Sally Sockpuppet and her friends

Well, just as I thought. Commenter “Sally J” who was trying to argue that she’d “visited Gaza with a volunteer church group” just in April and that nearly everything there is fine… turns out to be one of the multiple-personality sock-puppets who visit the blog from time to time.
Here is a screen-grab of what I got when I did a search in my blogging software for the IP address “she” had used:
sally sockpuppet.jpg
So “Sally J” was also “Rebecca Gomez-Sanchez” (playing for the Hispanic audience, there, Sally?), “Winston Overbrook, Seattle”, and “Robby DiMaggio, Horaceville, IL”… And for goodness sake, “Sally”, don’t come back in and tell me (Tom MacMaster-style) that these are all just your “friends”, who’ve been using your computer.
Of course, that IP address will get banned, right now. Of course, this sock-puppeteer and others will continue trying to subvert and discredit the discussion here. I’ll probably move toward installing a “trusted commenter” system.
On the bright side, it strikes me that if the Likudnik apologists have to resort to such pathetic little ruses– oh, this and the infamous “Marc” pinkwashing video— then they really are getting desperate. They must realize that the vast tide of opinion worldwide is absolutely not on their side and that the tide of opinion inside the long-muzzled United States is also starting to see through their long-sustained curtain of lies and evasions and recognize Israeli colonial oppression of the Palestinians for what it is.

Those pathetic professional sock-puppeteers

I guess in eight-plus years of blogging here at JWN, I’ve seen just about all the trends there have been in trolling, sock puppeteering, etc. (Who else here remembers the character who called himself all versions of “LeWi$”, “LEw1s”, “LewiS”, etc and kept trying to come back.)
More recently, over the past couple of months, we’ve had had an infestation of “commenters” coming here announcing not only an alleged name but also an alleged hometown. What was going on, I wondered?
Then I read this recent article in the Guardian, about a project the U.S. military has to try to “sway the discourse” in various online venues by flooding them with an army of sock puppeteers, each of whom would be ‘controlling’ numerous sock puppets.”
Under a project called “Operation Earnest Voice”, Centcom signed a contract with a California-based company called Ntrepid to provide software that would allow each of up to 50 operators to control ten fake online personas, each apparently based in a different place around the world… so it would seem that the Centcom-favored point of view has 500 supporters located all over the world! Wow!
Now, the Centcom contract was specifically only for commenters working in languages other than English. But if Ntrepid can provide that service for Centcom, why should it (or a similar company) not provide a similar English-language service for another client– say, some part of the IDF?Israeli government worldwide hasbara machine?
Why do I suspect this is what is happening with all these extremely goofy (one might even say “earnest”) commenters here at JWN who announce their names and hometowns? Because, according to the Guardian report,

    The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details…

And then, if you are sitting there at your desk, posting comments through your multiple sock puppets under some kind of Ntrepid-related contract– hey, maybe one operator on these other, non-Centcom contracts, could be controlling more than ten sock puppets!– then the challenge is, as the puppeteer, how on earth you keep track of each one (and his or her, “convincing background, history and supporting details… “)? Welcome to the strange and wonderful world of “Roy Frank Tremont. Pine Bluff, AR”, “Winston Overbrook, Seattle”, “Bernard Weintraub, Taos, NM”, etc.
These guys are all so clunky, you have to laugh. I suppose they are successful up to a point, in that they render the comments boards a bit more muddled, hostile, and bothersome than they would otherwise be. But really, their comedic value counters that effect significantly.
A word to all those sock puppeteers out there, however. Your activities may well constitute criminal impersonation, so you might want to check your liability to prosecution under U.S. law.

Reminder about the comments policy

Every so often, over the eight-plus years I’ve been publishing this blog, waves of hostile forces come in and try to take over the comments boards with their hostility and their rantings. So back in January 2005, I crafted the ‘Comments Policy’ for the blog, and it has worked pretty well since then, as a set of rules allowing for the respectful discussion of real– sometimes very deep and deeply felt– differences of opinion.
The arrival of new waves of highly ideological and extremely discourteous ranters always tests this system, and on occasion I’ve had to shut down the comments boards for a while.
Of course, like any other publisher, I am under no obligation to anyone to publish anything for anyone else, unless I choose to. The blogsophere is a large, inviting place, and if people have things they want to express that don’t fit into my Comments Policy here, they are quite free to go out, start their own blogs, and express them there.
People who are small-scale violators of the Comments Policy may have their comments deleted or edited. People who are large-scale or serial violators will have their IP’s banned from the blog.
Everyone who wants to post a comment is therefore urged to read the Comments Policy carefully before doing so–in particular, the sections on courtesy and discourse-hogging.

