Out of the Rotation
(This article has now been corrected twice to reflect the ever changing reality)
Those who’ve noticed my recent hiatus probably need to get a life. But, if you care, it’s at least partially attributable to recent efforts, on at least three different sites in the last month, to attribute an identity to my posts. These are probably all the effort of one particular blogger (the person most likely responsible for jefffeldmanmustgo and perhaps other sites as well) whose anonymity I will respect by referring to him only as “fat ugly smelly toothless bastard”.
The person this particular blogger has targeted for exposure as “Gatemouth” is an extremely small-time political operative/hanger on, who actually seems to be pretty much out of the game, and who mostly manifests himself these days as a civic gadfly, the sort of guy who stands up at meetings and speaks out in favor of putting the shelter in his own neighborhood. One of “fat ugly smelly toothless bastard”’s posts made a veiled threat concerning this person’s employment. As the person targeted is not very popular, somewhat unpleasant, and perhaps a little nuts, such speculation is bound to wear upon one’s own fragile ego (this is who they think I am?), as is the very real possibility that someone will eventually get it right, and target my own livelihood as well. Since I’m not making any money from this blog (yet), is it really worth the schtuss? I might say yes, but others to whom I owe some level of responsibility would perhaps differ on the matter were they were better aware of the situation (my closet is of “walk-in” size).
By contrast, the parody of my style recently posted on “Room 8” was actually kind of nice; imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. Given the politics of that post, my suspicion would be that it emanated from “fat ugly smelly toothless bastard”, were it not for the fact that the post was a somewhat witty, well argued, if occasionally paranoid, piece of balderdash, rather than one of the vicious “Charles Whitman” (google it) jobs usually associated with this human personification of a bag of excrement wrapped in an excessive amount of sweaty skin.
To better illustrate his modus operandi, let me provide an example of how “fat ugly smelly toothless bastard” works. In posts on several blogs and his own personal mailing list, “fat ugly smelly toothless bastard” has committed the “blood libel” of essentially accusing David Yassky of conspiracy to commit arson and depraved indifference homicide, because Yassky received campaign contributions from some developers (I initially, although not on this site, attributed this to Chris Owens’ campaign, for which he has my most profuse apologies). To be fair, this is partially Yassky's fault, as a large cash payment to "fat ugly smelly toothless bastard" could have probably avoided all this inconvenience. Not surprisingly, “fat ugly smelly toothless bastard” now apparently serves as a consultant to a Yassky opponent who, incidentally, is so pro-development that the candidate is financially supported by the Ratner family. Wow! As “fat ugly smelly toothless bastard” likes to say, “How do you make an elephant disappear in a room full of people? Misdirection!”. I will add that “fat ugly smelly toothless bastard”’s purported and publicly expressed outrage over Yassky running as a white in a minority district is inconsistent with his own long record serving as a consultant to such candidates (although in fairness to “fat ugly smelly toothless bastard”, it should be noted that one of these clients was not a real candidate, but merely involved in a “Ponzi” type scheme to successfully milk the City’s campaign finance system for the pecuniary benefit of his family).Getting back to my point, my own personal and self-interested opinion is that blogger etiquette concerning anonymity serves the larger purpose of facilitating the spread of “the truth”; certainly not the objective truth, but more often than not, an accurate rendering of the world as the poster really sees it. While I respect some of those who use their real names, the fact is that most posters who reveal their identities (Jerry Skurnik a notable exception) are either self serving, cranks, or both. If everyone who posted on a political blog had to reveal their name, sites like this, Politicker and Daily Politics would be extremely boring, much more compact and largely a matter of public realtions.
Transparency in the blog world would be a greater enemy to free speech than either George W or Islamo-fascism. While anonymous posts have their own problems, the use of pseudonyms actually achieves a somewhat happy compromise. The repeated and consistent use of handles by pseudonymous bloggers leaves a paper trail which allows one to examine their records for consistency and factual accuracy. While we are not transparent, the best of us are certainly translucent.
All I will say about Gatemouth, the character I play on the web, is that he regards this site as a year-round Yom Kippur where he can publicly repent every day for his sins, and even more so for all the incredible acts of evil he's committed over the years in the service of good causes. As I once wrote to Enwhysea Wonk, we can all criticize "the closet" for the way it hurts an entire community, but we must also respect the personal decisions of others, unless their behavior is such that it robs them of their right to demand their privacy (and even them, we must err on the side of circumspection).