UQ: Rosenbaum’s Penile Prose Vs Vidal’s Triumph
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Rosenbaum’s Penile Prose Vs Vidal’s Triumph
The following is a critical analysis of Ron Rosenbaum's critique of Gore Vidal's 9/11 piece. Rosenbaum's lengthy column ran on page 1 in the 11/11/2002 edition of The New York Observer.
Rosenbaum's piece is here:
Vidal's piece is here:
The first thing that should be noted about Rosenbaum's piece is that is not a critique, so much as it is a slander.
Before the writer even gets to the content of Vidal's statement, he has already taken about half of his own long article to fill the page with various forms of ridicule, lurid past associations, and loaded language...
This is the classic approach of someone who is un-interested in letting the reader think for his/her self.
As I choose to stand in a different category, I will not take the same approach; rather, I will start with the very first line of Rosenbaum's piece, use actual quotes, and proceed from there -turning to Vidal's piece whenever it is that Rosenbaum gets around to it.
At the same time, I personally do admit to a taste for sparing no words when a mean-spirited, pompous piece of you-know-what has the gall to ridicule the right to ask questions - spitting down his vindictive from the spit-polished towers of the intellectual prostitute, protecting his own privileged piece of corporate real estate with the hateful rasp of a morally-challenged hyena.
So while I will do my best to stick to the material at hand, I hope you will also have some patience with me, if my language gets a little "colorful" near the end.
Rosenbaum starts off with, "Gore Vidal once tried to get me to print an alleged secret-a very big secret-about Richard Nixon's penis."
Hmmmm.... Very studious opening.
And this has what to do with the substance of Vidal's lengthy, (7000 word) detailed analysis?
As we shall soon see, absolutely nothing.
The sole purpose of this statement at the beginning of the piece is to make Vidal look ridiculous. Right? Whether Vidal ever made such a statement is irrelevant to those of us who have already read the 7,000 word article; for in comparison to the quirks and eccentricities that can sometimes occur between writers and editors, the substance of Vidal's piece is way beyond such trash-talk.
This is precisely the rub, as we shall see. Rosenbaum's piece is not meant to speak to those who have already read Vidal's piece. He considers them "already lost." He's after the millions of people who haven't read the piece; and he's doing everything he can to make sure they DON'T read it.
Do you remember, in high school English class, how they taught us that an essay should always start with the substance of the case? A strong statement? And if the substance of the opening statement constitutes an absence of meaning?
What does that say to the intent of the piece?
Read on, dear reader; you decide.
The next paragraph likens Vidal’s piece to the icon of anti-conspiracists: "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," (actually, it's in the title). More guilt by association here. Rosenbaum describes Vidal's piece as "Nixonian." Nixon has nothing to do with Vidal's piece. The sole purpose of including this adjective here is to back up the flacky "penis" reference.
Paragraph three describes the work in question as a "7,000-word mega-ultra-totalizing post-9/11 conspiracy theory."
Now, those of us who have taken the time to think for ourselves know what "conspiracy-theory" means today: it's a phrase used to ridicule the act of examining various issues, by those who refuse to do their homework.
This is repeated by countless hacks every day, from every corner of the left/right spectrum. They spout it as if its meaning is perfectly clear; and the beautiful thing is, it's meaning is becoming perfectly clear, (though not in the way they intend).
Whether through laziness, cowardice, the bribery of a paycheck, (we rarely know all that goes into the non-thinking of someone who uses the phrase); but whenever I hear it, I sigh to myself, "Maybe they're just unaware of what they're saying"; and so I read on to see how deep the ignorance goes.
In paragraph four, Rosenbaum quotes the "London Observer's" introduction to Vidal's piece.
"Gore Vidal is America's most controversial writer and a ferocious, often isolated, critic of the Bush administration. Here, against a backdrop of spreading unease about America's response to the events of 11 September 2001 and their aftermath, we publish Vidal's remarkable personal polemic urging a shocking new interpretation of who was to blame."
Then, in paragraph five, Rosenbaum misrepresents the above introduction when he tries to imply that the Observer was distancing itself from Vidal's article because of its content, rather than because of the predictable response from mainstream media hacks, (i.e. anyone come to mind?) -who would pounce on Vidal's article and the Observer for printing it.
