Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Appleton's Politburo In Action

Drew Johnson, the former editorial page editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press was fired after publishing an anti-Obama headline that was described as a violation of company policy. The editorial, which ran during a presidential visit to Chattanooga, described the lamentable impact of the administration's corporatist "stimulus" initiatives. Johnson's headline, which certainly resonated with the views of most of the newspaper's readership, was: "Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough."

Within a few hours, Johnson's editorial went viral. Shortly thereafter, he was fired. His employers released a statement claiming that he was "terminated after placing a headline on an editorial outside of normal editing procedures." That was a lie: Johnson later explained that the "policy" he had supposedly violated were put into place after he had been fired. This was, Johnson said, essentially a "retroactive firing."

His editor-in-chief claimed that she had received "a lot of complaints from Obama supporters," which is to be expected. However, his editorial was one of the most widely-circulated pieces ever published by the paper. Johnson wryly describes himself as "the first person in the history of newspapers to be fired for writing a paper's most-read article."

Johnson may well own that distinction. However, he was not the first editor to be fired from a publication for violating a policy that didn't exist at the time. In that respect, I have him beat by nearly seven years.

The New American and JBS fired me in October 2006 for maintaining a personal blog and using it to republish a piece they had rejected a few months earlier. Although that essay was not nearly as widely read as Mr. Johnson's editorial, it did receive quite a bit of attention during the two or three hours it was available on the Birch Blog before being taken down. A number of people had asked me what had happened to that essay. As its author, I had sole and exclusive rights to it after TNA decided to take it off their site, so I republished it on Pro Libertate.

In the officious letter I received the day I was fired, Art Thompson, the droning fool who still occupies the position of JBS CEO, claimed that "once we have rejected an article or nuance, you cannot go around us to post it elsewhere, identifying it as rejected material and publicly criticizing your employer for the rejection."

There was no overt criticism of JBS management in the blog entry in which I republished that essay. What Art was saying is that republishing that essay and letting people know it was rejected was an impermissible act of criticism, a form of lese-majeste that simply had to be punished. This was not established policy at the time of my termination. It was something Art extracted from his emunctory aperture to justify the decision to get rid of me.

Just as a skunk becomes inured to its own repellent bouquet, the clique in Appleton has long since lost the ability to notice the stench of their own hypocrisy. Thus it didn't surprise me at all to see TNA run a piece describing the injustice suffered by Drew Johnson at the hands of the craven, opportunistic people running the Times Free Press. The article (written by a former colleague who is a far better and more decent man than anybody in JBS upper management) concluded with a paragraph richly laden with irony:

"Some Free Press readers responded to the firing by logging on to the paper's Facebook page and expressing their own opinions. `Free Press means free to print as long as the Politburo approves it, right?' one reader posted. `You have FREE PRESS in your name but someone get’s fired for their opinion — WOW,' wrote another. A third reader noted that the paper `fired the guy who wrote his opinions against the president? That’s cool. … Free Press? Right.'"

For several years, the bold and valiant defenders of decency in Appleton have used every means at their disposal to block my access to comment threads at TNA, on the JBS YouTube channel, and elsewhere. Shortly after TNA published its piece on Drew Johnson, I was able to circumvent the lockout and post the following comment:

Here's the relevant portion: "Do a search-and-replace substituting `The New American' for "Free Press," and `William Grigg' for `Drew Johnson,' and you could publish this story without any other significant alterations."

As of this writing (circa 2:00 AM August 6), the comment is still available. I'm confident to the point of a moral certainty that Gary Benoit will rectify that oversight sometime later this morning -- after catching up on the latest Mel Gibson-related news, of course.

UPDATE, August 6, 8:30 a.m.

They really are as predictable as a Zimbabwean presidential election, aren't they? Yes, the comment has been deleted, and my newly created account has been blocked. I would wager that the people in charge of policing comment threads for state-run news sites in Communist-ruled China are less zealous about purging evidence of dissenting opinion. In dealing with dissent, the Appleton Politburo consistently displays a Stalinist disposition.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Why Is an Accused Child Molester Still on the JBS's Speakers Bureau?

At about the same time JBS Upper Management decided that I was a liability to the organization, they proudly added Chris Simcox to their Speaker’s Bureau. This happened in late 2006 or 2007, when Appleton was cynically seeking – and failing – to exploit right-wing populist concerns over immigration as a recruitment strategy. 

By the time Simcox co-founded Arizona’s Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in 2005, he had already acquired a great deal of pungent baggage that would have become known through a cursory background check. This included two messy divorces, both of which involved allegations of domestic violence. All of this, and other problems, made him a very large, very easy target for the SPLC and other leftist “watchdog” groups.

 At about the same time Simcox was added to the JBS Speaker’s Bureau, he was immersed in a power struggle within the Minuteman organization that involved allegations of misappropriation of funds. One of Simcox’s close allies at Minuteman during the period he was recruited as a speaker for the JBS was a robustly unpleasant specimen by the name of Shawna Forde, whom he identified as a “rising leader” in the movement

In 2009, Forde and two henchmen murdered 29-year-old Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia during a home invasion robbery in Pima, Arizona. This was intended to be the first of several robberies carried out against ethnic Mexican residents of Arizona suspected of involvement in drug trafficking. Forde has been convicted of murder and faces the death penalty. 

