Archive for the ‘The Political Weblog Movement’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 26, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

“A few years ago the debate was about whether the media controlled politicians or whether politicians controlled the media. Now it is about how we are all responding to the explosive power of citizens, consumers and bloggers.” – Gordon Brown

(Psst! Take note of who he was sitting next to when he said this.)








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 26, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Click here to find out why.

(Oh, and here’s an unrelated treat for new readers who don’t know what the hell the previous link is all about. You deserve a good laugh, too.)

UPDATE – Oh, go on… have another. And another. It’s Friday. (latter via)








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 25, 2007

Category: Page 3 - News in Briefs, Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch, The Political Weblog Movement

Hi folks. Yes, this is another long post that takes a closer look at ‘Guido Fawkes’ and related issues, but this one comes complete with its own knockers…

The Independent – When it comes to a debate on Iraq, Tony Blair goes missing: Tony Blair has been accused of treating the House of Commons with contempt by failing to stay in the chamber to hear MPs protest about his disastrous handling of the chaos in Iraq. As MPs yesterday staged the first Iraq debate in government time since the war, the Prime Minister retreated to the quiet of his oak-panelled office behind the Speaker’s chair to prepare for a series of private meetings on more pressing matters – the row over gay adoption, a weekly briefing with a handful of senior backbenchers, and a speech to the CBI… Inside the conference, there was no mention of Iraq. “This is my second question time of the day; I think you are more polite than my first audience,” he told CBI representatives.

How interesting…. Blair runs away from the debate, leaving his flunkies to make odd noises designed to make you feel guilty about having the debate in the first place, and – from a safe distance – uses a one-liner to take a cheap shot at his challengers.

Does this remind you of anyone?

Page 3: John ReidMore on this further down the line. First, there’s the glorious return of hard-edged political opinion on Page 3. (Yes, I’ve been busy watching, even though I’ve been ‘away’.)

Today, lovely Nikkala (24, from Middlesex) is ‘astounded’ that the Home Office is in such a terrible state and says; “John Reid is a joke. We have dangerous criminals on the run, foreign prisoners let out – now jails are full. What next?”

Thank you, Nikkala.

One reason why the The Sun gets away with operating as The Downing Street Echo so often is that – at first glance – they appear to be even-handed in their ongoing ‘war on evil’; on the tits face of things, Blair gets a hammering just as much as the other guy. But in reality, the readership is usually so blinded by their own hate and fear that they fail to realise that The Scum only lay into Blair or a member of his cabinet if a certain cabinet member is not to their liking and/or if Murdoch/Wade are trying to bitch-slap Blair or a member of his cabinet into line (usually on issues such as the EU, crime or immigration… and in this case, crime and immigration).

I’ve written about face/leg proximity of placement before, but I just want to jot a quick note about that right now and instead focus on the subject of the editorial I once used as an example of this; David Blunkett.

While I’ve been away, one small project I’ve busied myself with is a full dossier of Page 3 editorials… and something interesting has cropped up that I had not noticed before…

What I’m about to show you is a series of Page 3 editorials published between the dates of August 13, 2004 and August 17, 2004. There are a few things you need to keep in mind before you read them:

1. Page 3 editorials often bang on about the immorality or stupidity of this affair or that (in fact, there was one chiding Wayne Rooney on Aug 25 of the same year).

2. Over a period of about a week when the Blunkett affair was front page news everywhere (including The Scum), not one single Page 3 editorial appeared telling him what a naughty boy he was.

3. The media were not reporting on this at all until Blunkett dealt with the inevitable via NOTW on 15 August, 2004.

4. NOTW led the way with the ‘hard-working Home Secretary’ line, and The Sun followed this and went the extra mile by doing everything they could to cast Kimberley Quinn as a heartless, scheming monster out to wreck Blunkett’s career (example).

5. It became increasingly clear following these revelations how close Sun editor Rebekah Wade was (and is) to David Blunkett. Also, Blunkett had been dancing to Murdoch’s tune for years before (see: bitch-slapping, crime and immigration); in short, he was A Very Handy Home Secretary To Have On Board.

Now, watch this:

Page 3 propaganda

Notice anything?

Yep: Home Office initiative, Home Office initiative, Home Office initiative.