It is, after all, only natural that a mainstream paper would try and place such a controversial piece into some kind of "normal" frame of reference, to give people who are not used to thinking outside of a certain box, a bridge to it.
If "The Observer" was just curious, why would they print the entire piece? -an exceptionally long one, by journalistsic standards- if they didn't think the THE ARGUMENTS worthy of some elucidation?
The key component of this statement, (which Rosenbaum completely ignores) is "spreading unease." Vidal's piece is not just a quirk of one individual, it's an expression of a growing social consciousness, at the core of which is a profound mistrust of the government. I might add that there's a "spreading unease" about more than "America's response to the events of 11 September 2001." There's an entire layer of harsher criticism underlying that "unease": reflected in Vidal's piece. This "growing unease" of many is something Rosenbaum wants to completely discredit.
Paragraph seven, we have: "What you hope for from Mr. Vidal is a serious political critique. What you have here is a disjointed conspiracy theory."
There's the magic "Conspi-Theory" phrase again. Should we start keeping track of how often it's used?
Paragraph eight, and we're off to reminiscences of Hamlet. Paragraph nine, and we're back to Nixon's penis again. Although Rosenbaum goes into more detail about the affair, it still does little to suggest the relevance of it to Vidal's piece, or why he, (Rosenbaum) decided to begin his critique with it -unless, of course, you buy the argument already, that Vidal is "wacko."
Paragraph eleven, and we're back to the "protocols of Zion." Still nothing concrete about Vidal's article. Rosenbaum makes this repeated association, (it's in the title, after all) because the two works supposedly share the thesis of "an all-powerful secret cabal manipulating history."
I'm still looking for the evidence of that "all-powerful secret cabal manipulating history" in the Vidal article.
Let's see, there's detailed references to a variety of questions: memos to the security council, FBI agents claiming obstruction, Brezinski's "Grand Chessboard."
Nothing about an "all-powerful secret cabal" here -unless of course, Rosenbaum is saying Vidal's peace is IMPLYING that; which would mean that Rosie is putting words in Vidal's mouth, is un-interested in operating from what Vidal actually says, and probably has the moral integrity of a wet piece of fibre-board.
Vidal's points seem to constitute a fairly reasonable probing into how power operates in relation to U.S. policy. The result may be more questions than answers; but that's okay, if they're relevant questions.
In paragraph twelve we read, "Mr. Vidal's secret cabal is more sinister than the F.D.R.-Pearl Harbor conspiracy theory."
There's "Conspi-Theory" again, that's number three. Perhaps we should also consider keeping track of the number of times "secret cabal" is uttered as well?
So what is the so-called "F.D.R.-Pearl Harbor conspiracy theory"?
Vidal says that "President Roosevelt manoeuvred the Japanese into striking the first blow at Pearl Harbor, causing us to enter the Second as the result of a massive external attack."
This sounds pretty tame to me: standard geo-politics; a stronger nation boxes another into a corner, in order to make them force their hand. Vidal doesn't say to what extent Roosevelt knew of the impending attack, nor of the scale. (Geez, even my apolitical father knows that the U.S. was depriving the Japanese of access to pig-iron).
Beyond that, Rosenbaum doesn't mention that Vidal is speaking of Pearl Harbor in relation to quotes from Brezinski's most-revealing book, in which a leading light of American Hatred Inc. alludes to the need for a similar outcome. (No, he couldn't mention the book. We couldn't have people reading Brezinski in an awakened light).
And though Vidal didn't mention it, there is now compelling evidence that FDR did know of an impending attack, and kept it from key admirals, (who were charged with criminal negligence, then exonerated some fifty years later).
For the last twenty years, a former sailor in the U.S. navy, (Robert Stinnet) has used the Freedom of Information Act to uncover the documents which shows this in exhaustive detail. Rosenbaum has undoubtedly heard about the book, "Day of Deceit," and has undoubtedly refused to read it.
By paragraph nineteen, this "journalist" is finally prepared to say, "let's look more closely at his argument"; but before he can do that, of course, he must prepare the reader with one more set of protective visors. He can't just get to the material. Thus, he refers to "fisking and misting."
"Fisking," he says "is derived from the devastating online critiques by 'warbloggers' of the dispatches of Robert Fisk, the British foreign correspondent, who achieved a kind of perverse fame when he was beaten up by angry Afghans."
