Mark Ames: Failing Up With Joshua Foust – Meet The “Evil Genius” Massacre-Denier Who Shills For War Profiteers

Yves here. We cross posted a piece by Mark Ames on a massacre of Kazakh oil workers striking against KazMunaiGaz, a company “owned” by the son-in-law of the Kazakh president for life. Its American JV partners are led by Chevron.

The story got a surprising amount of pushback here and on Ames’ site, and some of reaction did not look organic. That led Ames to do further digging, and the resulting piece below gives a window into how big corporations go about neutralizing embarrassing news coverage. The more the public knows about the modus operandi of people like Foust, the faster they will be forced to seek more honorable lines of employment.

In this blogger’s humble opinion, this piece is a gold standard takedown of a truly deserving target.

By Mark Ames, the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine. Cross posted from“>The eXiled

Last week, some troll named Joshua Foust attacked my article about the massacre in Kazakhstan on December 16. I really had no idea who Foust was until I started getting emails from readers telling me “some guy with a goatee is having a meltdown on Twitter.” What upset Foust so much about my article was that I dared to report a death toll number, “up to 70,” that differed from the official figure of 15 that the regime in Kazakhstan wanted the outside world to believe. Why did Foust take on the role of massacre-denier for Kazakhstan’s notoriously brutal, corrupt regime?

Foust, it turns out, has spent much of the past decade getting paid by defense contractors to front for them as one of their paid PR monkeys. One example: Last year, Foust published a hit piece in the Columbia Journalism Review attacking an award-winning Washington Post investigative series about the vast hidden defense contractor industry, without disclosing the fact that Foust was an employee of Northrop Grumman–one of the largest defense contractors in America.

Foust’s job is the opposite of journalism—he gets paid by war-profiteers to lie to the public, to cover for them while they soak the public for government contracts. That’s what Joshua Foust does for a living; and besides carrying the water for defense contractors as a “strategic communications” flak, Foust has spent the past few years talking up Kazakhstan’s despot-for-life, Nursultan Nazarbayev—and talking down the appalling human rights records both in Kazakhstan and in Uzbekistan.

Of all the brutal despots in that region, none has stolen Foust’s heart like Kazakhstan’s dictator-for-life, Nursultan Nazarbayev, or “Nazzy” as Foust affectionately calls the man responsible for murdering scores of striking oil workers. “Nazzy” has poured huge sums of his ill-begotten wealth back into Washington DC and London to pay off politicians, academics, think-tanks, and media hacks to lie about what a wonderful reformer he is and what a great place Kazakhstan is turning out to be—they also get paid to attack and undermine human rights advocates who report unpleasant truths about what goes on there, something Foust does all the time for his favorite despot, although we’ll probably never know if he gets money for that too. (One hilarious example: A PR firm founded by Haley Barbour proposed waging an “online social media campaign” attacking Sting after he canceled a concert in Kazakhstan over labor rights abuses; not surprisingly, Joshua Foust attacked Sting’s boycott and belittled the striking oil workers’ struggle as “more than a bit silly”–just a couple of months before they were massacred.)

So this same Joshua Foust attacked my article last week on the grounds that the death toll I reported, “up to 70” killed, was “completely invented”. Here’s an example:

“Mark Ames relies on a completely invented body count to polemicize the #zhanaozen riots. Classy!”

Yes, that really happened: a PR flak for war-profiteers really did shake with righteous indignation to protect a Kazakh despot’s lowball massacre death toll number from a journalist who dared to contradict it. (You’d have to spend some time in DC to understand how that makes any fucking sense.) Foust then went on his blog and attacked my article with more of the same nonsense.

To get a quick taste of the sort of wanton massacring unleashed by Kazakhstan’s forces that day, watch this short video (this came out after my last piece, and it’s much more graphic):

I know these Joshua Foust trolls all too well—they infest our website’s comments section. Which is why I didn’t want to bother responding to Foust. I’ve got too many interesting things on my plate, and I’m used to thwacking more serious trolls, household name trolls, than Joshua Foust. But unfortunately, some people think Joshua Foust should be taken seriously. That means we have to take Foust seriously too, despite the fact that he’s been wrong about everything since the day he first blogged. I’ll start by refuting his lies, and follow up with the real black comedy in the Josh Foust story, by shining a light on this five-foot-tall warmonger’s career, so that we understand his type better.

The “Portrait of a Troll As A Young Waffendwarf” story about Joshua Foust’s rise from college flunk-out to community college mediocrity to “geopolitics expert” at the Atlantic Monthly is really the story of how “Failing Up” works in this late, rotten period in America. I should warn you, Joshua Foust’s story is one of the rankest, most depressing lives you’ll ever come across, folks: It’ll make you want to give up knowing what the Establishment rewards these days–here’s a hint: it ain’t merit.

Let’s start with the death count I reported in my article, which upset Foust more than anything else. When I wrote my article about the massacre in Zhanaozen, I went on the assumption that the least credible account would naturally come from the murderers themselves—the regime in Kazakhstan. Which happens to be Joshua Foust’s only source. Unlike Foust, I relied primarily on independent sources, including the only independent report I know of to come out of Zhanaozen: An article published in Novaya Gazeta, Mikhail Gorbachev’s famous muckraking newspaper (where Anna Politkovskaya published until she was assassinated in 2006). Novaya Gazeta sent a correspondent into Zhanaozen, Elena Kostyuchenko, who reported counting a total of 64 dead bodies in the main hospital morgue in Zhanaozen, all victims of the massacre, as of 9am on December 17th; the correspondent added to that another 23 dead who, according to surgeons, died on the operating tables, bringing her total to 87 dead; and she reported at least 400 wounded from her reports. Novaya Gazeta also reported bodies seen piled up in the main police station—where scores of locals were savagely tortured, some released to the intensive care ward in the main hospital, others either buried out of site or unaccounted for. More victims of the massacre were reported to have died while being transported by ambulance from Zhanaozen to the regional capital, Aktau (the local hospital was overflowing with dead and wounded, and the ambulances were stuffed with three or four patients at a time).

Because I’m dealing with a paid liar like Foust who people still take seriously, I urge everyone, even Joshua Foust, to read Elena Kostyuchenko’s harrowing dispatch. I know that Foust doesn’t read Russian, despite calling himself an “expert” on the region–so I’m providing my own rough, abridged translation at the end of this article.

Joshua Foust: “OMG stop hyperventilating!

Besides relying on Novaya Gazeta, I also took my numbers from other independent reports I read at the time of my article, like this one published in the AFP:

“Kyrgyzstan-based opposition channel K-Plus claimed … about 70 people were killed and 500 wounded.”

So there you have it: Joshua Foust lied as only a PR flak can lie when he claimed that “Mark Ames completely invents body count.” One thing to remember is that Foust has absolutely zero qualifications to be an expert in anything, let alone FSU geopolitics: Foust doesn’t even know Russian, the universal language in that region; and as a student, Foust failed out of James Madison U. with a 0.57 grade point average, then spent the Bush years in community colleges trolling for the Iraq war, which Foust called “the most successful invasion in history” while attacking critics of that war as “TRAITORS, IDIOTS!” in CAPS. But I’ll get to that a little later on in this article.

Look, there are a lot of reasons why every self-respecting reporter should distrust the official Kazakhstan account of the massacre, most of it obvious. But since some people got taken in by Joshua Foust’s “expert” thinking, thanks to the Atlantic Monthly giving him a perch next to our old friend Megan McArdle, I’ll explain it here as clearly as I can why you should not trust the official version and official body count coming out the Kazakhstan regime’s PR department. When you try to figure out what happened at the scene of a violent crime or mass murder, the perpetrator of that crime (and anyone on the murderer’s payroll) is always the least credible source, because he has a vested interest in downplaying his crime by several degrees–as do his paid shills. So between victim, eyewitness, and murderer, the murderer is the least credible of all. This is especially true in Central Asia.

Let me give an example. Back in 2005, there was a massacre in Adijan, Uzbekistan, leaving up to 1000 dead. In the immediate aftermath, the Uzbek authorities insisted that only a handful of people died, while eyewitnesses and victims of the massacre reported anywhere from several hundred to well over 1,000 killed. After awhile, the Uzbek authorities upped their body count to a few dozen, as though it was a big concession; meanwhile eyewitnesses and victims kept insisting it was much higher, in the 1000 range. Finally, Uzbek authorities settled on a hard, specific figure of 187 dead; meanwhile, Western human rights groups’ best estimate is anywhere from 700 to over 1,000 dead. Like with the Kazakh authorities, Uzbekistan’s dictator insisted that it was all caused by foreigners and outside agitators.

Moreover, Kazakhstan is acting like it’s got something to hide. It’s put Zhanaozen under martial law, and the authorities cut off all Twitter, internet, and cell phone access, isolating and terrorizing the city with murders, torture, and beatings. Two Russian reporters were arrested trying to get in, and Western reporters were only allowed strictly monitored Soviet-style access. It’s no wonder Reporters Without Borders ranked Kazakhstan 162nd for press freedoms—less “free” than even Libya in its last year under Col. Gadhafi.

So just to repeat one last time: My death count for the massacre was based on independent local sources. Joshua Foust’s was based on the official death count given by the regime responsible for the murders. His is a PR flak’s version of events; mine is a reporter’s. You take your pick.

Now onto Joshua Foust’s second false accusation: On his blog, he accused me of “dishonesty” because I reported—accurately, and easily verified– that Chevron is the leading Western partner of Kazakhstan’s state oil company, KazMunaiGaz, which belongs to the Nazarbayev clan. What I wrote is that Chevron and KazMunaiGaz are partners on several major projects. Chevron’s revenues from its Kazakhstan ventures are a key contributor to the oil giant’s global profits. Chevron’s deep ties and partnerships with KazMunaiGaz are so public and well-known, I still can’t understand why Foust bothered with a lie this easy to debunk—but then I remember, he’s a PR flak, what’re the consequences of getting caught lying when you’re a PR flak? An extra Christmas bonus?

Here’s what Foust wrote:

“if Ames were honest he’d note that Chevron has nothing to do with KazMunaiGaz (which is wholly owned by the government of Kazakhstan), so tying the American oil company to workers employed by a Kazakh firm is actually pretty mendacious. And to repeat: dishonest.”

Wow, “mendacious” and “dishonest”—somebody owns a Thesaurus.

Foust asserts, “Chevron has nothing to do with KazMunaiGaz.” By “nothing” I assume Foust means “nothing.” As in, there is no relationship whatsoever between Chevron and KazMunaiGaz. Nothing, nada, zilch, never met the guy.

That’s Foust’s position. Again, I wrote, “Among KazMunaiGaz’s leading American partners is Chevron.” Foust wrote “nothing.”

So, guess who lied and who got it right?

Fact #1: Tengizchevroil, which operates one of the world’s ten largest oil fields in Kazakhstan, is owned 50% by Chevron, 20% by KazMunaiGaz, and smaller shares owned by a handful of other oil firms.

Fact #2: The Caspian Sea Pipeline consortium, the multibillion-dollar oil export pipeline, is led by Chevron, and has among its partners KazMunaiGaz. See here.

Fact #3: A few weeks ago, Chevron signed a new deal bringing in KazMunaiGaz as a partner on yet another major oil field project in Karachaganak.

So I just provided three obvious examples proving that what I wrote– “Among KazMunaiGaz’s leading American partners is Chevron”—and disproving Foust’s lie that he published, claiming, “Chevron has nothing to do with KazMunaiGaz.” The reason it matters is obvious: There have been lawsuits over the past decade holding U.S. oil firms accountable for profiting from crimes against humanity overseas. KazMunaiGaz, Chevron’s partner, wholly owns the subsidiary, UzenMunaiGaz, at the center of the massacre and the oil workers’ strike. I’ll bet that Chevron also has a PR payroll to keep this out of the public.

Well folks, there you have it: I’ve proven that Joshua Foust lied to downplay the massacre death toll, and I proved that Joshua Foust lied to protect Chevron from its deep ties to KazMunaiGaz, whose brutality and intransigence towards labor organizers at its subsidiary led to the massacre on December 16. That wasn’t hard–but it was disgusting, having to respond to a massacre-denier like Foust. Now, let’s get to know him.

* * *

What do you get when you inject Chuck Todd’s DNA into the nucleus of Matthew Vadum’s egg?

Now that that’s out of the way, the question is: What kind of lying filth is Joshua Foust? How does someone become so vile? And why do some people take a pea-brained troll like Joshua Foust seriously?

At The eXiled, we’ve been saying for years now that the loudest yapping neocon warmongers are usually pathologically wounded twerps working off their bad childhood grudges.That, and plain old stupidity, explains a lot of what makes a woofing neocon who he is.

