Sunday, October 28, 2007

LA Times Joins The New Republic in Humiliation

Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times penned an article Drudge, New Republic battle over 'Baghdad Diarist', that provides a textbook illustration of the time-honored approach to discussion, the “red herring.”

Mr. Rutten does nothing to advance an argument or to make a point, but merely uses the device of listing question after question. The questions have nothing to do with allegations that the 'Baghdad Diarist' articles are untruthful, but are only raised to divert attention from the articles.

It is as if Mr. Rutten thinks that raising questions about the role or motives of Drudge in reporting the allegations that ‘Baghdad Diarist’ stories are false somehow substantiates the stories.

Mr. Rutten, the only thing that would or could substantiate the 'Baghdad Diarist’ stories are the facts contained in the stories, not the pedigree of an aggregator of news stories who selected them for inclusion in his blog.

But as long as we’re asking questions, why not some of you?

Mr. Rutten, why in your Los Angeles Times article did you write that (Army Pvt. Scott Thomas) Beauchamp described "… attempts to run over stray dogs with Bradley fighting vehicles…”?

I assume you actually read the article and noticed that Private Beauchamp described observing another Army private, the driver of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, killing two dogs with the Bradley, and that Private Beauchamp described both killings in great detail.


He (the driver) slowed the Bradley down to lure the first kill in, and, as the diesel engine grew quieter, the dog walked close enough for him to jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks. The leg caught, and he dragged the dog for a little while, until it disengaged and lay twitching in the road.

You do remember that, right Mr. Rutten?

How about?

A dog that was lying in the street and bathing in the sun didn't have enough time to get up and run away from the speeding Bradley. Its front half was completely severed from its rear, which was twitching wildly, and its head was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all.

Yet you described that Private Beauchamp wrote of attempts to run over stray dogs, not the killing of the stray dogs that Private Beauchamp described.

Why didn’t you write that Beauchamp described the “killing” of stray dogs rather than “attempts” to run over them?

May I speculate why you chose to mischaracterize what Private Beauchamp wrote?

I believe that you realize, as do I, that only a fool or a someone complicit in Beauchamp’s fanciful reporting would publish his account as fact.

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I’m sure you, as did I, looked at a photo of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle while reading Beauchamp’s account of catching the first dog in the Bradley’s tracks. Of course, we both noticed that the Bradley driver sits low in the left front of the Bradley, with a steel hatch cover and a turret completely blocking the view of the right rear area.

We immediately noticed that the only way the driver could "snag its (the dog's leg) under the tracks" would be to have the front of the right track roll precisely over the dog's leg. Why is that? Because a 30-ton Bradley traveling at dog-walk speed cannot make a track bounce into the air to land on a dog's leg.

To further complicate matters, to lurch a slow moving Bradley to its right, you have to almost stop the right track, and let the unbraked left track push you into the right turn.

So now the driver has done something bordering on the impossible. He has caught the leg of a dog he couldn't see in a precise spot of the track where its leg would be wedged and thus caught, and Private Beauchamp adds to the incredulity by observing it all from ...?

From where?

Wasn't Beauchamp inside the Bradley?

What could he see from there?

Further, didn’t we both notice that it is impossible to drag something caught in a Bradley track? Apparently Private Beauchamp is not as observant as you and I, and didn’t perceive that anything caught in a Bradley track could not possibly be dragged, because the portion of the track where the animal was caught would remain on the same spot of ground until it became the rearmost piece of track, and then would suddenly be propelled upwards, then violently forward. Something caught in it might be flung upwards, or if caught firmly be carried upwards and forward, but it could never be dragged.

I’ll bet you also caught that the second dog could not have died in the manner described by Private Beauchamp. Again looking at the photo of the Bradley, we would have noticed its wide track.

“How wide is that track, I wonder?”

A quick Google of “Bradley Fighting Vehicle” got us the answer, didn’t it?

Twenty-one inches wide.

How long is the torso of a dog?

I don’t know about your dog, Mr. Rutten, but my dog Buddy has a very long torso, 28 inches. Even if a dog as large as Buddy were lying squarely across the path of a Bradley, and was struck in its exact center, there would be a 3.5 inch rear portion, a smashed middle, and a front portion with neck and head, with all portions still attached. It is beyond any and all rational belief to think that an animal run over by a 21 inch-wide track on a 30-ton vehicle would have a rear part left that was capable of “twitching wildly,” or a “head (that) was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all.”

You see, Mr. Rutten, you and I can easily visualize the effect a Bradley track would have on a dog, can’t we? In fact, with our superior logic and experience we know that such a track, hitting the average dog, would in fact smash all of it flat, leaving nothing to twitch wildly or smile at the sun.

Mr. Rutten, I appreciate that your regard for your fellow professionals at The New Republic brought forth your effort to obfuscate this matter and spare them public humiliation and embarrassment at the hands of Bloggers, but the matter is shockingly simple.

If The New Republic editors cannot demonstrate why they did not reject Private Beauchamp’s easily disproven tales, then they were either incompetent or complicit in spreading lies about United States soldiers serving in Iraq.

Isn't it one of the lowest things a journalist could do, engaging in specious reporting and casting aspersions upon the actions of men who are serving their country honorably? Stealing their valor by spreading and sensationalizing false stories?

Clearly there is no room for a third interpretation, and nothing that has happened subsequent to The New Republic publishing the stories can change that.

Trying to drag Drudge in, and posing a series of irrelevant questions about Drudge’s participation, leaves a stink rising from your article like that of a dead red herring lying in the sun.

You see, Mr. Rutten, when the essential elements of a story are false, the story is false. Even when it is reported by someone the Los Angeles Times doesn’t like.

So congratulations, Mr. Rutten.

Now you have brought the Los Angeles Times into solidarity with The New Republic in their public humiliation and embarrassment.

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