This is where Rosenbaum really begins to show his disgusting colors.
Robert Fisk is one of the most important, decent, honest, and competent reporters in the world. He has been internationally acclaimed as such (by his working -not huckstering- peers) for twenty some years.
When he was almost murdered by locals in an Afghan village, Fisk had the moral courage to forgive them, publicly, for he knew where the desire for blind vengeance came from; and the response from the thoughtless, reactionary media mouthpieces was a near-uncontrollable frothing at the mouth -of derision, sarcasm, self-righteous laughter. Even in print, it reminded me of a hyena or human possessed by terrible internal demons, laughing hysterically because they have absolutely no capacity to comprehend how lacking in human morality they themselves are. The only thing "devastating" about such critiques was how much tighter they managed to wrap the already-quivering sphincter-muscles of their hosts into a much tighter knot.
Rosenbaum describes "misting" as "the informal American practice of talking back to bad movies, to bad pop culture in general, showing and simultaneously ridiculing some of the schlockiest examples of world cinema. And insinuating into the Tapestry of Badness its own subtextual weave of pop referentiality-hypertexting hilariously on the run."
So instead of simply examining the concrete substance of Vidal's piece, in a clear, objective manner, this man "who [would] hope for... a serious political critique.. from Mr. Vidal" is going to resort to a combination of asinine ridicule and shlocky mystification or venting. How appropriate.
Shall we read on?
First comes one more reference to "Protocols."
The score now is: "protocols," four; "penis," four; "conspiracy-theory," three; and "secret cabal," two. (It's so hard to predict which one will win this whitless-one's-sweepstakes, cause we're not even half-way through the article yet; but stay-tuned).
Finally Rosenbaum actually turns to the matter at hand, (almost) when he says, "Let's begin with the key disingenuous yet self-subverting rhetorical trick Mr. Vidal employs: the attempt to ride two horses at once."
As a master of disingenuity, Rosie may know what he's talking about; but I suspect he's merely confusing the "ploy" of riding two horses at once, with the act of holding more than one possibility or thought in your brain at a time.
He winces at the suggestion that, "we still don't know who did it...." while at the same time criticizing the Bushits for ignoring the warnings about Al Qaeda.
Rosenbaum, of course, knows that "we really do know-it was Osama bin Laden." For those of us with the capacity to think for ourselves, however, we're still waiting for the supposed evidence -that has never been procured in anything beyond facile infomercials about the need for "national-security."
Given that "we still don't know who did it...." we therefore have no choice but to examine the "official" explanation; and there we find Bin Laden's smiling, steely mug splashed over every speech, policy move, and urinal cake. By critically examining the story provided, we note that the government and media claimed "we" were unprepared; and then we find this was not so. We further find that the FBI claims to identify the 19 hijackers within ten days of the attacks, and then it later turns out that seven of those identities are of people who are either still alive, or were previously dead.
None of this contradicts the admission that "we still don't know who did it...."
Perhaps because, (as Jim Carey may have put it) Mr. Rosenbaum's nose is "so far up the ass [of his corporate sponsors, that he] "can't tell where one ends and the other begins," he is unable to conceive of a skeptical public assessing the character of their governments words and actions. I mean, amongst trusted friends and colleagues it is inappropriate to criticise without offering a better or helpful alternative; but governments must be expected to utter arguments which stand up to intelligent inquiry. An absence of a worthwhile explanation is not the fault of the citizens; indeed, it may be an expression of the need to change the government; and it is the duty of citizens to know the difference.
So having thoroughly ensconced himself in a house of mirrors, deluding himself to think that growing numbers of Americans are less fooled by his games than he, he begins his satirical dance with useless aplomb.
"Now the fun begins," he says, pouncing on Vidal with words like "flawless logical precision," "fearless prediction," and "smarmy..." Rosenbaum tears into Vidal's appreciation for the work of "Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed," by uttering a quote from him about Israel, Zionism, and U.S. foreign-policy, (which is one of the most-popular ways for corporate hacks to discredit a political analyst, i.e. under the veil of "anti-semitism"). Rosenbaum couldn't possibly mention the 400 page book Ahmed has written on the subject of Sept. 11th, "The War on Freedom," with hundreds of of footnotes, detailed references.
He couldn't possibly mention where the book can be examined online, so readers can begin to judge for themselves.