Joshua Foust is a textbook example proving the theory, so much so that he deserves more looking into. I want to answer what made Foust admit, without any irony, this:

“for years I’ve wanted to be an action movie super villian… I mean, an evil genius is still a genius, right?”

Joshua Foust got off to a rough start on the road to becoming this “evil genius.” He entered James Madison U. a second-rate public university in Virginia, as a freshman in 1999, but JMU proved more than his little brain could handle. Foust flunked out of JMU his freshman year with a 0.57 grade point average, and spent the next several years in community colleges, while working for a Navy contractor designing web sites. After several years in community colleges, Foust tried transferring to the University of Michigan to get himself a respectable diploma, but Michigan rudely rejected him. The only university that accepted Joshua Foust as a transfer student was the University of Colorado at Boulder—ranked America’s #1 Party School by Playboy magazine.

That, folks, is what passes for a “thought leader” at the Atlantic Monthly.

This is important to point out because Foust has a reputation for being an arrogant ass towards everyone who does serious work–he never fails to belittle others for their supposed lack of intellectual seriousness. So let it be known to every poor victim of Joshua Foust’s trolling attacks: Joshua Foust failed out of a second-rate college with a 0.57 grade point.

That’s failure on an epic scale. And it was an experience that filled Foust with lasting illiterate hate:

I harbor a serious hatred towards James Madison University. I went there for one abortive year in 1999. I left in disgrace, on academic suspension with a 0.57 GPA. I hate that I went there, I hate that I screwed up that year, and I HATE that I have to keep sending those horrible transcripts every time I apply to a school, fellowship, or internship

Maybe it’s just coincidence, but Foust also hates my alma mater, Berkeley:

I Hate Berkeley. Berkeley is controlled by a minority population of wacky insane hippie freaks. …Berkeley is controlled by a city council, who in the face of post-9/11 patriotism, asked firemen to remove the American flags from their trucks as to not be offensive.

The man’s a poet, folks.

For resentful dumbshits like Foust, the war in Iraq was a hate-manna from heaven. Foust repeatedly cheered the war as “the most successful invasion in history” and attacked critics as “TRAITORS, IDIOTS!” He attacked Joe Wilson as a “liar” and a “phony” and attacked Eric Alterman for not admitting that Saddam Hussein worked with Al Qaeda on the 9/11 attack. Very little has changed from the neocon Bush-era Foust to today’s pseudo-realpolitik Foust defending war, war-profiteers and Central Asian tyrants–except that now he has a copy editor.

But before getting into Foust’s neocon phase, let’s first find out what makes him tick. As Foust himself admitted, what turned him into this warmongering troll was his painful experience growing up a bullied twerp :

I was picked on by all the popular kids, occaisonally beaten physically. It was a very isolating experience, and I spent about three years essentially by myself. This was during the socially-crucial early adolescent years (12, 13, 14), and I can still, today, see how that experience affects my attitudes towards certain things.

Foust wrote this confessional blog post on the fifth anniversary of Columbine, and it’s worth keeping in mind every time you read about Foust today defending tyrants and shilling for war-profiteers:

“I had fantasies about killing each and every one of those boys who had hit me, who had slammed my face into a locker as I walked to class, who had tripped me into the water fountain, who had yanked down my gym shorts and pointed and laughed at my embarassment. I wanted to kill them, and at times I was desperate enough to where I could clearly and calmly imagine myself doing so. That’s why I’m so conflicted about Columbine…I try to stuff that sympathy back into the deepest corners of my psyche, and it’s easy when I see video of what those two wrought. But it comes bubbling back to the surface when their misery is explored. I see them, and I keep thinking I could have been that.”

Oddly enough, this may be the only honest thing Joshua Foust ever wrote, and it almost makes you want to reach out and give him a hug, tell him it’s okay—which may be why he tried to scrub it from the Internet, along with a lot of other posts I found. Painful confessions such as this:

So, I entered high school lonely, depressed, and very aware of how other people saw me. … My life had demonstrated that those in authority had little or no desire to stop violent bullying, and that even parents tended to downplay the severity of what happened.

Looking back on pictures of me from them, I looked miserable. I looked like I hated myself. I was thinking that there was something I was doing, something about me that was causing those kids to harass me constantly. It wasn’t until years later that I finally realized that none of that was my fault. Regardless, I was driven close to suicide more than once.

Now you might be tempted to assume that the pain Foust endured as a bullied twerp would have turned him into a good person sensitive to others’ pain, more empathetic and more enlightened. If so, you’ve been watching the wrong movies.

You should read the reports on bullying, or listen to what real bullied kids are like (I wrote about this in my book Going Postal). Getting bullied like that doesn’t necessarily turn the bullied nerd into a nice empathetic guy. It makes bullied kids hate the world, on a level you non-bullied happy folks will never understand. Sometimes bullied twerps get over it and move on. Other times, they turn into spite-fueled Waffentwerps whose only dream is to bully others–to be a “super villain,” as Foust wrote.

That describes Joshua Foust, neocon loon who spent the first few years of Bush’s Iraq war bullying and attacking and cheering on the mass-slaughter. This sordid episode on Foust’s blog, proudly recounting how he put a young Iraqi woman in her place, is a perfect example:

Tonight, I had class with a girl who has accused me of murder. 

Her name is Arnish, and she is an Iraqi. She was in my International Relations class last semester (the fall), and she and I spent the majority of the semester arguing about the war in Iraq. She was pushy, loud, foul-mouthed, arrogant, and ethnically snobby (“I’m better because I’m not American, white boy!”).

When did she call me a murderer? Right after she called me a “fucking nazi zionist” because I said I supported the Just War Doctrine. I was trying to explain that the Iraq War fit the criteria for a Just War (a war of justice, not “just a war”) when she cut me off, screaming her invective at the top of her lungs. My professor did nothing to calm her down, instead opting to stare, wide-eyed at the pronouncement of such vitriol.

Luckily, there was a random Serb chick in the class, who, though her English was limited, leapt to my defense, and managed to get Arnish to shut up for a time

This is the larval-stage Joshua Foust: wounded, warmongering, morally indignant against real victims of war: How dare she question a five-foot-tall Waffendwarf’s commitment to the “Just War Doctrine” just because hundreds of thousands of her fellow countrymen were killed in that war? Classy!

But here’s where it gets really creepy: Foust later pursues the poor Iraqi girl in a fitness class in Washington DC, and makes sure that she seethes with the same impotent rage that he’s been seething in his whole life:

When she walked into my fitness class this evening, my stomach lurched slightly. Fearing a cold stare, or some snide quip, I found myself trying to place as much physical distance between us as possible. Yet, while we were warming up, I found myself spending much of the time beside her, ignoring my very existence.

She wouldn’t make eye contact with me the entire night. Eventually, as the class wound to a close, she brushed past my shoulder, her eyes glued straight ahead, her nosed turned the slightest bit upwards.

How sad.

Yes, “how sad.” You can tell Foust practiced that line for years: That moment where he gets to adopt the pious, patronizing concern of the bully. Oh, you poor wounded twerp, so wronged, so misunderstood by the world!

So now that readers understand who Joshua Foust is, let’s see how this translates into Foust’s geopolitical expertise.

In 2004, just as the Iraqi insurgency was about to explode, Foust cheered,

“more than a year down the line from the most successful invasion in history, what has happened is simply stunning. Iraq has a constitution, it has a provisional government that has already begun to ignore some US officials (meaning: independent thought is well on its way), it’s gearing up to hold the first real elections ever. Iraq has the freest press of any Arab nation, and as a whole the infrastructure in Iraq is in better shape than it has been since 1991.”

As for the war’s critics, Foust wrote:

the Left is currently aflame with hatred and shrill irrationality. Which is why, despite my intense dislike for Bush, his seriousness (I never thought I’d say this) is winning out.

When things got undeniably bad, Foust pushed the lie that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks, and attacked real journalists who didn’t buy into Foust’s conspiracy theory:

There is a growing body of evidence that Saddam Hussein had extensive ties to Al-Qaeda. In fact, as more and more evidence becomes public that detail the depth of Saddam’s workings with Al-Qaeda, I have to wonder if anything will really change. Will [Eric] Alterman fess up and say that the case against the war isn’t so easily closed? Of course he won’t. Anti-warriors can never be wrong, because war is always wrong. It’s never justified, no matter what.

Attacking intelligent people who were right and calling them wrong was a skill he worked on early on: He attacked Richard Clarke after his damning testimony made Bush’s war look bad:

Why Is Clark Wrong?

It’s simple, and I’m running out of different ways of expressing this: he has absolutely no case for his self-righteousness…he’s out to get Bush, and he needs attention. Simple, superficial, shallow, seen through, and alarmingly easy.

Foust even troll-attacked Joe Wilson:

Joe Wilson is a fake, a phony, a liar, and a cheap political hack. You’ve been found out, despite the media’s desire not to report your political forgery.

Over and over, Foust practiced trolling and belittling war critics:

The Democrat’s whining over Iraq can be picked apart piece by piece, but it gets old. 500 dead is a “quagmire?” Sheesh – if we cannot accept 500 dead soldiers during a war, then we cannot accept fighting war. It’s that simple – by an historical measurement, our low casualties are nothing short of astonishing.

He contrasted these traitors, idiots and shrill hypocrites who opposed the war with hardened Waffentwerps like Joshua Foust, who used this old Roman cliche in a piece defending Donald Rumsfeld:

“is it better for the world to love us or fear us? While I would prefer love, I’ll take fear—no matter what, the Islamists will hate us, and if they fear us as well than we can at least have some measure of security.”

Super-villain, indeed!

When it came to the 2004 elections, the self-described “libertarian” mused,

“I like Bush’s foreign policy, and I like his tax cuts. Those are very good things that have been executed very well.”

Showing he hadn’t changed much from 2000, when he flunked out of JMU:

“One of the main reasons I supported the man [Bush] in 2000 was his policy on tax cuts, and limiting the federal budget.”

As for John Kerry, Foust wrote: “his refusal to treat Islamo-fascist terror as the grave threat to civilization it is prevents me from considering him for President.”

What it all really came down to for this pea-brained neocon was simple:

“I can understand and debate Bush,” Foust wrote. “I cannot do the same with Kerry.”

And he cheered Bush’s 2004 victory by way of referencing Ben Affleck:

Is anyone surprised that news of a newly-elected pro-business President is making the markets bounce like Ben Affleck? Me neither.

Foust described himself as a “libertarian” and for all I know he is. He bragged about “my friend Doug Bandow”—the Cato Institute guy who was forced to resign in disgrace after Bandow was busted taking money from Jack Abramoff to plant PR in respectable media outlets like BusinessWeek. It’s the sort of thing Foust would later do as a matter of routine, such as when Foust attacked the Washington Post series on defense contractors, which Foust published in the Columbia Journalism Review without disclosing that he was an employee of Northrop Grumman, one of the biggest defense contractors in the country.

Now fast-forward to today: Joshua Foust, former neocon, is a full-time paid shill for war-profiteers. Through relentless networking and corruption, Foust has also burrowed into the media as an “expert” on Central Asia, a region that suffers from some of the world’s worst human rights abuses, but also happens to be the lynchpin of the war machine and revenues for defense contractors.

With Pakistan turning into a complete failure, Foust has been pushing a brilliant plan to keep the war going by moving America’s war machine out of Pakistan and into Uzbekistan, whose tyrant is responsible for boiling dissidents alive and dumping their bodies, and for the massacre in Adijan of 1000 of his own people. That’s the sort of thing only a do-gooder hippie would worry about, according to Foust:

It is pure folly to object to that outlook, or to write it off, as the human rights industry seems to want, as selling out to a vicious thug. In the real world, away from New York and Brussels, there sometimes are no perfect choices, only degrees of imperfect ones. A security partnership with Uzbekistan is one of those imperfect choices.

Or “imbecilic choices.”

Again and again, Foust attacks the human rights “industry” and defends poor Uzbekistan, as in this recent blog post:

“I’m sure in an ideal world we can wish away the war in Afghanistan and make sure every country in the region knows we are deeply displeased with their human rights violations, but in the real world people must make difficult choices. They have to prioritize. And the deal in Uzbekistan is meant to satisfy one purpose only: Afghanistan.”

The Waffendwarf really has it in for the human rights “industry.” A few years ago, when Human Rights Watch issued a 55-page report slamming Kazakhstan’s human rights record, Foust was there to defend his beloved Kazakh dictator:

“I could seriously be off here, but am I alone in thinking Human Rights Watch is hyperventilating over this?”