It’s important to point out that Simcox was not involved in that hideous crime in any way. His only connection to Forde was a shared fixation on illegal immigration, and the remarkably poor judgment Simcox displayed in promoting her as a leader within the Minuteman organization. Simcox himself, however, has recently found himself in jail on charges that he molested three young girls

Accusations of this kind are notoriously easy to make, and often lead to scandalously implausible convictions. As the cliché informs us, one of the few things worse than being a child molester is to be an innocent man wrongly accused of that hideous crime. 

At present, Chris Simcox is legally innocent of the charges against him. It may be that he is factually innocent as well. It is a certainty that he is, and has long been, a volatile personality and an unsavory public figure. 

JBS Upper Management is so piously fastidious about the organization’s public image that it simply had to terminate me in October 2006 because of a single blog posting in which I wrote some vulgar things about the likes of Sean Hannity and Mark Levin – and because I had dared to offer a public dissent regarding Upper Management’s perspective on the question of immigration. 

"You do not understand that once you are a public figure everything that you say or do publicly reflects on the organization you work for, particularly when these things are in opposition to the position and principles of The John Birch Society and Robert Welch,” pontificated Art Thompson in the letter announcing my termination. In that same letter he specified that my firing offense had been to differ with the inspired personages in Upper Management over a matter of “nuance” (his word) regarding immigration. 

Presumably the same standard applies to those people whom Appleton selected to represent the JBS as members of its Speakers Bureau. By the time Simcox was added to that roster, he was already wreathed in disrepute. As this is being written (June 22, 2013), Chris Simcox is still proudly and prominently listed as part of the JBS Speakers Bureau (although that will soon change, I’ll warrant).
Simcox is a public figure who has been through multiple divorces, numerous accusations of domestic violence, accusations of embezzlement, a close professional association with a convicted child murderer, and now multiple charges of child molestation. By Art Thompson’s standard, all of this reflects on the organization over which Thompson presides. 

By way of contrast, the JBS websites have been sanitized of all references  to the former Senior Editor who was fired on October 3, 2006. 

Sure, Appleton can find room on its marquee for an accused child molester, assuming that he’s an anti-immigration zealot. 

But what about a long-time, dutiful staff member who publicly differs from Upper Management in a matter of  “nuance” on immigration (on constitutional grounds), and who happens to be an American of Mexican ancestry? That fellow needs to be terminated with extreme prejudice, and never spoken of again. After all, the JBS has standards to maintain.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Art Thompson's Silly Little Lie

As I’ve documented on several previous occasions, JBS CEO Art Thompson is consistently inhospitable to the truth.  That trait was displayed to good advantage in a recent video commentary in which Art once again fulminated about the abiding Soviet menace.

About two minutes into the video, as Art weaves a fascinating tale of Cold War-era Soviet deviousness in which Russian submarines decanted Spetsnaz  commandoes into Sweden in order “to start disarming certain military bases.” During those incursions, he insisted, the Soviet Special Forces operators “destroyed a large amount of Sweden’s oil reserves … as a precursor to invading Sweden under Brezhnev.” 

“There was a plan, a very elaborate one, to invade Sweden and another country,” Art insists, going on to explain that is he among the special, chosen few who knew of these developments because  “I got this straight from the head of the National Security Agency that that was what was going on back then.” 

This is a forthright, unambiguous claim, made on the record, that the military official who presides over the most secretive intelligence agency in the US government saw fit to confide these privileged details to the CEO of the John Birch Society – or, at least, the guy who would someday hold that position. 

Art didn’t say if this intelligence was provided to him by the incumbent NSA Director, General Keith B. Alexander, or one of his 14 predecessors (such as Lt. Gen. William Odom, who held that post during the 1980s). But that detail is inconsequential, given that Art’s claim is, on its face, a childish and self-exalting falsehood.

Unless Art can prove this claim, he should either retract it or own up to the fact that he told a lie.

It’s worth pointing out as well that the details of the story Art told don’t really make much sense. 

Why would the Soviets sabotage Sweden’s oil facilities, since the country has never been a significant producer or exporter of oil? Currently, Sweden ranks 95th in national oil production, right below the petro-chemical juggernaut that is Bangladesh. Neighboring Norway, on the other hand, ranks 14th. Similarly, Sweden is 45th among oil-exporting nations, as compared to Norway’s fifth-place rank. 

Did Art have Norway, rather than Sweden, in mind as the target of this campaign of Soviet espionage and subversion? 

Here’s what I suspect happened here: I think Art was describing the plot of a really silly 1980s propaganda film. 

In 1987, the Swedish government produced a civil defense film called “The Premonition” that described Soviet espionage operations – which were plentiful, of course – and sketched out what I’m pretty sure was a fictional scenario in which the Soviets carried out sabotage operations in Sweden as a precursor to an invasion. By that time, Brezhnev had joined Lenin in hell, and the Soviets were beginning to downsize their empire. While Russia can be a restive and dangerous neighbor in any era, by the late 1980s its was becoming clear that neither Sweden nor anybody else had much to fear regarding the prospect of a Soviet invasion. 

I think that Art most likely saw that film, or some portion of it, decades ago, and wove elements of it into his stump speech, which most likely included reference to something that had once been said by the NSA Director – and that those elements ended up being thrown together, Mad Libs-style, in Art’s recent video. 

This would be entirely forgivable – if it weren’t for Art’s emphatic insistence that he had gotten this story “straight from the head of the National Security Agency.” Not from an NSA report, publication, or analysis, mind you, but “straight” from the lips, pen, or keyboard of the NSA Director himself.
As a self-replenishing source of bizarre comedy, Art Thompson is an embarrassment of riches. As someone who is the official spokesman for the John Birch Society, he’s simply an embarrassment.