No, Rosenbaum prefers "misting.." Or are we "fisking" here? (I'm not quite up to speed on such principles. Should have gone to journalism school, I guess).
Oh, in the next paragraph, there it is again: "conspiracy theory," followed by "Protocols." (Let's see, that's 4 to 5, respectively... He is keeping the scorecard close.)
Rosey... then rants on about Ahmed's lack of objectivity, (because he suggests "that the Hamas suicide attacks have been 'intentionally provoked by Israel to justify war plans'.") Mr. Ahmed, however, is not alone in this, as the following article in a well-known publication suggests:
As background, as to how and why the Israel Defence Force has long-courted the terrorist group Hamas, (as a counter-weight to the secular, nationalist PLO) see the following, by well-known mainstream journalist, Richard Sale:
Then there's also:
(This last source is of dubious nature in some regards, but the article itself appears to be clearly sourced to observers close to the scene, i.e. Israeli citizens, and credibly-written).
Nor is this disturbing dance with terrorism (by a supposedly democratic government) unique to Israel.
Click here for the English varieties: first, there's IRA-supreme,
Then, triple-fudge-Al Qaeda,
Last but definitely not least, we have the recent tasty revolations from revolto-man Donnie Rumsfeld, wherein it says,
"According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, the new organization--the "Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)"--will carry out secret missions designed to "stimulate reactions" among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to "counterattack" by U.S. forces."
Oh, but they never would have thought of this BEFORE Sept. 11th, would they? Oh no. We weren't prepared then, right? We were caught off-guard, right? That's why we need to be on our guard now.... Musn't question the government, huh? That would be unpatriotic, wouldn't it Mr. Rosenbaum?
As disturbing as it may be to the unfettered expression of our appetite for tea and biscuits in the evening, there really is legitimate room to question the relationship between various terrorist organizations around the world, and the world's most powerful governments. Rosenbaum's attempt to discredit Vidal's source and argument by holding their questions up for ridicule, (while they provide ample credible evidence) will not suffice for growing numbers of people. He can continue playing with himself in the corner if he wants to.
Of, course, Rosenbaum is not above putting words into his targets mouth as a matter of policy.
Using pieces of quotes to suggest a scholarly approach, he accuses both of advancing "the theory that the U.S. government 'intentionally' had its own citizens murdered for its 'war plans.'
Yes, they both used the word "intentionally" and "war plans," but neither have said that "the U.S. government intentionally murdered..." All they have done is point to the interests of the various factions within the government, the facile explanations, the record of deception; and they are demanding decent answers.
WHO are we talking about when we say "the U.S. government." Who is to say that one arm of the government didn't know that the hijackers were planning to do a suicide attack, (as Condoleeza Rice said); yet they still steadfastly refused to respond to the warnings. Does that mean that such Bushit-artists are guilt-free? Does the evidence suggesting that the Bushits told FBI agents to "back-off" investigations into the Saudi/Bin Laden connection, (in order to protect a terrorist cell they were told they could control) becomes irrelevant -so soon as we accept the possibility that they didn't know how bad the attack was going to be?
Maybe the standing definition of the U.S. government today is that one hand doesn't know what another is doing, and they like that way just fine, thank you very much. By each section covering their own ass, they're all better protected, (Rosenbaum included, it would seem).
As a witting or unwitting member of this protection racket, it is impossible for Rosenbaum to consider any of these possibilities; for as soon as he does, he is obligated to think. He must leap from doubts about piece after piece of the puzzle -towards intentional murder on a grand scale... because he is primarily concerned with closing down the debate. He would rather resist the discussion, and insist on labelling others with the most extreme assumptions, than to simple follow the arguments in a logical way; and he doesn't realize that the longer he and his mainstream hacks continue to do this, the more-convinced people will become that SOMETHING is amiss.
I.E. the disinformation campaign ultimately becomes a greater indication of guilt than all the damning evidence, put together.
Neither Vidal nor Ahmed need to say that the "U.S. government intentionally murdered its own citizens." Rosenbaum and company are saying it for them, on many levels at the same time. Whether it's true or not seems irrelevant to the latter; and for us, it's secondary to people being given a chance to think.
