old and in full Goth regalia featuring a spiky dog collar. “He’s the kind of grandpa you see on TV,” she says of Gravel, tongue stud flickering between her teeth. “The one who comes to visit for Christmas, opens the presents. You know?” (I do, in fact–I’ve seen the video.) “This will either end my career, or give me a boost for the next six months,” Gravel tells me. “I’ll take either.”

The losses of Church and McGovern as a result of NCPAC are described in the excellent “Follow the Dark Money” by Andy Kroll:

NCPAC famously spent $1.2 million in the 1980 election relentlessly attacking six Democratic lions of the Senate; four of them—McGovern, Birch Bayh of Indiana, Frank Church of Idaho, and John Culver of Iowa—would lose. On just one day during the ’80 campaign, NCPAC ran 150 anti-Church ads on Idaho radio stations. NCPAC also spent $2 million to help Reagan beat President Jimmy Carter. In the 1984 presidential election, it dropped another $2 million hammering Walter Mondale. The country had never seen anything like Dolan’s outside attack machine—and he knew it. “We’re on the cutting edge of politics,” he told the Washington Post in 1980.

266 Ruwe’s obituary, “L. Nicholas Ruwe; Aide to Presidents, Ex-Ambassador” from May 8th, 1990.

267 From Dirty Tricks:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Stone’s tweet:

268 The tweet by Jacob Weisberg:

269 My skepticism over Stone’s involvement in the Brooks Brothers riot is relayed in part four.

From Will by G. Gordon Liddy, a report on the counter-demonstration organized in Miami:

Earlier reports mentioned plans for a rally on Saturday evening, May 13, at Bay Front Park, Miami, Florida. Because of differences of opinion in the Cuban community and some internal jealousies, it was thought best to cancel the rally and to substitute a motorcade on Saturday afternoon.

Accordingly, on the afternoon of Saturday, May 13,a motorcade of 200 automobiles and 60 trucks was assembled at the Central Shopping Plaza, 37th Avenue and 7th Street, NW, Miami. “The vehicles were placarded with signs such as “Nixon – We Back You 100%” and “Free the POWS Now,” as well as a number reading “Tell it to Hanoi.” The motorcade lasted two and one-half hours (2:00 P.M. to 4:30 P.M.); starting at the Central Shopping Plaza, the route went south on 37th Avenue to the Tamiami Trail, then to Biscayne Boulevard and then all the way back up Flagler to 32nd Avenue. As the motorcade proceeded with lights on, more than 200 more vehicles joined the caravan, having a total of nearly 500 vehicles (automobiles and trucks).

The reactions of the street crowds on the way was very favorable. The route took the caravan through areas populated heavily by Cubans, and there was much shouting of “Viva Nixon.” Traffic was nearly paralyzed. The police were sympahtetic and helpful. At one point when the caravan stopped while police cleared traffic, one store took the popular music off its outdoor phonograph speakers and played “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Persons on the scene stated that Miami Herald coverage was biased against the motorcade in that it published no photographs with strong pro-Nixon sentiment, but only those which could be taken two ways, e.g., “Free the POWS now.” The Herald report (Section B, page 1) should not be relied upon as an accurate description as the actual event and the reaction thereto was far more favorable to the President.

270 A screenshot of the comment at “The FishbowlDC Interview With Roger Stone”:

philip dodge hair comments cropped

271 A screenshot of the comment at “Roger Stone’s New Book Says LBJ Killed JFK”:

philip dodge roger stone new book cropped

272 A screenshot of the comment at “Corsi challenges Bill O’Reilly to JFK-assassination debate”:

philip dodge jerome corsi debate cropped

273 A screenshot of the comment at “Ventura: LBJ Had The Most To Gain From JFK Assassination”:

Philip Dodge Ventura LBJ had the most to gain

274 A screenshot of the comment at “The List: Facts about President John F. Kennedy’s love of sports”:

Philip Dodge facts about JFK love of sports cr

275 A screenshot of the comment at “Roger Stone: ‘Nixon thought LBJ killed Kennedy'”:

philip dodge nixon thought lbj killed kennedy cr

276 A screenshot of the comment at “NY Times best selling author Roger Stone to visit Palm Beach for book signing”:

Philip Dodge NY Times best selling author croppe

277 A screenshot of the comment at “Ex-GOP Bad Boy Roger Stone Eyes Florida Run”:

Philip Dodge Ex GOP Bad Boy Roger Stone Eyes Flo

278 From “Roger Stone Joining GOProud’s Advisory Board” by Chris Geidner:

Republican political operative Roger Stone — known primarily for his work on opposition research and negative ads — is joining the advisory board of GOProud, adding another another voice to the group’s advisory board that is certain to inflame liberals.

In a release announcing the move, Stone said, “I am a libertarian Republican in the Barry Goldwater mold and I believe deeply in personal freedom, equality and getting government out of the bedroom, which is why I am proud to serve in this capacity.”

279 A screenshot of the comments by Philip Dodge and Juanita Feenis at “Roger Stone pondering a campaign for Florida governor with an emphasis on pot”:

philip dodge roger stone pondering a campaign fo

280 A screenshot of the comment at “Ex-GOP Bad Boy Roger Stone Eyes Florida Run”:

juanita feenis ex gop bad boy roger stone eyes f

281 A screenshot of the comment at “CBS Omits Spitzer’s Political Opponent Allegedly Provided Him With Prostitutes”:

juanita feenis cbs omits spitzer political oppon

282 A screenshot of the comment at“Eliot Spitzer to Jay Leno: ‘Hubris’ was my failing”:

juanita feenis eliot spitzer to jay leno hubris

283 A screenshot of the comment at “Boyd Gaming retains ownership of the name ‘Stardust'”:

juanita feenis boyd gaming retains ownership cro

284 A screenshot of the comment at “Genting buys Echelon for $2 billion Resorts World Las Vegas”:

juanita feenis genting buys echelon for two bill

285 A screenshot of the comment at “Who was Lee Harvey Oswald? Questions linger after John F Kennedy’s assassination”:

karla von stetten who was lee harvey oswald crop

286 A screenshot of the comment at “CNN’s Tapper to Eliot Spitzer: Shouldn’t You Have Gone to Jail?”:

karla von stetten cnn tapper to eliot spitzer cr

287 A screenshot of the comment at “Manhattan Madam to Eliot Spitzer: ‘Gosh, It’s Going to Be a Fun Race!'”:

karla von stetten manhattan madam to eliot spitz

288 A screenshot of the comments at “Letters at 3AM: JFK and That Hard Rain”:

karla von stetten letters at 3am jfk and that ha

karla von stetten letters at 3am jfk and that ha

289 A screenshot of the comment at “Eliot Spitzer to Jay Leno: Wall Street Rooting Against Me”:

richard knox eliot spitzer to jay leno wall stre

290 A screenshot of the comment at “Florida poll: Charlie Crist tops Rick Scott”:

richard knox florida poll charlie crist tops ric

291 A screenshot of the comment at “FBI Arrest Mayors Of Miami Lakes and Sweetwater in Florida: Mike Pizzi, Manuel Morono Charged in Corruption Schemes”:

richard knox fbi arrests mayor of miami lakes cr

292 The comment for “John Catsimatidis Spending Big on Billboards, Lip Balm and Candy” does not appear to be at the original story anymore, but it’s still at William Windorf’s Facebook page, screenshots below:

william windorf facebook pt1 cropped william windorf facebook pt2 cropped

The screenshot of the comments of Philip Dodge and William Windorf at “Few Mayoral Candidates Stand Up to Chassidim on ‘Metzitzah B’peh’”:

windorf dodge catsamandis cropped

293 The screenshot for “Daughter of Republican Mayoral Hopeful John Catsimatidis is Sort of a Mini-Celebrity in China”:

karla von stetten daughter of republican w750px

The screenshot for “Which NYC Mayoral Candidates Think Spying on American Muslims is Unconstitutional?”:

karla von stetten what nyc mayoral candidate w75

294 A screenshot of the comment at “Roger Stone previews ‘CIA coup’ theory of Watergate at Woodward-Bernstein event”:

william windorf roger stone previews cia coup cr

295 A screenshot of the comment at “How a Texas Paper Brought Down Billie Sol Estes”:

william windorf how a texas paper cropped

296 A screenshot from “Bimini SuperFast Makes Inaugural Voyage”:

william windorf bimini superfast makes inaugural

A screenshot from “Controversial resort opens up Bimini to the world”:

William Windorf Controversial Resort cropped

A screenshot from “Bahamas National Trust calls for disclosure on Bimini facility”:

William Windorf Bahamas National Trust cropped

297 A screenshot of the comments of Feenis and Windorf at “Analysts give mixed reviews for Genting’s Strip plans”:

juanita feenis analysts give mixed reviews cropp

298 A screenshot of the comments of Windorf and Dodge at “Disney Said to Be Dishing Big Bucks in Tallahassee, Preparing for Destination Casino Fight”:

william windorf disney said to be dishing big bu

299 The background information on Nick Loeb is well-known and can be found in many places. I grabbed it from “Sofia Vergara’s Fiance, Nick Loeb, ‘Lives Like A King,’ Says Source” by “Naughty but Nice Rob”.

A screenshot of the Windorf comment from “Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb: Brawling Over Her Ex on New Year’s Eve?”:

william windorf Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb crop

A screenshot of the Windorf comment from “Sofia Vergara & Boyfriend’s NYE Fight Caused Boob Explosion?!”:

william windorf sofia vergara caused boob explos

300 Screenshots of the comments of “Roger Stone Considers Run for Florida Governor”:

warren redlich independent political report pt2

warren redlich independent political report pt3

warren redlich independent political report crop

301 Screenshots of the comments of “Update: Demos Fed Up With Sheriff’s Blunders”.

Dick Knox:

Dick Knox Demos Fed Up With Sheriff Blunders cro

Karla Von Stetten:

karla von stetten Demos Fed Up With Sheriff Blun

William Windorf:

william windorf Demos Fed Up With Sheriff Blunde

302 The comments for “Legal problems may stop BSO hiring” and “Sheriff Scott Israel makes new hires to ‘connect with community'” are no longer at the original stories, however they are listed in Richard Knox’s Disqus profile:

richard knox sheriff office pt1 cropped

richard knox sheriff office pt2 cropped

303 Among other names with the strange pattern of commenting exclusively on matters related to The Man Who Killed Kennedy, Roger Stone, gambling, and other related interests we might list a few more.

There is Erica Benafucci, commenting on “Richter delays Florida casino gambling bill”:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Erica Benafucci Richter delays Florida casino

Benafucci on “Lyndon B. Johnson arranged John F. Kennedy’s assassination – Roger Stone – News – World – The Voice of Russia”:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Erica Benafucci Lyndon B Johnson arranged John

Benafucci on “Inside the world of JFK conspiracy theories”:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

erica benafucci inside the world of jfk conspi

Benafucci on “The Brooklyn Independent GOP Fountainhead: Roger Stone spoke at Bay Ridge Manor to contingent of The Brooklyn Young Republican Club”:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

erica benafucci the brooklyn independent gop cro

This last features comments which, other than Benafucci’s, are almost entirely hostile and somewhat amusing:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Another name that follows this pattern is Adele Jeter. There she is with a comment on Facebook for The National Enquirer story, “PRESIDENTIAL AIDE: LBJ ARRANGED JFK’s ASSASSINATION blockbuster new evidence”:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

adele jeter facebook page cropped

“Roger Stone Bashes Medical Marijuana Push as Charlie Crist Front”:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Adele Jeter Roger Stone Bashes Medical Marijuana

“Roger Stone’s Gov run: True leadership or brilliant strategy?”, alongside Philip Dodge:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Adele Jeter Roger Stone Gov run cropped

“Roger Stone will “probably” run for Florida governor”:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

Adele Jeter Roger Stone will probably run for go

“Libertarian Roger Stone will not run for Governor of Florida”:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

adele jeter libertarian roger stone will not run

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Roger Stone: Pretty Reckless Is Going Straight To Hell Part Eight

ROGER STONE:

PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

THE WELL DRESSED MAN PART EIGHT: THE WIFE OF THE WELL-DRESSED MAN / DIVIDE AND CONQUER / THE BIG ENCHILADA

(Of invaluable help in following the intricate politics of the Libertarian Party since the 2008 election was the Liberty for America journal; I recommend its work to the curious and scholarly, their back issues can be found here. Equally helpful for following the conflicts within the Libertarian Party at that time, some involving Johnson and Stone, was the website, The Independent Political Report.)

The opening moments of that visit often came back to me over the next decade, during three elections in South Vietnam and two in the United States. Nixon came up to the large room on the second floor of [General Edward] Lansdale’s villa where the team members were gathered in a semicircle to greet him. I had never seen him before in person, and never did again. He was jet-lagged and rumpled, with the jowls and heavy five o’clock shadow of the Herblock cartoons. But in the long discussion that followed, he was alert and articulate. He went around the circle and shook hands with each of us. Then he joined Lansdale, standing in front of two armchairs side by side, and said, “Well, Ed, what are you up to?”

Getting right to business, Lansdale said, “Mr. Vice President, we want to help General Thang make this the most honest election that’s ever been held in Vietnam.”

“Oh, sure, honest, yes, honest, that’s right” – Nixon was seating himself in an armchair next to Lansdale – “so long as you win!” With the last words he did three things in quick succession: winked, drove his elbow hard into Lansdale’s arm, and, in a return motion, slapped his own knee. My colleagues turned to stone.

–Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: A Memoir

This eighth part gives good space to the role of Roger Stone in the 2012 election, which was marked by several pieces given over to the longtime fixer’s switch from the GOP to the libertarian party, such as “Roger Stone’s Steakhouse Politics” by Gabriel Sherman, say, or “Roger Stone to GOP: Payback’s a Bitch” by Mark Warren, or “GOP trickster Roger Stone defects to Libertarian party” by the Washington Post, all asking questions and wondering what philosophical shift this implied. My belief is that this is the wrong question to ask, as Stone has nothing like a consistent political philosophy or beliefs. The only relevant questions are: who is he grifting, and how big a grift is he trying to pull off?

This same question can also be asked of his wife – not Nydia Stone, but his first wife, Ann, who is very much a kindred spirit. She is almost entirely invisible in the profiles by Labash and Toobin – going entirely unmentioned in the first, and only given brief mention exclusively as a wife in the second – “Stone and his wife at the time, Ann, became famous for their lavish life style, which included a chauffeur-driven Mercedes and tailor-made clothes,” “In the nineties, Stone divorced Ann and married Nydia Bertran,” – rather than as a formidable political force in her own right. I do not think he was the best or most loyal of husbands, but he gives her a complimentary mention in his memoir, and I don’t think this is a case of gallantry or politeness, but simply giving his ex-wife her just due. There are two people, Stone writes, who taught him everything about direct mail, and getting a message out to conservative donors and activists. One of them is Jim Martin, the man who managed to put out the message that the inheritance tax should be called a death tax. The other is his ex-wife Ann E.W. Stone. She, along with Martin, “are both two of the most brilliant marketers I know”187.

Direct mail was the secret fuel of the conservative movement, and its master was Richard Viguerie. Through pleas to fight communism in the United States or abroad, for the cause of persecuted christians or persecuted capitalists, direct mail harnessed a massive amount of money from small donors to fund conservative political causes and groups, including NCPAC – an ordinary PAC as opposed to a Super PAC which relies on the funding of a small number of single wealthy donors, or sometimes a single wealthy donor, such as the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson. Both Ann Stone and Richard Martin, the names singled out by Roger Stone, were two of Viguerie’s best students. “Funding Father”, is a 2003 Washington Times ode by Martin to Viguerie. “Shy about personally visiting contributors,” Martin writes, “Mr. Viguerie realized he could contact 1,000 or 10,000 potential donors by mail without spending any more time, effort or money than it would take to personally solicit a single contribution from one potential donor.” He is perhaps not overstating things in the next paragraph. “Legions of candidates, from the courthouse to the White House, have benefited from Mr. Viguerie’s expertise, and legions of others have tasted defeat as a direct result of his ability to raise money and promote action simply by sitting down at his typewriter.”

Easily the best discussion of the phenomenon is “The Long Con” by Rick Perlstein, and the title is not idle malice. Perlstein gives substantial evidence that questions how much of the money raised went to their intended causes and how much ended up in the pockets of the mail wranglers. There’s also the ways in which these political appeals resemble snake oil sales of elixirs and sure fire investments, whose appeals the dedicated conservative got as well, with the mailing lists sold off to commercial bidders of cheap, cruddy stuff and grifts. All this reaches the obvious and expected nadir with direct mail’s electronic ancestor in “Newt Gingrich & Herman Cain Are Now Making Money Off Spam” by Ben Adler, where subscribers to the mailing lists of both men receive news on how Obamacare is destroying lives, the betrayal of the dead of Benghazi, but also the ways their erectile dysfunction problems can now be solved, and how you can get rich quick now. This same theme, false politics overlapping with the deceptions of the con, is there in the career of Ann Stone, woefully unreported, except for brief outbursts of scandalous exposure.

The name of her husband cameos in the Watergate hearings, and she makes a similar brief appearance in what I think was a much larger scandal, Iran-contra. This scandal of the Reagan administration involved the sale of weapons to Iran to provide funding for the contras of Nicaragua, all without congressional oversight, all for the purpose of getting weapons to these rebels of Central America after congress had specifically banned such funding. Here she is, in the “Iran-Contra Investigation, Appendix B, Volume 3: Depositions (specific pages 162-163)”. The man being interviewed by Congress is Adolfo Calero, the head of the contras, their chief lobbyist for funds, who was also connected to the man at the center of the scandal, Oliver North, and was well aware of the illegality of the Iran-Contra money188. I boldface the appearance of her name:

Q And was there any other source of money? Did you get any money from Secord? [Richard Secord, another Administration figure involved in the scandal]

A No, no.

Q And you still had ammunition and weapons left from what you had managed to squirrel away in 1985?

A Yes. And then at one time we got a $75,000 donation. I don’t know where it came from. We got $50,000 from phone calls that I made. And that was paid to [REDACTED] and that money had been sent to Ann Scott, no Ann Stone. And $75,000 that checks that were made did not pass through our account, checks that were paid directly to the [REDACTED]

It was most likely a much larger scandal than Watergate in terms of what was done, though without any of the repercussions of that one. Watergate had pushed Roger Stone into shameful exile, his name briefly the equal of a leper’s sore. By Iran-contra, however, conservatives had managed to figure out how to turn an unconstitutional action into a fundraising opportunity. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like this,” says a direct mail expert of the time, as she pulls in $54 000 collected on a single day, from an appeal sent out after Oliver North testified on his proud involvement in anti-constitutional activity. This wasn’t a traitor, a criminal, a felon; this was a patriot, persecuted by the spineless liberals of the Northeast establishment. The direct mail expert, the title character of “North Appearance Spurs Contra Fund-Raising, Spokeswoman Says”, is our heroine as well:

A fund-raising appeal sent out by the Contra rebels on the heels of Lt. Col. Oliver North’s congressional testimony has drawn a “mind-boggling” response, a fund-raiser said Friday.

The mailing, capitalizing on the wave of public sentiment that North raised during a week of testimony about the Iran-Contra affair, was sent early last week to 200,000 people drawn from conservative mailing lists, said Ann Stone, a mail consultant who sent the appeal for the Contras’ official money gathering arm, the Nicaraguan Development Council.

The money is to be spent on nonlethal supplies for the rebels and for expenses of their Washington office, she said.

Ms. Stone said the mailing paid for itself on the first day the returns came back, with $54,000 collected that day.

The appeal, in the form of an “Urgentgram,” went out over the signature of Adolfo Calero, one of the most recognized names in the U.S.-backed Contra leadership. It said in part: “In the past few days a man I am proud to call my friend, Lt. Col. Oliver North, has laid out the reasons our men and I fight the communist Sandinistas who have enslaved Nicaragua.

“These enemies will not give up simply because Ollie North told the truth about the Nicaraguan communists. They continue to spread lies and disinformation – we must counter them.”

The letter concludes with a plea for “whatever you can afford to send – $1,000, $500, $100, $50, $25 or less.”

“I thank you. I’m sure Ollie North would be grateful too.”

I wrote of this scandal being transformed into one more conservative persecution complex, the upstanding man doing the righteous thing, only to be stabbed in the back by the perfidious liberal, and this is not my reading, but the one that Ann Stone and Richard Viguerie are happy to make explicit, the very one that they use to pull in cash, all there in “Conservatives Using 50s-Style ‘Soft on Communism’ Tactic in Contra Aid Fight” by Donald Rothberg. Ann Stone might be more discrete than her husband, might be smarter in sticking to the shadows, but make no mistake that she is as vicious and tough a pit fighter as he is. Of those who might think the United States should not interfere or get involved in Central and South America, “We are saying either they are fools or they are collaborators,” says Ann Stone.

WASHINGTON (AP) Conservative supporters of the Contra forces in Nicaragua are gearing up a 1950s-style campaign labeling opponents of U.S. aid as “soft on communism.”

“We are saying either they are fools or they are collaborators,” said Ann Stone, a conservative fund-raiser.

“The perception of being soft on communism really has hurt a number of Democrats,” said Richard Viguerie, whose company pioneered direct-mail fund- raising for right-wing causes and candidates.

Ms. Stone and Viguerie are flooding the mails with millions of letters urging people to send money and also call their representatives or senators urging them to support President Reagan’s $100 million aid package for the Contras fighting the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

In the same article, there’s Terry Dolan; a year away from dying of AIDS, turning everything into a simple question:

John T. Dolan, chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee, said his group is running ads against some aid opponents. He described the theme as, “Are you for a communist government there or are you for getting rid of it? It’s as simple as that.”

Typical of the mail being sent was a letter dated March 14 and signed by Dolan.

“We have only one week to act,” the letter began. It went on to talk about a 14-year-old girl who “lost her eye fighting against the communists in Nicaragua. … She fought so our boys wouldn’t have to go down there to keep communism from spreading up through Mexico.”

Ann Stone is raising funds for Nicaragua, but she’s pulling in money for a much larger issue than Nicaragua. This isn’t just about Nicaragua, it’s about Viet Nam, and liberals betraying Americans on Nicaragua, liberals betraying Americans on Viet Nam. It’s about liberals betraying America.

Conservative fund-raisers have been going through a dry spell in which contributions have been down. Many now see Central America as an issue that might get conservatives to whip out their checkbooks again as they did when the United States ratified treaties during the Carter administration calling for gradual transfer of the Panama Canal from U.S. to Panamanian control.

Conservatives branded the treaties a “giveaway.” “It’s kind of like a Panama Canal issue where close to 100 percent of the conservatives are on board,” Viguerie said.

Asked if she agreed, Ms. Stone said, “Absolutely. You’re talking about an anger among many Americans not only going back to the Panama Canal, but all the way back to the redressing of wounds and complaints people had from the Vietnam War and the way many in the liberal community dealt with that issue.”

