Dr. Evil Trolls For Retractions

Dr. Evil

This is about the fallacy that the entire Rightie attack on The New York Times
over the MoveOn ad is based on. The fallacy that, when revealed, drops their whole house of cards.

I have been chided privately for using the term “troll” as a characterization for perhaps too many posts. And I have privately noted that I will dramatically curtail said usage.

But when a troll’s a troll, you calls ’em a troll.

And that brings us to “Ernst Blofeld.” A ‘clever’ pseudonym based on the super-villain from the James Bond films who finds his reincarnation in the “Austin Powers” films as “Dr. Evil” (the cat, etc. are Donald Pleasence’s “Ernst Blofeld” from 1967’s James Bond film “You Only Live Twice.”)

Blofeld attacks on the “MoveOn” ad “admission of error” on ad rates in the New York Times. Using a tactic that those familiar with his usenet postings would recognize immediately, I am called to recant my attacks on the Rightie blogosmear, as I was “wrong.” He does so in identical comments on the following posts (no cyber-stalking here): “Domino Theory” (13Sept07) and “How Green Was My Talking Point“(14Sept07):

# Ernst Blofeld Says:
September 24th, 2007 at 12:43 am edit

The conservatives were right about the ad discount. Will you apolgize (sic) to them?

The NYT Public Editor says here: http://tinyurl.com/3248nm

Did MoveOn.org get favored treatment from The Times? And was the ad outside the bounds of acceptable political discourse?

The answer to the first question is that MoveOn.org paid what is known in the newspaper industry as a standby rate of $64,575 that it should not have received under Times policies. The group should have paid $142,083. The Times had maintained for a week that the standby rate was appropriate, but a company spokeswoman told me late Thursday afternoon that an advertising sales representative made a mistake.

They (sic) Public Editor also says it violated guidelines on personal attacks:

The answer to the second question is that the ad appears to fly in the face of an internal advertising acceptability manual that says, “We do not accept opinion advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature.” Steph Jespersen, the executive who approved the ad, said that, while it was “rough,” he regarded it as a comment on a public official’s management of his office and therefore acceptable speech for The Times to print.

He then adds “Er, well, except that Hart was completely wrong, and that the NYT has admitted to it.” (comment 9-25) to and “Advertising Age Confirms: Rightie Bloggers Nuts” (15Sept07) and then moves to “Hell’s Angels Dance With Pinheads,” (23Sept07) where he smokes out various TDD debaters into a troll thread, but shows increasing peevishness that he can’t “call me out”:

# Ernst Blofeld Says:
September 24th, 2007 at 8:43 am

The NYT did in fact improperly give MoveOn a discount. They NYT has admitted to it.

If I understand you correctly, you’re saying its OK for you to be completely wrong on the facts so long as you believe your cause to be just.

When are you going to apologize to the bloggers you smeared who had the story right from the start?


# Ernst Blofeld Says:
September 24th, 2007 at 2:43 pm

Guilliani (sic) might legitimately have gotten a discount rate for standby, since he was not tied to a specific day.

But I denounce the NYT’s efforts to cover up their bias by offering discount rates to Guilliani,(sic) too. They effectively made two in-kind contributions to two different campaigns.

Where is the apology to the bloggers who got it right from the start? They said MoveOn got an unjustified ad rate. You called them a bunch of nasty names. Now the NYT comes along and says they were right all along–MoveOn was indeed given an unjustified ad rate. Your abuse was completely unjustified.

Where’s the apology? [NOTE: links added – HW]


# Ernst Blofeld Says:
September 24th, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Why would that matter to you? You got it wrong, and egregiously so. Not only did you get it wrong, you slimed the people who were right from the start, and continue to slime them even now that you’ve been shown to be wrong. Common decency would dictate that you apologize. After all, aren’t you supposed to be better than those evil right wingers?

At least we know what to expect now of your blog. You’ll lie to us. When shown to be lying, you’ll lie more. And your sychophants (sic) will revel in your lies. Who knows, perhaps you’ll develop a following. (You don’t seem to have one now.) It will be an ugly, warped following, but a following. You’ll gain a reputation as a baying fool.