“Hyperventilating” and “shrill” are Foust’s favorite troll put-downs, going back to his pro-Iraq war shilling days:

I’m heartened to see that a hyperventilating press has blown things a bit out of proportion. Iraq is still winnable.”

“Jeff Jarvis notices how the shrill harpies on the Left, like Juan Cole, can’t seem to wrap their heads around the tremendous victory this was for democracy.”

“Lately, though, [Jon Stewart]’s been a bit shrill, a touch desperate to see Kerry elected and Bush defeated.]]

Last week, I too got flamed by Joshua Foust for being, you know, “shrill.”

This is the world through a corrupt flunk-out’s eyes. And it fully informs his every word and every thought about Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, public-relations, and war-profiteering.

On December 15, a day before the massacre in Kazakhstan, Foust was busy belittling and demeaning a Human Rights Watch report on Uzbekistan. Rather than take seriously the human rights violations in the report, Foust slammed HRW’s wanting PR department:

The problem with the report is not the data is contains, but rather how HRW is framing it…

Downplaying, mocking and deflecting is his favorite troll line of attack. It’s how Foust tried to undermine the Washington Post’s award-winning investigation into the hidden defense contractor industry, “Top Secret America,” which Foust ridiculed in a Columbia Journalism Review article Whats Secret inTop Secret’?”

Here’s a neat exercise: with the obvious exception of some interviews with corporate and agency spokesman, and a bizarre interview with a girlfriend in a bar, try to find something in The Washington Post’s “Top Secret America” that isn’t on Google.

You won’t find much.

Indeed, it is truly remarkable how little new information “Top Secret America” presents.

(NB: We will be following up with Columbia Journalism Review editors over whether or not they still stand by Foust’s article, published without disclosing his conflict-of-interest as an employee doing “strategic communications” for Northrop Grumman.)

And of course, you can count on Foust to defend the lobbying and public-relations industry from pesky investigative journalists. Less than a month ago, Foust was all over a bombshell series of articles by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, exposing PR shills for Third World tyrants in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Obviously, Foust didn’t like it.

First, he belittled and downplayed the significance of the reports, which sparked calls for government inquiries and new legislation in Britain (you can always tell a paid troll by their “nothing new here” nonsense):

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has a blockbuster story about how U.K.-based lobbyists use their relationship with the British government to advance the interests of their clients. The horrors!

…These activities are not on their own necessarily nefarious, unless you think the very existence and practice of PR firms is nefarious (which, in fairness, some people do).

The Bureau’s investigation is …ultimately limited by the outrage that, yes, PR and lobbying firms really do influence their respective governments for income.

But the fallout in Britain continued to grow, so Foust went for a more direct attack in the Atlantic Monthly. He headlined his PR piece, “Is The Lobbying-For-Dictators Scandal Overstated?” You’ll never guess Joshua Foust’s answer:

This does not look like the craven attempt to “whitewash” Uzbekistan’s reputation that BIJ and theIndependent allege.

The BIJ posted a followup story condemning the PR firm for altering Wikipedia pages to benefit its clients (the firm did not do so for Uzbekistan). In a coordinated story, The Independent quotes Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales condemning Bell Pottinger’s edits as “unethical.”

But is editing Wikipedia to benefit oneself really unethical or even new?

People deserve to know the agendas behind the information they’re fed — whether from a bad client like Uzbekistan or a good client like a human rights foundation. But their story here seems to overstate the scandal in ways might turn people off and risk making the whole concept appear exaggerated and overhyped.

Foust even claims that the Founding Fathers were a bunch of public-relations flaks who wanted to found a libertarian lobbying-friendly republic:

In the U.S., that is kind of by design, at least in theory: The Federalist #10 explicitly endorses the idea of private groups banding together to petition their government. In the original concept, so many citizens would be so busy petitioning their government that the total result overall would be equilibrium — that is, the marketplace of lobbyists would lead to an optimal result.

Ten bucks says that Doug Bandow trained him to say that.

So let’s go back one more time to the early Joshua Foust. This is the very first blog post Joshua Foust put up when he launched his waterboy career in late 2003, the day Saddam Hussein was captured. Reading this in context gives us a sense of the continuity linking the early, larval Waffentwerp neocon to today’s Joshua Foust. Note again, Foust tried to delete evidence of his previous neocon incarnation from the Internet–but being an incompetent failure, he naturally failed to wipe it.

Headlined “It’s Over,” Foust debuted his voice to the world thus:

Those who considered this war a failure, or those who refused to see this war as anything but a failure, will spin the war as a failure until we leave the Middle East to its own, destructive devices. I think what’s been shown today is the power of patience, the power of muddling, and the power of our ability to work in terrible circumstances. This is just a huge PR coup for our side, not to mention the best news ordinary Iraqis could have ever possibly hoped to have heard. It’s over now. There is clean up, sure – there are still bad guys to be had. But it’s over. They can start to move on (how foolish they look today), and rebuild their lives. One of the biggest complaints about the occupation was that it did nothing to rid the world of Saddam – we had simply forced him into hiding. Well, that complaint is as old as Saddam looks to be, and the reasons for being so against this occupation will fade away as the resistance does.

Who takes a guy like this seriously? The folks at the American Security Project, a Washington DC defense contractor lobby outfit whose board of directors includes the former CEO of Lockheed and a US Chamber of Commerce Executive. Earlier this year, they described Foust as a “powerhouse of thoughtful analysis” when they hired him away from Northrop Grumman.

And Foust hasn’t let them down. As a “Senior Fellow at the American Security Project” Foust could be seen testifying to a Senate Subcommittee hearing urging them not to increase oversight over private intelligence contractors like Foust’s paymasters:

This public consensus that contracting must be curtailed is based on the assumption that contracting has grown beyond anyone’s ability to control it, that it results in widespread fraud, waste, and abuse, and that the fundamental nature of contracting presents analysts, agents, and officers of the intelligence community with irreconcilable conflicts of interest. These are the wrong issues to worry about.

The biggest problem facing the IC contracting industry is not that some contractors abuse the system, but that the government has designed a system that encourages abuse. …I argue in this testimony that the first step in fixing the issues we associate with IC contractors really begins with fixing the government.

Now Joshua Foust makes sense—he is the living embodiment of “Failing Up,” a cultural disease that is rotting this country at its core. Foust is a failure and a moron, with a valuable mixture of misanthropy and shameless ambition, traits that helped Foust fail his way up to the top of the DC Establishment. Because today, especially in a corrupt cesspool like Washington DC, failure and shamelessness are currency, whereas brains and integrity are handicaps. Joshua Foust has finally become the “super-villain” he dreamed of becoming—not much of an “evil genius” but definitely a villain. He’s a real-life Tracy Flick, only shorter, uglier, meaner and dumber: In other words, the real thing.

Here is Foust, the libertarian, explaining why Washington DC is the ideal place for an aspiring “super-villain” and “evil genius” twerp. It’s a good insight as to why so many fucking libertarians work in the government: Because that way, they can control you and fuck you up while stuffing their own pockets:

It’s way too easy to hate D.C. I’m sick of people, especially from New York and LA, looking down on all us here – we few who really do control your fate. No matter how culturally superior you may feel, it still takes a single rider to an authorization bill, a single poorly placed comma, a single intern working overtime, to seriously dick us all over. D.C. is for serious people who are obsessed with serious things, like power and security and control (and others).

Okay, that’s enough of Foust for now. The reason I went into more detail about this guy isn’t because he’s the worst troll we’ve dealt with, nowhere close. But he does almost perfectly represent the rot and corruption and everything wrong and anti-meritocratic in 21st Century America. It’s depressing when you think about how many Fousts are in Washington and New York, gumming up anything good or honest, providing cover for the very worst that this world has to offer.

Now, as an antidote to Foust’s trolling about the Kazakhstan massacre, I strongly urge you to read this incredible account of what really happened in Zhanaozen, published in Novaya Gazeta. Recall again what Foust wrote, and then scrubbed, on his feelings about Columbine:

as more and more details came out about the motivations behind Harris and Klebold’s rampage, I found myself sympathizing with them. That’s right—I found sympathy with mass murderers.


* * *


Special “Novaya Gazeta” correspondent Elena Kostyuchenko reports from the rebellious steppes of Kazakhstan. (The names of sources have been changed to protect them)

December 20, 2011

Zhanaozen, or just “Uzen’” as it’s known—is a city of about 100,000 people located in the western part of Kazakhstan, in the Mangistauskaya Oblast’ (region). This Oblast’ is considered Kazakhstan’s most expensive, and it’s most toxic, polluted region as well. And within this Oblast’, the town of Zhanaozen is the most expensive of all, and it’s most life-threatening.

Locals here have a saying: “When a sinner from Zhanaozen dies, instead of going to hell he’s sent straight back to Zhanaozen.” It only rains here once a year—and snows maybe once every few years. No weeds or plants grow in this parched earth; in the city, almost no trees to speak of, and the few that do grow there have to be watered daily. The terrible wind that blows through the steppe throws dust into your eyes. In the summer, it’s unbearably hot; in winter, even when it’s only -3 Celsius (29 F), it’s inhumanely cold, the wind literally blows right through your body. You’ll only find roads paved with asphalt in the very center of town—the rest of the roads are unpaved. The buildings and apartment blocks are built low, made of yellow limestone.

15-year-old Aislu, a student in the oil and gas technical college, explains, “We arrived [at the square], and the protesters were there. I knew that my mom was standing there, so I wanted to go up and meet her. But the police wouldn’t let me, they surrounded us. I called my dad: ‘They’ve surrounded me, I can’t leave the square.” I was crying. He left work and came and got me out. They started to let us go home. He led me out of the crowd, told me, ‘You go home, I’ll be there shortly.’ I moved away, and then a bullet struck him in the leg.”

The taxi driver who brought me around Zhanaozen explained to me heatedly how people walked straight into the gunfire without fear. It was only later I understood that it wasn’t so much courage—it was just that no one out on the square could believe that the police would actually open fire on them. “We thought at first maybe these were rubber bullets. It was only when a kid next to me got shot in the head, and the bullet blew a giant hole there, that I understood they were out to slaughter us,” said a striking worker, Sholpan. “I saw right in front of me how they cut down a woman who was kneeling over her fallen daughter.”

The police firing into the crowd on the square lasted about 10 minutes. There were police shooting into the crowd from the Uzenmunaigaz office as well; after they finished shooting, the police moved into the local city administration building, then they moved back to police headquarters.

That’s when the “pogrom” flared up. The youngsters carefully set the city administration building on fire, torched the hotel, the headquarters of Uzenmunaigaz [a subsidiary of the ruling family-controlled KazMunaiGaz, a partner with Chevron on several major projects, and the company that crushed the labor union drive], and started torching the shops. They started with two furniture stores that were owned by wives of city officials, then started burning down others. It was strange how the pogrom had a sort of logic. They torched only those buildings or businesses that were connected to the government or to Uzenmunaigaz.

The burnt-out headquarters of UzenMunaiGaz, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chevron’s main partner, KazMunaiGaz

At about 4pm, the OMON (Interior Ministry paramilitary forces) arrived and spread out from the main square throughout the city, shooting everywhere.

“I was ready to become one of the looters,” says Akku. “My family is completely poverty-stricken—my husband and i have been without work for a long time now, sometimes we turn out apartment into a sort of beauty salon. I try sewing things whenever I can. The only time we eat meat is when we’re invited to someone’s home. When they smashed into the Sulpak store, I thought to myself, ‘I know exactly where to find an iron, where the sewing machines are. I could earn myself some money if I only had my own sewing machine! So I went in and took one. And that’s when the OMON (paramilitary) stormed in. Everyone scrambled, barely getting out alive. But I saw who was able to steal something—the poor, they’re the ones, the poor.”

Two banks and several ATM machines were looted. Some of the taxi drivers claimed that they saw kids pulling money out of the ATMs, then throwing the money into the air.

The prosecutor’s office confirmed “11 dead from the mass disturbances” and “more than 70 wounded.” [The “official” death toll since raised to 15.]

Right now the hospital and the morgue are under tighter guard than even the main police station headquarters.

About 20 OMON paramilitary soldiers in full gear, with shields, are standing in attack position next to the entrance. About three dozen women and several men are gathered around. They security forces have set up a security perimeter around the entire hospital complex. No one’s allowed into the morgue, no one’s allowed into the hospital wings. No one’s allowed to see the wounded either.

The crowd’s divided into two groups: Those who came for the living, and those who came to claim the dead. They’re not letting anyone in to see the survivors; they’re not letting the dead bodies out. Then there’s a third group, the worst off of all—those who don’t know what happened to their son, their brother, their father. They’re rushing back and forth between the hospital and the police headquarters, screaming through the morgue’s gate at the attendant, then fleeing from the OMON who chases them away.