It was while researching something else, that I came across Stone’s name in the midst of a recent scandal, and it gives you some sense of the way she belongs to the shadow world of politics that the piece covering the scandal simultaneously acknowledged that she was a very powerful figure without noting that her ex-husband was Roger Stone – possibly a valuable biographical detail, but one absent in a long, in-depth, and very well done piece of investigative reporting. “National Women’s History Museum Makes Little Progress After 16 Years” by Andrea Stone (no relation) and Christina Wilkie describes the sixteen year long effort to build a museum devoted to honoring women’s achievements, but one with strikingly little to show for it, without even a location for a building secured or picked out. There were two women involved in the project, Joan Bradley Wages, a democratic lobbyist, and “Ann E.W. Stone, a veteran Republican political operative”. Stone, the authors write, “seemed like an ideal backer: a well-connected Washington insider on the fault line of women’s politics, a pro-choice Republican with good fundraising credentials and a knack for publicity. Stone has been a member of the museum’s board since it was founded and has twice served as treasurer. She has been the senior vice president since 2007.” Stone held a central role in the development of the museum, and a central role in the scandal – that nothing apparently was achieved in over sixteen years, while getting a rather healthy stream of money from the museum189.

Stone’s work for the museum, along with that of Wages, was recorded as in-kind donations, a rate fixed to each hour donated with the accumulated salary of those hours considered a donation to the museum, helpfully improving the museum’s revenue and picture of financial health. In 2010, Ann Stone’s company the Stone Group was the biggest single non-cash contributor to the museum, donating over $370 000 in in-kind donations. In 2009, she’d personally donated over $27 000 worth of volunteer time. The year after that, she suddenly gave far more of her time, over 1700 hours, which works out to nearly 43 weeks of time at forty hours per week. She would count 780 of these hours as in-kind donations, valued at between $150 to $1000 per hour. Her total personal contribution was over $200 000. Wages would also make large amounts of in-kind donations through volunteer time, 1450 hours in 2009, first valued at over $398 000 before auditors took issue with her $275 per hour rate, at which point her in-kind donations were revalued as being worth a little over $189 000. When the writers of the investigative piece asked for an explanation for the sudden jump in volunteered time, Stone grew flustered and said she’d call back with an explanation. She did not call back. A president of the nonprofit charity watchdog, Charity Navigator, would say that the fact that Stone and Wages were also the museum’s biggest volunteers was “very, very unusual.”190

While she was giving these highly valued donations of her time to the project, the museum was paying her companies for their direct mail services, spending at least $194 000 since 2005. They would also spend money with Total Direct Response, the company of Lora Lynn Jones, the business partner of Ann Stone for the past thirty years. Both Stone and Jones have already appeared in this narrative (“Roger Stone: Pretty Reckless Is Going Straight To Hell Part Four”), in 2000, when companies associated with them print out the fundraising letters for the “Committee to Take Back Our Judiciary”, the mysterious group formed to pressure the Florida Supreme Court to vote in the Bush campaign’s favor. “Were you as outraged by the Florida Supreme Court’s efforts to highjack [sic] the presidency for Al Gore as I was?,” the letters screeched. “We must raise at least $4.5 million by the ‘Vote No’ campaign to organize Florida voters to reject the retention of these three liberal Supreme Court justices.” This direct mail fund-raising campaign cost $150,000, the project funded by a single payment of $150,000, whose source appears to be still unidentified191.

This detail, as well as Stone and Jones, all appear in this excerpt on this mysterious committee, from “Election Law: Supreme Plot” (archived) by Dan Christianson, from Daily Business Review, July 10, 2003:

The direct mail fund-raising campaign cost $150,000. According to Judge Hooper, Roger Stone came up with the money that Committee campaign records later listed as a “loan” from an Alexandria, Va.-based firm called Creative Marketing. The mailing address reported by the Committee for Creative Marketing was the same as that of the Stone Group, a fund-raising and marketing firm owned by Roger Stone’s ex-wife, conservative Republican activist Ann Stone. Investigators could find no company by the name of Creative Marketing.

Mary McCarty said Roger Stone told her he and his partner, Craig Snyder, would be personally responsible for repaying the $150,000 that funded the “Dear Friend” mass mailing.

There were also questions about who the money went to. Judge Hooper found that Roger Stone “or his Organization” actually paid the $150,000 not to Creative Marketing but to a Virginia company called Unique Graphics and Design, which, according to Virginia State corporate records, had as its principals Ann Stone and Lora Lynn Jones. The Committee subsequently paid Unique Graphics an additional $50,000 in May 2001 for purposes that remain unclear.

Last November, Lora Lynn Jones testified in a deposition that it was Roger Stone who hired Unique Graphics for the Florida work, gave her “marching orders,” and was responsible for paying the tab for the fund-raising letter. Lora Jones said she asked for and received the entire $150,000 payment by wire, in advance, because Roger Stone had “burned” her once before on a job.

Neither Hooper nor the FEC determined why the Committee listed “Creative Marketing” rather than “Unique Graphics” as the recipient of the payments. In another anomaly, a Daily Business Review examination of Virginia State corporate records found that “Unique Graphics” was NOT a legal entity when the two payments of $150,000 and $50,000 were made and received. The company’s charter was terminated in 1994, and the firm was purged from the state’s records in 1999.

And despite state records showing that Ann Stone was a principal of “Unique Graphics”, Lora Jones said she was the sole owner and employee. She also said, however, that she was a longtime employee of the Stone Group.

Jones would donate 2050 hours in volunteer time to the museum in 2010, 2050 hours of volunteer time valued at a little over $164 000, 2050 hours of volunteer time that would break down to an average valuation of about $80 per hour, 2050 hours of volunteer time that Jones said included “chores”, such as moving furniture and picking up supplies192.

This was one project that Ann Stone was involved in, but there was a second project which she was even more actively involved in that had even more intriguing questions. It all came out in “The curious spending of Republicans for Choice” by Josh Israel. The focus was a PAC chaired by Stone whose ostensible purpose was to support pro-choice Republican candidates at all levels of government, to bring about a more moderate Republican position on abortion, one more proximate to the beliefs of mainstream Republicans. The piece was aptly named, since this was a PAC that had raised and spent over $5.5 million since its inception in 1990, but according a decade’s worth of data (from 2000 to 2010), less than 5% had gone to political candidates, committees, or independent expenditures. Between 2005 and 2010, the year that “Curious spending” was published, one half of one percent of the million dollars at the PAC’s disposal had gone to federal or state campaigns. In contrast, according to the FEC, the average federal PAC of the 2007-2008 election cycle had spent 35% of its funds on federal candidates. Republican Majority for Choice PAC, a PAC with a very similar agenda to Republicans for Choice, spent more than 87% of its funds on candidates, committees, and independent expenditures. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund spent 72% on these. Two Republican anti-abortion groups, the Republican National Coalition for Life PAC and National Right to Life PAC, spent 79% and 91%, respectively, on candidates, committees, and independent expenditures193.

The expenditures for the Republicans for Choice PAC were similar to those of the National Women’s History Museum: Capstone Lists, The Stone Group, and Ann Stone herself. Since 2001, Stone received nearly a quarter of a million dollars in reimbursements from the PAC, for such things as “travel and entertainment,” and “automobile maintenance repairs”. The Republicans for Choice PAC paid for $685 of her parking tickets194. There were several ways you could look at this. That, according to Ann Stone’s comments to a Politico piece which summarized the allegations, this was a misunderstanding of her PAC, and that “our PAC was never primarily designed to support candidates by giving money. In fact I was clear with him [the reporter of the original piece, Josh Israel] that was a small part of what we were set up to do.” The reason why Republicans for Choice used The Stone Group and Capstone is because no such firm with Republican ties would do so, out of fear of retribution by the party. As for now, the party may have calmed down, and “maybe I could have bid the work out but since my firm was named as one of the top in the Nation by a vote of our peers, why settle for less with another firm?”195 So, there was the possibility that it was a misunderstanding on the part of the writer. The other two possibilities, left to cynical, suspicious minds, were those which open this post: how big is the grift and who is Ann Stone grifting?

There was the simplest possibility, an outgrowth of the theme of Rick Perlstein’s “The Long Con”, that she was raising money of which the vast majority were going to herself rather than the cause for which she was raising. There was, however, the possibility of an even larger, longer con, tied to when the group began. Stone’s Republicans for Choice would make a very public appearance in such articles as “G.O.P. Group Formed to Support Abortion Rights” by Robin Toner, along with one of the only profiles of Ann Stone in a mainstream magazine, People‘s “A True-Blue Conservative Chooses to Break Ranks” by Elizabeth Gleick. Republicans for Choice would be created several months after another conservative abortion rights group, mentioned in “G.O.P. Group Formed to Support Abortion Rights”, had already been created with the very same purpose, to support pro-choice Republicans: Pro-Choice America. We have, a week after the publication of “G.O.P. Group Formed”, the piece “Abortion Issue Simmers In GOP” by S.A. Paolantonio, about the possibility of abortion dividing the Republican party. “It’s our biggest fear,” Ann Stone’s ex-husband, Roger Stone, is quoted as saying in the piece196. We are then given an imagining of a very dramatic split of the Republicans over this issue during a presidential convention:

Imagine anti-abortionists repelling any changes in the platform committee, and an abortion-rights advocate, say, Rep. Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, proposing a platform change from the convention floor. The chairman denies her motion, and abortion-rights supporters – a majority of GOP leaders, according to a Boston Globe poll last week – walk out of the convention.

Imagine this on live television.

It is this crisis point in the klieg lights that many Republicans are desperate to avoid. Last week, a new group called Republicans for Choice – so far about 300 legislators, fund-raisers and members of Congress in all 50 states – embarked on a mission to take control of the party’s policy-making apparatus before the 1992 convention. Their goal: Excise the anti-abortion plank in the Republican platform.

As already said, one of the issues Roger Stone deals with is voter fragmentation, eliminating it on his own side, while creating division among potential supporters of your opponent. This is not the same as eliminating ideological division, which is expected to exist, but to make sure that ideological division cannot be expressed on his own side, while being given as much outlet for expression in the opposition. Every effort must be made to keep George Wallace from running in the general, when he will split conservative votes, while every measure possible should be taken that he runs in the democratic primary, fostering division among democratic voters and perhaps depressing enthusiasm and turnout in the general. This would be the larger scale grift. To deal with this potentially devastating split in the Republican party – “It’s our biggest fear,” says Roger Stone – one might imagine a possible effective counterstrategy: to control the splitting faction, to create a pro-abortion rights Republican PAC which takes in money for the purpose of electing pro-choice Republican candidates, but instead does nearly nothing with it. Electing pro-choice Republican candidates, after all, would not simply change the position of the party, but create a party split, just as busing, crime, drugs, and the issues those words explicitly expressed, or the one they implied – race – had split the democratic party for more than a decade and a half. Rather than letting this issue split the party, you have an advocacy group that doesn’t advocate – it would be a little like taking a dangerous electricity and running it into the ground. We might also imagine this approach taken with another project. Let’s suppose you were conservative minded and thought the idea of women getting their own museum was ridiculous. What would be a more effective approach for halting construction: throwing yourself in the middle of the road, to block the construction equipment, or making yourself head of the construction team, and slowing down the pace to the point where nothing is done?

With regard to Republicans for Choice, this is only a theory, and the best supporting evidence that this was the true intent of the group is that Ann Stone was once Roger Stone’s wife, very much a kindred spirit, a virtuoso at direct mail from whom he learned everything, as merciless a political pit fighter as he was. Other than that, we have only small hints that this is what Republicans for Choice was attempting to do. There is “McInnis served on Republicans for Choice board for nearly a decade” by Scot Kersgaard, which points out that McInnis, a Republican candidate for Colorado’s governorship, was on the board of Stone’s Republicans for Choice from 1996 to 2005, at the same time that he served in the House of Representatives, where he went from being pro-choice to voting mostly against abortion, with the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) giving him a rating of zero percent on abortion issues in 2003. “Yet after receiving that rating,” the piece notes, McInnis “continued to serve at least two more years on the RFC board. Did the board actually offer advice in the running of the organization as implied or were members merely figureheads?” More succinctly: what is a pro-life congressman doing on the board of a pro-choice organization? When McInnis ran in the Republican primary for governor of Colorado, he would support a “personhood” initiative in the state, which was expected to ban abortion in the state. McInnis lost197.

There was another story that perhaps gave weight to this theory, “Republicans for Choice vs. Republicans for Choice” by Jeff Johnson, about the conflict between Stone’s Republicans for Choice PAC and Republicans for Choice, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood. Stone’s group supported the appointment by George W. Bush of Priscilla Owen to the Fifth Circuit, while the Planned Parenthood affiliate was opposed. “I worry that if we in the pro-choice movement attack even those judicial nominees who are responsible and acclaimed jurists that we will appear like the ‘boy who cried wolf’ when the really bad nominees come forward,” wrote Stone. “We need to pick our fights and this should not be one of them.” “Republicans for Choice”, you discovered in this article, was a name that had been trademarked by Planned Parenthood in 1990, with an agreement between the group and Stone allowing her to use it, with necessary qualifiers to avoid confusion. Yet the confusion appeared inevitable, given the names; Stone’s website was republicansforchoice.com, while republicansforchoice.org was the affiliate’s. “We are Republican first and pro-choice second in their eyes,” said Stone of her disagreement with Planned Parenthood. “Our group was organized to be party-friendly and to work out the issue within the party … I have been a target more often than not because they see me as being ‘too Republican.'” In their mailer “Priscilla Owen Nominee for United States Court of Appeals For the Fifth Circuit: Executive Summary”, NARAL would write the following as their basis for opposing the nomination:

In almost every case concerning reproductive rights decided by the Texas Supreme Court during her tenure, Owen has sought to restrict a woman’s right to choose. In most of these cases, she did not merely uphold the Texas legislature in its decision to create a barrier to reproductive choice, she actually attempted to rewrite the statute to create her own, additional, barriers.

Stone would say the following in reaction to Planned Parenthood’s opposition of Owen: “To call her an ‘anti-choice extremist’ is ridiculous. It’s laughable.”198

There was one final detail in the history of Republicans for Choice, a reminder of what a hard pit fighter Ann Stone could be, so very much like her former husband in the nasty smears he could come up with, a cruel moment that the all encompassing historical amnesia had helped forget. It was two weeks to the end of the 1996 race for the governor of Delaware, and the Republican candidate, Janet Rzewnicki, was far behind the incumbent, Tom Carper, when Ann Stone held a news conference where she made a stunning accusation. There were, said Stone, sealed court records which proved that Carper abused his wife. Further, Stone said, “people in Delaware I trust,” had told her it was true. Carper had admitted to slapping his first wife once during their marriage in documents from a 1981 child custody dispute. Martha Carper, the governor’s current wife, would angrily deny Stone’s allegations in a press conference called almost immediately after Stone’s. “There are no documents sealed or unsealed because there are no documents in Family Court or in any other court.” The chair of the state Republican party would also denounce the allegations. “Ann Stone does not represent the Delaware Republican Party. We don’t practice that type of politics here in Delaware,” he’d say. “I think the whole thing is a malicious attack on the governor without a foundation.” Both Rzewnicki and her campaign manager insisted it was up to Carper to prove that he didn’t beat his wife. “If there’s nothing to hide, unseal the records and let the people of Delaware decide on this issue. I’m certainly not calling Tom Carper a wife-beater, but I believe that the people of Delaware have a right to know the entire story,” said Rzewnicki. “Show that he didn’t do it again and that’s the end of it,” said her campaign manager. Four members of the Republicans for Choice would resign in the wake of the accusations. They objected to Stone “raising issues that allegedly occurred over 15 years ago and with nothing but rumor and innuendo that they have occurred since then.” They also believed that Stone’s accusations, which I italicize what might have actually been an important and very intended effect, “could prove to be damaging to pro-choice candidates.” The question, unanswered, is the same here as it is in other parts of the story of Roger and Ann Stone: how large a game are they playing? Was this simply a clumsy smear, or a smear with the intent to do harm to the pro-choice movement in the Republican party? Janet Rzewnicki had previously served on the board of Republicans for Choice. In 1982, in Tom Carper’s first race, the issue of domestic abuse had also been brought up by his opponent. His opponent then was Tom Evans, and the campaign of Evans was run by a man known well to both Ann Stone and the reader, a man by the name of Roger Stone. Tom Evans would lose that race In 1982. Janet Rzewnicki would lose the governor’s race in 1996199.

This same question, how large a game is being played, is at the forefront of Roger Stone’s involvement of the 2012 election. It is this on which attention should have been focused, rather than on any supposed philosophical metamorphosis. I have already mentioned the pieces by Gabriel Sherman and the Washington Post whose purpose, arguably, is not even analysis of this shift, but simply presentation of a colorful character, the Roger Stone schtick with the malice of the Redlich smear entirely forgotten, with only the supposed pretense of such analysis. A far more insightful piece, one which served as the impetus for this lengthy essay, was from the NSFW Corp, “The Gary Johnson Swindle and the Degradation of Third Party Politics” by Mark Ames. The other writers treated Roger Stone as an amusing carnival act, while Ames looked at Stone and the product he was promoting, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, as a crueler kind of joke. “Gary Johnson,” Ames writes, “is proof that our democracy is finished, a fistula of bad politics swelling up under Lady Liberty’s armpit.” The next paragraph:

It’s surprising to me how little skepticism or critical interest there is in Gary Johnson’s third party campaign, especially since he’s been hard-sold to progressives as the “real alternative” or “principled” or “more progressive than [NAME OF CORRUPT DEMOCRAT SCUMBAG HERE].”

The article’s ultimate thesis is simple, a reprise of the theme of voter fragmentation. Just as Wallace was employed to split the democratic vote in 1972, Gary Johnson will be employed to split enough democratic votes in key states for Romney to win the election. Ames dismisses most of the analysis of Stone and Johnson except for one piece, by David Sirota, “The libertarian/marijuana conspiracy to swing the election”. The subhead gives us a succinct summary, “Robocalls urge pro-drug legalization voters to support libertarian Gary Johnson, and could push the state to Romney”, and a few excerpts give us the argument:

The armchair pundits in Washington and New York typically write off these latter two factors as forces destined to aid the president’s reelection campaign. The conventional wisdom is rooted in oversimplified cartoons and caricatures of voter preferences. Essentially, the idea is that the marijuana measure will bring out liberal, Obama-loving hippies, yuppies and crunchies from Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, while the libertarian candidate’s campaign will siphon conservative votes that would otherwise go to Mitt Romney, thus making Johnson the Republican “version of Ralph Nader,” as the New York Times predictably projects. But that kind of hackneyed red-versus-blue story line – so prevalent in the national media echo chamber – ignores how these forces are playing out on the ground.

This is particularly true considering the intersection of the pot initiative and the Johnson campaign. Despite the punditocracy’s narratives to the contrary, the former New Mexico governor has already been taking as much – or more – support away from Obama in Colorado as he has been from Romney, according to polls. And Johnson’s anti-Obama effect could be come much more pronounced in the next few weeks, thanks to how his supporters are deftly leveraging all hoopla around the marijuana initiative to sharpen their candidate’s appeal and message to disaffected Democrats.

This message is not just word-of-mouth anymore; it has been elevated to the big leagues by a new voter outreach campaign. Indeed, a new automated telephone call focused on the pot measure and playing to liberal disappointment is right now hitting Democratic households in Colorado. Here’s what the message says (you can listen to the full audio below):

Hello fellow Democrat. Like you I was thrilled to vote for Barack Obama in 2008. In 2008, candidate Obama promised not to use the Justice Department to prosecute medical marijuana in states where it was legal. But the real Obama did just that, more than doubling prosecutions, putting people in prisons and shutting down medical marijuana facilities in Colorado. That’s not the change you wanted on health freedom. But you can still be a force for hope and change by voting for Gary Johnson.

Officially funded by the Libertas Institute, the message is accurate in its factual broad strokes. Candidate Obama did explicitly promise to restrain the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana offenses in medical marijuana states, and President Obama has nonetheless overseen an intense Justice Department crackdown on medical marijuana in those states, directly contradicting his pledge.

Though the national media has made the unilateral decision to ignore the massive and destructive Drug War, Johnson and his supporters clearly see the issue as a perfect opening for maximum local – and by virtue of the Electoral College, national – impact. They can make a full-throated libertarian case against the Drug War in a state whose politics are uniquely aligned to convert that argument into an election-winning game-changer for the Republican presidential nominee.

However, Sirota then argues against the idea of an intentional vote split:

Is this a brilliant GOP conspiracy theory? In other words, is the libertarian candidate deliberately trying to help Romney, as Obama partisans will no doubt grouse? Almost certainly not, as Johnson is no fan of Romney, to say the least. He has run a consistently honest and principled campaign that has been equal – and equally harsh – in its criticism of both parties. For that, despite being on most state ballots, he has been mercilessly shut out of the national debate by America’s bipartisan Political-Media-Industrial Complex. But apparently not shut out enough to potentially shift the outcome of the entire 2012 election.

For some, this will be sufficient refutation against such election shenanigans. For myself, I find Sirota’s claim to be superficial and weak. It ultimately implies that Johnson necessarily be a willing and intentional instrument for a vote split, when that is unnecessary. The only thing crucial is that there be a candidate credible on specific issues in key states to achieve this split – if Gary Johnson wants to run in the general election, then he will be suitable for the enterprise. “GOP donors funding Nader: Bush supporters give independent’s bid a financial lift”, by Carla Marinucci, is a piece on wealthy Republicans such as Nijad Fares, a man who gave $200 000 to Bush’s 2000 inaugural committee, and frozen food magnate Jeno Paulucci, who between 2000 and 2004 donated $150 000 to Republican causes, making large contributions to the 2004 Ralph Nader campaign200. This might be either an expression of deep ambivalence over capitalism, or part of the obvious ploy to keep Nader in the race and pull votes from Kerry, another vote split that would make a Republican victory more likely. Does anyone doubt that Nader was as much a man of principle as Gary Johnson, that he was far more critical of both parties than Johnson was? Yet he was also a useful instrument for a vote split, so useful that the GOP gave money in 2004 to make sure his campaign kept going.

That there was very effective message control with regard to Johnson, with emphasis on marijuana, gay marriage, and an oversized security state, with no mention of inconsistencies in Johnson or the seaminess of a backer like Stone, might be seen in some of the mainstream coverage the Johnson campaign received. The sole issue of Molly Ball’s profile of Johnson in the Atlantic‘s “Pipe Dreamer” is pot legalization. There’s the essay by Roger Stone, which Michael Musto links to, “Obama Actually Betrayed The Gay Marriage Cause”, following Obama’s 2012 statements on same sex marriage. The final quote is: “Barack Obama is playing a cruel and cynical game with peoples lives and happiness. He did nothing to establish that gay marriage is a right yesterday.” No mention is made of Stone’s association with the virulently anti-gay Larry Klayman. No mention is made of Stone’s support for the man he often uses as a lawyer, Paul Rolf Jensen, the same Jensen mentioned in “Attorney For Birther Army Doc Is Former GOP Staffer And Anti-Gay Crusader” by Justin Elliott. Jensen would file suit against twenty five Presbyterian pastors who officiated same sex weddings. “Jensen is a bulldog. A true student of the law. A brilliant litigator,” Roger Stone is quoted in the story. Stone signs off on the birther lawsuit as well, saying that Jensen knows the “damage this case can do to Obama. Won’t be adverse to trying to call Obama for testimony.”201

The emphasis on Johnson restraining the national security state was there in the posts by Conor Friedersdorf pounding the drum for Johnson. The most well-known, “Why I refuse to vote for Barack Obama” came down hard on the president for the U.S drone program, and for a war in Libya that Friedersdorf saw as unconstitutional. Friedersdorf repeatedly chastises liberals for their amorality in voting for Barack Obama. One of the last paragraphs:

The whole liberal conceit that Obama is a good, enlightened man, while his opponent is a malign, hard-hearted cretin, depends on constructing a reality where the lives of non-Americans — along with the lives of some American Muslims and whistleblowers — just aren’t valued. Alternatively, the less savory parts of Obama’s tenure can just be repeatedly disappeared from the narrative of his first term, as so many left-leaning journalists, uncomfortable confronting the depths of the man’s transgressions, have done over and over again.