If that’s the road you want to go down, I can’t stop you.


# Ernst Blofeld Says:
September 25th, 2007 at 1:15 am

I like rational discourse. Harto is not engaging in it. So I like to mock him. Pointing out his mistakes is an easy way to do it.

and, finally:

# Ernst Blofeld Says:
September 25th, 2007 at 8:09 am

Yes, some of them do. Confederate Yankee, for example [known here as ‘Butt Plug Bob’ (see Update #4) –HW]. He’s been on a roll lately and has broken some stories–for example, the NYT ad rate and the TNR story. In comparison harto seems screechy and not exactly up to his caliber. The Powerline guys are quite good, too, and did excellent work with the phony Rather memos. Insty is semi-libertarian but reasonable.

If you want to go looking for the lowest possible standard to compare your behavior against, you’ll get pretty low standards. Why do that?

Do we all note how he’s taken up residency on the TDD blog until he can ‘smoke me out’?

(Can we all say idée fixe?)

So I’ll now reply:

Alas, Blofeld/Dr. Evil, 4,530 usenet posts — mostly to alt.fan.dan-quayle, alt.fan.rush-limbaugh, talk.politics.misc, alt.fan.air-america, alt.politics.bush, alt.society.liberalism, etc. — aren’t wrong. You are a standard Rightie Troll who likes to split hairs (e.g. Ted Nugent NEVER said he’d like to shoot Obama and Hilary, that was a leftie distortion, etc. etc., and Scott Thomas Beauchamp recanted, etc. etc.) by pretending to be logical (as here) but (as here), you are “rational” in search of an ideological point, but not rigorous in your logic. I presume the increasingly ad hominem nature of your comments were meant to “draw me out.” (He has currently returned, on usenet, to parsing about “proportional” fonts and “forged documents,” sneering at Dan Rather again as the old 2004 arguments are rehashed).

I’ll add this familiar sounding usenet post, just for Blofeld’s/Dr. Evil’s “flavor,”

Newsgroups: alt.fan.dan-quayle, talk.politics.misc, alt.politics.bush, alt.society.liberalism
From: Ernst Blofeld
Date: Sat, 25 Aug 2007 22:31:22 -0700
Local: Sat, Aug 25 2007 10:31 pm
Subject: Re: Ted Nugent’s call to shoot Obama, Hillary, and Boxer

I call upon you to denouce Ted Rall

OK. Got a flavor?

I began this with these words, which still apply:

Oh, good grief.

The non-scandal that’s been touted as a scandal, the embarrassment to the rightie blogosmear, Faux Nooz, Rush Limbaugh, etc. has been granted new life …

When I first read the NYT ombudsman’s “admission” my FIRST thought was, as a matter of personal integrity, I should issue a correction. But a correction about WHAT? The righties you seemingly are buds with (like Butt Plug Bob, the Confederate Yankee) have been insanely wrong on this from the beginning.

Why? (Remember, logic is impersonal, and I’m certain that if you’re actually reasonable, and NOT ideological, you’ll agree wht the next proposition…)

Because the linch pin to the whole argument is the conflation of the “New York Times” (the what? The ‘entity’ that is being gotten even with? The editorial board? The editorial management? The ownership? Or, in this case, the nebulous “thing”?) with an employee in the advertising department.

i.e. IF MoveOn got a favorable or even improper ad rate (and it’s a real hair-split here, retroactively meaningless if MoveOn ends up paying the “correct” price in a FAR MORE legitimate manner than Mitt Romney’s retroactive “residency” in Massachusetts, or Dick Cheney’s retroactive “residency” in Wyoming in 2000) then, by the logic of the seeming ENTIRE Rightie blogosphere, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc. etc. etc. THEN it MUST be a “NEW YORK TIMES” entire collective ownership, editorial, management and employees’ decision that they did so.