The senior OMON officer has the list in his pocket of the names of those who survived and those who died, but he refuses to release it. One of the family members tried peeking over the senior officer’s shoulder, to get a glimpse of the list, if only to get an idea of how many names were on it—only to discover that there were several sheets of paper with names on them.

“My oldest son went out looking for his youngest brother, and they shot him in the chest,” a short woman starts whispering. “Who did this to my child? Who does this to children? Never shoot people, never shoot them, never!”

“Shut your trap, idiot!” the closest OMON says. “You have two kids, and still you talk like that!”

This frightened the woman—she hurried out of there. The others went silent.

“Shame on you!” says an old woman to one of the OMON troops. “Who are your parents? Are you even Muslim?”

The OMON turn their heads from her—there’s still a taboo about cussing out an old grandmother. The crowd starts getting restive as she shouts more insults at the troops. The senior OMONets says something into his walkie-talkie, and suddenly another detachment runs out of the hospital, brandishing their shields.

Korquelle is one of the few who managed to somehow get inside the hospital that day. Korquelle lives in one of the villages just on the outskirts of the Uzen’ oil fields, but she happened to be visiting her sister on the day of the massacre. Her sister’s husband is an oil worker, so Korquelle’s sister went out to the square to join the striking oil workers demonstrating there. Korquelle arrived on the square with her sister’s daughter, a third grader, along with a whole row of kids.

“I heard the first gunshots,” Korquelle says. “I said, ‘We’re not going there.’ But my niece said, ‘Mommy’s in there!’ So we kept moving forward. When they started firing, the wounded and the dead pushed us back. I saw five people lying right at my feet. Four of them were dead, another one was still alive. As a car drove by, some people forced it to stop, and loaded the dead and the wounded into the car. I got into the car with them and we drove straight to the hospital.

“In the morgue there wasn’t any cold water to wash the blood off of the corpses. I started counted bodies. There was one girl there born in 1995, she was part of the column of school kids I first saw out on the square. And a 10-year-old boy. But I couldn’t get a better look–they wouldn’t show us the bodies, they wouldn’t let us get close. Their bodies were lying in the far corner.

“I know that they brought in three children who were burned to death in the ‘Sulpak’ store, they couldn’t identify the childrens’ remains yet because they were burned beyond recognition.

“They were stacking up one body after another. That day they brought 21 corpses to the morgue. But at 9pm, Tamila, who works in the morgue, locked the door to the main morgue room. She went home, even as they continued bringing bodies to the morgue. So some people opened up a room next door to the main morgue, and started laying out more corpses on the floor—the corpses were laid out one by one, stacked right next to each other. I stayed there until 9am the next morning, on 17th of December, and during that time I saw them bring another 43 bodies.

“I asked around for ice, but I was assured that dead bodies don’t start rotting for three days.

“As for the wounded—by lunchtime there were 340 wounded in the hospital. All with gunshot wounds, although the bullets themselves were different—mostly submachine gun bullets, but also some bullets fired from pistols, and some from heavy machine guns. There weren’t nearly enough doctors to deal with it—we helped all we could by giving as much blood as we could. Those who knew how to use a needle were enlisted as volunteers to draw blood from donors. I didn’t know how to use a needle.

“I saw how they took a photo of one boy—he’d been shot twice, shot from an armored personnel carrier’s machine gun. The doctors told him—‘Go get treated at the local clinic.’ I remember also a 16 year old girl with a head wound, but still alive. By morning, the total number of wounded reached about 400, but 17 of the wounded had already been transferred to Aktau (the regional capital, about 200 kilometers away). They’d pack three to four wounded patients into a single ambulance and rush to Aktau as fast as they could.

“Early in the morning on the 17th, the police started releasing some young boys from the police headquarters jail—the boys had been brutally beaten, two were transferred straight to the intensive care. The medics who brought them to the hospital said that when they were in the police station, they saw corpses there as well, but the police refused to let them take the corpses away. Even later, the authorities still refused to let anyone come and take the dead out of the police station. What happened to them? Have they been buried?

“My sister was in the first row out on the square when the gunfire started. She said that she was able to duck from the bullets. They weren’t aiming at anyone in particular when they fired their AKs into the crowd; instead they just sprayed the crowd with bullets indiscriminately, so was able to duck them. Her daughter, whom I brought to the square just as the shooting started, is so traumatized that she still can’t sleep. And I can’t leave their apartment.”

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    1. tom allen

      Yeah. And he deserves almost all of it. But speaking as another “bullied twerp” — though one who got some support and became, I guess, a halfway “nice empathetic guy”, a smart, liberal anti-Foust — it was ugly to read. I wanted to step in, but really, the Atlantic Monthly and the Columbia Journalism Review should have done that years ago. They deserve this SOOO much. This is the proverbial Band-Aid being ripped off the pus-filled sore.

      (BTW, his height has what to do with anything, exactly? Ass.)

  1. roaring mouse

    Yves, I agree that Foust is pursuing his personal interests in an ethically questionable manner. You demonstrate a prima facie case for Foust being paid by interests who may be engaged in illegal activities, including mass murder. Your article shows a needless cruelty toward another human being and an intellectual arrogance surrounding one’s selection of undergraduate school. Stick with the great insights backed by facts. Avoid the personal attacks and intellectual arrogance. Your anger motivates you to investigate, but here it takes you past the constructive and into a darker place.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is a pretty bizarre defense, and looking at your past posts, you appear to have a chip on your shoulder re educational credentials.

      First, Foust’s choice of employment meant he checked his membership in the human race at the door. He does not deserve, and therefore does not get treated with normal “human” consideration. I don’t cut people who are deeply corrupt any slack.

      The purpose in going on about his background is not merely to humiliate him (although people like him should be pummeled for playing the role they do) but also to embarrass the people who give him room in their venues, particularly the Atlantic Monthly and the Columbia Journalism Review. Someone like him normally would never get a hearing except he provides a line of argument that powerful interests find useful. The fact that they will stoop to hire him to carry their water is revealing.

      Second, as Ames demonstrated and you apparently missed, Foust himself is defensive about his academic record. You seem to have somehow overlooked the fact that he didn’t merely go to a third tier school (ie he might be smart but from the wrong side of the tracks) but flunked out with a 0.57 GPA and offers NO explanation (“my parents were getting an ugly divorce, I had a nervous breakdown,” etc.) This is apparently a driver of his diseased character, his need to impress (or attack) people who have better credentials than he does.

      And you also seem to have missed that this was Mark Ames post, not mine, despite both a headline and a very clear boldfaced marker at the top of the piece. You don’t appear to have read it with any care.

      1. Adlai

        I dunno Yves, this is a pretty nasty hitjob… nobody comes out of this kind of smut looking good, not Ames, not Foust, and honestly not you either…

        1. Francois T

          I disagree and rather strongly: anyone who can stoop so low as to try to obfuscate a slaughter deserves no mercy whatsoever.

          Some paid for such behavior with hard time in the slammer. Foust is extraordinarily lucky to only have his ego body slammed like that.

          Plus, Ames has never been known to go velvet and Charmin 3-ply on asshats.

      2. Anonymous Jones

        Look, all humans have their own distinct opinions of quality and value (and wow, I would never want to defend something as stomach-turning as Foust), but this just wasn’t what I would consider well-written, well-argued or compelling.

        I don’t know about other posters, but I’m about the last person on earth who could ever, under any circumstances, have any chip on my shoulder about grades (that would be funny!!!). That said, who cares if someone had a rough time at JMU when they were 18? It’s irrelevant to me, I guess. I care more about his current lies and deceit. Hammering on 18yo Foust (or even Foust’s current embarrassment about his 18yo self) just makes Ames look like he has no real argument (which is crazy, because Foust is obviously a liar and more than a little disturbed).

        And sorry again, but your defense of Ames in the comment section is not compelling either.

        No, Ames’s post certainly wasn’t awful, and neither was your comment. But it was beneath what I have come to appreciate as your high standard. I’m more than a little confused by the ‘gold standard’ comment. I mean, the ‘thesaurus’ comment alone was beneath the intelligence of this site. If I had the time, I’d go back and find at least two dozen of your takedowns that were more compelling (at least to me) than this.

        We all have our opinions; you certainly have yours. The more attenuated it becomes from what many consider rational and reality-based, the more you will alienate potential readers. Great and vicious takedowns are appreciated. This was a lot of the latter and very little of the former.

        And please, a comment like yours just looks *so* defensive. What is the point? Do you not see that even if I’m wrong and you’re right, that the very defensiveness of your comment could potentially be your undoing in the reputation department? I just don’t get it. It’s a losing proposition, no matter how you cut it.

        1. Bryonie Pritchard

          Anonymous Jones: “and wow, I would never want to defend something as stomach-turning as Foust)….”

          Oh no, of course not. You would *never* defend something like that.

          Anonymous Jones: …”I’m about the last person on earth who could ever, under any circumstances, have any chip on my shoulder about grades (that would be funny!!!)..”

          That would be hilarious, wouldn’t it?

          But why so modest? Why not just go ahead and admit you possess one of the greatest intellects of all time.

          As for my previous question concerning Occupy Wall Street, I’m still looking for so much as a single link or one comment where you expressed support for OWS, but for some reason I’m not having much luck.

          Curious minds would like to know. Maybe you could point us to the link or comment you made expressing support for OWS?

      3. Fraud Guy

        This post does veer back and forth between takedown (who did Foust work for; why is he considered an expert; what sources does he use) and put down (he’s short, and went to a third tier school, and was bullied as a child, etc.). Generally, the good posts here focus on the former rather than the latter, so I have to side with the “it’s not up to snuff” camp, because it’s not. I understand that the author was ticked at mr. Foust, but he could have just destroyed his opponent’s credibility rather than sabotage his effectiveness with the ad hominem.

        1. salvo

          you may be right. But, on a different perspective, what is called as an ad hominem attack might be seen as a fragment of the descrition of the type of personality oppressive systems rely upon to reproduce themselves. Think of the kind of Foust like a ‘journalistic’ higher-level version of the policemen beating up peaceful demonstrators. They are just two different faces of the same systemic contempt of life. Would you also call tryng to provide a descrptory base for an understanding of their personality an ad hominem attack?
          The question has been asked as how was it possible that a person like Foust would be provided with such careeristic opportunities. Probably because his personality fits very well the requirement oppressive systems set to fill vacant positions.

          1. Fraud Guy

            If the attempt was to psychoanalyze Mr. Foust, that could be a defense, but such attempts usually fail horribly due to incomplete data. That, plus the constant references to Foust’s height really take the steam out of what should be the main points: that Foust is not competent in the subject and us a paid spokesman for the interests that he is (supposedly neutrally) defending. You know, just like Newt.

          2. wunsacon

            >> what is called as an ad hominem attack might be seen as a fragment of the descrition of the type of personality oppressive systems rely upon to reproduce themselves. Think of the kind of Foust like a ‘journalistic’ higher-level version of the policemen beating up peaceful demonstrators.

            That’s partly how I interpreted it, too. Also, the poor academic record seems consistent with — and seems to explain — the “journalism” results.

        2. Francois T

          If Ames had written a clinical analytic refutation of Foust’s lies, no one would’ve care one bit.

          Plus, it (alas!) takes a hard hitting hit piece on a über shill to force people to pay attention to the lies.

    2. sgt_doom

      Outstanding blog posting, and excellent follow up comments.

      Whether it is something overtly murderous as this (and diabolical), or those medical studies “performed” by public relations firms, not actual research institutions (three-quarters of such studies, last time I checked), or the latest batch of PR firms who have foisted that astro-turf claptrap,

      (job destroyers and offshorers, that is)

      the psywarfare has reached its pinnacle today: phony “think tanks” to manufacture reality and consent, phony newsies proclaiming the latest “news release” from a think tank to actually be the “news” — and the ever dishonest Fox-NPR-CNN-ABC-CBS propaganda network, the public must consistently wade through reams of useless drivel and propaganda to find the truth.

      Well done!

  2. Matt

    @roaring mouse

    Gonna have to disagree with you. I wouldn’t describe making fun of where someone else went to college as cruelty. Don’t know about you, but I feel that someone who shills for corporations that have a hand in murdering their own citizens deserves contempt. I don’t know how you can read the Ames article and the original article from “Novaya Gazeta” and not feel that Foust has deserves some kind of smack down. He represents what is wrong with America: succeeding despite any intellect, work ethic, or moral courage.