All this caused me to be very surprised to discover, only after the election, that Gary Johnson had very explicitly, without manipulation or editing, said in 2012 that he was uncertain whether or not he’d end the U.S. drone program in Pakistan. Again, explicitly, and without manipulation or editing, he’d also said in 2012 that he wanted to keep the Guantanamo Bay prison open. That he supported a nuclear strike that would wipe out Iran if they were ever to develop nuclear weapons. That he was for a military strike team going into Uganda to capture or kill Joseph Kony, though he also somehow believed NATO’s work in Libya was unconstitutional, all of this given out in a muddle of an interview that would be an embarrassment to a high school student, let alone a presidential candidate. In the day prior to the 2012 announcement on gay marriage, Friedersdorf would write a nasty column taunting liberals for having the gall to vote for Barack Obama given his lack of support for this issue: “‘Lucy’ Obama and His ‘Charlie Brown’ Progressives”. Neither the involvement of Roger Stone in the Johnson campaign, nor Stone’s association with Klayman and Jensen, would ever be mentioned by Friedersdorf. After the election, you waited to hear what Friedersdorf would say about Rand Paul, a politician he’d done so much to promote, when he compared same sex marriage to marriage between the human and the non-human. “It is difficult, because if we have no laws on this, people will take it to one extension further — does it have to be humans?” asked the always thoughtful Paul in an interview with the always thoughtful Glenn Beck. Perhaps a chastisement, or the emphatic declaration that if you were not for same sex marriage, then you had no principles, you were not a libertarian. Instead, readers got this: “Rand Paul Is a Savvier Politician Than Karl Rove Would Prefer”, an interview with Karl Rove at the Aspen Ideas festival. There were no further notes on the subject. I should emphasize I do not think Friedersdorf is complicit in any kind of conspiracy here – I think he’s just a helpful fool, addicted to his self-righteous libertarianism, like someone whose head is stuck far up his ass and who keeps it there because they get off of the reek202.

“Swindle” gives emphasis to the Sirota piece as supporting evidence, yet there is plenty of other material out there which gives further basis. There is this excerpt from “The Libertarian (Ever) Hopeful” by David Weigel, with Johnson speaking about a meeting he just had with Grover Norquist:

Gary Johnson is late. He’s pretty happy about the reason: too many interviews on the schedule today. That was never a problem when he was running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. Now that he’s the front-runner for the less-exclusive Libertarian Party nod, people want to talk to him.

“We started out at Grover Norquist’s meeting,” says Johnson, putting down his iPad to join me at a Dupont circle coffee shop. Norquist’s meeting of conservatives is off the record, but attendees can confirm that they crossed the threshold. “I thought it was a really good reception. Part of being out there, campaigning, talking to people, is being able to read body language. And it was all good. Nobody was dozing off. Nobody was shaking their heads. They were actually shaking their head this way.” He nods vigorously.

We’re talking on the day that Newt Gingrich announced the end of his profound presidential bid, when the Republican Party, supposedly, was learning to love Mitt Romney. It’s a few days before Johnson will claim the Libertarian Party’s nomination, potentially becoming a spoiler for Romney. The heads really nodded this way? No heads shaking that way?

“No, none, zero,” says Johnson. “I really believe I’m gonna take it from Obama rather than Romney. I joke, you know-maybe all those pot-smoking, marriage equality, get out of Afghanistan voters for Romney are going to switch to me. Then, boy, he’ll be in trouble!”

The dissent to this view, is expressed in “Spoiler Alert! G.O.P. Fighting Libertarian’s Spot on the Ballot” by Jim Ruttenberg. The text linking to it in Sirota’s piece refers to it as “that kind of hackneyed red-versus-blue story line – so prevalent in the national media echo chamber”. A few excerpted paragraphs should give some sense of the argument:

The fear of Mr. Johnson’s tipping the outcome in an important state may explain why an aide to Mr. Romney ran what was effectively a surveillance operation into Mr. Johnson’s efforts over the summer to qualify for the ballot at the Iowa State Fair, providing witnesses to testify in a lawsuit to block him that ultimately fizzled.

Libertarians suspect it is why Republican state officials in Michigan blocked Mr. Johnson from the ballot after he filed proper paperwork three minutes after his filing deadline.

And it is why Republicans in Pennsylvania hired a private detective to investigate his ballot drive in Philadelphia, appearing at the homes of paid canvassers and, in some cases, flashing an F.B.I. badge – he was a retired agent – while asking to review the petitions they gathered at $1 a signature, according to testimony in the case and interviews.

The challenge in Pennsylvania, brought by state Republican Party officials who suspected that Democrats were secretly helping the effort to get Mr. Johnson on the ballot, was shot down in court last week, bringing to 48 the number of states where Mr. Johnson will compete on Nov. 6.

Both sides agree that Mr. Johnson, whose pro-marijuana legalization and antiwar stances may appeal to the youth vote and whose antigovernment, anti-spending proposals may appeal to conservative fiscal hawks – and to supporters of Mr. Paul – has the potential to draw from both Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama.

Aides to Mr. Romney, while playing down his impact on their candidate, say Mr. Johnson is more likely to hurt Mr. Obama in the potentially critical state of Colorado, where a marijuana initiative Mr. Johnson supports is expected to draw young voters to his cause on Election Day.

They have said they are keeping a keener eye on Virgil Goode of Virginia, a conservative Constitution Party candidate who is on the presidential ballot in Virginia and 28 other states.

So, despite the headline, Romney’s aides thought Johnson was more of a threat to Obama than their candidate, and were more worried about the hard right conservative candidate Virgil Goode splitting their vote than Johnson. “Spoiler alert: Poll finds small following for Libertarian candidate” by Dan Merica further argues that Johnson would take votes away from Romney rather than Obama, but makes the mistake of looking at the country wide picture, rather than state by state: “Obama leads Romney 52% to 46% when Romney and Obama are the only candidates in question, but Romney’s support goes down three percentage points with the inclusion of the third party candidates. Obama’s support only drops one point.” The Johnson campaign know this countrywide analysis is inconsequential, and they are explicit that in specific states, they will be costing Obama votes: “Generally, in places like Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada,” says Johnson’s campaign spokesman Joe Hunter, “it appears that Governor Johnson’s appeal comes from folks that supported Obama in 2008 and are now disillusioned with the president.” Adding: “Who cares if Johnson takes votes from Romney in California?”203 This analysis is also made by Roger Stone, though not in 2012, but in 2008, during Nick Gillespie’s class at the University of Miami in a discussion on that year’s election. It occurs in Stone’s answer to a question about the importance of the latino vote204:

GILLESPIE
So, what happens with the hispanic vote? It’s largely catholic, and seems to be pretty much up for grabs.

STONE
I think it is up for grabs. I mean, the problem is, once we become depicted as an anti-immigrant party, we begin losing hispanic votes. But hispanic voters are strong believers in hard work, strong believers in the work ethic, they’re patriotic, they love uniforms, they respect the military, I think it is a vote that McCain must make in-roads into, in Colorado, in New Mexico, at least – in order to win this election. And that actually, in my opinion, the key. In other words, I think in the final analysis, you should not look at the national polls that show this tied or McCain up three points or Barack Obama up three points, that’s largely meaningless. As you study, you actually look at Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia. Probably Florida. And look at the polls in those states. Those are the states that will determine this election. Everything else is predictable, by and large. You know the democrats will carry California, and say, Massachusetts, at this point, the Republicans will carry Texas and Mississippi. You know all that. Every other state is reliably predictable, those states I just mentioned are up for grabs, and in order to win Colorado and New Mexico, I think McCain needs to fall back on his original position on immigration, he’s not an immigrant basher, he has been in favor of a path to citizenship, and I think that could be very palatable to people in those states.

Note the key states: Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia. Not Pennsylvania, not Iowa, not Michigan, the places where Republicans were working to keep Johnson off ballots. And there is Virginia: Romney’s aides think Johnson will actually take more votes from Obama than their man, but: “They have said they are keeping a keener eye on Virgil Goode of Virginia, a conservative Constitution Party candidate who is on the presidential ballot in Virginia and 28 other states.” In Stone’s 2008 analysis, McCain needs to win Colorado and New Mexico by going back to his path to citizenship stance. Those voters were already lost to the Romney-Ryan ticket through their embrace of the proposals of Kris Korbach. So, how can they win those necessary states? Through a vote split on the left between Johnson and Obama. Though Ames is dismissive of Warren’s “Roger Stone to GOP: Payback’s a Bitch” piece – “It’s his Ivy Leaguer “bitch” that makes it so authentically awful” – there is, I think, a key point that Stone makes there, and why his role in the Johnson campaign is crucial. I bold the relevant text: “Johnson is polling at 9 percent in Arizona [according to PPP], and it’s all gonna come out of Romney’s hide, and he’s at 6 percent in Wisconsin (according to the Reason poll), which is all out of Obama’s hide. I am helping Gary figure out where to put his emphasis.” I was reminded of this line when reading the emails from the 2010 New York governor’s race, where Roger Stone pleads with Warren Redlich to drop out, and Stone gives his explanation for why: “In a 3 way race for Governor a woman candidate running on marijuana legalization gets 50,000+ votes and takes votes from Cuomo- not a Paladino. Prostitution would be de-emphasized in a fall campaign.” The plan is that marijuana legalization would have been emphasized with a Kristin Davis candidacy, taking it out of Cuomo’s hide, and throwing the election to Paladino. Redlich got the nomination, so Stone had no control in shaping the ticket. In 2012, Stone was there to help Johnson “figure out where to put his emphasis.” Marijuana legalization would be pushed in Colorado and New Mexico, taking points out of Obama’s hide205

Ames cites the precedent of Stone playing a role in a split vote in the 1980 election between Reagan and Carter. In a tight contest in New York, third party candidate John Anderson was predicted to do far more damage to Carter than Reagan. Ames quotes from the Labash profile an episode where Stone, political fixer Roy Cohn, and gangster Tony Salerno get Anderson on the ballot in New York state, and in 1980, New York goes for Reagan. This is one distinctive precedent, but there are several others in Stone’s career. There is the list of notable achievements and connections in his memoir’s introduction, which includes the throwaway line “tried to persuade Warren Beatty to run for President on the Reform ticket (to siphon votes from the Democrats, of course)”206. Rather than run Warren Beatty, the Reform Party in 2000 would run Pat Buchanan, a move that would be their doomsday. Stone would openly take credit for this, and be explicit that the reason he wanted the Reform Party destroyed was because they were splitting the conservative vote. He would say all this publicly in a Reason TV conference and interview from 2007:

NICK GILLESPIE
Should the Libertarian Party continue to exist?

ROGER STONE
Well, as one who, I think, either helped kill, or killed, the Reform Party, because I believe they helped cost us the White House in both 1992 and 1996, and their lack of any ideology at all, it was a hodgepodge of vegetarians and goldbugs and a few libertarians, and gun people, and gun control people…there was no consistency there other than there were people who couldn’t make it in any other party.

Though both Labash and Toobin indulge Stone greatly in his claimed achievements, they shy away from this one. Toobin does not mention it at all; Labash gives it mention, then seemingly appears to wave it away: “After having recruited Pat Buchanan to seek the nod (“You have to beat somebody,” Stone says), he pushed Trump into the race. Trump relentlessly attacked Buchanan as having “a love affair with Adolf Hitler,” but ended up folding. A weakened Buchanan went on to help the Reform party implode, and Republicans suffered no real third-party threat, as they had in 1992, thus helping Stone accomplish his objective. If, in fact, that was his objective. These things are often hard to keep track of with Roger Stone.”207 I’m not quite sure why there’s the hesitation – “If, in fact, that was his objective” – since Stone has been very explicit that this was his objective, and the elimination of a vote splitting party on the right has an obvious tangible benefit for the Republicans. The man who goes further than both writers is, once again, Wayne Barrett, with “The Sex Scandal That Put Bush in the White House”: “The Buchanan saga remains important not only because it reveals the seamy underside of Bush II’s ascent to power, but because it shows how the GOP virtually eliminated a national centrist party that could’ve altered the 2004 race.”208

Roger Stone would meet with his old colleague from the Nixon White House, Pat Buchanan, and encourage him to leave the Republicans and run for the head of the Reform Party. Buchanan declined, but things were soon going badly for him in Republican primaries, where the Iowa straw poll had him behind far right fringe candidate Gary Bauer. Stone commissioned a poll showing Buchanan doing very well on the Reform party ticket and sent the results to Buchanan. A close associate of Buchanan, Pat Choate, would become chairman of the party, and Buchanan would head up the ticket, but only after a very nasty public fight. Donald Trump, who had briefly made public consideration of heading the ticket, called Buchanan a nazi. So did Jesse Ventura, who’d successfully won the governorship of Minnesota on the Reform Party line, and who left the Reform Party after Buchanan was selected. Bay Buchanan, sister and close confidant of the candidate, was bewildered by Stone’s actions, saying she “doesn’t understand why he would want us in the Reform Party in the first place” and then use proxies like Trump and Ventura to go after the candidate as a nazi. Choate would describe the efforts by Trump and Stone as a “Republican dirty trick”, with the intent “to disgust people and drive them away from the Reform Party. They were doing everything in their power to make a mess. You had Ventura leaving and Trump all over TV saying that Buchanan loved Hitler, ignorant statements.”209

Stone would also go after Buchanan with an old rumor that had dogged the candidate when he ran for president in 1992 and 1996. The rumor was that he’d fathered an illegitimate child while he was an undergrad in Georgetown, sometime between 1957 and 1961. In 2000, there was another element. Buchanan, in 1992, had made a series of payments, personal checks from him to his sister, who in turn sent personal checks to an aide, who then delivered cashier checks to a Washington lawyer. Pat Buchanan would call the baby story an “unsubstantiated rumor”. Bay Buchnanan would call the story “false”. Of the payments, Pat Buchanan would say “I’m not going to go into that. I don’t know the details of anything. It deals with a private matter. We did nothing wrong.” Bay Buchanan would confirm that these payments had been made. She would also confirm another detail: that the lawyer to whom the payments were made had once been married to a woman Pat Buchanan had dated when he’d been at Georgetown210.

Roger Stone would aggressively push the illegitimate baby story early on in the 2000 campaign. He was explicit and public in his belief in the story. “Everyone who worked for Nixon knew about” this story, said Stone. “There’s no doubt this illegitimate child story is true. My understanding is that Buchanan supported the child and made educational payments. It would be honorable.” Whenever Buchanan did well, the illegitimate baby story would get pushed. The nasty fight within the Reform Party eliminated the possibility that Perot would run for the ticket, which was always a worry for Bush during the 2000 election. Buchanan would purge the Reform Party of Perot loyalists. This would further intensify strife within the party, and cause Perot to endorse Bush. Buchanan’s ten million dollars in matching funds were used entirely in a near unnoticed media buy in Texas. After the election, Buchanan would say “I’m glad we didn’t take Bush down with us.” Buchanan would deny the possibility that the illegitimate baby story played a role in any of his decisions. “If you’ve got Roger trying to smear me,” said Buchanan, “it had no influence over what I did. I wasn’t intimidated into backing off the campaign by anyone or anything.”211 As for Bay Buchanan’s bewilderment, the part where she “doesn’t understand why he would want us in the Reform Party in the first place,” we have the answer openly given in the opening of a piece about the Reform Party of the time, a “Politics & Prose” column by Scott Stossel:

The only time George W. Bush has appeared to break a sweat in this campaign (aside from when clumsily deflecting allegations of past drug use), was when he implored Pat Buchanan not to bolt the GOP for the Reform Party. Clearly the idea of running against Buchanan in a general election makes Bush nervous.

By bringing Buchanan into the Reform Party, there was no longer the possibility of running against Perot. Having the fight for the Reform Party ticket be as contentious as possible destroyed the strength of the party. The illegitimate baby story kept Buchanan from being too visible in the general election. The possibility of a vote split on the right was eliminated. That this story has received so little coverage, while its auteur Roger Stone has gotten so much ink, demonstrates how journalists are drawn to the cheap thrills and frissons of the image of Stone’s sleazy tactics, sleazy tactics in the abstract, without the guts of the matter. The Reform Party was very much a power in the 1992 election as an expression for the voice of spurned labor, because one of its biggest issues was being against NAFTA, which would eventually have a devastating effect on work and wages. This possibility was burnt down to the ground, with the xenophobia of Pat Buchanan, minus his opposition to NAFTA, provided as a substitute. We instead are given someone like Andrew Breitbart, who sells the idea of cultural marxism, a theory that a small group of jews control the culture and the economy, as a populist voice. To make it more palatable, Breitbart removes the specific connection to this cabal being jewish – they just happen to be so. It’s a theory that’s been plagiarized from an old journal of fringe candidate Lyndon Larouche, one that also happens to show up in the work of Pat Buchanan. A small group of jews who work against the interests of the white christian majority, setting the dark races against them. Breitbart provides the xenophobia, minus any interest in labor. His constant nemesis is the service employees union, the SEIU, who he accuses of being involved in election fraud. Roger Stone destroys a voice for labor, and this raw hatred roars into the vacuum. Toobin does not speak of the Buchanan incident, and though Labash slavishly gives close attention to so many of Stone’s doings, he abruptly shies away from this consequential event: “These things are often hard to keep track of with Roger Stone.”212

Wayne Barrett would also document a second prominent time when Stone would use a candidate for divisive purposes, and this would be Al Sharpton in the 2004 Democratic primaries. “Sleeping With the GOP: A Bush Covert Operative Takes Over Al Sharpton’s Campaign” would detail how Stone would provide loans and staff for Sharpton’s campaign, with the intent to divide the democrats in 2004 as they had been in 1972. While the Club for Growth bought ads against Howard Dean in Iowa, Sharpton would attack Dean for the lack of black men and women in his Vermont cabinet. It was just like in 1972, when black protesters had suddenly shown up outside Edmund Muskie’s hotel room, demanding why he had ruled out the possibility of a black vice president. A member of the Nixon CREEP committee, Donald Segretti, would later take credit for that. “Top level consideration should be given to ways and means to promote, assist, and fund a Fourth Party candidacy of the Left Democrats and/or the Black Democrats,” wrote a Nixon strategist and speechwriter in 1972. “There is nothing that can so advance the President’s chances for reelection – not a trip to China, not four and a half per cent unemployment – as a realistic black…campaign.” That Nixon strategist was Pat Buchanan, before he himself became a third party threat to conservative voter unity213.

The desire to support and fund the creation of a fourth party, one led either by Eugene McCarthy or one with black candidates catering specifically to a black demographic, for the express purpose of splitting the Democratic vote, is made explicit in the tapes of the Nixon White House, a plan approved by the then president himself. The following is a transcript from Stanley Kutler’s invaluable Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes:

SEPTEMBER 14, 1971: THE PRESIDENT, HALDEMAN, AND COLSON, 12:37-1:32 P.M., OVAL OFFICE

Nixon continues to rage about the IRS and his friends. Colson then joins the conversation, offering his special contributions to White House dirty tricks.

COLSON
Well, Bob Brown has some friends who are going to have signs around the Muskie rallies, [saying Carl] Stokes [the black mayor of Cleveland] for vice president. This raises the point-

HALDEMAN
I will hope the hell that Watts do go ahead with a black president candidate.

PRESIDENT NIXON
So do I.

HALDEMAN
In fact, Buchanan has come in with a suggestion that may make a lot of sense which is that – he says if we’re going to spend $50 million in this campaign, then 10 percent of it, $5 million, ought to be devoted-

PRESIDENT NIXON
To the fourth party.

HALDEMAN
-to financing a black-

COLSON
Shirley Chisholm and Julian Bond.

PRESIDENT NIXON
Do you think that the blacks will vote for a black party?

HALDEMAN
Some.

COLSON
A lot of them will especially if-

HALDEMAN
Just to show that the Democratic party has no one…But Pat’s point is we’ve got to get a viable candidate – only if they get a viable candidate. If they get a Julian Bond-

PRESIDENT NIXON
Well, let me suggest this. Might – $5 million would finance Eugene McCarthy.

HALDEMAN
Well, that’s Howard Stein is working on that. There’s a good story in the U.S News, Newsweek, or something. Stein has outlined the McCarthy plan which is that he is not going to enter the primaries but he’s going to do a major speaking tour next year will go to the convention as people – the Democratic convention as the people’s candidate. If, as is expected, he’s rejected by the convention, he will then go to the fourth party. The problem is that it’s too late then go to a fourth party. You have – it takes time to get a fourth party qualified…[Remember, Wallace? Wallace did a superb job. That’s why with a black party you’ve got to get started (inaudible), so they get qualified for-]

PRESIDENT NIXON
All right, Bob. Put that down for discussion – not for discussion but for action. They should finance and contribute both to McCarthy and to the black thing.

COLSON
That’s a helluva lot-

PRESIDENT NIXON
We’re recognizing that McCarthy – the black won’t take any votes from us. Just like the damn Democrats contributed to [George] Wallace in Alabama. They did, you know. Jesus Christ, they were praying for Wallace to win that primary.

HALDEMAN
Yeah.

COLSON
That’s a helluva lot better use of money than a lot of things.

PRESIDENT NIXON
Oh, we spent – waste money on all sorts of things.

HALDEMAN
Okey-doke. What he’s saying is, you know, instead of some television commercials-

PRESIDENT NIXON
Absolutely.

HALDEMAN
-we can do this.

COLSON
Or billboards.

HALDEMAN
Because we’re going to need the television commercials.

(Audio of this very moment in the White House tapes. Audio is taken from the extraordinary resource nixontapes.org, row 572a from the page chron2, audio link rmn_e572a.mp3.)

The concept of running Eugene McCarthy as a fourth party vote splitter also comes up in a conversation on August 9, 1971. Transcript, again from Stanley Kutler’s Abuse of Power, is on pastebin, “Nixon Fourth Party as Democrat Vote Splitter August 9 1971”.

Stone would say that he “helped set the tone and direction” of Sharpton’s Dean attacks. “I am helping Gary figure out where to put his emphasis,” said Stone of the 2012 Johnson campaign. Stone would co-ordinate contributions from various states to get federal matching funds for the Sharpton campaign – you need at least $5000 from at least twenty states for such funds. Among the contributors to the Sharpton campaign from Florida: Nydia Stone, Michael Caputo, Dianne Thorne, Tim Suereth. This attempt to get matching funds, to keep the campaign going as long as possible and maybe even pick up delegates, so they’d bring the dissent all the way to the convention, would ultimately fail214.