Notice anything else?

Yep: The date on that first one is from the Friday before news of the affair was in the public domain (i.e. before Blunkett used another Murdoch title to push his line on the affair in an attempt to save his career).

Conclusion: David Blunkett knowingly acceded to the use of propaganda on Page 3 for his benefit, and did so with careful forethought.

Now, does anyone wish to explain to the class the definition of propaganda and how this classifies as same? Anyone? Bueller?*

[*Note – Fans of Ferris Bueller will, of course, contest that this commonly-used sign-off is not a correct quote, but rather, a useful composite of two quotes. I fully acknowledge this. I also choose to keep to myself the reason(s) why I am thinking about that lovable, cheeky scamp today.]

By now you’re probably wondering why this is about Paul Staines (he who likes to swan about town under the name ‘Guido Fawkes’).

Well, let me tell you:

I’ve discussed this directly with Staines on a number of occasions, and – happily – his official line on this was published right here:

“Some time ago, sparked by Tim’s obssession [sic], I asked Trevor Kavanagh about the Page 3 girl’s political [sic] reported political views. He basically said they did it to wind up people like Tim.” – Paul Staines

The first thing to note is Staines’ use of the word ‘obsession’ (see: briefing).

The second is another apparent reason to ‘let it go’… they are only doing this to wind me up. It’s just a bit of a larf.

I’m not entirely sure if Staines is buying this idea or trying to sell it… but I do know that it’s based on an extremely dishonest argument:

What winds me up about it is that it has a carefully disguised purpose; but this argument seeks to deny the existence of that purpose (and discourage me from looking into it) by claiming that it has no purpose but to wind me up. But what winds me up about it is…

So, back to Staines… I’ve seen a few comments around about his Guido Fawkes site being compared to The Sun on 18 Tory Street recently. I’m not sure in what context, but I think it’s a fair comparison.

Many people think that what the character Staines has invented does is ‘wind people up’ for ‘a bit of a larf’, and on the surface it would appear that he takes no prisoners… but I contend that the Guido Fawkes weblog also has a carefully disguised purpose, and that the New Tory relationship with him is not unlike that between The Sun and New Labour.

Paul Staines takes all sorts of cheap shots at the other parties (more on this below), but at the same time, he also seeks to bend and shape the Conservative party to his will.

There’s even a Page 3 parallel… Staines also uses what he calls ‘totty’ (in a strictly post-modern sense, obviously) as a political weapon:

Now, you may notice the odd left-wing totty piece over at Staines’ site, but these are carefully balanced with ‘ugly’ attacks. (Basically, the “Would you want to sleep with a sandal-wearing, lentil-munching soap-dodger?” line of thinking that has also manifested itself recently as one of Team Guido’s key reasons why bloggers should ignore what I say about ‘Guido’; like most lefties – apparently – I am ugly, fat, flatulent and cannot get a girlfriend.)

New Tory, on the other hand, is the All Teh Sexy…

What you mostly see at Staines’ weblog is; Tory totty, Tory totty, Tory totty, Tory totty, Tory totty, Tory totty.

See? The Tories not only have snazzier uniforms, they get a shot at hotter totty, too (come join us, join us, do).

Compare this with Page 3:

The purpose of the Page 3 editorials is clear; what once used to be a small level of detail that allowed wank-happy readers to imagine themselves being a little bit closer to the model currently contains a political view. It’s not quite as straightforward as Pavlov, but generally the idea is that now the wank-happy reader needs to adopt, favour or entertain a political view before they can imagine themselves being close to the model.

Where I come from, we call this “thinking with your dick” (which, I’m sure you’re aware, mostly leads to trouble and regret).

And now, finally, we bounce back to this morning’s Independent and approach the close…

The Conservatives have mentioned the war (once), and they think they’ve gotten away with it:

Independent – Steve Richards: Blair looks weak and cowardly, while both Labour and the Tories are trapped by Iraq: The calamity of Iraq hovers darkly over a confused and bewildered Government, sapping its morale and draining any moral energy. It hovers over the House of Commons too. Some argue that Britain’s support for the war highlights an urgent need for constitutional reform. There is such a need, but that has nothing to do with the war. Too conveniently the constitution gets the blame for the decision taken by ministers and a big majority of MPs to support Tony Blair. In reality minister and MPs could have blocked Blair, but chose not to do so… If the Conservatives had opposed the war from the beginning, Blair would not have dared to take as many political risks. Instead they were with him all the way. Do not underestimate the significance of this.

