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"I guess that makes me a part of history, Neocon Blunder #291280. It’s great to be so significant, but actually I’d rather have some of that sweet AUI-S vastly-overpaid money."
December 20, 2010 11:12 PM   Subscribe


 
Which one is astroturfing?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:19 PM on December 20, 2010


The word "shitstorm" comes to mind.
posted by rhizome at 11:21 PM on December 20, 2010


If the act of relentless hyperbolic namecalling is an indicator of which one is more unhinged and unsuitable for a university position (and it pretty much always is), then John Dolan is the loser here.
posted by holterbarbour at 11:47 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sometimes name calling is just description.
posted by wuwei at 12:04 AM on December 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


In addition to getting fired from the arch-conservative American University of Iraq, this guy also somehow managed to get fired from the University of Victoria... something indistinct involving having students criticize George Monbiot, in the way that academics will always squirrel administrative problems to some point of scholarly principle.

In other words, John Dolan sounds very much like that prof we all knew who's tenured and crazy, though alas he seems to have pursued these milestones in the wrong order.
posted by bicyclefish at 2:03 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm actually kind of curious to read some of Mr. Dolan's poetry. Probably won't be able to find it from where I'm at now.

I mean, he sounds like a douche. But he's my kind of douche. And teaching for the de facto American occupation authority in Iraq? That had to be interesting to say the least.
posted by bardic at 2:20 AM on December 21, 2010


Bill Bennett (who began his career in public service by informing on his Harvard roommates for smoking pot)
I've never heard of this and I'm having trouble finding a citation. Anyone have one?
posted by fingo at 2:27 AM on December 21, 2010


Jesus, he was born in 1955.

Not that I'm any model of achievement myself, but the dude should have gotten his shit together well before now.
posted by bardic at 2:27 AM on December 21, 2010


This is like a battle between the crazy pot and the very rich kettle.
posted by unSane at 4:44 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Finally, a John Dolan post.
Obligatory are his older book reviews and past articles. Especially his pre-disgrace gutshot at James Frey's masterpiece.
Those of you in the book buying mood should pick up a copy of Pleasant Hell.
He's also assumed to be the ghost writer behind The War Nerd.

Which one is astroturfing?

Professor Dolan is one of us.
posted by clarknova at 6:10 AM on December 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I met John Dolan at a party in NZ once. He used to teach at a Wellington University. He's very smart. Shy, and self effacing. He also refuses to compromise on the truth as he sees it. Which I guess is why he might get fired from a couple of universities. That's what I get from reading his writing and having met him once anyway.

You can say that he hasn't got his shit together. Which is true in some ways. I mean check out this article about him and his wife gradually slipping into homelessness. But in other ways he's is a person that is just not going to be happy lying for a living. I would have a drink with him any day. Who would say the same about John Agresto?
posted by aychedee at 6:40 AM on December 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


@aychedee: that is a good essay.
posted by mecran01 at 7:49 AM on December 21, 2010


If the act of relentless hyperbolic namecalling is an indicator of which one is more unhinged and unsuitable for a university position (and it pretty much always is)

This premise is terrible and should be rejected out of hand. Collegiality and friendliness are certainly nice, in their way, but making them into standards of "suitability" for academic employment is a godawful idea that is constantly threatening to wreck the university by turning it into a social club. The problem is that collegiality almost always involves conformity; you can't disagree seriously without someone thinking you're disagreeable, so the right to be disagreeable has to be firmly protected. What's needed for academic employment is good research work and the ability to teach — not cuddliness, nor conformity to Emily Post — both of which Dolan apparently possesses. Suggesting that his accurate and hilarious contempt for the neocon-fantasy "university" should be dismissed because it stoops to name-calling seems to me like pretty poor reading, and poor manners, itself.
posted by RogerB at 7:50 AM on December 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Meanwhile, does anyone doubt what Dolan has reported as going on over in that "school"?

Sick, just seriously demented, and further proof that this "war" is a total fucking travesty.
posted by dbiedny at 8:09 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am still wading through the links here and haven't really formed an opinion on Mr. Dolan one way or the other, but his review of James Frey was right on the money and this whole thread is worth it for that alone.
posted by TedW at 8:16 AM on December 21, 2010


I would have a drink with him any day. Who would say the same about John Agresto?

Ah, the "the one I would have drinks with" fallacy as an indication of character. That's exactly why Bush won the 2004 election.
posted by falameufilho at 8:21 AM on December 21, 2010


Collegiality and friendliness are certainly nice, in their way, but making them into standards of "suitability" for academic employment is a godawful idea that is constantly threatening to wreck the university by turning it into a social club.