When Dianne Thorne was hired by the Broward County sheriff’s department in 2013, Stone would have a strange reaction to allegations that there was a connection between his possible help for Scott Israel in the sheriff’s campaign and Thorne’s hiring. “Diane [sic] has not worked for me for over two years,” he would write. “She is an amazing professional, and I have missed her assistance over the past two years since she left my employ.”215 It is a strange reaction, and a reminder once again that I lack Stone’s genius. I subtract two years from 2013, and go back to 2011. Yet Thorne appears to be very much there in the campaign, credited as Stone’s assistant, at the Johnson campaign in 2012. From “Live From Tampa, Roger Stone’s Steakhouse Politics: Charred and Bloody” by Gabriel Sherman. My bolds:

It was shortly after 8 p.m. on a rain-soaked Monday night, and Stone was fondly recalling conventions of yore on his 60th birthday with Diane Thorne [sic], his raven-haired Australian assistant, and her friend Gretchen, a blond tenth-grade English teacher from Miami Beach. He had his hair bleached signature blond, and wore a custom tailored tan suit, a red-and-yellow striped tie, and a white handkerchief in his breast pocket (“I’m Roger Stone, I have to dress this way,” he says). Smoke from the airplane-hanger-sized gaming room adjoining the steakhouse wafted into the restaurant.

We all ordered crab cakes and shrimp cocktail. Stone went with the New York strip, done “Pittsburgh” (charred on the outside, rare in the middle). “This is good,” Stone said biting into his steak. “When you’re with Gary Johnson, you’re eating at PF Changs or Outback. We’re very frugal with campaign cash.”

“What are you talking about?” Thorne said. “We eat at Chipowah, or whatever it’s called.”

“It’s Chipotle,” Stone said. “You know,” he said turning to me, “I kind of like Chipotle for lunch.”

We also have the observations of Bill Still, a libertarian gadfly who was very critical of the involvement of Roger Stone in the Libertarian Party. An excerpt from the “Still Report #41”, via the Independent Political Report (which is a transcript of his “Still Report #41” on youtube):

Now before I go on, I’m going to say this may be the last time I talk about this. Watch it, do your own research, believe it or ignore it. I’m tired of having to go negative on Gov. Johnson, but as I’ve said before, his candidacy represents a takeover of the Libertarian Party – not only by the Republican Party – but the most nasty, pro-Federal Reserve wing of the Republican Party.

That’s the only thing that can possibly explain the mindless two-pronged Johnson economic policy:

So who is behind this takeover of the LP?

This guy, Andrew Miller – the one in the pink shirt – is sitting with Gov. Johnson at breakfast a couple of weeks ago in Georgia. He and a gorgeous black-haired Australian woman have been in the Johnson entourage until they disappeared at the California convention. They had been with Gov. Johnson since the first convention he showed up at in Manhattan.

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

(last image from Andrew Miller’s twitter, taken from “Hidden owner of ‘news’ site gave $120,000 to group that paid sheriff’s campaign manager” by Dan Christensen, the first two are from “The Still Report #41”)

However, what I found out in California was that Miller and the beautiful Australian actually work for this man, Roger Stone, probably the dirtiest of the American political consultants.

Who could this beautiful, raven haired Australian woman possibly be?

The question, again, should not be “what is behind Roger Stone’s philosophical shift in 2012?” Roger Stone has no philosophy, no beliefs, only practical concerns. The question is: how big a grift is he pulling, and what kind of grift is he aiming for? There is the possibility that he and his associates are simply draining the Johnson campaign of funds, as Larry Klayman alleged they’d done with him (this is discussed in part six). Stone would insist that he worked on the Johnson campaign as an unpaid volunteer: “I have been paid zero by the Johnson campaign.” He worked pro bono for Carl Paladino as well, with two companies run by Dianne Thorne paid at least $84 000. A company run by her stepson, Andrew Miller, was paid $17 000. Thorne worked as a scheduler for the candidate for New York governor, did her work from a suite on Miami Beach. The Gary Johnson campaign would originally end the 2012 post election period with a little over $197 000 in debt, which would suddenly jump up to over $1 134 000 in debt in February 2013. Much of that debt was to “Political Advisors”: $535 244.94 for “Staff Hours – Mid-Level, Senior Advisors, Clerical, Creative Advertising, Campaign Consult”216. Members of the Libertarian Party had already noticed, and complained, that Libertarian Party donations had paid off his campaign debts – rather than those debts being paid off by federal matching funds, as the Johnson campaign had claimed217. That Stone worked as a volunteer advisor on the Paladino and Johnson campaigns may well be due to a generosity of spirit. However, I could not help but be reminded of some excerpts from the biography of Roy Cohn, Citizen Cohn by Nicholas Von Hoffman. Stone was an admirer and protegé of Cohn, with Cohn getting considerable space in Stone’s memoir Dirty Tricks and a 30th birthday party thrown by Cohn for Stone is clearly considered by the dirty trickster as one of the great moments of his life218. Cohn also had massive tax liens on him during the later part of his life, and he dealt with them as follows:

Roy’s strategy for not paying taxes and not going to jail was magazine cover-story material also. The high-fashion New York business magazine manhattan, inc. did a piece on how he did it called “The Prince of Paupers,” wherein it was explained that Roy received almost no salary or other compensation but lived off expenses provided for him by his law firm.

How do you avoid your salary from being hit by your liens? You have your salary paid to your associates.

There was an ominous detail, picked up only in “Swindle” by Ames, that the positioning of Johnson as a vote splitter was part of a long term project of a faction on the right. “Our America Initiative”, Johnson’s election organization, was registered in March 2010, and it was registered by Maureen Otis, who specializes in far right groups and causes. She was the legal contact for the anti-immigrant Declaration Alliance, whose website declared “the United States of America is under relentless attack by foreign invaders who neither obey our laws nor honor our institutions”, she was the legal contact for Californians for Population Stabilization, a group opposed to legal immigration to California, she was the legal contact for True the Vote, a ballot security group that was almost entirely white, which operated in black and latino voting precincts in 2012. All these and other details I already wrote about in a post also spurred on by the NSFW Corp piece, “Maureen Otis: A Mystery Inside a Mystery”, about Otis and the unreported shadow money so ubiquitous in politics now. When I wrote that, however, there were a few subtle details I missed. Maureen Otis is the legal contact for the 60 Plus Association and USA Next, two grassroots senior advocacy groups that are nothing of the kind, getting almost all of their funding from big pharma and industry. They may be the only seniors organizations to fight against price caps on medication for seniors. They might be the only seniors organizations to advocate for burial of nuclear waste in Nevada, and offshore oil drilling, thanks to donations from the respective industries. Those details I did not miss, and gave mention in “Mystery Inside a Mystery”. What I missed is that United Seniors Association was founded by Richard Viguerie and re-organized by J. Curtis Herge. That J. Curtis Herge also incorporated the 60 Plus Association. J. Curtis Herge, the same man who incorporated the New York Institute for Law and Society, which attacked the Mohawks as drug dealers and human traffickers in newspaper ads, a smear campaign which Trump and Stone had to apologize for (see “Roger Stone: Pretty Reckless Is Going Straight To Hell Part Five”). J. Curtis Herge, who gets a mention in Stone’s memoir: “In 1972 I was assigned to work for J. Curtis Herge, an affable and capable attorney from Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Gutherie and Alexander, Nixon’s starchy Wall Street firm. Herge had done advance work for Nixon in 1968 and 1970.” I missed that nuance, and I missed another one. I first came across the excellent piece, “National Women’s History Museum Makes Little Progress After 16 Years”, because I was looking up the various organizations for which Maureen Otis is the legal representative. In 2008, Maureen Otis was the legal contact listed for the National Women’s History Museum219.

These connections I missed, and I also missed what was taking place in the Libertarian Party in the four years leading up to the Gary Johnson nomination. The 2008 Libertarian convention may well have been the most eventful in the party’s history, certainly the one that attracted the greatest media scrutiny. Bob Barr, a former Republican who’d been a major player in the congressional impeachment hearings of Bill Clinton, was running for the party’s nomination for the presidential ticket. There would be a profile of Barr in the New Yorker, “The Third Man” by Raffi Khatchadourian, though the coverage of the convention was only a small part of it. For writing on that, you’d have to read the excellent “Freedom Freaks” by Michael Idov, which portrays a very contentious vote, divided between the hardcore libertarian faithful such as Mary Ruwart, and the ascendant intruder, with the election going to six ballots before it was decided in Barr’s favor. Crucial to Barr’s victory was another man new to the Libertarian party, who garnered an incredible amount of votes thanks to barn burning charisma. The contrast between the stodgy idealism of the libertarian old guard and the disruptive electricity of this second intruder is well conveyed in Idov’s piece:

Most of the assembled purists save their loudest cheers for “Dr. Mary” Ruwart, a party veteran with a soft, hypnotic voice that doesn’t break its motherly cadence even when she explains how the right to carry concealed weapons could have prevented September 11. (She’s also on the record suggesting that children should have a right to consent to sex with adults.) Her mostly male fans have come equipped with posters that say “Mary” inside a red heart. Another old-school favorite is Steve Kubby, a cancer-battling marijuana activist who drives a 1984 Mercedes that runs on cooking oil. The Mary-Kubby people are fast congealing into an anti-Barr alliance. From my informal survey of signs and pins and hats and paddles and T-shirts, Mary has the ears of about 25 percent of the delegates and Kubby another 20 percent: enough to make Barr nervous. Ruwart suggests that she would pick up Hillary Clinton supporters, who “can’t wait to vote for a woman,” and the heart-Mary signs fly up.

A few doomed dabblers march across the stage, serving up a glimpse into the party’s various now-endangered constituencies. Christine Smith, a New Age-y redhead with a musical twang, says things like “Ah see freedom in the ahhs of wild creatures.” Alden Link is an older gentleman who talks exactly like Truman Capote, except about the Second Amendment.

And then something electrifying happens. A man from Las Vegas named Wayne Allyn Root saunters to the podium. A ruddy bookmaker and TV sports handicapper who once co-hosted a show with Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, Root looks like a cross between “SNL”‘s Darrell Hammond-as-Bill Clinton and Biff from Back To the Future. He’s been itching to diversify from odds-making and TV appearances, and recently wrote the book Millionaire Republican, about “creating personal wealth in the GOP-dominated era.” (It came out in 2006.) Soon after, he had his own “Libertarian awakening,” as he calls it. Root’s brochure baldly paints his candidacy as a pure p.r. project. His detailed “sixteen-year plan” for the party has such milestones as “Wayne hits a local college nightspot and dances with the younger set. The video makes U Tube” and “Wayne becomes a frequent guest on ‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos,’ Wayne’s Columbia University classmate.” (Stephanopoulos on Root: “I definitely didn’t know him.”) His other Columbia classmate? “Barrack [sic] Obama.” P.r. gold.

Root grabs the mic, leaves the podium, and begins to prowl the stage like a motivational speaker, crossing back and forth in front of his frozen competitors. “I am the anti-politician! I am an s.o.b.-son of a butcher! America needs a son of a butcher! I know how to manipulate the media! First Jewish-American to run for president! First small businessman! First home- school dad! This is an opportunity of a lifetime!” His speech is all disembodied applause lines, and Root flogs and teases and massages each one for maximum impact.

Root leaves a definite mark. Compared to the low-boil Gravel, the literally and figuratively absent Barr, and the parade of amateurs that preceded him, he is the only one who seems to really enjoy being here. An impressed follower of Kubby, the pot activist, jokingly floats a “Grass-Root ticket.” “I had a feeling that he was going to sell me some Ginsu knives,” says another delegate when it’s over. “But … I don’t know-maybe this is what we need right now?”

Barr and Ruwart would be pitted against each other in the final ballot, and it was thanks to Wayne Allyn Root swinging his support behind Barr that Barr got the ticket. Wayne Allyn Root would get the veep slot, and would soon become a very visible face of the party. In “The Life of the 3rd Party” by Thomas Vinciguerra, a brief profile of Root in the month before the 2008 election, we see a man not shy about extolling his virtues. “The Libertarians have been a debate society since 1971,” Root says. “No one ever thought about winning. And then I came along.” He is already bragging about his future achievements. “Bob Barr and I are going to get a million to three million votes this year,” he says. “In 2012 I expect to duplicate Ross Perot’s number of 19 million. In 2016 I expect to be a credible third-party candidate, and in 2020 I plan to win.”220

There is something fascinating in Root that begs for a lengthy profile, and this is not simply because of all that would come to pass after his 2008 nomination. He had the strange duality of an aggressive salesman combined with something more malign. He made you think of the sound of an energetic, loud, productive motor that you slowly realize is a chainsaw. If there was a character he reminded you of, it was deputy Lou Ford from Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me, who’s an endless source of banal feel good homilies, an endless source of murder. Root was like Ford, a smiling malice at low boil, minus the murder. “Just Another Hustler in the Hustler Kingdom” by David Weigel, a gifted writer who can be quite scathing, doesn’t go after the hustler with sharp claws, or claws at all. “The One-Wing Ticket” by Jesse Walker, also for the Libertarian magazine Reason, is more succinct and nasty about who the party has just voted in. It was one thing to pick Bob Barr, a long time advocate for a smaller state, for the ticket. However, he should have been balanced out with an orthodox veteran of the party. In “a tone-deaf, disappointing decision,” Walker writes, they’d picked “a man with the deportment of a Ronco pitchman with a squirrel in his pants.”221

In “Life of the 3rd Party,” Root is described as a professional handicapper, but he had also been called a far nastier name – he was a professional scamdicapper. “What is a professional scamdicapper?” asked a post on Maddux Sports. “A Scamdicapper,” the post answered, “is a term that is used to refer to a sports handicapping service that is not in the sports wagering business to help you, but to profit off you and scam you out of your money.” The rest of the post continued this blunt approach. “Some common practices of Scamdicappers are to claim outlandish winning percentages, go under multiple names, give out both sides of a game, or even call and harass you until you purchase their picks.”222 There, at the end, was a list of scamdicappers to avoid at all costs, and there was the name: Wayne Allyn Root. The bluntness was not limited to this gambling outreach, but there in a New York Post column, Phil Mushnick’s “Pardon my Indigestion”, as well: “Shame on the Discovery Channel for selling infomercial time to self-promoting blowhard, Libertarian Party presidential candidate and longtime braggart, liar and sports scamdicapper Wayne Allyn Root, and his cohorts (“I went 8-0!” “I’m 26-0!” “Call now!”).” The venom continued for two paragraphs:

Unless accepting money in exchange for allowing Root and the likes of former Chicago and New York sports radio and TV host/windbag/glad-hander Chet Coppock is how Discovery operates, this time-buy should be immediately tossed. And shame on Hooters’ Las Vegas casino for sponsoring this scam show. Aren’t casinos supposed to trade on the public’s trust?

Root may be good at suckering Fox News Channel producers and hosts and Wikipedia into thinking he’s legit, but others know a lot better, and have for years.

Root’s handicapping company was Winning Edge, and “The Tout” by Christina Binkley is a profile of him and the company from 2005. “I like UMass, Providence, and, um, lemme see — my other pick was South Carolina,” says Root into a phone. “Don’t get scared on me.” Two years later, Winning Edge International, Inc., also known as Winning Edge, would be sold to Betbrokers, PLC, its shares worth three tenths of a cent. “As a result of the asset sale,” we can read in the document announcing the asset sale, “Winning Edge received shares of Betbrokers, PLC. Winning Edge will use the proceeds of the sale of Betbrokers’ stock to pay off existing debts.” After debts were paid, Winning Edge shareholders might get something. “If there are any proceeds left after the sale of Betbrokers’ stock and payment of debts, the remaining proceeds will be distributed to Winning Edge’s shareholders.” That, however, was highly unlikely. “At this time, management is not certain if there will be any funds to distribute to shareholders and shareholders should consider it unlikely that there will be any distributions.” The debts of Winning Edge were in excess of two point four million223. After the collapse of the company, Root would bring in General Patent Corporation International to sue various other sports betting firms for infringing on his patent. Winning Edge, you see, owned U.S. Patent No. 6,260,019, also known as “Web-Based Prediction Marketplace”. What they’d patented was any “method and apparatus pertain to the on-line prediction of future events.” I should emphasize the any – the patent was not specific to any software, hardware, or any specific algorithm. This is sometimes known as patent squatting. Winning Edge and Betbrokers went after Playbook Enterprises and Don Best Sports. The companies settled224.

The other company Root was associated with was Wealth Masters International. WMI would sell you video tutorials on how to achieve wealth, and part of the way you achieved wealth was through recruiting new members. There were a number of names for this; one of them was “mid level marketing”, the other was “pyramid scheme”. Norway would classify Wealth Masters as a pyramid scheme and ban them from the country225. A search on February 14th, 2014 at Ripoff Report, would produce sixteen reports for Wealth Master International. “Got my attention by claiming to be honest in a crooked industry and therefore doing business the better way. But just when you start trusting you realize you too have been conned by their lies”, read the title of the first.

Root was elected a member at large of the Libertarian National Committee, while heading up a sister organization that would be created soon after his arrival, the Libertarian National Campaign Committee (LNCC). There was soon a creeping fear that Root was trying to take over the LNC, with a different emphasis on libertarian issues. Liberty for America, a libertarian journal, would review Root’s book Conscience of a Libertarian and note that his concerns were entirely lower taxes, smaller government, and end to restrictions on internet gambling. There was no discussion of the prison industrial complex, drug sentencing, foreign intervention, the defense industrial complex – many of the key issues of libertarianism226. Root would fundraise and endorse Republican candidates. This, he would argue angrily, is about outreach. The Florida and Idaho state chapters of the Libertarian Party would pass resolutions demanding that Root be removed from his positions on the LNC and LNCC227. “I call Wayne a “Republican” Libertarian,” said Eric Dondero, another Libertarian controversial for his passionate defense of the military, and a fan of Root’s. “He’s like a GOP infiltrator within the Libertarian Party.”228

Beneath all the gladhanding salesmanship there was a nasty, cruel ugliness to Root. It came out when he argued with other libertarians, but most of all it came out when he talked about his former classmate at Columbia, Barack Obama. Except that Root wasn’t sure that Obama had been his classmate, since he’d never seen him. Root wasn’t sure Obama had gotten into Columbia by virtue of his ability. It was all there, above the surface and very visible, in an interview with Matt Welch and Tim Cavanuagh, “Wayne Allyn Root’s Million-Dollar Challenge”. I initially tried to only partially excerpt this piece, yet Root keeps going and going in each line, so that the following is almost the entire interview. What the “million dollar challenge” refers to is made obvious in its middle:

Matt Welch: So tell us what we should know about Barack Obama that we don’t?

Wayne Allyn Root: I think the most dangerous thing you should know about Barack Obama is that I don’t know a single person at Columbia that knows him, and they all know me. I don’t have a classmate who ever knew Barack Obama at Columbia. Ever!

Welch: Yeah, but you were like selling, you know, Amway in college or something, weren’t you?

Root: Is that what you think of me! And the best damned Amway salesman ever!

Welch: No, I’m sure that you were an outgoing young man, I’m just guessing.

Root: I am! That’s my point. Where was Obama? He wasn’t an outgoing young man, no one ever heard of him.

Tim Cavanaugh: Maybe he was a late bloomer.

Root: Maybe. Or maybe he was involved in some sort of black radical politics.

Welch: Ooooooooooh.

Root: Maybe he was too busy smoking pot in his dorm room to ever show up for class. I don’t know what he was doing!

Welch: Were you the exact same class?

Root: Class of ’83 political science, pre-law Columbia University. You don’t get more exact than that. Never met him in my life, don’t know anyone who ever met him. At the class reunion, our 20th reunion five years ago, 20th reunion, who was asked to be the speaker of the class? Me. No one ever heard of Barack! Who was he, and five years ago, nobody even knew who he was.

Other guy: Did he even show up to the reunion?

Root: I don’t know! I didn’t know him. I don’t think anybody knew him. But I know that the guy who writes the class notes, who’s kind of the, as we say in New York, the macha who knows everybody, has yet to find a person, a human who ever met him. Is that not strange? It’s very strange.

Welch: That’s peculiar! Do you have any theories?

Root: Don’t have any theories. I don’t know. Don’t know why. Kept to himself…. The only thing I could even imagine is that he talks in his biographies about being, you know, his identity crisis, his “am I black or am I white?” He chose black. And he hung out with a couple of black kids and never went near anybody and his wife? That’s the only thing I can think of. All my buddies are white, what can I tell you! They don’t know him, nobody’s ever seen him, I don’t know what to tell you.

Other guy: That’s the era.

Root: That’s the era. I mean, when I went to Columbia, the black kids were all at like tables going “Black Power!” We used to walk by and go, “What the hell are they talking about.” And they didn’t associate with us and we didn’t associate with them. So if you track down a couple of black students, they’ll probably know him. But nobody white’s ever heard of this guy. It’s quite amazing. Nobody remembers him. They don’t remember him sitting in class.

Welch: Black power in ’83?

Root: Ha ha. That’s Columbia. Colubmia’s radical, always was. There was gay power over here, and pot power over here, and black power over there, and Hispanic power over here, and feminism.

Welch: And what was your power?

Root: Oh I was the bookie guy, don’t worry about it…. But here’s the story that I think the press should be digging up, I really mean this, about Barack Obama. When George Bush annoyed everyone the first thing they went to was how dumb he was, and they said how bad he did in Yale, and blah blah blah, he got a C average. Then they found his C average was better than Al Gore’s average, and it was better than John Kerry’s average!

Cavanaugh: And then you stopped hearing the story.

Root: Right. But the point is all three of them had C averages. I had a B-plus, A-minus average at Columbia University.

Welch: Wait, you’re bragging on your GPA?

Root: No, no I’m not, because here’s the moral to the story…. I had a B-plus, A-minus average at Columbia University, in four years. When I graduated, I took the LSATs and I did well. I didn’t do great, I did well; B-plus, A-minus average. My counselor at Columbia said don’t even bother applying to Harvard Law School, because you can get into any law school in the country with your record, except Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton [Editor’s Note: Princeton doesn’t have a law school]. Except for the very top, you can get in anywhere, but don’t even try those, because your grades don’t cut it.

Well, everyone says how bright Barack is, but Barack won’t release his transcripts from Columbia University.

Cavanaugh: Hmmmm.

Root: And I’d be willing to bet every dime I have in the world, a million dollars I’ll put, I’ll put a million dollars cash on the fact-

Welch: This is on the record-

Root: -that my GPA was better than Barack’s-

Welch: Oooooh.

Root: …and he got in based on the color of his skin.

Does anyone doubt that possibly Barack could have gotten into Harvard with a C average because he’s black, where as I, white, couldn’t get into the same school with a B-plus, A-minus average? And yet his wife says that America is a terrible nation unfair to minorities! I say, Au contraire!

I say the whole problem with America is we are racist against people because of the color of their skin. We’re helping people because they’re black. We’re helping people because they’re minority. We’re helping people because they’re poor. In reality only those who have the most skill and talent should get into Harvard, not because of the color of their skin.

So now I ask out loud in the press, I challenge my classmate to give his GPA against mine. And let’s see if he really is the bright guy they all say he is. What if we discover he got into Harvard with a C average? Is he then the brilliant man America thinks he is? That would be a very good question, don’t you think?

Welch: The follow-up I want to ask is: What if it’s better than yours? You just said a million dollars!

