On Being the Pariah of the MT Blogosphere

by lizard

With the legislative session gearing up, local Democrat blogs seem to be revving up as well. Most of the blogs highlighted by Don Pogreba have disavowed 4&20 Blackbirds because they don’t like the direction my stewardship has taken this once mighty progressive blog. Pogreba himself made his proclamation of disengagement all the way back in July of 2013, when he said this:

4and20 blackbirds used to be the best, most thought-provoking, and most unique political blog in the state. I miss it, but no amount of my disappointment will bring it back to what I enjoyed—and the writers there today certainly aren’t under any obligation to meet my expectations.

But there’s a lot of Internet out there, and interesting and unique voices writing about politics in the state and the nation. Those are the sources I’ll be engaging with, arguing with, and learning from in the future.

That said, best of luck to the current hosts over there. There’s certainly an audience for their point of view, and I hope they continue to enjoy writing. One fewer member of the audience is certainly no big deal.

I wish we could take Don at his word, but alas, this disingenuous party hack just can’t seem to quit us like he said he was going to. I guess Don can’t stand to see posts like this go up without providing his intelligent insight with comments like this:

So now we’ve moved to the attack in Paris was probably a deliberate provocation by Israel and/or the United States? Or, more likely, the secret cabal that rules over both?

I guess if you’ve decided that only your conspiracist views are valid, that makes sense. Certainly more sensible that waiting a few weeks to see what actual evidence emerges.

and this:

Good thing we don’t have to worry about anything being “beneath our standards” or “basic lapse in judgement” at this site. That’s how we get the truth bombs dropped on us.

Please do more to explain the Jewish conspiracy to attack and kill French satirists. I look forward to your keen analysis from Missoula on the subject.

The extent to which we are lied to by those in power is a difficult thing to absorb. Also, the extent to which tragedies are managed and exploited for maximum gain lead some of us to speculate that maybe those who most benefit may have had a hand in creating the conditions in which tragedies like the Charlie Hebdo attack emerge.

Instead of reviewing whether or not it’s good policy to arm and train jihadists in Syria in the ongoing failure to topple Assad, or whether it’s good policy to continue using indiscriminate drone strikes that kill civilians and radicalize survivors, we get stuff like this:

European officials reignited a debate over the reach of the state into citizens’ lives as they respond to the worst terror attacks in France in more than half a century.

Interior ministers agreed yesterday to increase their intelligence sharing on individuals and to tighten the European Union’s external frontier to stem the flow of terrorists between Europe and Syria. Some also supported more checks on the EU’s internal borders.

The challenge for the region’s leaders will be overcoming aversion in countries such as Germany to more state oversight in areas ranging from Internet traffic to exchanging data on airline tickets. Complicating their task is the fact that the terrorists were French nationals and not foreigners, meaning that any response will need to be directed at EU citizens.

“This isn’t Europe’s 9/11 because the people who carried out the attacks were homegrown and not foreigners,” said Jan Techau, head of the Carnegie Endowment in Brussels. “You can’t externalize this threat — it’s a threat on the home front.”

And this:

Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group said the Paris attacks fit into the larger narrative, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sudden threat from the Islamic State, that the world remains a very dangerous place.

That leads to greater pressure on members of Congress and the Obama administration to continue to invest heavily in defense, and perhaps work to reverse budget cuts resulting from the Budget Control Act. That is a political change from recent mindsets, when budget hawks seemed to gain the upper hand over defense hawks.

“You look back a year ago, or two years ago, and this was a real issue,” Aboulafia said. “Then Putin and [the Islamic State] came around to remind everyone that the world is in fact a very dangerous place.”

“It’s part of the broader defense environment which affects both the budget and industry,” Aboulafia added. “The actual actions might have impact on the margins for industry in terms of additional spares, support and munitions, but the real money is in securing the DoD topline budget.”

Looking at who benefits—cui bono—and using that angle to examine how these useful tragedies opportunities emerge, is too much for the Don Pogrebas of the world. They don’t want to acknowledge the extent of the deceit, even when there are compelling reasons for staying skeptical of the narratives packaged and sold to the gullible public.