    1. sgt_doom

      The Atlantic Monthly has been publishing balderdash and drivel for many, many years now.

      Last time I recall reading a valid article in that rag was back in the early ’70s, when they published a study indicating that the greatest predictor of career success in America was which family one had the good fortune of being born into.

      ‘Nuff said……

    2. Peter T

      That was my first thought, too. Without the credentials, Foust could be a dog, for all I know.

      I find occasionally good articles in the Atlantic; they can’t be proud of Foust.

  3. aletheia33

    taking up this suggestion, i just wrote to the atlantic via their website “contact us” window, as follows.


    i’ve just read mark ames’s report of joshua youst’s unconscionable shilling for really bad operators who happen to be partners with chevron, in kazakhstan:

    available here, cross-posted at naked capitalism, the blog of the highly respected and reliable journalist yves smith:

    why did the atlantic hire youst? why is the atlantic legitimizing this corrupt hack’s idiocy? how did this happen?

    the atlantic monthly has a long, proud history–which, on the basis of its employment and legitimization of youst, appears to be over.

    this guy needs to be terminated, with a disavowal of his worthless “credentials,” if the magazine is to retain any credibility going forward. there will come a time when this will matter. do the atlantic’s editors really want to join the long roster of powerful, thinking people who have chosen, in our era, to stand on the wrong side of history?

    my questions here are serious. i have always (until now) had great respect for the atlantic’s standards of journalism. i’m truly shocked by what i have learned about joshua youst’s apparent utter lack of journalistic principles and his association with the atlantic. i look forward to your reply.

    1. aletheia33

      oh dear, i see i misspelled his name as youst all the way through the letter. will send them another note. meanwhile, i think they’ll have to trouble figuring out who i meant…

    2. Peter T

      Thanks aletheia for your letter. I took it, rewrote it for me, and send it to The Atlantic, too. I’m still surprised that Foust got his credentials from them.

  4. aletheia33

    where is chevron’s headquarters? they need to be occupied.
    who is the ceo, and how can he be publicly shamed?

  5. salvo

    actually, I find Ames revelation very important as they illustrate how deeply corrupt the official system of reality construction is and particularly what kind of personalities it requires and reproduces to in turn reproduce itself.

    1. salvo

      I just wanted to add that as important they surely are, these revelations should not be made the base of a kind of crusade against one given person which is evidently – the very opposite of Ames, I suppose – totally replaceable as being just a product of the system he functions perfectly within. What foust did is morally deplorable because the system he has adopted to is morally totally deplorable.

      1. William

        Oh, it’s the old “blame it on the system” defense. Pretty weak. Sounds like you didn’t read Ames’ article, otherwise you’d have something more cogent to say about it.

        1. salvo

          actually, you evidently did not read or understand what I wrote. I did not at all defend Foust and I totally support Ames. What I tried to point to is the fact that deformed personalities like Foust are produced en masse by a system which just needs them to reproduce itself. Why do you think nazi germany or fascist italy spain chile and so on did actually last for so long desipte their evident oppressive structures?

          1. ReaderOfTeaLeaves

            Like salvo, I found Ames’ psychological insights to be extremely valuable.
            Foust is steeped in murderous resentment.
            This is social sepsis.

  6. dailyoligarch

    It is a shame that Ames had to let his contempt cross the line to ad hominem (e.g. why reference Foust’s height?) That will only make it easier for Foust and friends to dismiss this as a personal hit job.

    On to the substance, on his twitter, Foust claims that his clear neoconservative love affair was “taken out of context” (lol!) and seems to believe that one isn’t responsible for warmongering if they are below the age of 25.

    On this website, he brushes off being caught in what is either a bold-faced lie about Chevron, or astonishing ignorance from a Kazakhstan “expert”:

    “Not quite. Ames was trying to blame Chevron for the shootings (just as he tried to accuse me of either covering it up or covering up the Andijon massacre). But Chevron had nothing to do with events in Zhanaozen. These local ventures are subsidiaries with local leadership who don’t report back to Chevron, even if Chevron gets a majority share of the profit. There’s a reason the executives of KazMunaiGaz were fired after the shootings in Zhanaozen and the Chevron executives in Aktau were left untouched: because they had nothing to do with the atrocity.

    Ames is being really slippery with the facts there because he thinks oil companies are to blame.

    Now: do you think he’s telling the truth in the rest of his post, when he links to stories I’ve written that say the opposite of what he says they do, or when he psychoanalyzes my teenage years to spuriously accuse me of shilling for the defense industry? Because you might want to consider that as well before you take his analysis of petro-ownership in Kazakhstan at his word.”

    That appears to be the closest he gets to addressing Ames’ arguments.

    1. Karl Rove's Brain

      Where did Ames ever blame Chevron for the massacres? Please cite the exact quote, Joshua Foust trolls.
      Go back and read what Foust wrote again. He wrote that Chevron has “nothing to do with KazMunaiGaz.” Ames wrote that Chevron is a partner of KazMunaiGaz. The subsidiary of KazMunaiGaz was responsible for sparking the strikes, demonstrations, and massacre.
      Ames demonstrated that Chevron is a partner and that Foust lied when he wrote, ““if Ames were honest he’d note that Chevron has nothing to do with KazMunaiGaz”.
      If you’re a troll then you’ll ignore this. If you’re reading it honestly then you will acknowledge that Foust lied here, as he lied elsewhere.
      Moreover, Foust belittles and attacks the “human rights industry” for criticizing America’s cozying up to Uzbekistan’s dictator. That shows that Foust has not changed from his neocon days when he belittled critics of the Iraq war.
      Look, Foust got nailed as a liar, and a liar of the very lowest and worst sort. He is a PR flak for war-profiteers and mass-murderers. You people should pat yourselves on the backs for worrying about having his feelers hurt.

  7. Curly O'Neill

    He sounds like a guy I knew back in my university days in the 1980s, a College Republican. He was the most dishonest and hateful little creep you ever met; really scary.

    And then… he came to grips with his sexuality, i.e., he came out of the closet and he became a perfectly nice human being. I’m not saying that’s this guy’s problem, but he might want to give himself a while to think about it…

    1. Winona

      Foust is openly gay and was bullied for it. When he was younger, he wrote about it on the internet — those are the posts that Ames mocked. It makes you wonder what will happen to the other gay teenagers who express themselves online when there are people like Ames who see being bullied for one’s homosexuality as something to ridicule and mock. I guess it doesn’t get better after all.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Straw man. Tell me exactly where in this takedown that Ames said anything about Foust being gay. It was the Foust confessions re his reactions to being bullied, which happens to lots of kids for any number of reasons. Foust said as a result of being bullied that he fantasizes about being super evil. That looks to be relevant to his career choice. Or did you somehow miss that this was what Ames was discussing?

      2. Marcus McSpartacus

        No. This is just wrong – Ames did not “Mock” his earlier posts, and he was actually somewhat sympathetic to the travails of his younger bullied self saying “it almost makes you want to give him a a hug.”

  8. Parvaneh Ferhadi

    «Let’s start with the death count I reported in my article, which upset Foust more than anything else. When I wrote my article about the massacre in Zhanaozen, I went on the assumption that the least credible account would naturally come from the murderers themselves—the regime in Kazakhstan. Which happens to be Joshua Foust’s only source. Unlike Foust, I relied primarily on independent sources, including the only independent report I know of to come out of Zhanaozen:»

    That’s he-said-she-said reporting with taking sides, I am afraid. The underlying assumption being that “opposition” media don’t have an agenda that could influence their reporting, leading them to inflate casualty figures.
    It is amazing that she could move around freedly, when in the Russian press there were several accounts of Russian journalists being detained by Kazakh autorities.
    She may have seen what she claims to habe seen – but it’s only one source.
    It wouldn’t be the first time, casualty figures have been overblown by interested parties. The recent examples being Libya and Syria, but also before and elsewhere. High casualty figures – even if uncorroborated – can inflame public opinion. So you better make sure, you have got it right.

    Unfortunately, the author misses a chance to put the discussion about casualty figures to rest by backing up his claims with more facts (list of names, eyewitness accounts, etc), but instead veering off into a rant about trolls and a personal attack on one of his “detractors”.

    This is kind of sad because you can make the case about the brutality and corruption of the Nazarbayev regime just as well with 19 dead as with 90.
    His daughter recently bought a villa near Geneva for some 70 million dollars – it’s not difficult to conclude that there is a lot of profiteering and graft going on in and around the Nazarbayev clan – just as the Neo-cons like it. But did Chevron order the crackdown? Probably not. I’d say their main concern is to keep the oil flowing and they don’t care how many people have to die for that.

    You also have to consider the political situation in Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev’s days in power are numbered and the end is near. He is old and frail, and almost certainly won’t be able to run in the next Presidential elections. That’s one reason he pulled the Presidential elections forward to 2011.
    So the clans and powers around Nazarbayev are already jockeying to position themselves for the post-Nazarbayev era. This makes this a potentially explosive situation that could – if it explodes – lead to many more casualties than 19,70 or 100 that have been reported.

    Instead of analyzing all this and putting it into context, the author contents himself with going after one of his critics and with that does a disfavour not only to himself, but also to his cause.

    1. hondje

      …..Unfortunately, the author misses a chance to put the discussion about casualty figures to rest by backing up his claims with more facts (list of names, eyewitness accounts, etc), but instead veering off into a rant about trolls and a personal attack on one of his “detractors”

      Someone missed the point. Whooooosh!

      1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

        Yes, you indeed seem to have missed the point of my post. But never mind.

        Here is a reminder of what the word troll actually means (hint it doesn’t describe someone you simply disagree with, or find non-convincing, or don’t like for some reason).
        From Wikipedia:
        «In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion»

        According to this definition, which is a widely used one, as far as I know, Foust doesn’t qualify as a troll. But maybe Ames would.

        1. Constantine

          You seem to have missed the point of the article. Joshua Foust needed to be outed for what he is, a flunky PR flack. Mark Ames did the research to show the nexus of what this short fella represents.

        2. Rex

          I think your selected definition of troll is rather narrow and we are talking about a different class of troll here. The one seen around here most, and including Foustian types is more the PR shill who distorts, propagandizes or merely tries to tear down, spreading fear, uncertainty or doubt toward the one he is trying to discredit. Not really from a sincere point of view, but rather, selectively crafted to distract or undermine.

          Something like the “concern troll” described further down in that wiki post you extracted from.

          1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

            Hhm, the definition I use is the one that has been around for some time and has always been used – I am on the world wide web since 1995 – to describe a special – and sometimes very dangerous – type of person/commenter/poster.

            Namely one that mostly did not believe in what he/she wrote but whose goal was to disturb, side-track a discussion, destablilise others and so on. They usually weren’t interested in the discussion – or in having a discussion – at all, it was more the argument – the fight – that they sought.
            It’s obvious in the example you mention – the concern troll is not interested in actually discussing anything. He/she is faking to be on your side of the argument, while in reality he/she is not and is just trying to destablise you by creating doubt and uncertainty in your mind.

            Nowadays, the word troll is more and more used in other situations. Someone bringing up a subject that you don’t appreciate, holding a point of view you don’t share, simply being obnoxious or being a shill for some party or corporation.

            In general, those don’t qualify as trolls in my view – and according to the definition I presented. They may be trolling though, if they exhibit the above mentioned characteristics.
            Was that the case for Foust? Not in my view. He simple disagreed with the author on something the latter wrote. Maybe he should or could have used other words to do that, but using inappropriate language still doesn’t make him a troll.

            The danger with using the term loosely is that it is being used to shut-down controversial discussion or dissent inside a group. Just label everyone who points out a flaw an argument a concern troll. That does two things. it shuts the person off from participation, and avoids a real discussion about the subject.

          2. William

            The extent to which discussion groups are open to liberal (in the classical sense) debate varies widely. Some groups simply enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded ranter-complainers and will jump all over an outsider who might spoil the party with some rational viewpoints. Others (the best example I can think of is The Archdruid Report), are exceptionally rational and high-minded, and calmly and politely consider everyone’s ideas with a good deal of compassion for differing intellectual gifts.

          3. PL_2

            I always thought ‘troll’ means someone who is shilling for a side in the argument. In other words, it can be someone who rarely visits a site except to make a specific argument, or a paid propagandist.

    2. aletheia33

      “But did Chevron order the crackdown? Probably not. I’d say their main concern is to keep the oil flowing and they don’t care how many people have to die for that.”

      This is kind of sad because you can make the case about the brutality and corruption of chevron just as well with not caring how many people have to die to keep the oil flowing as with ordering the crackdown.