Root: Well, who’s taking the bet? I didn’t hear anyone accept. No, I’m pretty sure I’m right. I’ll go out on a limb. Listen, they always said with O.J. Simpson, you know, never ask the question if you don’t know the answer, does the glove fit? I don’t know the answer but I’m pretty sure I know the answer. He had a lower average than me and he got into Harvard and I didn’t.

And so my answer is, has America really been unfair to minorities? No it hasn’t. It was unfair to me. A white butcher’s kid, whose father had no money, but nobody gave me a break. And do I have a chip on my shoulder? You’re damn right I do. And I represent millions and millions of poor people in this country who weren’t lucky enough to be poor and black, they were unlucky enough to be poor and white, and they can’t get into Harvard. So maybe that country Barack’s fighting for, he’s got the wrong country here. He’s been just fine in this country. The rest of us need someone to defend them….

Anyway my point is, for those of us in America who want to fight for talent being the determiner of who’s successful or not, I’m your representative. Obama’s the wrong representative. And for those who disagree, I say: I’m for affirmative action-I think the NBA should be 80 percent white. […]

Welch: And are you hitting this note as you’re doing all this media that you’re doing from Nevada and stuff?

Root: I actually haven’t; I brought it up tonight to you guys for the first time because I think reason is the right media to bring it up with, without being painted as a racist. Because I don’t have a racist bone in my body.

“Wow,” one commenter to the interview would write, “Wayne Allen [sic] Root is an asshole.”229 In September 2011, Wayne Root would invite Johnson to join the Libertarian Party. “Gary Johnson is a friend of mine. We’re fans of each other’s politics,” he wrote. “On all of his many radio appearances with me, I’ve yet to find an issue we disagree on…I’d welcome Gary’s addition to the LP in any capacity. He’d make a wonderful Libertarian officeholder, leader or Presidential/Vice Presidential candidate.” Roger Stone would tip his hat to Wayne Root, asking in March 2012 on his blog, “Will Wayne Allyn Root replace Harry Reid in 2016?” Root would endorse Johnson for president on the ticket, and Johnson would endorse Root for his at large position at the LNC230. It might make a perfect reveal that the intent of the Libertarian ticket all along was to divide the vote on the left, while conservatives of all stripes were called on to vote Romney, if say Wayne Root were to defect from the Libertarian Party back to the GOP and sound this call, and, well, that’s exactly what did happen.

“It’s gotta be Romney, there is no choice,” Root would first proclaim on a podcast a month before Johnson was nominated to the ticket. A few days later, when introducing Johnson at an event, he explained this as just more outreach231. In early September, Root would leave the LP and endorse Romney. “I don’t deny that Romney and Ryan aren’t libertarians, but Romney is a pro-business capitalist and Obama is a Marxist-socialist. The economy has been trashed. This is about my kids’ future, it’s about my businesses. There is no hope for America if Obama is re-elected.”232 In his resignation letter, he also said he wanted to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Nevada, just as Stone had encouraged him to do in “Will Wayne Allyn Root replace Harry Reid in 2016?” Root would not only endorse Romney, but give a prescient vision of the future that made clear why he was such a fearsome gambler: “Las Vegas Oddsmaker Explains Why He Predicts Romney Landslide”, where he confidently expected the Republican challenger to win by 100 to 120 votes. “I’ve made my living for the past 27 years predicting the winners of sporting events, like the Super Bowl and March Madness. I did it well enough to be awarded my own 180 pound granite star on Las Vegas Blvd – the only oddsmaker ever inducted into the Las Vegas Walk of Stars,” he wrote, bragging about a star that anyone could get, if they were willing to spend $15 000. Previously, he’d predicted that McCain would win the 2008 election, with 37 to 40 states (McCain won 22). “This professional prognosticator,” Root would write in a 2005 book, “believes that the GOP will dominate American politics (on all levels) for the foreseeable future.” After the 2012 election, Root could say clearly why he’d been wrong233. “Obama’s re-election proves that bribery as a campaign tactic is validated,” he’d write in “What went wrong with my prediction about Mitt Romney and the 2012 election”. “Promise enough “free stuff” and you win votes, even if the end result is no jobs, no hope, and a lifetime dependent on government.”234

Though Roger Stone, despite his cruel and slimy past, is often presented as a rogue member of the GOP, attempting to re-shape the party into something better, his attitude about the 2012 election and why the Republicans lost, is very much an echo of Root’s complaint and the nastiest, most hermetic voices of the Republican party. From “Buzzsaw: LBJ and the Killing of JFK with Roger Stone (Nov 24, 2013)” (40:25-40:55):

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

TYREL VENTURA
Where do you see our country headed, from the research you’ve done on JFK, and all the years you’ve been in politics where do you see us going?

STONE
I wish we could be more optimistic. I think the biggest problem we have in America today is we have more takers than we have producers. So, the government’s going to turn around and buy the votes with our own tax money, whether it’s I’ll give you free health care or I’ll give you a college scholarship, or I’ll give you a bigger welfare payment, or I’ll give you a cellphone. For votes. I think that’s a very dangerous thing.

The Johnson campaign would barely, if at all, cut into the votes of democrats. That it was a failure should not be mistaken as being the same thing as it not being attempted. The motivation for Stone doing this, is obvious and pragmatic. If Johnson had split the vote, and Romney had won the election, the Romney team would owe Roger Stone, far more than the Bush team owed him in 2000. This is the only issue for me – whether Stone was aiming for the small payoff of leeching the Johnson campaign of funds, or the larger payoff of whatever the Romney White House might give him. We need not keep this vague on the prize, but come up with something specific. Stone would be given sway once again over the Bureau of Indian Affairs, just as he had after 2000. The federal recognition that the Connecticut Schaghticokes lost, which they need to set up a casino, is reversed again, thanks to the intervention of Stone. He gets an advance in the casino as well as an ownership stake. A professional handicapper, Wayne Allyn Root, gets part of the action as well. Much was made of Stone’s defection from the Republican party, about the small barbs he threw at Romney, at Ryan, at the Koch brothers, while ignoring a post published at the Huffington Post, April 9th, 2012, two months after he’d defected from the GOP to the Libertarian Party. It was called “The GOP’s Indispensable Man”, and it was about his old colleague at Black Manafort Stone & Kelly, Charlie Black. It made no mention that they’d been colleagues, but was full of unqualified praise for his former partner. “Black is a master political mechanic,” Stone writes, “respected for his discretion, his balanced nature and his deep experience.” The final sentence: “Romney is both wise and lucky to have him.”235

We might take this as a simple bit of flattery, or as a coded message, confirming a past agreement: I am very much still on your side. The idea of a vote split to win a Romney victory was a good idea – the only problem is that they got Roger Stone to do it. In this, Stone might well be like his best known client, Donald Trump, who represents an image of a part better than those who play the part far better. Trump is far better at creating a brash, crass entity, a full-figured emptiness, “an opera buffa parody of wealth” in Mark Singer’s phrase, that embodies arrogant capitalism far better than those who are actual successful and important billionaires, whether it be Warren Buffett or Bill Gates. “Deep down, he wants to be Madonna,” says a security analyst of Trump236. Deep down, Roger Stone wants to be Madonna, too. Stone is better at creating an image of a political fixer than he is at the role. His race with Tom Kean was a razor thin victory, while the only presidential campaign he ever headed up, Arlen Specter’s, ended before the first primary. Warren Redlich beat him in the Libertarian primary. His candidate, Kristin Davis, finished dead last in the governor’s race. His two greatest achievements, the Brooks Brothers riot and the leak of Eliot Spitzer’s sexual life, are both inventions, bought up by a gullible and stupid press. His “jokes”, like harassing Bernard Spitzer or his libeling Warren Redlich as a sexual predator, are obvious, cruel, and stupid. The mystery, the malevolence one associates with him are not his own, but the qualities of a political world, now, of secret money and secret power. He is a man who tries to claw at fame by making himself the embodiment of that secret world, but he is one of the players of the least significance. Roger Stone is an evil genius without the genius part. That no large financial donor ended up backing Johnson, through the veiled power of a Super PAC, shows the lack of confidence on the part of secret money in Stone’s ability to pull off this bet.

In the days after the 2012 election, Roger Stone would identify what he thought was the problem with the current political system. “The problem,” he said, “is that we have a duopoly.”237 This was the proclamation of the man who proudly took credit for destroying one third party, and may have used another third party in a failed vote split. “They’re really very similar,” Stone would complain of this duopoly he’d helped put in place, “they’re both for foreign intervention.” In 2008, Stone had expressed his misgivings over Iraq, but it wasn’t that there’d been a war in the Middle East, but a war with the wrong country. “I don’t see the point of the war in Iraq,” he’d say. “Now, if you wanted to have war against the Saudis, I’m with you. They’re our problem in the region, they’re not our friends.”238

In 2013, he tried to run Kristin Davis as New York comptroller, so he could once again throw some slime at Eliot Spitzer. The press gave some coverage to this, because Roger Stone is always amusing color. What they didn’t cover is that Kristin Davis had been nominated at a libertarian convention where those who voted her onto the ticket weren’t members of the state party. A new convention was called, and it wasn’t Kristin Davis on the Libertarian Party ticket, but Hesham El-Meligy, who’d been highly critical of the NYPD surveillance policy of Muslims. In an email, Stone would dispute the results, and then there came a moment that somehow never made it out into the press coverage of this charming rogue. Without any basis whatsoever, he would call El-Meligy a radical Islamist. He would call El-Meligy the Al-Qaeda candidate. He would say that El-Meligy couldn’t possibly hope to get matching funds, despite his support from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban. “For all his bravado,” writes Toobin in “Trickster”, “Stone told me that he shied away from racially inflammatory campaign work.” Stone went on Facebook and threatened to sue over El-Meligy’s nomination239. Later in the campaign season, Kristin Davis got arrested for selling prescription drugs, and she never submitted her signatures to be part of the debates240. Roger Stone stopped talking about Kristin Davis after that. At the reddit AMA, “I am Gov. Gary Johnson, Honorary Chairman of the Our America Initiative”, held on February 2013, “Daedalus991” asked of the campaign’s expenditures, “I’ve read your campaign manager used $2.3 million of the $2.5 million you raised to pay his own company. If I donated money to your campaign, where do I write for a refund? Thanks, Governor.” (link) The query got 194 upvotes, making it the most popular question in the thread. It went unanswered. “The problem,” Roger Stone said, “is that we have a duopoly.” In his unpublished guide, Stone’s Rules, Stone believed there were even fewer choices than that. “There is only one Party – The Green Party.”241 He does not say whether he thought it a problem, or not.

That I have any suspicion that a vote split was attempted in 2012 is propelled most of all by the secret money system we are now all forced to deal with, and which only benefits those with the vastest of treasures. Our suspicions about the darkness which surrounds us becomes a paranoia, but one that feels justified, where anything other than paranoia would be foolish. In an incident that took place in the past two days, while I was writing this, Rand Paul was accused of plagiarizing the work for his lawsuit against the NSA by a lawyer he’d worked with, Bruce Fein. The accusation would later be retracted, with Fein placing the blame for the accusation on his ex-wife, Matty Lolavar. Both Fein and Lolavar have already appeared in this lengthy piece (they show up in part six) because Lolavar was allegedly involved with Roger Stone’s IKON consulting firm in some very strange ventures. I wrote there that the best source for information on Fein and Lolavar had been “Libertarian Bum Fights” by Mark Ames, and when the fight broke out between Rand Paul and Fein, I immediately thought of a possibility raised in “Bum Fights” which I hadn’t included here because it seemed too distracting. The suggestion, as I read it, was this: that Bruce Fein had once been executive editor of a private intelligence publication called “The World Intelligence Review”, staffed by ex-CIA and ex-MI5 spies, that the purpose of “The World Intelligence Review” was to defend the CIA’s public image, that perhaps Fein’s shift from devotion to hard-right Cheneyism to a man calling for Cheney’s trial wasn’t obvious opportunism, but a man playing a double game, so he might infiltrate the camps of his enemies, all of which leads to the obvious guess about the latest events, that the accusation of plagiarism against Rand Paul – a man, I should emphasize, who I cannot stand and do not want elected as president – was an act of deliberate sabotage of the lawsuit against the NSA242. One is moved to such ridiculous paranoid thoughts not out of any desire for a conspiracy, but the overwhelming darkness, under which there may well be an ocean of secrets.

Mark Ames ends “Bum Fights” with a nod to Philip K. Dick and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. When writing this, I thought constantly of Dick’s thoughts on death, which are quoted in Divine Invasions: The Life of Philip K. Dick by Lawrence Sutin: “I have a feeling that in the instant after death everything real will become apparent; all the cards will be turned face-up, the game will be over, and we will see clearly what we have suspected only…and unfounded suspicions will be erased.” I write these posts as a set of possible guideposts for that future history which will be written when those not yet born will laugh at our foolishness, at what we suspected and dared not suspect, for that time when the cards that are now face down will be open, obvious, visible, and face up.

POSTSCRIPT (06/10/2014):

This post-script is made to just briefly look over some material which might offer helpful insights into Roger Stone’s political bent after managing the 2012 Libertarian Party candidacy. Remember: the Gary Johnson candidacy, as presented in something like “Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama” by Conor Friedersdorf, was as an alternative to hardline policies in the police state and the national security state.

We might first look at some recent sample tweets from Wayne Allyn Root, the man who was in the vice president slot on the 2008 Libertarian Party ticket, and the man who invited both Roger Stone and Gary Johnson into the party, before bolting and urging libertarians to vote for Mitt Romney in the general election. These tweets reflect a consistent thinking that Barack Obama is a deranged, tyrannical marxist, that there is a communist takeover of the United States, that liberalism is corrupt, weak, and stupid, and that the religion of Islam itself must be considered an enemy. From the twitter of @WayneRoot:

(link is: http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/klayman-files-for-deportation-of-barack-obama/)

(link is: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/06/watchdog-claims-union-legal-fight-reveals-obamacare-fraud/)

We can first turn to an interview Stone did on the show “Buzzsaw” with Tyrel Ventura, “LBJ and the Killing of JFK with Roger Stone”. I’ve taken from this episode two clips, “Roger Stone on Military Industrial Complex and Makers Versus Takers”.

What’s interesting in the second section is that we have an exact echo of the makers versus takers rhetoric of the Romney-Ryan campaign, and of the hard right: there is a group of entitled, government dependent leeches who will keep voting in big government to get their government cheques and free phones (starting at 1:36):

TYREL VENTURA
Where do you see our country headed, from the research you’ve done with JFK, and like, all of your years in politics, where do you see us going?

ROGER STONE
I wish I could be more optimistic. I think the biggest problem we have in America today, is that we have more takers than we have producers. So, the government’s going to turn around and buy the votes with our own tax money. Whether it’s I’ll give you free health care, or I’ll give you a college scholarship, or I’ll give you a bigger welfare payment, or I’ll give you a cellphone. For votes. And I think that’s a very dangerous thing.

More interesting, is the section in this interview conducted a year after the 2012 election and where the Gary Johnson campaign and third party alternatives are discussed, is Stone being very critical of the national security state (the first excerpt featured in “Roger Stone on Military Industrial Complex and Makers Versus Takers”):

ROGER STONE
The military industrial complex is not ideological. They’re about money and power. They’re neither right nor left. They will invent a candidate on the right and left if they need one. So, people were upset about George W. Bush; so, they created Barack Obama. Who’s fully unqualified to be president of the United States. Who served in the state Senate, and the U.S. Senate, and has written two biographies, but no major legislation of any kind. So, the military industrial complex, the American media establishment, they can go either right or left depending on what’s required at the time.

TYREL VENTURA
And it makes sense, coming out of the Bush presidency, with Cheney and all of that, we’re feeling very constricted, we’re feeling very down, we need a new champion of the people.

STONE
Plus they take advantage of the democratic [sic – most likely “demographic” is meant here] change. We have more and more minority voters. So, maybe it was time for the first minority president. Being black was not a detriment to his candidacy, it was an asset to his candidacy. Just like Kennedy’s being catholic was a benefit, not a drawback. In fact, Bobby Kennedy had millions of pieces of violently anti-catholic literature attacking John Kennedy printed, he put Hubert Humphrey’s name on it, and he mailed it to the voters in West Virginia. All the catholic households, only.

This is a contrast to some of Stone’s tweets over the past year. Again: the Johnson candidacy, steered by Roger Stone, was supposed to be the more progressive candidacy, the ticket for those who could not condone the brutality of drone warfare. An example of this outlook might be “Forget Julia, It’s The Life of Ahmed That Demands Attention”, again by Conor Friedersdorf, which counters the hypothetical woman of Obama campaign advertising with a hypothetical muslim life. Example: “At age 22, Ahmed’s father is collateral damage in a drone strike that President Obama empowered the CIA to carry out without knowing the names of the people targeted.” How does Roger Stone feel about this hypothetical Ahmed?

Well, these are some of the things Stone tweeted our during the recent ISIS campaign: “Drone these bastards now!”, “drone these pricks now”, “Where the hell is Gen Curt LeMay when we need him ?He and the USAF would make Iraq a parking lot”.

For those unfamiliar with who Curtis LeMay is, he served as the basis for the Jack D. Ripper in the movie Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He oversaw the brutal bombing campaign of Japan and argued in favor of the idea of a pre-emptive nuclear war.

Here is a screengrab of a re-tweet by Stone, and in this case, I think it is very much an endorsement:

Roger Stone's Pretty Reckless is Going Straight to Hell

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

During the Israeli war in Gaza, both Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem offered welcome criticism, and this is what Roger Stone tweeted in response: “Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem make me wanna puke #StandWithIsrael”

This is what Stone tweeted out after Governor Chris Christie met with imam Mohammed Qatanani: “See here- Chris Christie and his beloved Koran- this Shariah lover will never be President”

Johnson was supposed to be the face of a scaled down police state. This is what Stone tweeted out on the Michael Brown killing and on journalists on-scene who were arrested while covering the event: “horseshit Lawlessness must be put down harshly regardless of color. Brown attacked a Police officer- shooting justified. Period.”, “wrong on the facts. Attack an officer -shooting justified. Sorry kid u don’t know shit.”, “Journs have no special rights. Ignore order from an officer-suffer consequences #toughshit”.

Again, Gary Johnson was presented as the alternative for those liberals queasy about the less progressive policies of Barack Obama. How does Roger Stone feel about Bernie Sanders, the man who may end up being the left-wing challenger to Hillary Clinton in 2016? “Soviet Agent Bernie Saunders, Should be arrested for treason and shot.”

Again, we have the Johnson campaign favored by libertarians like Friedersdorf for its more progressive attitude about refugees and immigrants, as opposed to the Obama policies depicted in “Life of Ahmed”. This makes this tweet by Roger Stone about Rick Perry’s arrest notable: “Payback from OBAMA for Perry criticizing Barry on flood of illegals crossing borders #Democrat Conspiracy #RickPerryIndicted”

This stance is surprising given the ostensible commitment Libertarianism has for open borders, but it is entirely consistent with the associations of Maureen Otis, the lawyer who is listed as registered agent for the Gary Johnson campaign, and is also listed as registered agent for the National Women’s History Museum, whose foundation is run by Ann Stone, Roger Stone’s ex-wife. In “Maureen Otis: A Mystery Inside a Mystery”, we saw that she had close assosications with the Minutemen Alliance, an anti-immigrant militia group, and was listed as the legal contact for the Declaration Alliance, whose website contains text like the following:

Whereas the foreigners sneaking into the United States have no plans to assimilate and become Americans, but instead desire to see the southwestern states transformed into Spanish-speaking provinces of Mexico; and

Whereas members of radical Islamic terror groups (classified by US Border Patrol as “OTMs or Other Than Mexicans”) continue to execute a plan of infiltration of the United States mainland through incursions along the border with Mexico, for the purpose of establishing terror cells and training operations within our homeland;

Therefore, let it be resolved that we, the people of the United States, citizens by birth or naturalization, do hereby DEMAND that the Congress of the United States immediately secure our border with Mexico, enforce current laws by arresting and deporting all criminal illegal aliens, and block all attempts to pass any type of amnesty legislation.

Otis was also the legal contact for True the Vote, a ballot security operation, which allegedly conducted training sessions where trainees were taught intimidation tactics against “questionable” voters. Stone, as already mentioned in part four of this series, also known as “Ballot Security / Garden State / Sunshine State”, was involved with voter intimidation tactics in a 1980 New Jersey campaign, tactics of such questionable repute that they resulted in a thirty year ban on any ballot security group within a polling place.

This context makes the following opinion given by Roger Stone unsurprising. It was given first on an interview with Bill Whittle, “Nixon Insider Roger Stone: Obama Does More Illegal Stuff than Nixon Did” and then excerpted by this site for an isolated clip: “Roger Stone on Voter ID and Voter Fraud”. A transcript of the notable comment follows:

WHITTLE
Speaking about the differences between the two men [Richard Nixon and Barack Obama], it was widely reported just anecdotally that after the 1960 election against Kennedy, there was pretty credible evidence that Kennedy had some serious cases of voter fraud across the country, and a lot of advisors to Nixon said you should fight this thing, and Richard Nixon apparently said “No, I’m not going to tear the country up over something like this.” And now you have a president whose voter fraud is his entire calling card. I mean, really, it’s a fundamental difference about personal power versus the destruction of the country. Nixon has just been demonized as the most venal and selfish president in American history, but he’s really nothing compared to this fellow.

STONE
Well, look, I’m a Nixonite, although I have to say, you gave the most charitable explanation for 1960 possible. The truth is, the election was stolen from Richard Nixon, he knew it, but the evidence in Texas, where the most egregious stealing went on, had already been destroyed, and there’s no re-count law there. I think he had taken consideration that even if he had passed for a re-count, the chances for getting an honest re-count were virtually impossible. So, he took a pass, and of course, that turned out for him to be the best thing that happened, because eight years later, he made the most fantastic comeback in American political history. But the notion that there is no longer voter fraud, which is what this administration tries to tell us, is nonsense. Or that the idea that someone should be required to show a driver’s license or a photo ID to vote, I don’t find that terribly objectionable, you need one to get on an airplane, why wouldn’t you need one to cast the most important thing you have, your vote?

I end this post-script on a long question. Given that this man wants a more ruthless, more hardline approach to the war with ISIS, who wants people bombed to glass, given that he cannot tolerate even the slightest criticism of Israeli war tactics, given that he wants no sanction for those refugees crossing the border, that he views the most modest gestures of civility towards a imam as an embrace of shariah, who believes the killing of Michael Brown was justified, who believes the arrest of journalists covering the aftermath is justified, would such an individual want a more progressive alternative to Barack Obama, or would he prefer Mitt Romney?

POSTSCRIPT (04/19/2015):

The first part of this post was devoted to Ann Stone and the possibility that the Stones, Roger and his then wife Ann, were creating a pro-choice group solely to keep the issue from splitting the party. On April 18, 2015, Stone would perhaps show his true colors when he tweeted the following (tweetsave):

The background for Stone’s animus against Vergara is that Stone was very much an ally of her ex, Nick Loeb, as well as Loeb’s father. Here is “This time, Sofia Vergara’s boyfriend might really, really run for US Senate” by Marc Caputo (no relation to Stone’s occasional henchman, Michael Caputo) from November 16, 2011:

Sofia Vergara’s boyfiend appears ready to finally run for United States Senate. He’s scheduled to announce at 2 p.m. at the Sagamore hotel in Miami Beach, according to a press release.