And, as this opinion piece also points out, they cannot credibly claim to have been ‘duped into it’ (but this doesn’t stop them from bandying this notion about in arenas where it is less likely to be actively scrutinised).

The Conservatives are quite adept at riding upon the level of distrust borne from what has happened in Iraq (and many other callous manipulations of the ‘war’ on terror) without acknowledging their often willing role*.

[*Note – if you want to be exceedingly generous, feel free to argue that the Tories have been repeatedly cornered by a political need to ‘out -tough’ New Labour.]

If it helps, try picturing a surfer who requires at least a passing knowledge of tides if he wants to catch a decent wave, but denies all knowledge of such things because he “Just wants to surf, dude!”

And this is what makes Paul Staines so very, very useful to the Conservatives; with what is widely perceived as a ‘take them all down’ attack in a time of unprecedented distrust and distance, ‘Guido’ can pick off individual targets and/or ensure that money this, peerage that or cocktail sausage in the other is what officially brings about their downfall… and not Iraq, torture or the manipulation of fear to further a political agenda.

I’m sure you can guess why this would be a desirable development for them.

It is equally useful to the Conservatives that discussion of wider issue(s) on any given topic is strictly forbidden at the Guido Fawkes website… and a closer look at Staines’ editorial choices is even more revealing…

An excellent example; you may want to have a poke around Staines’ website and see how many features he has run on the subject of torture (or, if you prefer, ‘extraordinary rendition’). The subject is used repeatedly to bash Labour (both old and new) under comments, but features? I had trouble finding any. You can go and have a look and see for yourself if you like, but the real ‘tell’ for me was that the hero-blogger who claims the fearless leaking of secret documents as part of his shtick did not take part in – or even link to – Craig Murray’s release of the torture memos in late December 2005 (you can read a nice round-up of this activity here).

At the time, Staines even claimed that things were “thin politically”, and therefore he had nothing to report. (Psst! You can see a subtle little dig from me here. Guido would have deleted anything more overt.)

Further, when Paul Staines and Iain Dale first began cooking up their Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze, they produced this list of scandals. In this long list, Iraq gets a passing mention under ‘David Kelly commits suicide’ and torture is not mentioned AT ALL.

[MINI-UPDATE – Yes, I’m aware of Iain Dale’s ongoing support for the war… but it is possible to support the war and still be alarmed by the way the Blair government conducted themselves. No, really. And you’re not going to get far applauding the removal of a torturing, murdering bastard if you keep schtum about those who torture and murder for our side.]

Have a look through the comments on that last link and you’ll see a few people picking up on the omissions. You may also notice that Iain Dale does not respond to these comments. In the relevant ‘Guido’ thread, you’ll find no mention of Iraq and torture (and you’re probably already aware that I have a little theory that explains why none would remain, even if they were published in the first instance).

Now, I make no excuses for initially buying into Staines’ and Dale’s bullshit – it was an error, and not one that I plan on repeating – but at the time, I was more concerned about adding what was missing rather looking at what was missing and wondering why.

First, I approached Iain Dale about a chapter on Page 3 and suggested that Craig Murray cover torture. Like Staines, Dale “couldn’t understand” why Page 3 was an issue, so instead I wrote the chapter about torture (a key subject that should have been an obvious inclusion in the draft list, but wasn’t).

It wasn’t until I received my hard copy of the book that I realised that neither ‘editor’ had actually read the fucking thing! (Hint: if you have the book to hand, there’s an obvious copy error/omission in the last paragraph of my article.)

You may have to be a Douglas Adams fan to get this next bit (clue/spoiler)…

Now, there are some things the Conservatives cannot openly avoid when challenged, but what they appear to be doing is not walking out the door and facing the real world, but instead climbing out of the window into a universe that has been created especially for them.

Paul Staines is one of the budding architects of this false reality.

Because it is damaging to the blog community and our democracy, I wish to make people aware of that.