If you know ANYTHING about newspapers, you know about the FIREWALL between editorial and advertising that all newspapers attempt to maintain as a matter of professional integrity and credibility, e.g. that their stories aren’t influenced by who’s advertising in their paper. Occam’s Razor suggests that the simple answer — that it was an ad employee’s mistaken rate quote — is a far more elegant and rational construction than the (prima fascie absurd) notion that the RATE OF THE AD MEANS THAT THE NEW YORK TIMES IS BIASED AGAINST THE WAR (As ABC radio’s sound bite suggested – see Update #4, 23Sept07.)

Frankly, the latter construction is absurd, paranoid, and probably an intentional lie — if you assume that an ad salesperson = “NEW YORK TIMES” and that, therefore, a rational conclusion may be drawn.

This is the classical fallacy of mistaking some for all. Here’s a precise description of the fallacy used here (from ERRORS INVOLVING GENERALIZATIONS):

Fallacious Modal Uses of Generalizations

This fallacy involves invalid application of generalizations in the context of minor arguments which also contain modal particles like “all,” “many,” “some,” “few,” “no” or “none”. One example of this would be “All men are mortal. Some men are Greek. Therefore, all mortals are Greek.” This example is not as far-fetched as it appears. If followed up with a single inverted syllogism, the other variant of this fallacious argument from “all” and “some” can be converted into something which looks very much like a modern racist’s argument for the non-humanity of the “inferior” race: “1. All men are mortal. Some men are Greek. Therefore, all Greeks are men. 2. All Greeks are men. Spaniards are not Greek. Therefore, Spaniards are not men.”

So, we have a question of factual interpretation (was the ad rate wrongly applied by a New York Times employee? The Should-Giuliani-Pay arguments advanced by Blofeld already point out the extremely legalistic nature of the “fact” in question) followed by a fallacious construction that the Rightie blogosmear is using to attack the INSTITUTION of the New York Times.

So, no. No retraction is necessary. Therefore, no apology is necessary, and I will emphatically not “apolgize to them.”(sic)

At this point, the anonymous troll Blofeld needs to take his parsing to another venue, wherein it might actually be appreciated. Perhaps his homebase, the usenet newsgroup alt.fan.dan.quayle.

Rationality carries with it the requirement that we accept logic, whether we like the outcome or not. Blofeld/Dr. Evil has insisted on logical refutation, while holding to a fallacious argument. I would expect him to have the intellectual honesty to admit that HE was wrong, and to apologize to the bloggers here whom he has, in his own words:

… slimed the people who were right from the start, and continue to slime them even now that you’ve been shown to be wrong. Common decency would dictate that you apologize.

Out of courtesy, I’m granting Blofeld the benefit of the doubt that he ISN’T the same ‘Ernst Blofeld’ who regularly posts on the virulently racist, white-supremacist website “The Vanguard News Network”:

[NOTE: The UNcensored version of this post, with the missing links can be found HERE]

The accusation could easily be made, of course, which is one of the perils of anonymity, as “Blofeld”/Dr. Evil well knows, from defending precisely that argument during L’Affaire Beachamp through July and August — the original criticism having been that the “Baghdad Diarist” was anonymous, and, therefore, suspect. But THAT is Blofeld’s or Dr. Evil’s or anonymously-hiding-his-real-identity’s problem.

On a more personal note, Blofeld, I’d suggest that you just go ahead and get the DVD drive and swap it out with the CD drive. Trying to find CD’s to install OS X Tiger in your Mac server just seems endlessly complicated and not at all guaranteed of a good outcome. Occam’s Razor and all that.


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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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8 Responses to Dr. Evil Trolls For Retractions

  1. Ernst Blofeld says:


    You keep falling back to the Advertising Age piece. But that was wrong. It was incorrect. It was not right. How do we know? Because the managment of the NYT has said it was wrong.

    As the NYT public editor put it:

    “The Times had maintained for a week that the standby rate was appropriate, but a company spokeswoman told me late Thursday afternoon that an advertising sales representative made a mistake.”