  9. salvo

    “That’s he-said-she-said reporting with taking sides, I am afraid. The underlying assumption being that “opposition” media don’t have an agenda that could influence their reporting, leading them to inflate casualty figures.”

    consequently there should be no reporting at all, since any sort of reporting traces back to a subjective source. Ames did write that having to choose between several versions of reality construction, he chose the one he retaines of being more credible. And, having to choose between the official version of a reality construction (an widely as oppressive characterized government) and an alternative one (by lena Kostyuchenko) he chose the latter, what I find plausible.

    1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

      Plausibility is not the same as truth. Ames made a concious choice of discarding one side of the argument as not credible, not based on facts (there were and still are conflicting reports about the facts), but based on his perception of the credibility of the parties.This is faith-based not fact-based reporting.
      That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be right, of course. However, one wonders, why Elena did forget to take some pictures of the victims she claimed to have seen.

      1. salvo

        well, the problem, as I understand it, in this special case is that the access to the ‘facts’ is made possible by one side. So, as I see it, Ames did have the choose between several version of what happened, which involved a a ‘faith’ decision which one to attribute more credibility, and no reporting at all. I think Ames made clear what different versions of reality construction he had access to (at the moment of writing) and that he decided to attribute one as more credible (Elenas). The alternative, as there seem not to be possible to access the ‘facts’ directly, would have been no reporting at all, which I do not consider as the better way. In any case, I and you do have the choice to determine which version of the reality we are more inclined to ‘believe’. As for me, at the moment and on the basis of the accessible information / factitude I find Ames ‘faith’-based approach plausible.

        1. salvo

          sorry, I correct the sentence above: well, the problem, as I understand it, in this special case is that the access to the ‘facts’ is not made possible by one side.

      2. Karl Rove's Brain

        Hey, everyone, this guy Parveneh Ferhadi wrote ” I am on the world wide web since 1995″ so you know this troll is an authority. Love it. You PR flaks are running out of tricks aren’t you?

        1. Binky the Bear

          PF ownz the webz srsly.

          The real story can never be known, but by the amount of noise thrown up by the Defenders of Faust, well, where there’s smoke there’s fire. Smoke machines don’t count-dry ice.

      3. PL_2

        You nearly always have to decide plausibility, when accounts differ.

        In this case the facts were stated differently by the 2 sides — one side was lying. Further, the author was accused of grabbing the numbers out of thin air, as I got it, and was proving that this was a false accusation, as he did have sources.

  10. minty

    Thank you for this fascinating post.

    “There is a growing body of evidence that Saddam Hussein had extensive ties to Al-Qaeda.” – Foust

    “I could seriously be off here, but am I alone in thinking Human Rights Watch is hyperventilating over this?” – Foust

    “The problem with the report is not the data is contains, but rather how HRW is framing it…” – Foust

    Good lord. GOOD LORD! And this man has appeared before Congress and is published in the Atlantic?

    Ghoulish and revolting, but as Ames notes, the rewards are ample.

  11. Skippy

    Thanks Mr. Ames. This guy Foust needs to be given an extradition introduction, bag over head and a plane flight to some exotic location.

    Skippy… see what he tweets about his experiences… Oooow I’ll sign up to that twater thingy for that action!

  12. Toni M.

    “According to this definition, which is a widely used one, as far as I know, Foust doesn’t qualify as a troll. But maybe Ames would.”

    Of course, claiming a journalist’s death toll is “entirely fabricated” is not inflammatory in the slightest, and is 100% factual and objective. To think otherwise would be shrill. Of course, you may have missed this paragraph:

    “Besides relying on Novaya Gazeta, I also took my numbers from other independent reports I read at the time of my article, like this one published in the AFP:

    “Kyrgyzstan-based opposition channel K-Plus claimed … about 70 people were killed and 500 wounded.””

    Ames successfully eviscerated any credibility Foust could claim, successfully supported his original statement with evidence from multiple sources and was damned hilarious in painting a psychological profile of the kind of twerp willing to lie and shill like this.

    1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

      Well, not it’s not inflammatory unless you consider viewpoints you don’t share as inflammatory.

      You have had conflicting accounts of the actual death toll, you can believe whoever you want, but that doesn’t make any of the figures a proven fact.

      An example to demonstrate this:
      The demonstration in Moscow on December 24, 2011 by the opposition. The authorities said 29’000 people took part. The organizers said, 120’000 people took part. Pretty much every western news outlet reported either one of those figures and some both.
      No one did some actual fact-checking. No one except one (that I am aware of). RIA Novosti,the Russian state owned news agency.
      The had it calculated (with assumptions on people per square meter) and counted (from a photograph taken at 16:01) and came up with two figures: a bit more than 57’000 and at least 47’000 respectively. The “at least” is because during the demonstration people may have joined or left. So that’s difficult to account for.

      In this case neither the authorities, nor the opposition was a reliable source. Both had an agenda, and both came out with false figures that suited that agenda.

      Maybe the same could be the case in Kazakhstan? So just because one or two newspaper report a figure doesn’t make it a fact. And as you can see with the example above – even if dozens of media repeat something, it still doesn’t make it a fact.

      This is one of the problems of today’s media: They copy from eachother without fact-checking.In this case AFP from an “opposition channel based in Kyrgyzstan” (K+) – which is some – I don’t know – 2000 kilometres away from the events. Obviously, adding the word “opposition” is supposes to instill confidence and suggest accuracy.

      1. PL_2

        When accounts differ, one asks which ones are more reliable, more credible.

        This is not ‘faith based,’ but reasonable, normal behavior. Now who’s the troll, by which definition?

    2. reprobate


      You are really being obtuse and disingenuous. Ames gave impeccable reasons for relying on the journalistic sources (multiple) rather than that of the regime, which separately, as Ames pointed out, engaged in a media blackout, classic guilty authoritarian behavior. You continue to engage in lengthy, tortured defenses of Foust.

      Just because you go on at length does not mean you are convincing anyone. In fact, you’ve gone on SO long on this and the older post that you are way way into “the lady doth protest too much” terrain. Looks like you have something personal at stake here you are not ‘fessing up to to take over the thread on this one.

      1. PL_2

        I think Parveneh is ok. In fact I’m sort of regretting one of my argumentative (against her) comments, but it was sort of obscure so maybe it doesn’t matter.

        Fact is, Parveneh’s is right, strictly speaking, and taking the whole episode out of context.

        But in context, looks like a major smackdown.

  13. Breton

    Thx for this Post.
    And thx for the Links to Foust’s site.

    Plus as “Minty” says:

    “Thank you for this fascinating post.

    “There is a growing body of evidence that Saddam Hussein had extensive ties to Al-Qaeda.” – Foust

    “I could seriously be off here, but am I alone in thinking Human Rights Watch is hyperventilating over this?” – Foust

    “The problem with the report is not the data is contains, but rather how HRW is framing it…” – Foust

    Good lord. GOOD LORD! And this man has appeared before Congress and is published in the Atlantic?

    Ghoulish and revolting, but as Ames notes, the rewards are ample.
    In a world growing more bizrre week by week, if Ames is a bit over the top, so be it.
    Valuable perspective may require just that.


  14. Jack Straw

    I see very little support here for Mr. Foust. I see nearly total appreciation for Mr. Ames’s reporting of a more full picture of a poorly-covered event in an obscure but arguably “strategically important” that could magically appear to be a destination for US military advisers in the not-so-distant-future. So far, so good.

    But, assuming that at least some of the criticism in the comments is from people like me – who have absolutely no economic, political, cultural, social, family dog in the fight – the perception that good reporting is compromised by over-the-top editorializing speaks for itself.

    It is my opinion that this is a good piece that descends into all-too-common food-fighting. As I read the comments, plenty of other see it this way, too. Does that make my opinion correct or justified? No, but it’s not off-the-wall, either.

    In particular, is it really helpful to call Foust a “moron?” The long list of pejoratives applied to Mr. Foust IS mostly supported and justified, but that one is simply not. How many morons know where Kazakhstan is, let alone are being paid to provide dysinformation? (spelling intentional)

    I realize Mr. Ames was personally attacked by someone almost surely paid to whitewash brutal, scandalous and really, unacceptable criminal rot. I get it.

    But for the life of me, I don’t get running any risk in ceding very secure high-ground to join a circular firing squad. Sleep on it. Get a few reads by someone with an editorial mindset. Or, don’t.

  15. patricia

    Thanks for doing this research, Mark. I’d like to see more of this kind of info on our so-called leaders and influence-peddlers. We need a systematic dismantling of magical authority-auras, so we can shake the bamboozle webs from our brains and get on with reality.

    You needed an editor.

    Please take people down only for those things that are their fault. Being short, for example, is not Foust’s fault. To mock him is indulging in the very “Bully-or-be-bullied” world-view that you are rejecting. His words and actions give you plenty enough material.

    1. Holmes

      Agreed 100%. Denigrating him because he was short and bullied undercuts the rest of the piece.

      1. Marcus McSpartacus

        He was NOT denigrating him for bullied – this is an outright falsehood, and you all know it, and if you don’t you have skimmed the article, not read it.

        The opposite is true; he said Foust’s posts on being bullied seemed the most authentic writing, and made you “almost want to hug him”. The reason he raised it was the apparent contradiction/hypocrisy of someone who because of rotten personal experience might have been a more sympathetic human being actually siding with the political version of a playground bully.

        Read the damn thing again.

  16. Lambert Strether

    I thought the first (orchestrated?) comment on the CJR piece was great:

    As someone who has worked in the IC for a decade, I can tell you that only ONE defense contractor (Mantech) gave away ONE BMW to ONE employee in a lottery of TS/Poly new employees after a period of employment. And that was in 2005! Does The Post article state this? Of course not.

    Only ONE BMW! Oh, the humanity!

  17. Maju

    Really I don’t know why this guy, obviously evil, and obviously not any genius, deserves such a long article. But specially I am concerned about how you attribute much of what is him to his experience as victim of bullying.

    As soemone who is also scarred by bullying (it’s much more common than you think) I think that while the emotional scars are terrible and may indeed cause social isolation and in some cases, I guess, hatred, this is not necessarily the case or at leas not the only option: the odd experience of protection and an eventual successful strike back (my choice and IMO the best one: hit them first, hit them hard and they will eventually give up and respect you in their own stupid terms of violence – not that you will ever respect them anyhow) can forge a very different psyche.

    I can understand why someone who never really stroke back, much less face to face and right on the nose, and read way too many comics of the wrong kind, dreams to be some sort of “super-evil” for dummies (I can even share that fantasy in my most private or merely imaginary moments) but you can turn out to be something much better.

    Personally I think (and most importantly feel as well) that truth and direct confrontation are key, this may also make me asocial, as I may be at times too direct or too sincere for the varnish of social conventions, and in any case I do not enjoy socializing too much (just now and then).

    So I’d dare say that your attack on victims of bullying in the attempt to make this guy look worse is not just not acceptable (pretty sad) but it’s also the wrong kind of logic: “popular people” are “good”, “nerds” are “evil”, so they probably deserve that “kick”, right? That’s so evil and twisted and certainly wrong that can only backfire against your otherwise probably correct criticism of this little guy.

    Bullies are actually much more of the problem, and even more the chorus: the many who stand by and do nothing or maybe cheer up the bully, the normal guys who just want to fit in (so pathetically!)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I was bullied mercilessly as a child (not the male version of being beaten up, but the girl version of vicious taunting for my appearance, since I was fat, had bad acne, wore glasses, dressed like a hick, and couldn’t begin to do anything in the athletic category). It was a constant from about the third grade through eight grade. At one school, a group of girls would follow me home, harassing me all the way. My normally non-interventionist parents called the school, which did nothing, saying that since it took place off school premises it was not their problem.

      I wan’t triggered by Foust’s history. The bullied often become bullies just the way children who grew up in homes with domestic abuse often become abusers. Would you defend a wife-beater because he was beaten as a child? That would inform your treatment of him if you were a therapist but does not make him any less guilty. Foust had plenty of other channels for dealing with the effects of his deep wounds. His desire to be a powerful bad guy (which he has put in the public domain) is DIRECTLY relevant to the piece, since he shills for a brutal dictator! I don’t see how you can miss the relevance of the link.

      And this is also relevant because Foust himself engages in fact free (or at best liberal with the facts) denigration of his opponents. He makes himself a legitimate target via the way he goes about making his attacks. Stay out of the kitchen if you can’t take the heat.

      1. Up the Ante

        Foust looks to be a simple puppet. A good bet that corporate culture at defense industry cos. seeks and hires only his type so as to keep the cash flowing.

        In the end they are only ridiculing others, a good bet that is their corporate culture.