For months, he has flirted with the idea. Recently, we noted, he was spied dining with Gov. Rick Scott (and now Gov. Rick Perry’s) pollster, Tony Fabrizio. The real force behind the possible candidacy is Fabrizio’s longtime pal and sometime-dirty trickster Roger Stone, who lives on Miami Beach, as does Fabrizio.

Oh, yeah, the potential candidate’s name is Nick Loeb. His father is friends with Stone.

Here is a piece from 2009, by Buddy Nevins, “Roger Stone To Work Against Bogdanoff”, on Stone possibly helping out Loeb during a run as a Florida state representative:

State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff has a problem on her hands — famed political operative Roger Stone.

Stone told me he is supporting her Republican primary opponent Nick Loeb in the state Senate race to replace Jeff Atwater.

Watch out, Ellyn!

It was Stone who helped engineer the victory of Sheriff Al Lamberti last year. He was behind the attack ads that eviscerated Democratic opponent Scott Israel.

It was Stone who instigated a near riot which thwarted the 2000 presidential recount in Miami-Dade County. The incident was portrayed in the recent HBO movie Recount.

Stone explains why he is supporting Loeb:

“When I went to New York in 1979 to organize the state for Ronald Reagan, one of Governor Reagan’s first supporters was John L. Loeb, Jr. who Reagan would later appoint Ambassador to Denmark and later to the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations. Ambassador Loeb helped me raise money and recruit Reagan delelgate candidates.

Given my longtime friendship with his father, I am going to be ‘helping’ Nick Loeb in the Senate race.”

The first comment on this blog post is from Scott Rothstein, before he went to jail for half a century (direct link to comment):

Buddy,

finally an opportunity to show you what happens when my dear friend roger and i end up on opposite sides of the fence…..
Roger is my favorite assassin…but it looks like i am going to have to fight the battle for Ellyn with him on the other side….Stand back 🙂

p.s. love ya roger…be nice to me…

Rothstein comment

Scott Rothstein would be arrested later that year.

POSTSCRIPT (07/02/2015):

The supposedly progressive, libertarian Roger Stone who wanted the GOP to be a bigger tent party and more open to pro-choicers would tweet out the following attack against one of his many nemeses, former New York Governor George Pataki and 2016 Republican Presidential candidate, that he committed the sin of performing abortions (tweetsave):

POSTSCRIPT (05/04/2017):

On the June 25, 2016 episode hosted by his sometime friend, sometime enemy, comedian / activist Randy Credico, Stone would openly state that he ran Sharpton’s 2004 campaign in order to disrupt the Democratic primary. Audio of show is on mediafire. Full transcript is on pastebin. From the transcript:

CREDICO
So. Now. With Jackson you worked on- Not his campaign in ’88? You haven’t worked exclusively with Republicans?

STONE
Yes, pretty much I have. As you know, I gave some advice to the Reverend Al Sharpton, on a personal basis. You should know, because you were among those who introduced me to him.

CREDICO
Two thousand and four, at Gallagher’s.

STONE
As you know, I had my own motives. I wanted chaos in the Democratic Party.

CREDICO
Yeah! It worked!

STONE
And he wanted good advice.

CREDICO
So…it worked. I remember…wasn’t it you who told him to bring the ax out? In Mississippi, or Alabama, tell me that story.

STONE
I would never take credit for that.

CREDICO
Well, tell me the story. Let’s say it was you.

STONE
He was speaking at an NAACP Convention.

CREDICO
Lester Maddox.

STONE
The convention was the day after Lester Maddox died. And therefore, he used the ax handle to symbolize, you know, the opposition.

CREDICO
I see. And then, what about the debate with Howard Dean? That he had, and he brought up the fact that Howard Dean had very few, if any, African Americans or Latinos in his administration. Sharpton brought that up, and Dean was completely petrified, caught off guard. Wasn’t that your recommendation? I mean, it seems like you had something to do with that.

STONE
Well, I mean…as you know, there were very, very low employment numbers among minority, African Americans, in the Vermont government. And it just kinda proved, that the guy was a regional candidate, at best.

(Some small edits have been made to this post since publication – on February 16th, 2014, the information on Gary Johnson’s debts for his Republican campaign being paid by Libertarian Party donors was added to footnote #216. That Our America Initiative was started in 2009 was also added on this date, and some additional material was quoted from the letter by Wayne Allyn Root welcoming Johnson to the Libertarian Party. Additional support was added concerning the failure of the Sharpton campaign to achieve federal matching funds in footnote #213. The only other major edit in the previous posts was fixing the broken footnote links in Part Five, a change made on February 15th. The addition of the reference to the Dana Milbank column to the last footnote was made late on February 16th. The quote about there being only one party – the green party, was added on February 17th. On the same date, the images featuring Andrew Miller were added, and the quote from Johnathan Schell about the importance of a fourth party and the accompanying footnote were added. The additional material in footnote #206 of the youtube video of Carter and its transcript was added on February 19th, 2014. On March 1st, the fragment from Buzzsaw’s interview with Stone was put in. Roger Stone’s connection to Tom Carper’s 1982 race was put in on March 5th, 2014. On March 16th, the transcript and accompanying youtube clip of Nixon’s discussion about setting up a vote splitting fourth party were added. On September 28th, a long overdue spellcheck was made, videos featuring the clips of Stone speaking to Nick Gillespie were added, and a piece of Miguel Unamuno’s Tragic Sense of Life which somehow ended up amongst the footnotes was excised. On Aptil 9, 2015, this post received some long needed copy editing.)

(Should any tweets in the post-script be deleted, screenshots will be uploaded.)

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

FOOTNOTES

187 From Dirty Tricks:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

188 The details of Calero’s life here are unquestioned and can be found in many places, including his obituary, “Adolfo Calero dies at 80; tied to Iran-Contra scandal” by Tracy Wilkinson:

By 1983 he declared his leadership of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, a Contra rebel group formed and financed by the CIA. He was considered one of the more hard-line members of the force and at times clashed with other leaders as well as his American backers.

“My idea would be to take the nine commandantes, plus the next nine down, and the next and the next, about 60 people or so of the Sandinista power structure, bind them up and put them on an airplane and drop them off in Havana,” Calero told writer Shirley Christian in 1983, as recounted in her book “Nicaragua: Revolution in the Family.” “That would solve our problems.… That is what I want.”

The war would, of course, turn out to be much less surgical and cost thousands of lives. The U.S. involvement in attempting to overthrow the Sandinistas also led to a secret and illegal operation in which U.S. agents sold weapons to Iran and gave some of the money to the Contras.

Calero worked closely with fired White House aide Oliver North, one of the major Iran-Contra figures who worked to raise millions of dollars for the Contras after Congress cut off aid. At one point, Calero gave some of the money back to North, in the form of unsigned traveler’s checks, after North said he needed to fund other Contra operations and buy the freedom of American hostages in Lebanon.

“I reacted immediately, saying that Nicaraguan hostages of the Sandinistas [and] American hostages of these groups in Lebanon were one and the same, and that I would be happy to help in their liberation,” Calero testified to Congress in 1987 hearings on Iran-Contra. “I felt deeply for those poor people who had been kidnapped.”

189 From “National Women’s History Museum Makes Little Progress After 16 Years” by Andrea Stone and Christina Wilkie:

WASHINGTON — Sixteen years ago, a small band of women working on Capitol Hill launched a campaign to “Free the Sisters of the Crypt” and raised $85,000 in modest, private donations to move an unfinished, 10-ton marble statue of suffrage pioneers from the basement of the U.S. Capitol to the Rotunda.

That one achievement has since grown into a movement to build a national museum in Washington honoring women’s contributions to American history. Big-name sponsors, including actress Meryl Streep, have pledged their support, and the museum’s organizers have raised nearly $10 million.

Yet 16 years after organizers began in 1996, there is still no National Women’s History Museum (NWHM). Its leaders have failed to secure — or even identify — a location for a building, and sometimes have downplayed the very idea that they need one.

The museum’s president, CEO and chair of the board of directors is Joan Bradley Wages, a lobbyist and onetime flight attendant. Ann E.W. Stone, a veteran Republican political operative, serves as senior vice president of the board. Stone is also a key vendor for the museum and its largest contributor of in-kind, or non-cash, donations.

When she became president of the museum in 2007, Wages seemed like a plausible candidate to head a legislative campaign to secure a dedicated site. “[My] credentials to lead the NWHM are primarily due to my experience as a lobbyist in Washington on behalf of three Flight Attendant unions,” she told HuffPost in an emailed statement.

Stone, too, seemed like an ideal backer: a well-connected Washington insider on the fault line of women’s politics, a pro-choice Republican with good fundraising credentials and a knack for publicity. Stone has been a member of the museum’s board since it was founded and has twice served as treasurer. She has been the senior vice president since 2007.

190 From “National Women’s History Museum Makes Little Progress After 16 Years” by Andrea Stone and Christina Wilkie:

Stone and Jones, however, aren’t simply for-profit vendors to the museum. They are also the museum’s biggest volunteers, followed closely by Wages — an arrangement that Berger at Charity Navigator characterized as “very, very unusual.”

Donations of volunteer time can help to boost a nonprofit’s overall financial picture in the eyes of potential donors and grantmaking foundations. Volunteers report their hours and the fair market value of their services, which is then recorded as revenue from in-kind donations on the organization’s financial documents, adding to its overall revenue, a key indicator of financial health.

The museum’s total revenue has jumped considerably in recent years due to the influx of in-kind donations, the vast majority of them in the form of volunteer hours. In 2008, the museum reported $551,550 worth of in-kind donations, an increase of more than 500 percent over the previous year. In 2010, the latest year for which figures are available, the museum reported $456,303 worth of in-kind donations.

In 2010, according to IRS records and documents provided by NWHM, the Stone Group donated a total of $371,824 in in-kind donations, making it the biggest single non-cash contributor to the museum. Volunteer time accounted for the vast majority of this amount, with personal expenses and software programs totaling a few thousand dollars.

The year before, Stone personally donated $27,060 worth of volunteer time, according to documents provided by the museum. In 2010, that number shot up. Stone reported having performed 1,717 hours — nearly 43 weeks’ worth, at 40 hours per week — of volunteer work for NWHM, split between her board duties and other services such as “social media coordination” and public speaking. Of these, she counted 781 hours as in-kind donations, valued at between $150 and $1,000 an hour. Her total personal contribution of time, she said, was worth $201,450.

Jones reported donating even more time — 2,050 hours — in 2010, for a total value of $164,426, according to documents the museum provided to HuffPost. Wages said that Jones’ work included “chores,” such as “moving furniture [and] running errands to pick up supplies.”

Wages is no stranger to eye-popping in-kind donations, herself. According to the museum’s records, in 2009 — the only year she appears to have donated hours — Wages provided $189,462 worth of volunteer time. She had initially valued her time even more highly, calculating 1,450 hours as worth $398,750. But that figure didn’t sit well with the museum’s auditors.

According to a statement from the museum, the auditors “recommended that [Wages] could not charge more than $25 per hour for many of the donated hours,” a steep drop from the $275 per hour at which she had initially valued her time. Consequently, they “recommended that [Wages’ in-kind donation] be reduced by $209,288.” Still, an in-kind donation of nearly $190,000 is striking.

Jones declined to speak to HuffPost, but stood by her calculation of her own hours, saying in a written statement, “Some days I volunteered long hours, some days short hours and then there are days I don’t volunteer there at all.”

Stone, however, had trouble explaining in a phone interview the more-than-sevenfold jump in the value of her donated time from 2009 to 2010. When HuffPost asked her what caused the increase, she grew flustered and said she would check her datebook and send back an explanation. Stone has yet to reply.

When asked how she found time to operate two small businesses and run a PAC while donating so many hours to the museum, Stone responded, “I don’t know what to say to that. I guess from your standpoint, you can look at this and see what you see, but from my standpoint, [I know] what’s in our hearts.”

191 From “National Women’s History Museum Makes Little Progress After 16 Years” by Andrea Stone and Christina Wilkie:

Since 2005, the museum has paid Stone’s two companies at least $194,000 for their direct mail services, according to records provided by the museum. The Stone Group oversees mailings to the museum’s list of supporters, while Capstone Lists rents mailing lists to the museum for solicitations.

The vice president of the Stone Group and Stone’s business partner for the past 30 years, Lora Lynn Jones, owns a third company, direct mail brokerage Total Direct Response, which also does business with NWHM.

Stone denied that her status as a vendor, donor and board member for the museum constitutes a conflict of interest. “It has been handled totally in keeping with what [nonprofit governance website] BoardSource and other sources have laid out. [Museum board] committees are aware of it, and it’s been fully disclosed,” she said.

But two experts say that Stone’s multiple roles with the museum, while not illegal, fall well outside typical board-vendor arrangements.

“This certainly isn’t a best practice,” said Ken Berger, president of the nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator. “Nonprofits are really discouraged from hiring the services of board members, and while technically you can get away with it, even then it’s really bad. Our advice is that vendors should step off the board [if they want to do business with a nonprofit],” he said.

David Schultz, an expert in nonprofit law at Hamline College in Saint Paul, Minn., said the arrangement with Stone presents “enormous potential for self-dealing and conflicts of interest.”

From “Election Law: Supreme Plot” (archived) by Dan Christianson, from Daily Business Review, July 10, 2003

Mary McCarty’s “Dear Friend” letter was shrill. “Were you as outraged by the Florida Supreme Court’s efforts to highjack [sic] the presidency for Al Gore as I was?” the letter asked. “It was an outrageous, arrogant power-grab by a left-wing court which is stuck in the liberal 60s…We must raise at least $4.5 million by the ‘Vote No’ campaign to organize Florida voters to reject the retention of these three liberal Supreme Court justices.”

192 From “National Women’s History Museum Makes Little Progress After 16 Years” by Andrea Stone and Christina Wilkie:

Jones reported donating even more time — 2,050 hours — in 2010, for a total value of $164,426, according to documents the museum provided to HuffPost. Wages said that Jones’ work included “chores,” such as “moving furniture [and] running errands to pick up supplies.”

Jones declined to speak to HuffPost, but stood by her calculation of her own hours, saying in a written statement, “Some days I volunteered long hours, some days short hours and then there are days I don’t volunteer there at all.”

193 From “The curious spending of Republicans for Choice” by Josh Israel:

Since the PAC’s formation in 1990, documents show that Republicans for Choice has raised and spent more than $5.5 million. But a Center for Public Integrity analysis of the PAC’s more recent filings – along with data from CQ MoneyLine, which tracks political giving – reveals that over the past decade less than five percent of the committee’s spending has gone to political candidates, other political committees, or independent expenditures. Since 2005, just about one-half of one percent of the PAC’s nearly $1 million in spending has gone to federal or state campaigns, according to a review of records. By comparison, Federal Election Commission data show the average federal PAC in the recent 2007-2008 cycle dedicated about 35 percent of spending to contributions aiding federal candidates. A comparison to other PACs on both sides of the abortion debate shows that similar groups spend a much greater portion of their funds on candidates and campaigns.

When the issue of the group’s early spending was raised in a 1992 Legal Times article, Stone wrote a rebuttal defending the PAC’s practices. The first goal of the group, she said, was “not the election of federal candidates, but the election of pro-choice delegates” to the Republican national convention. Including state campaigns, she added, 10.6 percent of total spending at that point had gone to “direct assistance to candidates,” putting the PAC in line with other major abortion rights political action committees. But in recent years, the group’s expenditures have not tracked with other major PACs on both sides of the abortion debate. Using data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the Center analyzed how much other abortion-issue PACs spent on federal candidates, political committees, and independent expenditures since 1997:

  • Republican Majority for Choice PAC, another abortion rights GOP committee: more than 87 percent;
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC: 49 percent;
  • Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s PAC: 72 percent;
  • Republican National Coalition for Life PAC, an anti-abortion GOP group: 79 percent; and
  • National Right to Life PAC: over 91 percent.

194 From “The curious spending of Republicans for Choice” by Josh Israel:

In recent years, most of the PAC’s payments have gone to one of three recipients: Capstone Lists (a direct-marketing company owned by Stone), The Stone Group (a political consulting firm owned by Stone), and Ann Stone directly.

Dating back to the beginning of 2005, about 69 percent of the $967,108 spent by the group has gone to those three entities. Both companies and the PAC, along with the not-yet-built National Women’s History Museum (Stone is senior vice president), share space in an Alexandria office building. Though the four entities list different suite numbers on correspondence, filings, and the building’s occupant directory, the four Stone groups share a second-floor office with a door marked “250-260.”

Republicans for Choice pays thousands of dollars each year for office, equipment, and list rental to Capstone Lists. The Stone Group’s services are retained for the PAC’s accounting, mailing production, and website updates (though www.republicansforchoice.com contains numerous out-of-date and under constructionn pages).

Stone herself received nearly $250,000 since the start of 2001 as reimbursements for her “travel and entertainment,” “automobile maintenance repairs,” phone, tires, gasoline, and various other expenses.

Among other expenditures by the RFC PAC were 13 payments over the 2006 and 2008 cycles to the Washington, D.C. government and one to the City of Alexandria to cover $685 worth of parking tickets. This figure represents more than 10 percent of the total given by the committee to political candidates over the same period. Stone does not dispute that these were her violations, but points out that the PAC is transparent about them. “I could have put these on an expense report to ‘hide’ it,” she said. “I did not.”

195 Ann Stone’s comments are taken directly from the Politico article “A PAC’s spending” by Ben Smith; for clarity, some paragraph breaks have been added, but no other changes have been made. There were two comments made, and they get separate quotes:

Yes I am that Ann Stone whom this article is whipping you up to hate. But if you knew the whole story your perception might be different. Let me start off though by telling you that most of the “facts” in the original article are correct. Most but not all. But that is not enough to know the real story.

The real problem however is in the conclusions and in the omissions of information by the author of the original article. They may say the omissions were to limit the length of the article but those omissions change the tone and perception of the “facts” they reported and some of their conclusions. First off, I made the original reporter well aware that our PAC was never primarily designed to support candidates by giving money. In fact I was clear with him that was a small part of what we were set up to do. And I explained that unlike the other groups he had compared us to we did all our work under a PAC which meant that all of our activity was disclosed and is public.

The other groups listed who are great and do great work have separate 527’s or c3s or c4s to do most of their work which is not candidate related. Organizing a group’s overall work that way allows them to split up expenses and overhead. And they are not required by law to make any public disclosure of specific receipts and expenses like we do in a PAC. So much of their administrative and project costs are separated from their PAC so their percentages of course would look better. I guess I would now say we should have done it the same way so that all the money contributed into the PAC was only raised for candidates and spent that way,but that is not how we did it. We neither raised money soley for candidates nor spent it that way, creating this PR nightmare. If you go to our website http://www.repubicansforchoice.com you will read about our full mission…

To continue: Our donors who were solicited knew that when they signed up. The donor they write about came to us unsolicited and clearly thought PAC=candidates. But that donor should also remember that he was surveyed regularly to find out what they thought our spending priorities should be. We have been very responsive to what our members have asked us to do. Shockingly funding candidates rates down the list at bottom or near bottom.

We offered to share a sample of those letters with the authors of the original article. Further anyone who thinks I made money on this PAC did not read the article or does not understand FEC law. When you incur expenses for a PAC personally …you must be reimbursed for them…that is the law. The money RFC paid me was to reimburse me for money I paid out.. Like for our expenses at each national convention which between airfare, hotel for our staff and volunteers and other staff expenses I would have charges of thousands of dollars… By law I had to be reimbursed for or it would have been a violation of law. So did this “fund my lifestyle?” Hardly. And the much ado about the parking tickets and car repairs…if we got a ticket due to staying at a meeting downtown that had to do with RFC …RFC paid the ticket. As for car repairs and such…I worked out a deal that RFC would pay for car repairs etc instead of mileage…which was much less paperwork and time consuming…and as I said in the article we could have hidden it away in an expense report but chose to have them pay it directly and disclose it.

Sadly I will have to spend the next few days refuting much of the omissions and misinterpretation of facts in this article. Here is another example of a conclusion that was distorted. What the authors did not tell you is that the reason my firms were paid was two fold: 1) When I started RFC no GOP firm would help us fundraise or organize for fear of retribution by the GOP. In fact there were a whole host of printers and list owners and others who we had dealt with at other times that would not work for us because of our stand on this issue. So rather than hire a Democratic firm (which also would have been a PR nightmare) my firm handled what we could not get others to do. Now that the Party has calmed down toward us recently maybe I could have bid the work out but since my firm was named as one of the top in the Nation by a vote of our peers, why settle for less with another firm? And we were able to do the work at a rate we would not have gotten outside…but still within the market norm as is required by law. 2)The second reason is that to save costs starting in 2005 when our revenue started declining, we outsourced staff functions and project coordination to my firms because they could do their work, outside of what volunteers could handle, more cost effectively. I have great and experienced staff and it now allows me to be able to personally oversee RFC’s work and still do my other work. But when our firm orders printing or does computer work or designs literature or writes an ad script or does research, or records a radio ad they are required to bill RFC for that work and to be paid for it…or it is an illegal corporate contribution.

In fact when we filed our first FEC report we had an audit almost immediately provoked by an FEC complaint from an anti choice group who was looking to have us nailed as having provided work or office space to RFC which would have been an illegal contribution so we were sensitive to this from the start. You may think we made bad decisions on how we organized the work we do by putting it all under the title PAC or disagree with how we spend our money but our work has had impact and has always been done according to the law. All of our expenses have always been out in the open for anyone to see. Further the authors did not detail the pages and pages of accomplishments we gave them nor the fact that during the lean times I personally lent or gave the PAC money to keep going to the extent I was allowed by law. No that would have messed up their storyline. Feel free to email me through the RFC website if you want to ask me any more questions…

196 From “G.O.P. Group Formed to Support Abortion Rights” by Robin Toner:

WASHINGTON, April 23– A group of centrist and conservative Republicans says it is mounting a three-year drive to change the party’s platform and its firm opposition to abortion rights.

Ann Stone, a conservative fund-raiser who is heading the group, Republicans for Choice, said, ”Our first goal is to change the party’s platform to reflect the view of the majority of Republicans, which is that choices should be made at the individual level and government should get out of our lives.”

Ms. Stone said the group, which will be a political action committee, hoped to raise $1.5 million to $3 million over the next three years to aid Republican candidates who support a woman’s right to have an abortion and to bring about changes in the platform at the 1992 convention.

Ms. Stone said the group already had almost 200 elected officials signed on to its advisory board. Among them, the group said, are Representatives Nancy L. Johnson of Connecticut, Jim Kolbe of Arizona, Ronald K. Machtley of Rhode Island and Tom Campbell of California.

Earlier this month, another Republican political action committee was formed to aid Republican candidates who support abortion rights. The group, Pro-Choice America, includes Republicans like former First Lady Betty Ford and Representatives Constance A. Morella of Maryland, Bill Green of New York and Claudine Schneider of Rhode Island.

From “Abortion Issue Simmers In GOP” by S.A. Paolantonio:

Imagine it’s 1992, and thousands of reporters and television crews have descended upon the Republican National Convention for the re-coronation of George Bush.

But there is one big problem. There is no story to cover.