RogerB, if you want to be taken seriously in an argument, please refrain from calling your opponents:
lapdog
diabetic cash mule
a notably fat man
a wombat infested with botfly larvae


These are not descriptions. Also, from another post:

He also refuses to compromise on the truth as he sees it

Regardless of his low opinion of the war, the Bush administration or the right-wing in general, homeboy took the job didn't he? So much for refusing to compromise. I guess he's got bills to pay too.
posted by falameufilho at 8:31 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Honestly, the hell with decorum and "character"; I'll take Dolan for a colleague any day, especially if the other choice is Agresto's brand of evasive, circumlocutory, and corrupt administrative cronyism. How cowed, timorous, and conciliatory would you have to be to be alienated rather than amused by so copious a gift for vituperation as Dolan's, aimed at a target as deserving as Agresto?
posted by RogerB at 9:04 AM on December 21, 2010


RogerB: "I'll take Dolan for a colleague any day, especially if the other choice is Agresto's brand of evasive, circumlocutory, and corrupt administrative cronyism."

Here's a novel idea - how about recognizing the two characters in this story are not good people and taking neither as colleague? You don't see anyone defending Agresto on this thread. I don't understand why people need to jump to the defense of Dolan. The man is clearly vicious.
posted by falameufilho at 9:46 AM on December 21, 2010


Dolan certainly seems like good people to me. You think he's "vicious" because he called Agresto, a clearly incompetent Bush-administration crony placed in charge of a Potemkin-village criminal cash-cow sham university, a wombat? Agresto deserves far worse. It's fine if you don't like the Rabelaisian style (though I find it hilarious), but his hyperbole hardly makes him a bad person.
posted by RogerB at 9:58 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]




RogerB: “Dolan certainly seems like good people to me. You think he's "vicious" because he called Agresto, a clearly incompetent Bush-administration crony placed in charge of a Potemkin-village criminal cash-cow sham university, a wombat? Agresto deserves far worse. It's fine if you don't like the Rabelaisian style (though I find it hilarious), but his hyperbole hardly makes him a bad person.”

Really? Have you met John Agresto? I have. He was the president of St John's College for a couple of years while I was there. And while I have to say that I disagree almost completely with his politics, and often pointed that out while I was there, I have generally been pleasantly surprised with how little I actually needed to. John Agresto was completely hands-off where politics was concerned, and didn't act at all like he had an ax to grind. And while he may have agreed on most points with the Bush-Cheney machine, he was far from their crony; I have no doubt that they expected him to be a crony, but the fact is that when he was in Iraq running a university that was just supposed to be political capital for the suits back home, and found that those suits didn't really feel like backing up the idea of education in Iraq with things like money or political priority, he called them on it publicly, challenging them to stand by their word on it. And it worked. For better or for worse, John Agresto has worked his butt off to bring education to Iraq, and has done a good job on that front, I think. And I know from talking to people that have been there first-hand that the teachers there are certainly not overpaid. It was a miracle that they even got a few dollars out of the Bush-Cheney crew.

That is, I have to say, one of John Agresto's talents: getting money out of people. He is a Republican after all. But in the grand scheme of things, I've met Republican shysters who wheedle money out of people for their yachts, for their ten-bedroom mansions, for their big stupid cars, for their large family suburban homes, etc. John Agresto is a Republican shyster who wheedles money out of people for education – and that money actually happens to end up going to education. I don't think that's quite as bad a racket as Dolan seems to.

I still think Agresto's ideas about the Iraq war are inane, and I'd tell him that to his face. But I can't really accept the notion that he's a "crony," or that he's just on the take over there. Moreover, the implication that someone's evil because they're overweight is a little offensive to me.
posted by koeselitz at 12:14 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


falameufilho: Here's a novel idea - how about recognizing the two characters in this story are not good people and taking neither as colleague? You don't see anyone defending Agresto on this thread. I don't understand why people need to jump to the defense of Dolan. The man is clearly vicious.

I wasn't jumping to his defense. John Dolan is exceptionally vicious. If you think James Frey didn't deserve the dénouement that was delivered to him that's fine. I guess I just appreciate an ugly critic that can drag the establishment down to the gutter and beat the shit out of them.

If you want to defend Agresto by all means, find some redeeming features. I've not gone and fact checked every claim made against him. And a drink with Bush? How would that ever happen. Like I said, I've actually had a drink with Professor Dolan and would do it again. It's not some kind of metaphor.

koeselitz: re the overweight thing, if it makes any difference John Dolan is (was?) very overweight, bald, with glasses.
posted by aychedee at 12:20 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And it worked. For better or for worse, John Agresto has worked his butt off to bring education to Iraq, and has done a good job on that front, I think.

Citation needed.

Honestly, have you even read the Grueter article linked in the post? It seems like you object to calling Agresto a Bush-administration crony (which he very clearly is, as a long-march Reaganite of the Bill Bennett-Lynne Cheney NEH Kulturkämpfer stripe) because he managed to produce enough of a thin veneer of education that it somehow legitimates the sham AUI-S project in your eyes. This is a very weak argument.
posted by RogerB at 12:43 PM on December 21, 2010


aychedee: "If you want to defend Agresto by all means"

You missed my point. I think these two are douchebags. The tendency to give Dolan the benefit of the doubt because he's "one of us" (that gave me the chills) is what bothers me.
posted by falameufilho at 12:49 PM on December 21, 2010


aychedee: " re the overweight thing, if it makes any difference John Dolan is (was?) very overweight, bald, with glasses."