The first Gulf War against Iraq offered some new opportunities for the PR aspect of war-mongering. In a piece at Counterpunch today, Mickey Z looks back at the infamous dead babies PR stunt that helped generate public support for the military intervention. From the link:

The use of public relations (PR) during wartime went truly public during the first Gulf War — with television as its ultimate smart bomb. Speaking in 1991, Richard Hass of the National Security Council, called television “our chief tool in selling our policy.”

After being invaded by Iraq on Aug. 2, 1990, the government of Kuwait funded as many as 20 PR, law, and lobby firms to marshal world opinion. For example: a 15-year-old Kuwaiti “refugee” named Nayirah stood before the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She tearfully described witnessing Iraqi troops stealing incubators from a hospital, leaving 312 babies “on the cold floor to die.”

The story was a hoax. Nayirah’s false testimony was part of a $10 million Kuwait government propaganda campaign managed by the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. Rather than working as a volunteer at a hospital, Nayirah was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington.

“We didn’t know it wasn’t true at the time,” said Brent Scowcroft, President George H.W. Bush’s national security adviser. But, he admitted, “It was useful in mobilizing public opinion.”

One of the firms hired by Kuwait, The Rendon Group, was called on once again after America’s post-9/11 assault on Afghanistan. In order to make itself look good while bombing Afghanistan, the Pentagon offered Rendon a four-month deal worth $397,000.

“We needed a firm that could provide strategic counsel immediately,” Lt. Col. Kenneth McClellan, a media officer at the Pentagon, said. “We were interested in someone that we knew could come in quickly and help us orient to the challenge of communicating to a wide range of groups around the world.”

4&20 Blackbirds is now the pariah blog of the MT blogosphere. Useful idiots like Pogreba, who thought the Libyan intervention was another example of rational humanitarian foreign policy, have no shame in continuing to ridicule those of us trying to understand how world events are shaping future conflagrations. It’s sad to think a person like this is shaping the minds of high school kids because the world they are being prepared for is not the same world they will actually have to deal with.

  1. “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” (Elbbert Hubbard)

    Lizard, you are head and shoulders above the crowd, able to think, analyze, and even write original verse. You are dealing with people who get their opinions from authority figures and pride themselves on being part of the mainstream. You will never please them unless you too shed all the pretense of real intelligence and instead beat the tribal drum.

    Yes, it is annoying to be brought down by the likes of Pogie, an unimaginative man of ordinary intellect who writes long essays on the intricacies of the color gray. You’ll forget about him someday, as newer and better enemies appear and take you on. But if you choose to write outside the mainstream, the gatekeepers, the Pogies, Conners and Talbots will not let a moment pass where they remind you that you are not part of the bleating flock inside the fence. 4&20 was created to be Democrat and partisan and to color inside the lines. You broke the rules. They do not forgive.

    What concerns me is that Democrats do not long tolerate dissidents before they strike back with fury. David Sirota thought he could criticize Democrats from his radio perch here in Denver, and indeed there was silence, and then one day I turned on the radio, and he had been replaced by a bleating Democrat, Gloria Neal. They do not long tolerate dissidents before hitting back with real power. My fear is to someday click on 4&20 and find that the head writer is now Norma Duffy.

    That would please the gatekeepers. She’s a good bleater.

  2. steve kelly

    “In the arena of public discourse, it is not intelligence or knowledge that matters most – it is whether you can trust the intelligence or knowledge of another. After all, intelligence and knowledge can sometimes be the best tools of an intellectually dishonest approach.”


    “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business….” – Eric Hoffer

    Your critics lack self-assurance, finding it by clinging passionately, and often bitterly, to whatever support may suffice. All cults use the same “glue.”

    Try to be kind. Many Montana intellectuals are not always honest, and are emotionally fragile when shown the mirror.

  3. Steve W

    Don still hasn’t figured out that the money spent to bomb Libya is the same money not being spent on education.

    He is incapable of analysis and instead relies on sarcasm, name calling, and ridicule. He is the Rush Limbaugh of the Democratic Party. Except the real Limbaugh is far more successful than Don.

    Don’s blog is boring, little read, and little replied to. His posts are not discussed, praised, hated or debated.

    He might want to invest in the military software discussed in the Guardian link below to give the impression that his ideas are read and discussed by anyone other than an obnoxious drunk person and a couple of partisan hacks.


    4&20 actually makes a difference to our community, both locally and on line. Keep up the good work, Lizard. You are read, and your pen is feared and loved, even as the dullards desperately pretend no one of their “elite journalistic status” would or should read you.