The world is still at peace. The economy is cruising. So is the President’s popularity. What are the reporters going to write about?

Abortion.

“It’s our biggest fear,” said Republican political consultant Roger Stone. Imagine, said Stone, that President Bush, who has consistently vetoed abortion-rights legislation, is a spectator at his own convention while renegade Republicans lead a charge to overhaul the GOP platform, which currently calls for a constitutional ban on abortion.

197 From “McInnis served on Republicans for Choice board for nearly a decade”:

Anti-abortion Republican candidate for governor Scott McInnis says he does not remember serving on the advisory board of Republicans for Choice, a political action committee ostensibly dedicated to supporting pro-choice candidates.

Papers filed with the Federal Election Commission, though, show that McInnis served on the organization’s board from June of 1996 through at least August of 2005. Filings submitted since then do not include the PAC’s letterhead, which lists its advisory board.

Republicans For Choice did not return multiple phone calls or emails.

Mcinnis served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 until 2005, and was originally elected as a pro-choice candidate. By 1999, he was voting mostly against choice and by 2003 the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) had him rated at zero percent on its issues.

Yet after receiving that rating, he continued to serve at least two more years on the RFC board. Did the board actually offer advice in the running of the organization as implied or were members merely figureheads? It’s hard to say. RFC founder, chairwoman and treasurer Ann E. W. Stone earlier this year told the Center for Public Integrity that she relies on an advisory board to set the agenda for PAC spending.

From “Scott McInnis’s Abortion Stance Comes Full Circle With Support For ‘Personhood’ Initiative” by the Huffington Post, describes Innis support for the Personhood ballot initiative. That McInnis lost his primary was obtained from the wikipedia entry “Colorado gubernatorial election, 2010”.

198 From “Republicans for Choice vs. Republicans for Choice” by Jeff Johnson:

Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) – Two Republican pro-abortion groups with similar names are on opposite sides of the debate over President Bush’s nomination of Priscilla Owen to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The pro-abortion group “Republicans for Choice Political Action Committee” supports Owen, while the pro-abortion “Republicans for Choice®” affiliate of Planned Parenthood does not. The confusion created by the similar names is creating tension between the groups.

Ann Stone, national chairman of “Republicans for Choice PAC,” said Tuesday that her pro-abortion colleagues should “cease their attacks on Priscilla Owen and let her nomination go forward.”

“I worry that if we in the pro-choice movement attack even those judicial nominees who are responsible and acclaimed jurists that we will appear like the ‘boy who cried wolf’ when the really bad nominees come forward,” he explained in a press release. “We need to pick our fights and this should not be one of them.”

Stone’s group is located online at republicansforchoice.com. The website includes a disclaimer at the bottom of each page stating, “This Republicans For Choice committee is a political action group and is not a part of, or affiliated with, Planned Parenthood.”

Changing the .com to .org, in the web address, however, yields a connection to the “Republicans for Choice” that is an affiliate of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest fee-for-service purveyor of abortions, and opposes Owen’s nomination.

A search of the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveals that the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., does, in fact, hold the “service mark” for the phrase “Republicans for Choice.”

The mark was submitted for approval on March 30, 1990 and registered to the group on December 28, 1993. Records indicate that Planned Parenthood claims to have first used the phrase on July 17, 1981.

The page titled “A message from Ann Stone” on her website claims that she “founded Republicans for Choice in 1989.”

Stone told CNSNews.com that she has been using the name since the late 1980s under a “working arrangement” with Planned Parenthood.

“We are Republican first and pro-choice second in their eyes,” Stone explained. “Our group was organized to be party-friendly and to work out the issue within the party … I have been a target more often than not because they see me as being ‘too Republican.'”

Crockett is urging Stone to change the name of her organization “because it sends a confusing message.”

“You can’t call yourself ‘pro-choice,'” Crockett wrote, “and support an anti-choice, extremist judicial nominee.”

Stone laughed when asked if she was planning to change her group’s name. Regarding Planned Parenthood’s characterization of Owen, she added, “To call her an ‘anti-choice extremist’ is ridiculous. It’s laughable.”

199 From “Del. Governor’s Wife Denies Charge Husband Abused Her” by Sandy Bauers:

WILMINGTON – In one of the stranger chapters in Delaware’s political history, the wife of Gov. Carper held a news conference yesterday to say her husband doesn’t beat her.

That event was triggered by an earlier news conference in which the chairwoman of a national Republican political action committee said the abuse had occurred.

The accusation against the Democrat by Ann Stone, chairwoman of Republicans for Choice, an abortion-rights lobbying group based in Alexandria, Va., was immediately denounced by Delaware Republican leaders as well as members of her group. Four Delaware members of the Republicans for Choice advisory board, including two Delaware state senators, resigned in protest.

“I am dismayed that my husband’s political opponents would engage in such an attack at the expense of my family,” she said. “To assert that I would allow my husband to abuse me is offensive to me as a wife, as a mother, and as a professional woman.”

Stone handed out what she identified as court documents from a 1981 child custody dispute in which Carper admitted slapping his first wife once during their marriage. The admission was initially reported in 1982 by the New York Post.

Stone yesterday claimed that there were sealed court records in Delaware proving that Carper had abused his current wife. She said she had not investigated but that “people in Delaware I trust” had told her it was true. She also cited “people who said they had had conversations with people inside the Carper circle who said the pattern had continued.” Stone refused to name any of the individuals.

Martha Carper said at her own news conference two hours later, “There are no documents sealed or unsealed because there are no documents in Family Court or in any other court.”

Edward Pollard, administrator for Family Court, said there were no court documents on file involving either Carper or his wife.

Delaware Republican State Chairman Basil Battaglia was among those who bluntly dismissed Stone and her accusations yesterday.

“Ann Stone does not represent the Delaware Republican Party. We don’t practice that type of politics here in Delaware,” he said, contending that most campaigns are “very genteel.”

The GOP candidate for governor, Janet Rzewnicki, the state treasurer, denied any involvement in Stone’s news conference.

Rzewnicki did say in a statement, “If there’s nothing to hide, unseal the records and let the people of Delaware decide on this issue. I’m certainly not calling Tom Carper a wife-beater, but I believe that the people of Delaware have a right to know the entire story.”

Her campaign manager, Jeffrey M. Busch, said it was up to Carper to prove he has not hit his wife.

“In 1981, it showed that he hit his wife,” Busch said. “Show that he didn’t do it again and that’s the end of it.”

That Janet Rzewnicki, the candidate, was once on the board for Republicans for Choice is mentioned in “GOP Abortion Stand Besieged From Within” by S. A. Paolantonio and Katharine Seelye:

Republicans for Choice includes a broad spectrum of the party’s top and middle-level operatives and officials, including Hersh Koslov, former counsel to the New Jersey Republican Party, California Rep. Tom Campbell, Delaware State Treasurer Janet Rzewnicki, political consultant Roger Stone, and his wife, Ann, a conservative direct mail specialist, and Charles Kopp, one of Pennsylvania’s top fund-raisers.

That Rzewnicki lost to Carper in the governor’s race is information available in many places, including the wikipedia page for “Tom Carper”, which gives the outcome, though none of the details of the 1996 race.

From “GOP Spokesman Black: A True Believer Steps In” by Alan Pell Crawford, on Roger Stone’s involvement in the 1982 race:

Partner Roger Stone seems to relish his image as a no-holds-barred campaigner. In a 1982 campaign for Tommy Evans against Delaware Rep. Thomas Carper, Stone tried to label the incumbent a wife-beater, the kind of tactic for which the New Republic labeled Stone Washington’s “state-of-the-art political sleazeball.” [“State of the Art Sleazeball” by Jacob Weisberg, re-published in Slate] Stone, who with Black was one of NCPAC’s founders, has a long history of such misdeeds. One of the “dirty tricksters” unearthed by the Senate Watergate Committee, Stone likes to think of himself, according to one friend, as “the next generation’s Roy Cohn.”

200 From “GOP donors funding Nader / Bush supporters give independent’s bid a financial lift” by Carla Marinucci:

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader — still not on the ballot in a single state — has received a recent windfall of contributions from deep-pocketed Republicans with a history of big contributions to the party, an analysis of federal records show.

Nearly one in 10 of Nader’s major donors — those writing checks of $1, 000 or more — have given in recent months to the Bush-Cheney campaign, the latest documents show. GOP fund-raisers also have “bundled” contributions — gathering hefty donations for maximum effect to help Nader, who has criticized the practice in the past.

The donations from wealthy Republicans — combined with increasingly vocal Democratic charges that they represent a stealth GOP effort to wound Democrat John Kerry — prompted Nader’s vice presidential running mate, Green Party member Peter Camejo, to suggest the consumer advocate reject the money that doesn’t come from loyal Nader voters.

But the financial records show that $23,000 in checks of $1,000 or more have come from loyal Republicans. Among those who have given recently to Nader are Houston businessman Nijad Fares, who donated $200,000 to President Bush’s 2000 inaugural committee; Richard J. Egan, the former ambassador to Ireland, and his wife, Pamela, who have raised more than $300,000 for Bush; Michigan developer Ghassan Saab, who has given $30,000 to the RNC since 2001; and frozen food magnate Jeno Paulucci, and his wife, Lois, who have donated $150, 000 to GOP causes since 2000 alone.

201 From “Obama Actually Betrayed The Gay Marriage Cause” by Michael Musto:

“Once Gay Americans are through celebrating President Barack Obama’s ‘personal’ support of Gay marriage equality, they will learn that Obama’s ‘evolution’ changes nothing. Obama’s new position is a bullshit cop-out.

“This comes on the heels of a cynical Obama campaign pirouette where Team Obama trotted out first Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then Vice President ‘Crazy’ Joe Biden to say they support gay marriage and imply that the President would too–after the election.

“Now, incredibly, Obama says Gay marriage is a state issue. That’s what they used to say about abortion and before that, slavery. Now the President says he believes that gay couples should be able to marry but he doesn’t believe they have a right to do so. Obama would leave the question to the states–in other words–the status quo. This is like saying that public schools ought to be integrated but if the people of Mississippi disagree, well it’s up to them.

“If Obama believes that marriage equality is a constitutionally guaranteed civil right, as former Governor Gary Johnson does, than it can’t be abridged by the states. Forty-four states currently ban gay marriage. Under Obama millions of Americans in most states will continue be denied the right to marry the person of their choice.”

From “Attorney For Birther Army Doc Is Former GOP Staffer And Anti-Gay Crusader” by Justin Elliott:

The attorney driving the story of the Birther Army doctor facing a court martial for refusing orders is a former Republican Hill staffer and current personal injury lawyer who has dabbled in anti-gay activism and reportedly wrote a letter to the FBI tipping off the feds to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s use of prostitutes, months before the scandal publicly broke.

Attorney Paul Rolf Jensen runs a California law firm, Jensen & Associates, that focuses on bread and butter personal injury cases involving dog bites, seatbelt failure, and asbestos exposure.

But, says the GOP operative Roger Stone, a friend and sometimes client of Jensen’s, he should not be underestimated when it comes to the case of Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin.

An Army doctor, Lakin believes President Obama may not be a natural born citizen, and therefore that military orders are invalid. He was charged last week for refusing orders to show up to be deployed for a second tour in Afghanistan.

“Jensen is a bulldog. A true student of the law. A brilliant litigator. Not adverse to high profile cases and high risk legal strategies,” says Stone in an email. He “understand[s] public relations and the damage this case can do to Obama. Won’t be adverse to trying to call Obama for testimony.”

Jensen did not respond to our request for comment, but his background seems to be in line with Lakin spokeswoman Margaret Hemenway, a former staffer for Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) who now leads the American Patriot Foundation, which is raising money to pay Lakin’s legal fees.

Jensen, too, is a former Smith staffer, and he also worked for Sen. Jeremiah Denton (R-AL) and as counsel for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in the early 2000s, according to his bio.

Also like Hemenway, who once filed a complaint against her daughter’s first grade teacher because the teacher announced she is a lesbian, Jensen has been involved in anti-gay activism.

Jensen had filed “25 charges of heresy” against other Presbyterians around the country, CNN reported in 2004. The complaints included cases in which pastors officiated over same-sex unions, ordained gay elders, or were themselves gay.

“I am called to action within the Presbyterian church to fight back against those who have made war and would destroy our church,” he told CNN.

202 From “Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama”:

There is a candidate on the ballot in at least 47 states, and probably in all 50, who regularly speaks out against that post-9/11 trend, and all the individual policies that compose it. His name is Gary Johnson, and he won’t win. I am supporting him because he ought to. Liberals and progressives care so little about having critiques of the aforementioned policies aired that vanishingly few will even urge that he be included in the upcoming presidential debates. If I vote, it will be for Johnson. What about the assertion that Romney will be even worse than Obama has been on these issues? It is quite possible, though not nearly as inevitable as Democrats seem to think. It isn’t as though they accurately predicted the abysmal behavior of Obama during his first term, after all. And how do you get worse than having set a precedent for the extrajudicial assassination of American citizens? By actually carrying out such a killing? Obama did that too. Would Romney? I honestly don’t know. I can imagine he’d kill more Americans without trial and in secret, or that he wouldn’t kill any. I can imagine that he’d kill more innocent Pakistani kids or fewer. His rhetoric suggests he would be worse. I agree with that. Then again, Romney revels in bellicosity; Obama soothes with rhetoric and kills people in secret.

The whole liberal conceit that Obama is a good, enlightened man, while his opponent is a malign, hard-hearted cretin, depends on constructing a reality where the lives of non-Americans — along with the lives of some American Muslims and whistleblowers — just aren’t valued. Alternatively, the less savory parts of Obama’s tenure can just be repeatedly disappeared from the narrative of his first term, as so many left-leaning journalists, uncomfortable confronting the depths of the man’s transgressions, have done over and over again.

Johnson’s statements on Uganda are from “Gary Johnson would send troops into Uganda but not Libya”, of which the following is a transcript:

FOX NEWS GAL: So the president’s said that he’s sending a hundred troops to Central Africa, to combat the LRA, Joseph Kony. Would you support this if you were president? Is this something you would do?

JOHNSON: You know, in thinking about this, he signed legislation…Congress authorized that this is what needed to take place…he signed that legislation as president. If I were president, and I signed that legislation, I would have had an action plan ready to go immediately. From all appearances, this really does seem to be genocide. I mean, this really seems to be…these are really bad actors, a finite number of fighters…whatever that number is, I don’t know if I’d be sending advisers there, as immediately as after signing the legislation, sent a strike force to wipe them out.

KRAUTHAMMER: That’s very non-libertarian of you.

JOHNSON: Well, I’ve always said that genocide is something that none of us want to stand by and watch happen. From everything I can ascertain from this situation, this does qualify for genocide.

KRAUTHAMMER: What about the Qaddafi threat, when he was winning the war against the rebels at the beginning…to wipe out the people, his opponents in Benghazi. Would you have sent the army to go and prevent that?

JOHNSON: No, I would not have. I did not see a military threat from Libya. That’s another issue here with the Lord’s Resistance Army, is that this is their nation. We’re talking about a foreign dictator here. I don’t think there’s anything in the constitution that says because we don’t like a foreign leader we should go in and topple that foreign leader.

KRAUTHAMMER: But I’m not sure if I understand. Clearly the Liberation Army in Uganda is not a threat, to the United States. Yet you would say you would send a strike force. You can argue equally, whether Qaddafi is the leader of a country or not, he was a threat to the people of Benghazi, and you would not. I’m not sure I understand the logic.

JOHNSON: Well, uh, these are the questions that I…another thing I would do as president of the United States, I would be really transparent. Look, I’m signing this legislation authorizing wiping out the Lord’s Resistance Army, authorizing that legislation, on the other hand, going into Libya, I heard the transparency…I just didn’t see the military threat. And I did not see a military threat from the Lord’s Resistance Army. I do not see that as a threat to national security at all.

FOX NEWS GUY: There’s a lot of nuance.

JOHNSON: There’s a lot of nuance as president of the United States.

That Johnson wished to keep Guantanamo Bay open is taken from the interview with Andrew Napolitano, “Governor Gary Johnson I would not close Gitmo”:

NAPOLITANO: Governor, should we close Guantanamo Bay? Should they be either tried in federal district courts, or returned to their countries, or should we keep it open, and leave them uncharged for the rest of their lives?

JOHNSON: Well, when president Obama didn’t close Guantanamo Bay, and that was one of his promises, I really looked into the issue, and I had a lot of prominent libertarians tell me, if it weren’t for Guantanamo that we would have to create that situation somewhere else. So, I’ve kinda been sold on the notion that this is something we have to have whether it’s…if it’s not Guantanamo, it’s going to be somewhere else…that these are enemy combatants, and not U.S. citizens, I’ve been wooed over to the side that there’s a reason for keeping it open.

Johnson’s policy on Iran and drone strikes is taken from “Gary Johnson’s strange foreign policy” by Jamie Weinstein:

Libertarian Party presidential contender Gary Johnson has been portrayed as an anti-war candidate, but that isn’t quite so clear.

Johnson sat down with reporters and editors from The Daily Caller last week, generously providing his time to answer any and all questions, no matter how difficult or ludicrous.

But when pressed on foreign policy topics throughout the interview, Johnson gave answers that didn’t always seem to add up and were often, at best, unorthodox positions for a man who has been painted as a non-interventionist.

Johnson said that while he wants to end the war in Afghanistan, that doesn’t mean he would necessarily stop drone attacks against terrorists in Pakistan or Yemen, even though he believes they create more enemies than they kill.

“I would want leave all options on the table,” Johnson said.

But if Johnson plans on leaving Afghanistan, how does he plan to leave the option of a drone campaign against al-Qaida elements in Pakistan on the table?

“So now you have the U.S. bases that exist in those areas, do we shut down those military bases? Perhaps not,” he suggested, taking an odd position for a supposed anti-war candidate.

“I would completely withdraw our military presence,” he further expounded. “Does withdrawing our military presence from Afghanistan mean that we would still have a base open in Afghanistan if they allowed us to keep a base open? Perhaps.”

On Iran, Johnson said that if “Iran launches a nuclear warhead they can be assured that they will no longer exist.”

“None of their country will be left to stand and that will be from Israel,” he said, confident that the threat of nuclear retaliation would prevent the Islamic Republic from using any nuclear weapon it obtained.

Johnson went on to say that he doesn’t think Iran has seriously been engaged diplomatically. So what would Johnson say that hasn’t been said to get Iran to reconsider developing a nuclear weapon?

“Look, ‘Don’t develop a nuclear weapon,'” he proffered.

You don’t think that’s been said, TheDC asked?

“‘So if we open up trade with you all, we’d like to be a trading partner,'” he added.

Seriously, you don’t think that has been put on the table in negotiations, TheDC asked?

Johnson then pivoted and suggested that there wasn’t any evidence that Iran was developing, or ever wanted, a nuclear weapon.

“Am I not correct in saying that Iran has never voiced that they are developing a nuclear weapon, nor do they have any intention of using a nuclear weapon against the United States?” he asked.

“That’s never actually been voiced. I don’t know where that has come from, but it hasn’t been from Iran.”

So if he doesn’t believe Iran is developing a nuclear weapon or has any intention of developing a nuclear weapon, why is he even suggesting negotiations? Shouldn’t we just open up trade with Iran without asking for anything in return in that case?

“I would be in that camp,” he conceded.

Rand Paul’s comments on same sex marriage are taken from “Rand Paul mentions non-human marriage while discussing gay marriage, says it was joke” by Aaron Blake:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday appeared to suggest a link between the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage and marriage between a human and a non-human, but later walked back that suggestion and said it was a joke.

“It is difficult, because if we have no laws on this, people will take it to one extension further — does it have to be humans?” Paul said Wednesday in an interview with Glenn Beck, after Beck suggested some unintended consequences of the rulings, including polygamy.

Paul’s office said that the senator was making a joke.

“Sarcasm sometimes doesn’t translate adequately from radio conversation,” spokeswoman Moira Bagley said. “Sen. Paul did not suggest that striking down DOMA could lead to unusual marriage arrangements. What he was discussing was that having the state recognize marriage without definition could lead to marriages with no basis in reality.”

Later in Wednesday, on Fox News, Paul took a different tack, saying marriage as defined by each state “will probably be within certain parameters.”

203 From “Spoiler alert: Poll finds small following for Libertarian candidate” by Dan Merica:

Washington (CNN) – Gary Johnson’s poll numbers may not give him much-of-a shot at winning the presidency, but in the latest CNN/ORC Poll, he is registering enough of a following to possibly tip the balance in an increasingly close election.

Three percent of likely voters responded that they would vote for Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president, in November. That number is slightly higher among registered voters, with 4% identifying with the former governor of New Mexico.

The poll also finds that Johnson’s inclusion, along with the Green Party’s candidate Jill Stein, hurts Republican candidate Mitt Romney more than it does President Barack Obama.

Obama leads Romney 52% to 46% when Romney and Obama are the only candidates in question, but Romney’s support goes down three percentage points with the inclusion of the third party candidates. Obama’s support only drops one point.

“The inclusion of the two minor-party candidates turns a six-point margin for President Obama into an eight-point lead,” said Keating Holland, CNN’s Polling Director. Since third party candidates are typically not on the ballot in all 50 states, those numbers can be slight deceiving when relating them to the support the candidates will receive on Election Day.

204 A partial transcript of this conversation, “Roger Stone on New Media and Old Campaign Tricks”, follows:

QUESTIONER
Yeah, in the articles…it seems you think the Bush administration has done great damage to the Republican party…I was kinda wondering, what ways do you see this Bush administration has done damage to the Republican party and why do you prefer John McCain and see him as someone different from this administration?

STONE
Sure. Well, first of all, I’ve never been a Bush Republican. I consider myself a Goldwater Reagan, more libertarian oriented Republican. And, take your pick. The only thing I like about the Bush administration is their tax policy. I am for tax reduction because I do think it makes the economy grow, but you couldn’t be a conservative and spend like this administration is spending. They’re spending us into the millennium. You couldn’t be a conservative and approve of the growth of government in the eight years George Bush has been governor – president – and lastly, I think this war is pointless. I don’t see the point of the war in Iraq. Now, if you wanted to have war against the Saudis, I’m with you. They’re our problem in the region, they’re not our friends. But the Bush administration kisses up to the Saudis and you get a war in Iraq that doesn’t seem to me to have any point. Now, when we need to use hardball tactics against the Iranians, we’ve worn out the goodwill of the American people who don’t have the stomach for more conflict.

GILLESPIE
How does that translate into support for McCain?

STONE
Well, I don’t think John McCain is George Bush. I think McCain has been with the Bush administration – with the exception of the war – largely when they’re right. But McCain – who I’ve known for twenty years – is very definitely his own man. He didn’t challenge George W. Bush in 2000 for no reason. I do think he has already demonstrated to a great extent he will go his own way, that he will take on iconoclastic fights that would seem out of type for your average conservative Republican. I think it’s a cheap shot to say he’s four more years of George Bush. He’s not. I think he’ll be very different, I think he is a reformer, I really think he hasn’t been afraid to take on the tobacco companies, trial bar, so many other special interests, the administration certainly has never taken on.