        Feeding at the trough, laughing at taxpayers.

        I mean, he has sympathy for the Columbine guys and has what for the Occupy people?
        Outrageous, AND predictable.

    2. sgt_doom

      “Really I don’t know why this guy, obviously evil, and obviously not any genius, deserves such a long article.”

      For the same reason John Boehner, who was a malingerer and washed out of US Navy basic training, then claimed military service during Vietnam when he first ran for congress (a crime, at least back then, BTW) is accorded respect by the myth-media, as well as having a president for eight years, George W. Bush, who officially was supposed to have completed USAF basic training (although he only made it through the half-way mark, but either way that’s not the overall point), then unbelievably, was given the rank of officer!!!!

      ‘Nuff said……

  18. Oy

    We get it. Foust is a paid flak for some very unreputable folks. But over the top ad hominem attacks and questionable psychological analysis only undermine your counterarguments.

    1. Karl Rove's Brain

      Um, no they don’t. You just pretend they do.

      Let’s recall again, Foust accused Ames of lying and completely inventing a death toll as well as completely inventing Chevron’s partnership with the company involved in the massacre. In journalism, when you accuse another journalist of lying, you are making a defamatory accusation that is both morally reprehensible but also has a material affect on the accused journalist’s ability to work. When an Atlantic Monthly blogger accuses another reporter of “completely inventing body count” numbers that weren’t invented, that is both morally reprehensible and does material harm to the reporter who got the figures correct.
      So where is the outrage over Foust defaming another reporter, lying and defaming to protect a dictator and to protect Chevron?
      Your comment would have more credibility if you showed any outrage over these far more serious issues than Foust’s feelings.

  19. Dan Duncan

    What a joke.

    Yves Smith gives “perch” to a sniveling degenerate who proceeds to rail against The Atlantic for giving a perch to some other sniveling sack of shit.

    Yves, one doesn’t need to be a parent or to subscribe to the Right’s notion of “family Values” to recognize that Mark Ames is a degenerate Neanderfuck who was 32 years of age when he dehumanized a pregnant 15 year old girl.

    And if you’re stupid enough to believe it was just some “youthful indiscretion”…keep in mind that this degenerate Neanderfuck was pushing 40 when he reflected on that incident by saying…and these are his words, not mine: “Her cunt was as tight as a cat’s ass….”

    [ ]

    But you already know all this.

    And you still don’t care. “Oh, that was years ago. It’s not relevant. Blah, blah, blah.”

    But it is relevant. There is a line…a set of human values that exists irrespective of ideology. But you don’t know where it lies. And if you don’t know where it lies, then you have no business writing about values and ethics. Just stop.

    And spare me the bullshit that this is just someone with a different set of values, living an open-minded alternative lifestyle.

    If you’re in your 30s, “banging” a vulnerable 15 year-old girl and bragging about it with “cunt” references when you’re 40…then it’s safe to say that you’re well outside the realm of a harmless, consenting adult alternative lifestyle.

    Thankfully, it’s over for this loser. Going forward, the highlight of his life will anonymous blow-jobs in the bathroom stalls of interstate truck-stops.

    “Dude. Last night I got polished off in the handi-capped stall. It was so roomy. And I was able to grab on to the wheelchair rail. It was magical!”

    Mark Ames is a fucking tree-jumper…and just like The Atlantic you’re giving him a perch.

    You stand for nothing in a barren wasteland. What a bunch of losers. I am out.

    1. jimmy james

      And did you hear about that Hunter Thompson? He did *drugs*!

      Fetch Dan the salts, he’s getting the vapors!

    2. alexis


      I truly appreciated the original piece, and shared it widely. Be it Chevron in Kazakhstan or Shell in Nigeria, it seems that oil companies and their co-conspirators have no morality within them.

      But I could not help but feel unsettled as I read this subsequent take-down. My feelings vacillated from justification to discomfort. As others have noted, this piece would have been far stronger had Ames stuck to the facts and not pounded the drum over and over on born and unchanging traits, such as his target’s height.

      But then, reading this review of Ames and Taibbi’s book “The Exile” enlightens a bit.

      It is disgusting and immoral, first and foremost, and turns my stomach enough not to want Ames to have a future platform.

      But it also elucidates a bit the nastiness of this piece. It seems that Ames must have a line, where you are no longer a person but something else. And then, no courtesy or human kindness is due to you.

      For Faust, it seems his position as a war-monger/PR flack pushed him over the line.

      But what of the 15 year old pregnant girl? Per the Chicago book review. He describes what happens when he learns she is 15: “‘Right then my pervometer needle hit the red. I had to have her, even if she was homely.”

      And how does he treat her afterwards? Again, per the Chicago review:
      “After she has an abortion, [Ames] writes about her in the Exile, suggesting that she be sterilized and awarded ‘one of those cheap trophy cups with the inscription World’s Greatest Mom.'”

      This is scorn coming from the perpetrator of a crime. His guilt is absolved, it seems, because the girl is doing things she shouldn’t as a mother. So again, we see Ames’ line. Instead of Faust, it is a 15 year old girl.

      Her crime? That he perceives her to be a “slut”, as he perceives women as a whole in Russia: “you gain a little perspective, which can be dangerous. Deep down, even the most emasculated, wire-rimmed glasses, cigar-smoking and martini-drinking American guy fantasizes about living in a world full of…well, I’ll let you guess: a) self-reliant, androgynous women who are also your friends, b) young, beautiful sluts.”

      So my discomfort while reading the article was completely overrun at my horror at Ames’ free-wheeling misogyny in a book published by Grove Press.

      While I remain grateful for the light shone on the mass-murders in Kazakhstan, I do hope that Ames takes some time to shine a light on the injustices playing out within himself. Rape, statutory or otherwise, is also a weapon of war.

      1. knowbuddhau

        Thanks for that. As I read, I went from thrilled to be reading, to troubled by the focus on Foust’s person, not his PSYOP. This ain’t a pissing match, Mr. Ames. For me, it’s about exposing and ending the Pentagon policy of attacking us with weaponized rhetoric, and doing it *before* the bullets fly.

        Just when I thought I’d found a reliable anti-PSYOP reporter. How absolutely infuriating. And as for what men want: speak for yourself, you most certainly don’t speak for me.

        Also, I agree with others who say the focus also needs to be on Chevron. It’s the whole process, the military-industrial complex process; Foust is just a tool in that process. Who’s deciding how to use tools like him? How is this typical of our entire governing process? How do we best oppose DoD’s other PSYOP attacks on us?

        1. Up the Ante

          .. now, knowbuddhau, now, we know the lengths they will go to, don’t we ?!

          w/a super-emphasized lol

      2. reprobate

        I find all this hand wringing and concern trolling tiresome.

        Foust knew, or should have known damned well who he was tangling with. He pretends to be an expert in the region, after all. Ames has a well established track record of no-holds-barred brutal takedowns of rightwingers who tangle with him.

        You are all defending someone who went into a bar and tried punching the bouncer. The results were predictable. Foust does not deserve one iota of sympathy. He is morally reprehensible and an idiot.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        Whoa, is this misrepresented. Did you mot get that Ames and Taibbi wrote dark, pushing the edge satire to tell readers not to believe everything they read?

        She was a fifteen year old out with “an investment banker”. This is not a nice schoolgirl looking for affection from an older man. This is someone looking for a sugar daddy. I’m sure there was tons of this sort of quasi prostitution going on. Even if this incident was real, and not Ames using his famous hard partying lifetyle to mess with readers’ heads, the girl was no innocent.

        And I have to tell you, having worked on Wall Street, that tons of men there would have done exactly what Ames wrote up. He’s open about his impulses. So you are gonna denigrate him for candor, when his attitude is far more common than you want to believe?

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Dead right, Yves. Countless vain women live for the power to excite lust in men, for thrills and BigMoney. Some present themselves as a Porterhouse to a hungry dog. And there is many a ravenous dog on Wall Street, ready to seize trouble with tons of cash, cocaine, champagne, and empty promises. The effects of abuse live on in many forms, while great beauty in youth is a “resource curse.”

          Have you seen the reports from the *hot to trot* co-eds at Harvard and Princeton, learning to be our *leading lights*? They are practicing their tricks of the trade, panting for power and riches by Wall Street, the IMF, the World Bank. They crave SUGAR, and plenty of it. The “Brazilian belles du jour” lead the way, as past-masters of this Magic, showing women and “femmes” how to be *killers* of men.

          Your glasses and appearance in youth were a blessing.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Ahem, this comes off as parody. There aren’t lots of women like this, but the ones like this do exist and give other women a really bad name.

            Some girls are stupid (as in they overestimate their ability to manipulate men and get hurt emotionally and sometimes physically) but some are real users. I came across one recently. Even though she was clearly smart, she had her first abortion at 13 and was hyper aware of her sexual appeal (and in her 50s, thought she had more than she really did at that point). She tried destroying the business of the man she married. She’d also call the cops alleging beatings, and they’d take her away. She was diagnosed as a Stage 4 alcoholic. Stage 4 means the five year survival rate is 20%.

            And some are bona fide nymphomaniacs, by weird happenstance, I had two at different points as roommates (not knowing their habits in advance, but it meant I got to observe the behavior at close range). Both had almost entirely one night stands (and they were both pretty, one had been in Playboy). If they didn’t bed a man, they’d drink. One would read poetry and consume a full bottle of wine, the other would come home so drunk that she sometimes could not make it to her bedroom.

          2. Up the Ante

            “The effects of abuse live on in many forms, while great beauty in youth is a “resource curse.”

            Have you seen the reports from the *hot to trot* co-eds at Harvard and Princeton, learning to be our *leading lights*? They are practicing their tricks of the trade, panting for power and riches by Wall Street, the IMF, the World Bank. They crave SUGAR, and plenty of it. The “Brazilian belles du jour” lead the way, as past-masters of this Magic, showing women and “femmes” how to be *killers* of men. ”

            In reference to Yves’ “parody”, a “resource curse” for sale these days seems to be a past of ‘closet inhabitation’, as it were.

            And to think, little Foustie is ’employed’ at a defense firm. Is he a “belle” while there ?


      4. craazyman

        There are some things a civilized reader does not need to know.


        17 would have been my limit at 24.

        21 at 30.

        15 is Dante territory.


        1. craazyman

          To b fair he has good qualities. A few indulgences could put him in purgatory. But his tool may have to sweat it out for a while. Hurts just to think about it . Like pepper spray. But hotter. LOL

        2. bob

          It’s the moral equivalent of Spitzer being shamed by ONE prostitute.

          Any more than one and you have spread your name and reputation around, offered as collateral to pay the pimp.

          But just ONE? Gold.

          Show me any other pol who is shamed by just ONE whore?

    3. Karl Rove's Brain

      I just read the same Chicago Reader review and here is what it says, what you take out of context:

      “The Exile, as the name hints, defines itself by what it’s not, and one of its most distinguishing traits is the editors’ disdain for their colleagues in the mainstream press.”

      “Much of Ames and Taibbi’s best work is funny. Some pranks are sharper–and meaner–than others, but they’re all conceived under a towering belief in the righteousness of the paper’s mission. The Exile has kept up a holy racket, railing away against stupidity, corruption, and influence peddling in hopes that someone–anyone–would pay attention. It has covered mind-numbingly complex topics like privatization in a straightforward style that’s not only comprehensible but actually interesting to a reader with no background in Russian economic history and little enthusiasm for acquiring one.

      “Ames and Taibbi insist that they adhere to a scrupulous journalistic code, yet because of their incessant envelope pushing, everything in the paper is suspect. Each outrageous claim forces the reader to approach the Exile with the same critical awareness it applies to its targets. It’s an experiment in media education, showing as well as telling the reader how to read between the lines, encouraging him to question sources, look for conflicts of interest, and be suspicious of pat narratives. A good idea anywhere in the world, not just in Russia–but only on the lawless frontier is there still room for the Exile’s scattershot approach.”

    4. bob

      Dan offended by bombast.

      What exactly do you stand for Dan? Being a giant Dick would be my first guess, based only on past performance.

  20. Norman

    “KUDOS” to you Yves, What a grand way to start off this new year going forward. The B & F produced, is something, that perhaps surprised you as it sure did this old man. Whether or not it’s over the top, depends on ones perspective, but to my eyes, it shows just how much the journalism in this country has changed. Gone are the days when the majority of journalists were true investigative types. There just “ain’t” many left today, which is a sad moment for the truth. I do wonder how many people believe what Mr. Foust writes? Oh well, considering that this is so far down the line here, I doubt anyone will read my comment.