    Advertising Age was making a series of assumptions. But we don’t have to make any assumptions. We can simply listen to the NYT itself, and it tells us the ad rate give to MoveOn was not the ad rate it should have been given. The NYT, as an institution, via the corporate officers of the NYT, have said that MoveOn got an improper ad rate. It’s very simple. Why are you arguing with the management of the NYT, which knows far better than you, or Advertising Age, what rate it should have charged?

    Ted Rall should be denounced at every opportunity. I denounce Ted Rall. I call upon you to denouce Ted Rall, too. I also call upon you to admit that Confederate Yankee was correct about the ad rate given MoveOn.

  2. Sir:

    You are hallucinating.

    You keep falling back to the Advertising Age piece. But that was wrong. It was incorrect. It was not right. How do we know? Because the managment of the NYT has said it was wrong.

    If you will go back and reread the piece, I never made the argument you claim that I made. I merely referenced your comment on a post that was made several days ago — BEFORE the “evidence” you seem to think makes a “slam dunk” of your “argument.”

    Clearly you didn’t actually read my response, and have no idea what I actually argued. You are entitled to your fantasies, and I am entitled to my robust laughter.

    If you can’t be rational, then don’t expect further response.

  3. Ernst Blofeld says:

    Hart Williams Says:
    September 25th, 2007 at 4:05 pm
    Darrell: Excellent stuff. Appreciated.

    In reference to a comment by Darrell Prows that takes the AA position that it was really a standby ad, despite the fact that the management of the NYT says it was not. You’ll note that the date of the comment is well after the announcement by the NYT that MoveOn should not have been given that ad rate.

    So, even while denying that you’re making the argument, you post appreciative words to someone who is. What’s more, you’ve relied on the AA argument in the past, and have not to my knowledge confirmed that the AA piece was wrong.

    If you’d like to admit that the AA piece was wrong, incorrect, and not true, feel free. It would clear the air and we can move on to your other mistakes. Do you agree that AA was incorrect in assuming that MoveOn should have gotten the standby rate? This could be a first step in your apology to Confederate Yankee.

  4. Another classical fallacy (See my prior comment):

    Ahistoric (Pigeon-Hole) Fallacy

    This is the fallacy of assuming that any person or group which holds some particular doctrine or practice must also hold all of the other doctrines and practices associated with it by some other group (usually either the speaker’s own group or a group opposed by the speaker), regardless of how that person or group arrived at it. It is a fallacious generalization drawn from personal association or organizational affiliation. The fallacy ignores the history — personal or organizational — of the idea, and denies the concept that people coming from different directions intellectually can arrive at some of the same conclusions without arriving at all of the same conclusions.

  5. Ernst Blofeld says:

    You haven’t answered my question. Do you agree that the Advertising Age piece was wrong? You approvingly presented it as evidence that CY was wrong. You approved of a post that made the same argument, after the NYT had announced that it had wrongfully given MoveOn a discount on the ad; in fact, you wrote approving words of it this very day, only a few hours ago. So far as I know you still agree with it.

  6. Ernst Blofeld

    What part of this don’t you get? Hart has an opinion, he wrote that opinion here. He doesn’t have to change his opinion because you come along here and demand that he change his opinion.

    I said this yesterday, I could find countless examples of things on CY and other wing blogs that I think they should retract and or apologize for — and you know what — quite frankly I won’t waste my time trying to get a retraction or an apology out them.

    Everyone has an opinion — blogs are the new media with average folks plunking down their opinions all over the place.

  7. Ernst Blofeld says:

    Of course he doesn’t have to change his position. His failing to do so, however, says something about his regard for and ability to evaluate evidence. AA speculated that the ad got a standby rate. As speculation goes, it wasn’t all that bad of a guess. But it was wrong, and we know it’s wrong because the NYT, the only entity with conclusive knowledge of the facts, says so.

    He can cling to his position despite the fact that it’s been proven wrong. But in light of that we’ll have to re-evaluate his trustworthiness on other matters.

    And, btw, it’s not so much an opinion as a description of a factual matter. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts.

  8. Blofeld

    We think you shoudn’t knock yourself out thinking about this too hard. Clearly you haven’t got anything else to worry yourself about, but we’ve heard quite enough from you.