I also think the Conservatives deserve a special heads-up… I’m not sure if they realise the impact the ‘vision’ of an architect can have on any given project.








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 24, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Oops.

UPDATE (2:02pm) – Hahaha! And an ‘oops’ from me, too. It was foolish to assume that Staines would include all pertinent information in any given post.








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 24, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Johnny Void began by making a common enough mistake; thinking that the enemy of his enemy was his friend (or, perhaps, some form of zip-gun). Been there myself.

But I think he went of the rails a bit when he started buying into the must-stop-fascist-regime fantasy. In that post, he used some text from me that fitted the seductive but counter-productive ‘Tim wants to take over Teh Internets’ invention, without providing a direct link to the full post (i.e. robbing this partial quote of context).

Soon after, he was here at Bloggerheads, knickers in a twist and spoiling for a fight.

From here on in, I think I can let this comment exchange and his post about the edits in that exchange speak for themselves and leave Johnny to his void.

But not before thanking him for doing me an enormous favour:

Guido 2.0 – The man hears what he wants to hear (and disregards the rest)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s snowing out and I have some playtime coming to me.

Cheers all.








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 23, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

The Register – Bloggers unite to save astroturfing for Mankind: In an all-too-familiar scene, bloggers, Slashdot readers and several news outlets were taken in by the hype surrounding a provision in the Senate ethics reform bill that would have required grassroots lobbying firms to register with the US Congress. Conservative direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie whipped the blogging community into a frenzied, and largely misdirected, opposition to the provision by trumpeting the section’s supposed threat to First Amendment rights, freedom, Mom and apple pie. Section 220 of the reform bill, the grassroots provision, was removed by an amendment prior to the bill’s passage late last week, largely because of a blitzkrieg campaign in the media, the blogosphere and on Capitol Hill by Viguerie’s advertising firm, American Target Advertising. Viguerie, for those not familiar with the tarnished panoply of backroom players in American politics, pioneered the use of direct mail techniques for conservative causes, and has been called the “funding father” of the modern conservative movement. His ad agency currently handles direct mail campaigns for non-profits seeking to stimulate grassroots activity or raise funds from the general public.

Note the clumsy wording in the legislation referenced later in the article (something to be worried about)… and note also the astro-turfer screaming ‘Freedom!’ as he works to undermine the free speech of others (something else to be worried about).

(Link via Toby.)

UPDATE – Heh. CuriousHamster puts it far better than I did: Here’s an example of a well-connected conservative manipulating the blogosphere’s anti-establishment sentiment in order to, er, defend the establishment. And it worked. Freedom! (to continue to spin, to manipulate, to misrepresent, to create fake grass roots, to drown out real voices with different views, and to make lots of money while doing so.) Remind you of anyone?








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 22, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

IP addresses have played a role in recent outings, and we’ve also seen a few people playing fast and loose with issues of identity… so it does not surprise me at all that we now have an IP Spoofer in our midst.

But I must admit to being shocked at how low they will go… Ministry of Truth reports.








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 22, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Ministry Of Truth – Generation Gap: There are definable limits to what Tim could reasonably hope to achieve by taking an open pot-shot at Guido, which I’m sure he’s perfectly well aware of, and, for now, the best that he could hope for is to open a few eyes, show Guido up for who and what he really is and, yes, take a fair bit of flak in the process from some of Guido’s camp-whores – the latter aspect of all this is unpleasant (especially if you’re on the receiving end of it) but none the less instructive, as it does serve to illustrate and validate much of what Tim has had to say about the manner in which Guido operates, and while some might consider that Guido has more or less ‘ blown off’ Tim’s ‘ attack’ with barely a hint of being ruffled, quite as few others will have been looking at his reaction and making a mental note or two for the future having been even less impressed with Guido’s arrogance – and his antics – than usual.

Before I take what might appear to be a pointless detour into local matters, I want to ask you a question:

Have you ever watched a politician who has been caught bang to rights maintaining ‘a dignified silence’ while their chums are all over the media pushing forward pissweak defences and/or briefing against the source(s) of the damaging information?

You have? Oh, good. We can move on, then…

Anne Milton.