GILLESPIE
How brilliant a political strategy was the Palin pick? [the delivery conveys no irony, and there is no subsequent laughter]

STONE
Breathtaking. Because it takes advantage of discord in the democratic party caused essentially by the dumping of Hillary Clinton. They not only don’t nominate her, even though she gets eighteen million votes, they don’t consider her seriously for the ticket, leaving the Republican party a big fat opening. Now, a lot of people thought that all of the women who supported Hillary were ultra-liberals and therefore they couldn’t possibly be attracted by a Palin candidacy. That’s turned out to be false. Many of the women who supported Hillary supported her because they felt it was important to elect a woman president, they thought the role of women was expanding, this would be history making. We’re gonna get thirty percent of the people who voted for Hillary. They’re gonna vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. And that’s very significant. I also like it because it wrenched control of the Republican party away from the party establishment. The republican establishment in Washington does not like John McCain. They don’t like him because they can’t trust him to go along and keep his mouth shut. He really is a maverick, I disagree with Matt Welch in this regard. [a reference to the Matt Welch book: McCain: The Myth of a Maverick] And Sarah Palin didn’t go to Yale. She’s not part of the fraternity here in town. She’s truly an outsider in the sense that McCain is an outsider. So I think that she is out of the Goldwater Reagan Laxalt brand of western frontier conservatism which is not an Ivy league establishment eastern institution brand of republicanism. I think she’s a breath of fresh air.

QUESTIONER
Well, my question kinda goes back to your slanderous techniques earlier, your hardball techniques…I don’t understand, in the New Yorker, they mention you have a beef with Karl Rove. What’s that about?

STONE
Well, that goes back to a college Republican fight in the seventies, where I believe he and his friends forged a bunch of proxies. But let’s go back to your question. I don’t consider any of my activities slanderous, because to be slanderous, I would have to be saying, or communicating, or publicizing things that were not true. And I’ve never done that, and I don’t believe in that. I think these negative TV ads, like the ones on sex education and Barack Obama are actually counterproductive. Bad research. And it’s cost him. Completely juvenile, and not germane to the campaign. Now, had it been accurate, had that ad aired in the right markets, it could have been effective, or even devastating. But instead it was a cheap shot. And this is an area I guess I agree with Rove. But my real beef with Rove is, he lost us both houses of congress, and he drove the Republican party to its lowest approval rating in decades. This is the architect? The architect of what? Failure? The republican party has bred no bench, we have no hard charging attractive young conservative candidates coming up the pike, it’s why our choices for vice president were so dismal. Mitt Romney? Please. Give me a break. The guy was a liberal, three minutes ago. He keeps going about going “Ronald Reagan! Ronald Reagan!” In 1980 [1988] he supported Paul Tsongas for president. He’s not a conservative, if anything he’s a convenient conservative. He’s a liberal yesterday, he’s a conservative today, what will he be tomorrow? I don’t think he knows what he believes in. Other than getting elected.

QUESTIONER
Do you think there’s any possibility in the future of the libertarian party actually playing a larger role than it does now, as a possible third party? Or is that too far a reach?

STONE
I think play a role is the right expression. I think the problem we have is the laws in the fifty states, as well as the federal laws are completely stacked against any new party. It would require real reform of state laws, and federal election laws, to make a third party viable. There’s no question that the Perot phenomenon demonstrates that there’s an interest in a third party in America, there’s a hunger, but I think the role of the parties like the libertarians is keeping the Republicans honest. [interruption by motorcade] I think there’s an interest in a third party, and I think the libertarian party is important, because it keeps pressure on the Republicans to keep them honest, and it keeps issues in the forefront that normally wouldn’t be in the forefront of a presidential campaign. Will they ever elect a president, will the two party system in this country ever collapse, or be expanded, I don’t think so as long as the laws are currently stacked the way they are. So, therefore, I think the Republican party is the traditional home of conservatives, as Barry Goldwater said, and I think we’ve got to fight it out within the party.

QUESTIONER
I have a sibling who is a student at University of Miami…I wondered if you did any work trying to get the votes of the student body there.

STONE
I haven’t specifically, but it raises an interesting question which is, given the millions of dollars that the Obama campaign is spending on voter registration, specifically among students, whether that opens the door to serious abuse, where students vote twice, they vote once where their parents live, where they’re from, and they vote again where they’re at college. That is, of course, a felony. It would take very sophisticated tracking…it was very interesting, in the 2000 election, it was so close, the New York Post tracked thousands of New Yorkers who voted both in New York and in Palm Beach county. Thousands. When you consider that Bush only won by a handful of votes, those illegal votes are very significant.

GILLESPIE
Do you think any of the Palin scandals, Bristol Palin or this troopergate stuff, is that gonna stick, and will any of the Obama scandals, well, not really scandals, but the Jeremiah Wright things, the various non-policy related attacks, do those-

STONE
Well, ironically, because the national media is so lathered up, and because their attacks on Palin have been so vicious, and so rabid, I actually think those things will not stick. I think a) they create a sympathy for her, and secondarily, a lot of votes write them off as just another liberal oriented attack on her. Now, that assumes we don’t learn any new cataclysmic facts that we don’t know today, but I don’t think we’re going to do. I think she’s the real deal, I think she really is what she appears to be, I think she is an outsider, I think she is pretty feisty, I don’t think she is the real, the secret mother of her daughter’s baby, I think the daily kos really damaged their credibility by putting that out, the Monday before the Republican national convention…so, actually I think attacks on her inure to her benefit at this point.

GILLESPIE
What about Obama?

STONE
Well. I think it’s a slightly different situation, only because he’s been so unscathed so far, despite the very best efforts of the Clintons, and because he’s running for the top job and he’s still largely an unknown commodity. The best line of the convention was, “What do you say about a guy who’s authored two memoirs but no significant pieces of legislation?” To me, he’s a cipher. He can’t point to a special interest he’s ever taken on, because he’s never taken on. He can’t point to any significant legislation he pushed against great odds in the U.S. senate or the state senate, because he didn’t do any. I really think that when the democrats raise the question of Palin’s qualifications to be president, and her experience, they’re really harming Barack Obama more than they’re harming her. Because it elevates experience as an issue that people will begin to focus on.

GILLESPIE
So, what happens with the hispanic vote? It’s largely catholic, and seems to be pretty much up for grabs.

STONE
I think it is up for grabs. I mean, the problem is, once we become depicted as an anti-immigrant party, we begin losing hispanic votes. But hispanic voters are strong believers in hard work, strong believers in the work ethic, they’re patriotic, they love uniforms, they respect the military, I think it is a vote that McCain must make in-roads into, in Colorado, in New Mexico, at least – in order to win this election. And that actually, in my opinion, the key. In other words, I think in the final analysis, you should not look at the national polls that show this tied or McCain up three points or Barack Obama up three points, that’s largely meaningless. As you study, you actually look at Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia. Probably Florida. And look at the polls in those states. Those are the states that will determine this election. Everything else is predictable, by and large. You know the democrats will carry California, and say, Massachusetts, at this point, the Republicans will carry Texas and Mississippi. You know all that. Every other state is reliably predictable, those states I just mentioned are up for grabs, and in order to win Colorado and New Mexico, I think McCain needs to fall back on his original position on immigration, he’s not an immigrant basher, he has been in favor of a path to citizenship, and I think that could be very palatable to people in those states.

STONE
Most important rule: read the newspaper every day. I continue to be amazed by people who don’t read the newspaper. It doesn’t matter if you read it on-line, or if you read it in paper form, I don’t see how you can be an informed citizen, form opinions, if you don’t know what’s going on in the world. I have colleagues who don’t read the newspaper every day. It just astounds me. I read four five newspapers every day. Florida papers, national papers, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times. I don’t believe a lot of what I read…but I think it kinda tells you where everybody’s coming from. The New York Times, you go on the Stone Zone today, I have a long piece about the vitriolic nature of the New York Times which seems to be leading the charge, anti-Palin efforts. A lot of reporters I respect, a lot of reporters I like, a lot of reporters that I like to read have now suddenly become vitriolic about Palin. Richard Cohen in the Daily News yesterday which I think is a Washington Post column about, Sarah Palin’s qualifications to be president, whether she has the experience to be president. No mention of Barack Obama being a cipher in there.

GILLESPIE
Can you talk a little bit about how the Weekly Standard and then the New Yorker pieces happened?

STONE
Well, let’s see…one of the things I was involved in was the destruction of the reform party. I feel the Reform party elected Bill Clinton not once, but twice. I read that Barack Obama is meeting with Bill Clinton in New York, in Harlem last week, to seek his political advice, and my question is: why? He never got 51% in any election, and he did far more damage to his wife’s campaign than he did good. I think he’s got a tin ear. I think he assumed the presidency through luck, rather than skill. No Perot: no Clinton.

GILLESPIE
This is in 1992, Clinton won the presidency with 43% of the vote, which was a very low figure, in a strong three way race. And then against Bob Dole four years later, he got 49% of the vote which is, it was interesting that we had presidents who did not win a simple majority for a number of elections there. Because George Bush also did not. But how did the Weekly Standard profile happen?

STONE
At the reform party convention, where I was promoting the candidacy of Donald Trump, largely as a holding action that played some role in kinda coaxing Pat Buchanan into the party, that was the beginning of the end…because he was more interested in the federal matching funds, I think, than actually being elected…and once the party drops below a certain level of votes they’re no longer eligible for federal matching funds…Buchanan got them there, and the party has disappeared.

205 From “Roger Stone to GOP: Payback’s a Bitch” by Mark Warren:

“Johnson is polling at 9 percent in Arizona [according to PPP], and it’s all gonna come out of Romney’s hide, and he’s at 6 percent in Wisconsin (according to the Reason poll), which is all out of Obama’s hide. I am helping Gary figure out where to put his emphasis.” He points toward the convention floor. “Snubbing Ron Paul’s people today, and not counting their votes, was just magical, wonderful for us,” he says beaming, arms spread wide as if to say come to papa. “A bunch of people are gonna leave here very angry. To not announce Ron Paul’s total from the chair is an insult. He won those delegates, he’s entitled to – shall we say – be defeated gracefully. They are angry, and we are going to pick up those people.”

The email from Roger Stone to Warren Redlich is taken from Capitol Confidential‘s “E-mails show Stone strategizing for Paladino” (archived) by Jimmy Vielkind; the full email from which the quote is taken is the following:

Stone, 4:48: Because of her tangential connection to spitzer no other race makes sense for her. She, unlike you, has a shelf life. The further from Spitzer downfall the less her ability to command coverage. No other race has any logic for her.

Were you to support her actively you could help win her the votes to be nominated. If you ran for AG I could get Paladino to let you ride on both his GOP ( you are a registered R) and Tea Party petitions- and thus get in the GOP primary for real and get a second line. I can have Paladino himself confirm this if you like.

Donovan [Daniel M. Donovan, the eventual Republican candidate for Attorney General] is not a certain candidate for AG. You could end up the nominee.

In a 3 way race for Governor a woman candidate running on marijuana legalization gets 50,000+ votes and takes votes from Cuomo- not a Paladino. Prostitution would be de-emphasized in a fall campaign.

From my point of view you would help KD more as a candidate for LG making a nice balance M-F,downstate-upstate, non-lawyer, lawyer etc.

From your point of view a race for AG would be better for you if you would consider it.

R

206 From “Roger Stone, Political Animal” by Matt Labash:

Around the time he became northeast chairman of Reagan’s 1980 campaign, he had another awakening when he started working with the notorious lawyer Roy Cohn, former McCarthy henchman and also a Reagan supporter. “I’m still kind of a neophyte,” Stone admits, “still kind of thinking everything’s on the level. ‘Cause the truth is, nothing’s on the level.” At a 1979 meeting at Cohn’s Manhattan townhouse, he was introduced to major mobster and Cohn client Fat Tony Salerno. “Roy says to Tony, ‘You know, Tony, everything’s fixed. Everything can be handled.’ Tony says, ‘Roy, the Supreme Court’ Roy says, ‘Cost a few more dollars.'” Stone loved Cohn: “He didn’t give a s– what people thought, as long as he was able to wield power. He worked the gossip columnists in this city like an organ.”

Stone, who going back to his class elections in high school has been a proponent of recruiting patsy candidates to split the other guy’s support, remembers suggesting to Cohn that if they could figure out a way to make John Anderson the Liberal party nominee in New York, with Jimmy Carter picking up the Democratic nod, Reagan might win the state in a three-way race. “Roy says, ‘Let me look into it.'” Cohn then told him, “‘You need to go visit this lawyer’–a lawyer who shall remain nameless–‘and see what his number is.’ I said, ‘Roy, I don’t understand.’ Roy says, ‘How much cash he wants, dumbf–.'” Stone balked when he found out the guy wanted $125,000 in cash to grease the skids, and Cohn wanted to know what the problem was. Stone told him he didn’t have $125,000, and Cohn said, “That’s not the problem. How does he want it?”

Cohn sent Stone on an errand a few days later. “There’s a suitcase,” Stone says. “I don’t look in the suitcase . . . I don’t even know what was in the suitcase . . . I take the suitcase to the law office. I drop it off. Two days later, they have a convention. Liberals decide they’re endorsing John Anderson for president. It’s a three-way race now in New York State. Reagan wins with 46 percent of the vote. I paid his law firm. Legal fees. I don’t know what he did for the money, but whatever it was, the Liberal party reached its right conclusion out of a matter of principle.”

The anecdote about running Anderson in New York is also repeated in the memoir Dirty Tricks:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

From Dirty Tricks, on running Warren Beatty to split the vote:

Roger Stone - Pretty reckless is going straight to hell

“The Gary Johnson Swindle and the Degradation of Third Party Politics” follows this quote with the mention that Carter himself thought that Anderson cost him victory:

Players in the art of elections-fixing have no illusions over what purpose a malleable Third Party figure can, and usually does play. Jimmy Carter agrees with Roger Stone’s version; in fact Carter has always argued that John Anderson’s third party insurgency against the tweedle-dee/tweedle-dum two-party stranglehold was what allowed Ronald Reagan to win the 1980 elections and permanently alter the country’s politics and wealth distribution. In any case, Roger Stone knows more about political dirty tricks than anyone, and as he said in that 2007 interview, his favorite dirty trick in the bag is using “patsy candidates to split the other guy’s support.”

The link is to the youtube clip “Jimmy Carter Reagan Won Because Of Third-Party Candidate”:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Well, let me ask you this issue that is cutting right now. There`s a lot of buzz on this show already about the possibility of a third party running in 2012, which, in many ways, as you know, automatically tends to help the Republicans, in this case — and maybe not automatically — but, if Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, runs, that`s going to hurt Obama, isn`t it?
What do you think of third parties?

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Well, of course I didn`t like them when I ran for reelection in 1980s…

MATTHEWS: Right.

CARTER: … because, for two-and-a-half years, Ted Kennedy had been running against me. And in the last minute, a third-party candidate came in and picked up a lot of the liberal Democratic votes.

MATTHEWS: Right.

CARTER: And, as a matter of fact, Ronald Reagan only got less than 51 percent of the votes, but he won because of a third-party candidate.

MATTHEWS: Well, won`t Bloomberg do the same to Obama?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: If you look at the states that Bloomberg could win, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, you know the ones, maybe Florida, they`re all Obama states last time. He would only hurt Obama, wouldn`t hurt a Palin or Republican of any kind of at all.

CARTER: Well, I`m not sure that Bloomberg is seriously considering that. I think it would be a mistake if he did, because he couldn`t win, but he might prevent Obama from winning reelection. And what he would do is just guarantee the Republican would move into the White House. And that`s what happened in 1980, when Ronald Reagan moved in because of the split Democratic Party.

This transcript of the clip is taken from a piece skeptical of Carter’s claims, “Chris Matthews Lets Jimmy Carter Blame Loss to Reagan on Third Party Candidate” by Noel Sheppard. After some analysis arguing against this claim, there is a look at the difference state by state:

Taking this further, an analysis of the statewide results shows that if Carter picked up all of Anderson’s votes, and Reagan got all of [Libertarian candidate Ed Clark’s], Carter would have won Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin. This would have given him 122 additional electoral votes making Reagan still the victor with 367.

As such, the claim that Anderson gave Reagan the election in 1980 lacks any factual basis. That Carter would make it as he tours the country trying to improve his image is not surprising. That Matthews would let him get away with it without correcting or challenging him is despicable.

I have no interest in stating that Anderson cost Carter the election; what Sheppard does not dispute in his piece is that Anderson cost Carter votes. What Stone says explicitly in both “Political Animal” and his memoir is that they put Anderson on the ticket in New York for the specific reason that it would cost Carter votes, and that it might swing the state to Reagan, an objective achieved.

207 From “Roger Stone, Political Animal” by Matt Labash:

Naïfs might say he’s a cancer on the body politic, everything that is wrong with today’s system. But maybe he is just its purest distillation: Politics is war, and he is one of its fiercest warriors, with the battle scars to prove it.

The first time I laid eyes on Roger Stone he was standing poolside at a press conference on the roof of the Hotel L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills. With a horseshoe pinkie ring refracting rays from the California sun and a gangster chalk-stripe suit that looked like it had been exhumed from the crypt of Frank Costello, Stone was there to help his friend and longtime client Donald Trump explore a Reform party presidential candidacy in 2000.

Actually, it was more complicated than that. After having recruited Pat Buchanan to seek the nod (“You have to beat somebody,” Stone says), he pushed Trump into the race. Trump relentlessly attacked Buchanan as having “a love affair with Adolf Hitler,” but ended up folding. A weakened Buchanan went on to help the Reform party implode, and Republicans suffered no real third-party threat, as they had in 1992, thus helping Stone accomplish his objective. If, in fact, that was his objective. These things are often hard to keep track of with Roger Stone.

208 From “The Sex Scandal That Put Bush in the White House” by Wayne Barrett:

Pat Buchanan is on the tube again, co-hosting a Crossfire facsimile on MSNBC. Just a celebrity commentator now, he changed the face of American politics in 2000-unnoticed by a recount-focused media. First, he seized control of the most successful third party in half a century, the Reform Party, whose founder, Ross Perot, cost Bush I the presidency in 1992. Once Buchanan became the party’s presidential nominee, he mysteriously disappeared, getting 2.4 million votes less than Ralph Nader, 80,000 less in Florida alone. The Buchanan saga remains important not only because it reveals the seamy underside of Bush II’s ascent to power, but because it shows how the GOP virtually eliminated a national centrist party that could’ve altered the 2004 race. Alive now in only seven states, the party’s remnants just offered their ballot line to Nader, which could also wind up benefiting Bush. The saga begins with a baby, allegedly born more than four decades ago. Incredibly, just as Bush backers in 2000 used an illegitimate-child scandal in South Carolina to smear John McCain, longtime Republican dirty-tricks operative Roger Stone was simultaneously using just such a scandal to undermine Buchanan.

Stone, who also spearheaded the pro-Bush mob shutdown of the Miami/Dade recount in 2000, says now that he “has no specific recollection” of strategically employing the Buchanan baby story. But a Voice investigation reveals that he pushed it aggressively on reporters early in the 2000 campaign, then just let it hover over Buchanan, who was nose-diving so badly toward November that no explicit threat of a scandal story was even needed.

209 From “The Sex Scandal That Put Bush in the White House” by Wayne Barrett:

The Stone-inspired Reform infighting served multiple Bush interests: It killed any possibility of a third Perot run, blocked the candidacy of former Connecticut governor Lowell Weicker, and forced out the party’s only elected official, Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. Buchanan’s vanishing act-after Stone cajoled him to run Reform-left nearly a dozen party leaders contacted by the Voice convinced that he and Stone were conscious agents of doom.

The trail starts in June 1999 at a lunch at The Palm in Washington. Bay Buchanan, the sister who ran all three of Buchanan’s presidential runs, brought her mentor from the Reagan days, Lyn Nofziger, to a lunch requested by Stone, the scheme-a-day consultant who used to rent her his summer beach home. The Buchanans had already started another Republican run, but “it was Roger’s brilliant idea,” recalls Nofziger, “that Pat ought to leave the party and become the candidate of the Reform Party.” Stone talked about the $13 million in automatic federal matching funds that came with the Reform nomination and “said he knew what to do to get it,” says Nofziger.

Stone also began talking to William Von Raab, the customs commissioner under Reagan who’d been co-finance chair of the 1992 Buchanan campaign. Stone had already recruited Von Raab as a partner in a small Washington-based lobbying and consulting firm, Ikon Holdings, that listed Stone as its president and Von Raab as its chairman. “Roger asked me if I wanted to go to the Reform convention in July and try to promote a Buchanan candidacy,” Von Raab recalls. Stone told Von Raab that Donald Trump, Stone’s longtime top client, was thinking about seeking the Reform line and that Von Raab’s efforts for Buchanan would help Stone “see what the makeup of the convention was.”

Buchanan, who says he did not know about Von Raab’s ties to Stone, did well in an unofficial convention tally, but decided to continue on the Republican primary trail. He was demolished, though, in the August 14 Iowa straw poll, coming in behind Gary Bauer. The next day, Washington pollster Robert Schroth started doing a poll for Stone that showed Buchanan running strongly on the Reform line. Bay Buchanan says Stone sent her the results, which he also dropped in a September news story. Schroth would later do another poll for Stone trumpeting Trump, who, like Buchanan, announced on October 25 that he was changing his registration to Reform and seeking the party’s nod.

By mid February, with the story in limbo, Trump quit the race and Buchanan’s Pat Choate became party chair. Choate now says the Trump/Stone operation was “a Republican dirty trick,” designed “to disgust people and drive them away from the Reform Party. They were doing everything in their power to make a mess. You had Ventura leaving and Trump all over TV saying that Buchanan loved Hitler, ignorant statements.” Bay Buchanan, who stopped talking to Stone during the campaign, says she still “doesn’t understand why he would want us in the Reform Party in the first place” and then assail Buchanan as a Nazi.

210 From “The Sex Scandal That Put Bush in the White House” by Wayne Barrett:

“Everyone who worked for Nixon knew about” the alleged Buchanan baby, says Stone, adding that he “lived with it through two Reagan campaigns.” Stone and Buchanan were aides to Nixon and Reagan, and Stone, also a Bush I campaign veteran, was rewarded for his subterranean 2000 efforts with an appointment to the Department of Interior transition team, which he parlayed into a multimillion dollar business as an Indian gaming consultant (see Voice, April 19).

Buchanan says that when he ran for president in 1992, 1996, and 2000, he was dogged by “an unsubstantiated rumor” that he had an illegitimate child while a Georgetown undergrad between 1957 and 1961. “I don’t know who ginned it up,” says Buchanan. “Do I have suspicions? Sure. Reporters realized these people were doing something to damage me and decided not to write it. The same kind of thing was used against McCain.” But in the 2000 campaign, a new allegation was added to the tale that made it more damaging and more likely to see print. Ex-aides were telling reporters that Buchanan had made payments to the mother to kill the story. One reputed 1992 money trail, albeit perfectly legal, involved an intricate chain of personal checks-from Buchanan to his sister to an aide, who then delivered cashier checks to a Washington lawyer. Asked about the child and these payments, Pat Buchanan told the Voice: “I’m not going to go into that. I don’t know the details of anything. It deals with a private matter. We did nothing wrong.”

Bay Buchanan, who goes further than her brother and calls the baby allegation “false,” concedes that in fact she did “make some payments,” delivered by an aide, to the lawyer “because Pat was out of town campaigning fo