I guess the self-hating part must be true, then?
posted by falameufilho at 12:51 PM on December 21, 2010


Both douchebags? One of them is a political insider who fired someone he hired after he found out they had written articles critical of republican policies and then decided that he also wanted to kick that person while they were down by publicly smearing them.

I don't find it at all chilling that people would want to support Dolan in this situation. I even approve of him taking the nuclear option in retaliation. Because sometimes people that pull this kind of stuff deserve to have their hand burnt. Dolan's much funnier as well. This was not a case of someone being fired for incompetence. It was a case of someone being fired for disagreeing with institutional politics. I'm sure that chilling point was taken on board by the rest of the staff. Not that John Dolan or Mark Ames (co-founder of The Exile) are unfamiliar with this kind of stuff since it happened to them in Russia a couple of years ago.
posted by aychedee at 1:35 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm coming to the conclusion that there's a lot astroturfing on MetaFilter.

Interestingly, Dolan's colleague Mark Ames has discussed the rise of american "virtual democracy" in his own articles and on MSNBC
posted by clarknova at 3:06 PM on December 21, 2010


aychedee: "One of them is a political insider (...)"

... and the other one wrote this nugget. Yeah, not a douchebag.

I don't find it at all chilling that people would want to support Dolan in this situation.

Me neither, but "one of us"? One of us my ass. Unless clarknova had a hamster in his pocket, in which case I apologize.
posted by falameufilho at 3:06 PM on December 21, 2010


Unless clarknova had a hamster in his pocket, in which case I apologize.

I'm just happy to see you.
posted by clarknova at 4:25 PM on December 21, 2010


Frankly, what this comes down to for me is whether Agresto's claim is true. Did Dolan really publish a satirical cartoon of Ann Coulter being gang-raped by Muslims? If that's true, then geez. What's frustrating is that that's the one claim Dolan completely ignores in his response article – but Agresto claims that's what Dolan was fired over. (And if he did publish that cartoon, he should be fired.)
posted by koeselitz at 6:53 PM on December 21, 2010


I wouldn't be surprised if a majority of people over there who know who Coulter is agree with the alleged cartoon.
posted by rhizome at 8:23 PM on December 21, 2010


Did Dolan really publish a satirical cartoon of Ann Coulter being gang-raped by Muslims?

No. It was a Dantesque political revenge fantasy: all text. It was linked two posts above. There is a picture, but it's a file photo of Jack Kevorikian. The Exile never published original drawings. There is no cartoon of Ann Coulter and there never was. There's nothing you can call that claim other than a bald lie.

Just see for yourself. Read the first few paragraphs that lay out Dolan's rhetorical conceit, and then the first two vignettes. Ann is #2.

Just as Dolan says, this article was published a full four years before his employment with AUI-S. It was right there where an employer would have seen it if he'd bothered with even the most perfunctory due diligence. You can argue Dolan shouldn't have been hired in the first place, but the claim he was fired for it is grossly disingenuous. In the very best case scenario Agresto is merely covering his own incompetence with falsehoods.
posted by clarknova at 12:19 AM on December 22, 2010


I'm coming to the conclusion that there's a lot astroturfing on MetaFilter.

I'm coming to the conclusion that you wear clown shoes.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:11 AM on December 22, 2010


Whatever they're paying you it's not enough.
posted by clarknova at 9:38 AM on December 22, 2010


clarknova: “No. It was a Dantesque political revenge fantasy: all text.”

I know. Agresto says there was a picture there, and that it was removed. I'd like to know if he's lying.

Either way, having read through that again, I have to say that Dolan is a pretty vile and obnoxious writer. This is the kind of shit I hear when I turn on right-wing talk radio. There's a reason I avoid that crap. And a guy who writes this tripe shouldn't be a professor.

clarknova: “I'm coming to the conclusion that there's a lot astroturfing on MetaFilter.”

uncanny hengeman: “I'm coming to the conclusion that you wear clown shoes.”

clarknova: “Whatever they're paying you it's not enough.”

That's the most hilarious thing I've read all week. That's right, clarknova, the CLOWN SHOE LOBBY is astroturfing in this thread! Wake up sheeple!
posted by koeselitz at 11:54 AM on December 22, 2010


Oh, and let me make this clear: text is just as bad. That is a rape fantasy, and that's odious. I don't really care who it's about, and I don't care who wrote it, it's odious. And I would've fired him straight away myself.
posted by koeselitz at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2010


You're not really in a position to be firing anyone though, are you.
posted by clarknova at 5:18 PM on December 22, 2010


And with your back you really shouldn't be firing anything.
posted by rhizome at 6:58 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh it's feeling much better these days. How's the knee?
posted by clarknova at 8:04 PM on December 22, 2010


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