I began by suspecting that Anne’s election campaign wasn’t all that it seemed, but I pretty much let her get on with it until she made the mistake of thinking she could afford to lie to me. It was at that point I decided to take a closer look at her campaign, using a purpose-built weblog to scrutinise Milton’s activities and publish my findings.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I hit a rich seam of paydirt in two of my earliest posts; the outing of one activist (posing as an independent supporter) and the antics of another (publishing and distributing dangerously misleading literature). After this, many of Milton’s questionable tactics as a candidate were highlighted (pretty much every ‘independent supporter’ shown in her pamphlets was a ringer, and she even flaunted electoral guidelines by posing as a local through the use of a single-bedroom flat), but somehow she managed to squeak past the post with a 347-strong margin.

Since then, I’ve published evidence that clearly shows her to be a shiftless, witless and deceitful MP.

Now comes the interesting bit… watch the pattern:

First, I was asked by one of her flunkies why I didn’t have anything better to do. When the matter became impossible to ignore, Milton herself feigned disinterest and sought to cast me as ‘an angry young man’. Soon after, her activists went to work; primarily in an anonymous capacity, on my site and others. When it became clear to them that they would usually lose in a fair debate (and/or dump themselves in it in the process), they reverted to spending most of their time briefing against me via a series of anonymous comments and websites; their two main weapons were repeated suggestions about my sexuality and state of mind, and repeated attempts to pass off the Anne Milton weblog as a personal attack and/or a party-political one. Before too long, they grew tired of compromising other people’s weblogs and instead decided to start fucking about with Wikipedia. Sooner or later (it had to happen) I was clearly libelled. While all of this was going on, Anne Milton could afford to sit back and play the victim.

Now, onto my decision to scrutinise Paul Staines’ activities and publish my findings:

First, I was asked by one of his flunkies why I didn’t have anything better to do. When the matter became impossible to ignore, ‘Guido’ himself feigned disinterest and sought to cast me as ‘an angry young man’. Soon after, his activists went to work; primarily in an anonymous capacity, mostly on other peoples’ websites. When it became clear to them that they would usually lose in a fair debate (and/or dump themselves in it in the process), they reverted to spending most of their time briefing against me via a series of anonymous comments and websites; their two main weapons were repeated suggestions about my sexuality and state of mind, and repeated attempts to pass off the ‘Plonker’ post as a personal attack and/or a party-political one. Before too long, they grew tired of compromising other people’s weblogs and instead decided to start fucking about with Wikipedia. Sooner or later (it had to happen) I was clearly libelled. While all of this was going on, Paul Staines could afford to sit back and play the victim.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is called ‘briefing’ or, when in full flight, ‘negative campaigning‘ of this variety… and in each case, a small number of players sought to cover as much ground as possible under a variety of pseudonyms, which is why it also classifies as something we like to call ‘astro-turfing‘ (i.e. creating the false impression of a grass-roots movement).

This same gang of thugs used similar techniques to launch/support attacks on Bob Piper and Tom Watson. If you scoot back in time in both cases, you’ll be able to watch ‘Guido’ playing Mr Nice Guy in both affairs, leaving his flying monkeys to do his dirty work for him. A lot of familiar names will crop up when you do so… along with an unknown number of anonymous contributors.

In the case of the Watson/Simon affair, they happened across a pretty easy dual target. As far as most people in Westminster were concerned, Tom Watson and Sion Simon were part of a Brownite plot against Blair; half of the village hated them for trying, and the other half hated them for failing. Before too long, useful idiots like Jack Straw popped up, and the rest – as they say – is history.

(Jack Straw condemned Sion Simon’s video without watching it and said; “I believe we have to ensure that political discourse is at the highest level.” Jack Straw was also the man who was less than comfortable with the revelations coming from his own ambassador in Uzbekistan and decided to deal with these revelations by undermining the source with a smear campaign! In August 2003, Craig Murray, the ambassador to Uzbekistan, was confronted with 18 charges, the most serious of which involved “hiring dolly birds for above the usual rate” for the visa department and granting UK visas in exchange for sex. Murray was forbidden from discussing/challenging the charges under the Official Secrets Act, but that didn’t stop a certain interested party from leaking those charges to the press… because shit sticks, even if the charges don’t. All but two of the most minor charges were dropped, and the Foreign Office eventually exonerated Murray of all 18 charges… but not before the smear campaign had taken a drastic toll on Murray’s health and reputation. Eventually, he was removed from his post for “operational” reasons.)