  4. troutsky

    Hey, I am definitely the pariah of Montana blogs and will not concede easily! And who needs conspiracies when capitalist/imperialists stand, trumpet blaring, and declare their willingness to do anything to anybody anywhere to increase market share and project power?

    Can we talk about the bakken and fracking and 47 dollar a barrel oil?

  5. Craig Moore

    Is this the best you have to offer?

    Self-righteous whining will only get you sympathy from other self-righteous victims. Grow some stones and stop falling to pieces when Don pulls your chain. Due consider, is it POSSIBLE, that Don was right? Before knee-jerking defensively, think about it.

    • Steve W

      i envision Frank Burns from Mash when you blog like that, Craig.

    • lizard19

      Don often is right when it comes to many topics. I appreciate his media criticism, for example.

      but when he comes over to a blog he proclaims not to read, and when others have similarly made pronouncements of disavowal, going as far as to infer I’m anti-American, then hell yes I’m going to respond when he says crap like this:

      I guess if you’ve decided that only your conspiracist views are valid, that makes sense. Certainly more sensible that waiting a few weeks to see what actual evidence emerges.

      I don’t think that only my conspiracist views are valid. that’s Don personalizing this, to answer Turner’s question farther down thread. when Don makes this about just my views, he’s ignoring the fact I’m constantly citing different sources, a variety of sources that many of course don’t approve of. and when Don offers suggestions about waiting to see evidence, I have to laugh.

      after years of blogging I’d say time has shown the concerns I write about are more than justified. I’ve been writing about Broken Windows policing for years, for example.

      and it does bother me that multiple blogs have removed links to this site, including Conner and Cowgirl. I would never advocate a similar retaliation because I do find value in what they write about, and don’t want to inconvenience readers of this blog the ability of quick travel.

  6. Turner

    When did this get to be all about personalities?

  7. 4 and 20 is like having front row tickets to the freak show.

  8. petetalbot

    Chris Hedges at truthdig offers some insight into what happened in France.


  9. As this devolves into personalities, and I accept responsibility for my part, one thing is clear, and it applies in spades to those to attack we who are skeptical of the reporting of the events in France: If Americans see something on TV, and it is reported as “news,” they uncritically accept it as true. It’s trust without verification.

    That is what we should focus on, the almost hypnotic power of television news, these days extended to computer screens. The official story is falling to pieces before our eyes, but it will not be dislodged from the American psyche due to its being reported as “news” on TV and hence having an almsot gospel quality about it. Any suggestion we make that those who automatically believe television news look deeper is greeted with ridicule, Swede posting at my site words like “nutball” theories and “shoddy excuses used by lefties” to “justify” the attacks.'”Justify” he says! All we are doing is questioning the origins of the shooters.

    All of this, and none who call us those names take time to look at evidence, cast a skeptical eye on the possible motives for self-destructive behavior while ignoring powerful motives by Western powers to use such an event to advance their Syrian/Iraq/Russian attacks. You’re not making any sense.

    You have the power of the mob behind you, of ridicule, of having your truth fall into your lap while we have to search for ours. All of that makes you quite sure you know what went down. I don’t think you do. And I do not know how to reach you are even more than being cocksure, you seem almost afraid to confront evidence.

    • Turner

      I somewhat agree. The problem with knee-jerk contrariness is that it becomes as much a habit of thought as knee-jerk acceptance. (Though contrariness is less of a problem for me.)

      I try to be as skeptical of contrary narratives as of mainstream narratives. It’s unfair for the contrarians to cast everyone who doesn’t accept their narratives unquestioningly as mindless pawns of the powerful. Many are just waiting to be persuaded.

      Mainstream media are so shallow and corporate-spun that they should be mistrusted while reporting on anything halfway complicated. They’re terrible at analysis because they’re committed only to pro-Western or pro-American perspectives and interests. They’re OK, though, reporting things like car wrecks, weather, sports, and deaths.

      Contrarian narratives are attractive to me even if they seem at times highly speculative or based on questionable sources. I get so mad at what I see the powerful in the world doing to the rest of us ordinary people — things I learn about in some of the MSM, by the way — that I’m inclined to accept the most angry, most iconoclastic views. Knock the bastards off their pedestals.