Open thread, early April 2011

Sorry I haven’t been able to blog for the past few days. Lots happening worldwide right now but I’ve been very busy on non-blog things. (Which, as regular readers know, happens from time to time.) Readers can use this open thread to continue a discussion on breaking events that is constructive and friendly. Thanks for hanging in there! I’ll be back soon I hope.

Announcing… Just World Books!

I am delighted to announce the establishment of a new book-publishing company, Just World Books, an imprint of the recently created limited-liability company, Just World Publishing, LLC.
The first titles in Just World Books’ Fall 2010 list will start to be available in September. The list will include books by:

    Laila El-Haddad, author of the ‘Gaza Mom’ blog, whose first book with us has the working title Gaza Mom Reflects.
    Joshua Foust, a principal contributor to the ‘Registan’ blog, whose book will be a very well-informed critique of U.S. policies in Afghanistan and neighboring countries
    Chas W. Freeman, Jr., the talented (and in some quarters controversial) retired diplomatist, who will be publishing two or more titles with JWB presenting some of his extensive expertise in U.S. foreign and military policy, U.S.-China relations, and the Middle East
    Reidar Visser, who is probably the English-speaking world’s best-informed and most meticulous analyst of Iraq’s internal politics: His first book with JWB will be a study of Iraq under PM Nouri al-Maliki, 2006-2010.

As you can perhaps infer from this description our Fall list, JWB’s business plan is based on the concept of ‘Short Turnround Time for Timely Titles.’ I am confident we can bring out excellent books by these accomplished authors in a very timely way, based on these factors:

Continue reading “Announcing… Just World Books!”

Back from a break

I got back home to Charlottesville this afternoon after a great family reunion in Philadelphia, to celebrate my youngest child’s 25th birthday. Wow, how time flies!
My other two kids were there, too, along with Matilda the best grandbaby in the world, Emmy the sister-in-law, and Bill the spouse. So we had a fine old time. The weather was beautiful, and Philadelphia’s a fabulous walking city. (Matilda, aged 17 months, wanted to do a LOT of walking on her own. It was adorable to watch her striding determinedly along the broad sidewalks, to the bemusement of many passers-by… )
Prior to the Philly trip I was working really hard on a quick consulting project for the American Friends Service Committee, and I’ve also been pushing my Big New Project ahead pretty well. It should be ready for unveiling (along with the new design for the blog) by mid-April or so.
Sorry I’ve been a bit absent from the blog– and not paying enough attention to all the sock puppets etc in the comments section.
There’s certainly a lot to blog about. Watch this space.

Pathetic sock-puppetry in comments

Somebody calling him/herself variously “Steve Bronfman”, “Edward Newhouse”, and even “A. Jew” has been engaging in pathetic sock-puppetry here, desperately trying to create the impression that there are a number of different commenters here who all share his/her point of view. Persistent commenter Titus/Titan/etc has also engaged in this form of legerdemain, but in a possibly more tongue-in-cheek way.
It is kind of notable that these people (1) take the comments discussions here so seriously that they are ready to invest some serious time in participating, but also (2) feel themselves so outnumbered in the forum of world public opinion that they cannot even enlist friends in their commenting campaign but have to resort to this childish sock-puppetry.
Still, their sock-puppetry is clearly a dishonest way to proceed that violates the most basic norms of civil discourse.

Note to commenters, #2

We have recently had a small “group” of new commenters here, all expressing similar views that relied on completely unsubstantiated allegations and verged on hate-speech.
Turns out these “commenters” are all one person but operating under different names like “Asfour”, “Victor”, “Firouz”.
This sock-puppetry completely violates the spirit of discussion the rest of us have here. It’s also a way whereby the author of these posts can evade the discourse-hogging guideline. He or she has now been banned from the site.