Another notable thing about the ‘public’ reactions to the Sion Simon video was the number of people operating anonymously under comments at the Guido Fawkes site who were outraged at Simon’s ‘personal attack’ one minute and banging on about his piggy eyes and floppy hair the next.

(In my view, Sion Simon’s video was not funny, but that did not make it worthy of outrage. And it was not a personal attack, it was valid criticism. David Cameron’s Webcameron stunt was just that; a stunt. He could have engaged directly and honestly via text alone and done something no-one at this level had done before, but instead he tried to invent credibility out of thin air by being caught ‘unscripted’ at home. In doing so, he willingly prostituted his family.)

This same gang of thugs also contribute to Paul Staines’ already-skewed agenda-friendly comments set-up; many people have reported being shouted down on those occasions when they haven’t been deleted. If you attempt to press your point, you run the risk of these bastards slipping their chains and coming after you.

Meanwhile, Paul Staines not only gets to sit back and play Mr Nice Guy, he also gets to claim that there is very little interest in or support for your opinion.

While I’ve got you in a private moment in front of your computer, I’d like to ask you to put your hand up if you’re one of the people who haven’t got involved because you’re afraid of what Team Guido might do to you.

Nothing to be ashamed of if you are… I’d just like to request that you spend some time thinking about what can be done to reign these bastards in before they start doing some real damage.

Moving on…

The advantage you have when operating under a number of pseudonyms is that you can be a total hypocrite without being called on it. Happily, some members of Team Guido have started taking pleasure in traffic generated by individual semi-established identities, which allows me to do this:

PragueTory: Clearly shown to be an active Tory briefer and astro-turfer, but he moans about anti-Tory astro-turfing and then bans me from his weblog for politely calling him on it. Hypocrite.

[MINI-UPDATE – This post is mostly for those ‘in the know’, but PragueTory’s responses in the comments under this post can be appreciated even by the casual bystander.]

Dizzy: Pledged to allow me to continue to comment on his website. Hasn’t said a word against ‘Guido’ after Staines suggested that homosexuals near children is a bad thing, but seems to think John Prescott is worthy of a bashing after he suggested that homosexuals near him is a bad thing (check the linked thread at the head to see him skip right over my question, then check this comment thread for a veiled threat and this one for Dizzy’s ‘explanation’). Hypocrite.

[MINI-UPDATE – Finally, an answer (of sorts) from Dizzy. It was all an innocent mistake, of course.]

OutFromUnder: Same thing, but with one subtle difference; he’s learned a little trick from Staines, and so has not only ignored my comment, but also taunted me for sending him traffic in a pathetic effort to stop me from doing it again.

‘Peter Hitchens’: According to ‘Guido’ “took it upon himself to try to broker a peace deal.” Sent a direct email or two and played nice. (I’ve been trolled before, PH… and by better players than yourself.) Claimed that ‘Peter Hitchens’ was just a character he played for a bit of a laugh… but when I too played a character for ‘a bit of a laugh’ he responded with an angry ‘the gloves are off now’ email. Hypocrite.

Folks, I’m really sorry about all the shouting that’s gone on this past week, but if it’s any consolation, I’ve done my best to ensure that it was my website and my reputation that bore the brunt of it.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Paul Staines, who has sought to rule out any intelligent discussion of my concerns on his website and – at the same time – deliberately played the part in a way that he knew would rev up his thugs… who are now popping up everywhere with all sorts of briefs against me.

Yes, I expected this. No, I didn’t expect them to make my point quite so clearly. I really thought I’d have to do most of the work myself.

To close:

I suppose it could be said that “On the internet, nobody knows if you’re an attack dog”… and I’d like to do something to change that.

Beta-testing of National Service begins soon. One very important aspect of it will be a totally organic (and not at all fascist) way of identifying bloggers with credibility.

I plan to make life very difficult for astro-turfers (of both the amateur and the professional variety); hopefully in time for the next general election.

[Psst! What I have in mind is nothing like this… but you’ll want to read the related post anyway.]








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 20, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Get a load of this joker.