      But I want to take my time arriving at conclusions.

    • Then we have a common ground. I’d be happy with that as opposed to be called a nutjob for not automatically buying into the official narrative these events.

      But here’s something to consider: Indigenous, or native terrorism, the bomb strapped to the belly or the guy firing a weapon from a water tower, is extremely rare. For whatever reason, most people who are angry take out that anger on family members, bar patrons, or others in their immediate proximity. The idea of just mindlessly murdering innocent people is so extremely rare that when it does happen, it has to be questioned. Almost all people, even Muslims, find such behavior abhorrent.

      But it seems common, and there is a reason: When our various overlords decide that some resources are at stake or some geopolitical advantage needs to be exploited, they need to bring public opinion in their favor. Mere persuasion is out of the question. It does not work. The basis for war has to be emotional, and highly so, and the most effective tool they have devised to date to bring people into supporting warfare is the false flag event.

      So when you say the we are ‘reflexive’ in our “contrariness’, I think you sell us short. We are far more schooled in these matters that we receive credit for, and even know the signs to look for in a false flag event: Immediate identification of the supposed perpetrators nu mews readers; immediate identification of their motives by news readers; quick death of the supposed perpetrators. For that reason, Charlie Hebdo is immediately suspicious. If it is used to justify some legislation waiting in the wings, or military aggression, it is doubly so. If there were coincidentally military drills running in the area, triply so.

  10. steve kelly

    “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

    ― Mark Twain

  11. Just to be clear, are you back tracking on your claim that the Charlie Hebdo attacks were the work of the Jewish world conspiracy and/or the United States? Has your crack team of investigators uncovered any more evidence since the weekend?

    • Don, you’re so ugly that when you were born the doctor had to look away, so your mother picked you up and slapped you. Your dad wasn’t sure if he was really your dad or if some dog beat him over the fence. When you got married, your mother told your new wife that she lacked ambition.

      Your class is the only one where kids don’t need a dictionary, but the teacher does.

      I read your blog the other day … no wait. I didn’t. I was dreaming. My ex wife was there too. It was horrible, man, horrible!

    • lizard19

      instead of getting annoyed at your obvious trolling, every time you comment I’m going to remind myself of that time at Missoula Moth where you told the story of shitting your pants. maybe I’ll ask Duganz if he has the footage of your compelling performance that night.

    • steve kelly

      “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of
      foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” http://zfacts.com/metaPage/lib/1996_07_IASPS_Clean_Break.pdf

      You may recognise some of its authors.

      Participants in the Study Group on “A New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000:”
      Richard Perle, American Enterprise Institute, Study Group Leader
      James Colbert, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
      Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Johns Hopkins University/SAIS
      Douglas Feith, Feith and Zell Associates
      Robert Loewenberg, President, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies
      Jonathan Torop, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
      David Wurmser, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies
      Meyrav Wurmser, Johns Hopkins University

      Has this Zionist plan been called off? If so, I would appreciate a link.

    • Reposting a quote left by another commenter at my blog, highly apropos.

      Machiavelli: The Prince: Chapter XVIII
      “But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this (…he who has known best how to employ the fox has succeeded best…) characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.”

    • JC

      Zero Hedge has the story out of the Financial Times, where Turkey’s President and Ankara’s Mayor are accusing the Mossad:

      …former PM and current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of NATO-member Turkey did the unthinkable: accused the west, and French citizens in particular, of staging the Charlie Hebdo murder in order to blame Muslims, even as the mayor of Ankara said “Mossad is definitely behind such incidents . . . it is boosting enmity towards Islam.”

      “The duplicity of the west is obvious,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a press conference on Monday evening. “As Muslims we have never sided with terror or massacres: racism, hate speech, Islamophobia are behind these massacres.”

      His punchline: “The culprits are clear: French citizens undertook this massacre and Muslims were blamed for it,” he added.

      Wake up Don and smell the coffee. Maybe your brain cells will start to function again, and not be so close-minded. Or is not the president of Turkey a good enough source for you? Or is your knee-jerk deference to official propaganda still holding sway?

      • If it ain’t in the NT Times, it ain’t.

      • Don

        But wait. The article says that a Russian “news”paper says the Americans were behind it. Because I lack the ability of contributors here to see through the haze of propaganda, how do I know which entirely unsupported theory is right? Do I go with knee-jerk anti-Americanism or do I choose the age-old anti-Semitic card and blame Israel?