In paragraph 32, Rosenbaum has the good graces to refer approvingly to David Corn's analysis, thus driving another nail into the coffin of Corn's sagging credibility. For a fairly detailed analysis of Corn's really thoughtless contributions in the past year, you may wish to consult my piece called "What's left?" located at:
and/or you may also try Nafeez Ahmed at
"Conspiracy theory" pops again in paragraph 35, (of the "Standard boilerplate Left" kind, indicating the standard boilerplate line of the intellectual prostitute).
Hey, but look out!! Those betting on "conspi-theory" to win, (now up to 5) -don't get excited, too quickly; for in paragraphs 36-38 "protocols" appears two more times, which brings its score up to 7.
Here, Rosenbaum justifies his constant slagging of Vidal with the "protocols" association, by comparing it to Vidal’s description of the Bushits as "Hitlerian."
Of course, only the narrowest of understandings of Hitler could fail to see the similarity between the two: both were elected into office under corrupt conditions; both gained power in clear alliance with the military establishments; both invoked massive restrictions of civil liberties under the pretext of ill-defined foreign threats dressed in suspicious clothing, (i.e. Reichstag fire, WTC attack).
Again, for the moment, these are still largely questions; and the longer there is a refusal to discuss them, the more-clearly the feeling in the gut takes the shape of firm knowing. So maybe we should thank the likes of Herr Rosenblum and co. after all.
Then Rosenbaum spends three paragraphs masturbating on the term Usama "was chosen." The irrelevancy, the lack of understanding is quite plain to see.
"Protocols" again in p. 42.... and a bit more misleading use of quotations, (i.e. "In the section labelled 'Bush and the dog that did not bark,' we begin to learn the magnitude of the plot to kill our own citizens by 'the junta'").
"Protocols again in the next paragraph, (that's 9) then "conspiracy-theory" twice, in the 4th paragraph down from that, (that's 7); oh, I'm sorry, did Rosie actually SAY something in those paragraphs? Let's see, "grassy-knoll," "cabal" two more times...
Oh yes, here's a good one. Rosenbaum says, (with such righteous indignation you can hear his rotten teeth grinding): "It's the old J.F.K. conspiracy argument that Oswald wasn't a good enough marksman to hit J.F.K. (Except he did.) The hijacker wasn't a good enough pilot to hit the W.T.C. (Except he did.)"
Isn't that brilliant? All evidence to the contrary, the fact that JFK was shot PROVES that Oswald was the guy who shot him. The fact that the plane went into the building PROVES that it was a hijacker who couldn't fly a kite. I mean, how stupid can you get?
This kind of intellectual laziness is just so typical of a class of parasites, who sit at the top of shit-heap of unearned wealth generated from below, that they don't have a clue about what genuine creative integrity means. They simply say, in various ways: "shut your face, you dumb lunkhead, the truth is what we tell you to think." And sometimes, they get so annoyed by the unwillingness of people to cease thinking outside the bureaucrats box, that they actually say what they internally feel: i.e. we have little more than contempt for you.
By this time, I guess you can see that Rosenbaum's argument is heading off into the stratosphere of self-importance, (to where? I'm sure nobody cares). He continues for another fifteen frothy paragraphs; and I must admit to a human failing, my stomach will let me go no further. I can't even muster the will to count the repeating ridicules.
One thing near the end he does say of note: "I'm perfectly prepared to believe that the Air Force screwed up (although a number of the timeline details on which Mr. Vidal and his source base their conspiracy allegations are contradicted by The New York Times' September 2002 book on the attacks, Out of the Blue). And I believe that the Bush administration and the Clinton intelligence agencies who preceded them failed miserably, inexcusably, and that many more should be fired for their failure and incompetence."
This is important because, had Rosenbaum been genuinely interested in seeing that those who "screwed up" be tried for negligence, he would have placed this at the top of the article. (He must know that ordinary mortals cannot tolerate more than a page of this stuff, and have long stopped reading by now). Yet he could not do that, for that would have lent great credence to the right to ask questions, i.e. Vidal's article. That would have made Rosenbaum's job much harder to do; and since he was more concerned with shutting down debate, than appearing reasonable, he chose unreasonable, naturally.
Thank you for your time, dear reader. I hope that I have given you more reason and encouragement to think for yourself.
If you are interested in exploring the issue of the Sept. 11th attacks in a deep way, you may find my 140 pg. analysis, at
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