UPDATE – I’ve tried to avoid left/right comparisons as best I can in this, but people are already noticing the obvious split along party lines, so I think now is as good a time as any to repeat something from yesterday’s early-evening pub-chat:

The dirty great blinkers on some of Guido’s most ardent supporters remind me of Al Franken and his thoughts on what it means to ‘love America’ in the book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. In it, he compares conservatives to four-year-old children who blindly love Mummy (and think that anyone who criticises Mummy is bad) and contends that liberals, by comparison, “love America like grown-ups.”

(Oh, and only because ‘Out From Under’ brought up John Prescott; is anyone else amused by the current run of “Guido is Guido” defence techniques? They’re beyond hilarious when you consider that they’re forgiving the ‘natural behaviour’ of a carefully crafted character.)








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 20, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Paul Staines[Image via Samizdata. Published under Creative Commons. Image resized and enhanced.]

A few days ago, Jackie Danicki sent me an email demanding that I remove a photo of Paul Staines from this key post on my website.

She claimed to be the owner of the photo. She also claimed that it had been published with “all rights reserved”.

However, the photo was sourced from this page (where the photo in question is still live at time of posting) and on that page, the named publisher is Perry de Havilland. Most importantly, on that page (even three days after Jackie Danicki’s claim/demand), the ONLY notice regarding copyright reads as follows (the link to the relevant licence is included):

All content on this website (including text, photographs, audio files, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

My use of the photo was completely in keeping with the published licence. If anything, I was overly cautious/generous.

However, I agreed to Jackie’s shrill demands for one very, very good reason:

Paul Staines, posting under the pseudonym ‘Guido Fawkes’, quite rightly objected to the News Of The World attempting to censor weblogs and websites that dared to publish images of the opportunistic entrapment-monkey brave undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood… but this intervention made Staines and his backers look incredibly similar to the bullying mainstream mattress-stains that they claim to despise. (In other words, whether he instigated it, approved it or just tolerated it, this action made Paul Staines look like a total bloody hypocrite. And a censor-happy one at that.)

However, Jackie Danicki also went on (and on) to publish her claim that I had stolen the image in the comments of Tom Worstall’s website and in the comments of Stuart Bruce’s website. You can see the latter webmaster’s understandable reaction to this development here.

Anybody with brains should be able to see that the point of the original post was not simply to ‘get Guido’ (No. 11 alone would have done far more damage), but to raise some important points about common sense and common bloody courtesy.

To make this kind of claim on your own website is one thing; to make it on someone else’s goes beyond rudeness. In most other circumstances, it would have resulted in legal difficulties for both webmasters and/or their providers (happily, in this case, there is goodwill to spare and a point to be made).

Jackie Danicki did not even have the decency to publish the claim at her own website!

Instead, she left others to bear responsibility for her claims… and when I say ‘left’, I mean she made her claims, was challenged with pretty much the same detail you see at the top of this post, and did not return.

I hate cats.

I know that seems kind of random, but it’s pertinent:

I mainly hate cats because they have a habit of shitting in every backyard but their own.

Jackie Danicki did her little shitty and did not clean it up. She didn’t even scrape a few blades of grass over the top before jumping over the fence and darting away.

Of course, she could always claim that someone else left one of these claims, as only one of the sites involved requires any form of registration for comments… but that simply helps to prove my point about how we *might* wish to think about how we conduct ourselves in the future.

So… someone should be cleaning this up, and on the face of it, it appears that Jackie Danicki should be the one donning marigold gloves… and apologising to at least three people.

(Of course, I could have emailed Jackie privately about this, but the claims were made publicly and my hands are tied regardless; she responded to my last email with the single word ‘unsubscribe’, and I fear this legal expert may have me arrested for spamming if I attempt to communicate via email. In fact, if she chooses to get in touch in the coming hours/days, the first word of her initial email should, technically, be the single word ‘subscribe’.)

[‘Guido’: Don’t even start with the wah-wah-wah-Tim-Ireland-in-my-comments crap unless you can – at the very least – identify a comment of mine that you deleted where I made a libellous claim about a third party. And even if you can stretch your way to that, we’ll only be at the *start* of the conversation… that you have so far failed to engage in.]








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