        Please help. Which theory is it?

        • American “news” and Russian news each require … Ah never mind. Don, why don’t you just look into it for yourself, analyze a whole bunch of input, read books and develop background and look at all news with a jaundiced eye. You know, like grownups? I swear you’re no better than a high school kid waiting to be told what to think. Grow up, fer chrissakes.

  12. I have to admit, this post and thread have totally cracked me up.

    Being the second best read blog in Montana hardly makes the case for being a “pariah”, and accepting the Torkarski argument (if your not offending popular sensibilities than you aren’t ‘doing it right’) is pretty foolish. All of that accepts a false binary, that either the ‘unpopular conspiracy power in the shadows’ view is correct or one just accepts the “official” line (~spit!~). Uhhh, nope. There’s a whole big world of viewpoints out there, and that’s why this blog gets read by many of the same people/sheeple who read Pogie and Cowgirl. That someone would read here and find little value in it hardly seems a crime, and certainly not an indictment of character flaw. I wonder if perhaps his offense was not finding little of value but rather having the audacity (how DARE he!) to say so.

    Yes, JC, I do distrust the President of Turkey. Any authority/public figure who states something is “obvious” with little evidence save an appeal to public sentiment (his public) is to be suspected, just as we should suspect our own wonderful leadership. That’s what skepticism actually is; it’s not buying one appealing mythology just because one distrusts another. Your hollow challenge for Pogie to justify his trust is one of the less endearing, and frankly truly annoying, parts of attempting to parse the value of this blog. That is especially valid considering that your comment came well after the post author informed Pogie that he was just “trolling” and Mark unleashed the playground insult storm in his direction.

    Last that I (or anyone else) actually checked, blogging is not a competition. The Montana blogosphere used to be something of a cooperative effort. For the record, Pogie has never really worked or played well with others on that score. But now that the atmosphere, both socially and politically, has become akin to ‘agree with me or DIAF!’, suddenly readers should have to choose what blogs they read to show the the quality of their intellect? ~chortle~ Uhh, don’t think so. Maybe it’s just me, but “with us or against us” lost a whole big bunch of appeal for some folks lo about 13 years ago. The value one gets out of reading 4&20 has nothing to do with how much one agrees with the author(s).

    Before the inevitable and ridiculous questions of what I ‘believe’ happened in Paris, or New York on 9/11/01 or Boston or in November of ’63 begin, let me just fall back on the wisdom of Marshawn Lynch:

    “Thanks for asking, and I’m so very thankful” will be my answer to any such questions. They real question you should probably ask yourself, Lizard, is this:

    “If he finds this stuff valuable enough to spend time reading, than who am I to question why?”

    • lizard19

      I didn’t experience the cooperative period of MT blogging, must have been before I came along and destroyed 4&20. and second best read blog? how ya figure?

      • No, you probably didn’t. It was held together, for the most part, by Jay, Matt, Craig, David and I. You likely won’t believe it, but I was the one most prone to accepting and promoting “outsider” thinking, but certainly not so much that Mark didn’t troll the works. Dave went corporate, Craig received threats against his family and then moved to Texas, Jay moved to the East, Matt left for activism and I cared more about the law than making new friends.

        It would be beyond ironic if you actually expect me to tell you that you didn’t “destroy” 4 & 20. Based on response in comment and frequency of post it should be obvious that you have the second best issue blog in Montana. If you think your claim of self-defeat is somehow sarcastic then you are kind of being a dick. Quit with the illusion. No one who actually thinks is as stupid as you seem to want them to be. You haven’t destroyed anything, and next to no one is as dumb as that comment assumes they are. ~Scold face~

    • I am choking on all the words you put in my mouth, Rob. If you want me straight, I’ll give it to you straight. I think that most people, you included, get their ideas and views through a combination of authority figures, sublime suggestion, and a projection of their own fears, hate and prejudice. Hardly anyone reasons. They tend toward cultish following (which is why Democrats drive me nuts – Obama is nothing but a cult leader) and rely on group support to substitute for the reading, thinking and reasoning that they do not do.

      I just sat for two hours in a large group of people, and had fun, by the way. I do like them. They are just not good at politics, and neither, sir, are you.

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