  21. Jack Straw

    In communication, intelligent receipt of information, argument and conclusions requires a tension between “considering the source,” and “listening to the logos,” as Heraclitus (and really all of philosophy) asks. That “reasoning” is frequently flawed in ways that are not obvious – for decades, centuries, millennia – or that good reasoning can be extremely subtle – to the point where it challenges the limits of your own mind – doesn’t make it easy. There are mathematical things that I once understood and do not now, and other mathematical things that are simply beyond my ability to grasp. But, a lot of philosophy and/or reasoning goes out the window if you make too much of the fact that a lot of philosophers or great arguers were/are degenerates.

    That there is so much said that is manifestly false, made without regard to truth or falsity, or entirely empty, requires a critical mindset to have any chance in figuring anything out. C’est la vie.

    Nihilism sucks. God and the devil are in the details, and there are helluva a lot of them.

  22. indio007

    I’m not into to the personalized attacks either way. GPA and the status of the college you attended is not the be all end all of intellectual prowess.

    However I think Ames makes a good point about the corrupt and incompetent rising to to top.

    I mean seriously did anyway see John Corzine’s testimony? I couldn’t stop thinking , “How is this guy running a multi billion dollar company, he’s dumb as shit”.

    The point is there are some pretty lazy and stupid people running shit. This phenomena of “failing up” is becoming pretty obvious. Advancement in today’s society of less about ability or merit and more about ambition, shameless capitulation to groupthink and who you know.

    I know everyone needs a job and not everyone can be “great”. But this Josh guy’s stop is just crap. My 9th grade English teacher would not have accepted this “work”.

    This guy has risen well past his level of incompetence.

    The ad hominum is a little tasteless but what are we talking about here? Some money grubber shilling to protect murders. Nothing could be more tasteless than that. Not to mention, the consequence of such shilling being taken seriously are dead human beings that die for complaining about work. If you think being fired is harsh for bitching about work , how bout being fired upon?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      The shills for the .01-1% are very well paid, and most have a life-time sinecure through the Revolving Door. As Michael Ruppert has pointed out, because of how the CIA works, GENERATIONS of operatives and shills become overt or covert “Intelligence” experts, hacks, and shills for the Corporate-CIA “NOBILITY and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII.” Maybe it’s the generations of interbreeding that makes them more and more stupid.

      To think, these *servants of the President* run this country and the world, by hook and crook. They embody Gresham’s Law: “Bad money drives out good.”

  23. sidelarge

    I think the kind of “personal attack” in the article is deeply relevant. I tend to lean toward liberalism, but some part of me is a Burkian conservative in that I believe rationality and reason are not even the primary elements to drive people’s ideology and behaviors. Existential/psychological angst is very relevant. There is almost always a pattern. We need to be reminded of that every once in a while, to shake some delusion off ourselves.

    Similarly, Ames has been also running the risk of being “exposed” as someone who “banged a 15-year-old,” as a commentator above did. You can psychoanalyze him as well based on what he writes and his writing style if you want to. It’s largely fair game as far as I’m concerned.

    And frankly, those who are in the business of arguing about and indeed often FOR the deaths of others, like Foust, shouldn’t cry too much about having some embarrassing stuff in the closet of his past dug up by someone else. Live with it, or leave, I would say.

    1. craazyman

      It occured to me maybe it was a typo and she was 51. Women can still ne very hot in their 50s. But maybe not pregnamt. If he was drunk maybe he didn’t estimate accurately. It can happen.

  24. Eclair

    I read Mark Ames’ takedown of Joshua Foust with a thrill of recognition. Jane Austin and Anthony Trollope both delighted in portraying morally crippled humans who had worked themselves into positions of authority. They would have added bad breath and moist palms into the mix.

    And much as I deplore ad hominem attacks, often what it takes to stop a bully in his tracks is a dose of his (or her) own tactics.

    And a southern friend assures me that adding “bless his heart” after an unflattering description ( as in, “the short moron, bless his heart”) makes it all ok.

    So, I’m rereading Ames’ piece and mentally inserting the phrase when appropriate.

  25. F. Beard

    … this piece is a gold standard … Yves Smith

    Et tu, Yves?

    Notice how we have been programmed with a love for gold. Our language is riddled with positive references to it.

    Yes, this is a quibble. :)

  26. Susan the other

    Foust is clearly Chevron’s Borat, not Nazzy’s. He is just keeping the lid on it for a big oil company. His tactic works great. Look at us here. We are all criticizing Foust for being a total jerk when we should be looking at Chevron who owns 50%, a controlling stake, in the Kazakh oil concern, and cannot be considered innocent in the deaths of the oil workers. Someone will be filing some serious charges against Chevron. And Chevron will blame Naz. It will go on for years.

    1. ReaderOfTeaLeaves

      Or not.
      Chevron’s ramped up web ads about how engaged it is in the communities where it does business.
      How’d you like to be cutting the checks for that marketing bullshit and then see that the dictator who controls the region in which your subsidiary lies has arrested journalists, shut down Twitter, and won’t allow observers into the hospital?

      Perhaps you can explain how this is a good business model…? I don’t see it.
      It’s a looting model that requires repression.
      That’s not sustainable over time.

  27. knowbuddhau

    Hot damn! I love it. This is the kind of PSYOP-busting reportage I’d love to see more of.

    Just one semantic quibble: can you call a PSYOP by that term, instead of using emasculated euphemisms? The Pentagon has been targeting and firing on us in this manner, with weapons-grade weapons known as PSYOP, at least since the Rumsfeld era.

    Also, did the Pentagon’s PSYOP budget pay Foust’s salary?

    Pentagon Targeted and Mistreated Journalists, AP Head Charges
    Scott Horton,
    February 7, 2009

    (block quote by Horton) Answering questions from his audience of about 160 people, Curley said AP remains concerned about journalists’ detentions. He said most appear to occur when someone else, often a competitor, “trashes” the journalist. “There is a procedure that takes place which sounds an awful lot like torture to us,” Curley said. “If people agree to trash other people, they are freed. If they don’t immediately agree to trash other people, they are kept for some period of time–two or three weeks–and they are put through additional questioning.” His remarks came a day after an AP investigation disclosed that the Pentagon is spending at least $4.7 billion this year on “influence operations” and has more than 27,000 employees devoted to such activities. At the same time, Curley said, the military has grown more aggressive in withholding information and hindering reporters. (end)

    The Associated Press’s special report on Pentagon “influence operations” can be read here. The Pentagon’s Public Affairs Office has been one of the last redoubts of the Neoconservatives. Burrowed Bush era figures remain in key positions in the office, which had responsibility for implementation of some of the Rumsfeld Pentagon’s most controversial strategies in which the American public was targeted with practices previously associated with battlefield psy-ops.

    (Note that the link to AP’s report is broken.)

    Get that? A process of harassing journalists that looks like torture to AP’s Curley; $4.7B (in 2007) to spend on manufacturing consent; targeting us, whom they’re ostensibly sworn to protect, with weapons-grade PSYOP; what are these but acts of war? For example, Foust isn’t just a “shill;” he’s attacking us with weaponized rhetoric. We’d be wise to treat attacks like this as attacks, not reduce them to petty annoyances. Shills make sales pitches. Foust’s intent is to jack us to hell and back, sticking us with the bill in every way.

    Why wait for bullets to call an attack an attack?

  28. aletheia33

    the head office of chevron, or the sidewalk in front of it, needs to be occupied.
    the ceo needs to be very publicly shamed.
    this needs to continue until results ensue, and they will.
    neither chevron nor the others of their ilk are as immune or impervious to public disfavor as they’ve persuaded us they are.
    anyone who reads this blog is fully capable of starting an action that brings chevron’s dark side into the light of day, making chevron very nervous, and leading chevron to rethink many of its current cosigners to agreements that keep our houses warm and our cars running.
    why are we so convinced that we have no power?

  29. kthomas

    Major troll smackdown.

    This guy Foust is real piece of work. Perhaps when he gets shot in Somewheristan his tune will change. Or maybe not. Either way, his love for war and blood will be his undoing.

  30. Can't Make an Omelette

    Assuming it’s all true what Foust did and said, an angry, factual piece about him is useful and a good thing to do. I take Eclair’s example of Trollope and Austen as writers who would have used a variety of techniques when “portraying morally crippled humans who had worked themselves into positions of authority.” Bringing in someone’s personal life or attributes reads differently depending if it is an isolated insult, or mixed in to a long rainbow of deeper substantiation, quotes and journalism. I’m not positive that I agree that the insults are useful at the end of the day but I tend to agree that a harsh approach is OK for taking down a war apologist. I’m glad Foust’s own quotes are there.

    Here’s one objection. It’s on how these things go more generally when it is an attack against an individual, especially, in the blogosphere or fast media like Twitter. The Shirley Sherrod incident comes to mind, not in substance but in form. Let’s be a little slow when anger is involved. It’s not a good outcome if a viral frenzy develops and then something about the accusations against someone turns out to be wrong.

    Also, I read what Dan Duncan said above about Ames and Taibbi. Then I read the Reader story, and it bothers me. The Reader quotes Taibbi saying, “…We also knew that if we didn’t have those conspicuous moral deficiencies, we’d have been just another ‘right thinking’ left leaning alternative paper.”

    It sounds to me as though Ames and Taibbi had a really loose standard for the kinds of innocent, non-corrupt bystanders they were willing to hurt in the course of a story. Bayne says, “Extreme conditions, extreme journalism–it sort of makes sense … ” It sounds like they’re so certain of their broader project that it doesn’t matter who gets hurt along the way. Strings of adjectives make for exciting writing: “rude, cruel, pornographic, self-aggrandizing, infantile, and breathtakingly misogynist.” But those words represent individual incidents, don’t they? Were they rude, cruel and misogynist to individuals on the street who had nothing to do with power and nothing to do with anything? What were their mistakes like? No mistakes? It sounds like they had some bullshit rationalizations for how it’s OK to hurt a group of ordinary people in the course of fighting corruption and ultimately helping the same group of ordinary people. Is that how Ames likes to approach his journalism now, too?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Ames and Taibbi know: “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.”

      The “enemy” has been using AK-47s, IEDs and “Stingers” against the truth for some time now. No more Mister Nice Guy. Unfortunately, when testosterone drives the war, “misogyny” is a given, history shows. Girls and women are the “collateral damage” of war.

      “Not to be born is the best for girls” (See part of the Refrain in “Death’s Echo” by W.H. Auden: “Not to be born is the best for man.”)

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      This is real concern trolling. Ames and Taibbi are writing about large scale corruption, lives being lost, and you are worried about whether people’s feelings are being hurt? These are on completely different moral scales, yet you seem unable to see the difference. And you seem not to get the gonzo wisdom of Taibbi and Ames being loud and proud about their loutish behavior: no one had anything they could blackmail them with.

      The test is the journos that Ames and Taibbi pilloried mercilessly stood up for them. I wrote earlier:

      Michael McFaul–in the 90s Clinton’s top cheerleader in Russia–pushed hard to get eXile articles censored from the most influential list serv for Russia watchers, journos, diplomats, bankers, etc, called “Johnson’s Russia List.” McFaul went so far as to threaten to pull Carnegie money. McFaul used the “sexism” argument and the Johnny Chen club reviewer character (an over-the-top burlesque of USAID Deloitte Touche consultant/degenerate). The real problem was that Ames and Taibbi were zeroing in on the utter failure of Clinton’s and the Young Reformers’ rule. Ames wrote in the spring that like it or not, the financial system was going to collapse.

      David Johnson, who still runs that project, decided that rather than pull their articles from the list (they were the only reporters predicting collapse and laying the blame on reform–only Western reporters I mean, the Russians were on top of it), he’d canvassed his readers in a poll. Amazingly enough, despite all the satirical abuse eXile hurled at the Western reporters, most demanded we not be censored. The strongest voice came from a rather ridiculous and self-important lesbian “intellectual” named Masha Gessen. eXile published fake movie ads like “Driving Miss Gessen” because of her absurd columns about her chauffer…but she stood up and supported them and was frankly shocked that any American could even talk about banning anything for any other reason other than it lacks relevancy.

      That shamed people. Bottom line: the argument Americans used against them was: You can’t combine comedy/satire (especially offensive black comedy) with real investigative journalism. That both offends Americans’ bizarre adherence to rules, and gave people who hated their reporting on corruption a “moral” or “professional” rationale for banning their relevant investigative pieces.

      So quit worrying on their behalf. Reporters have soapboxes and can shoot back if they feel badly used.

      1. Can't Make an Omelette

        Well, it is two different moral scales. But I think on the narrower of the two, it’s worse than hurt feelings if you are taking advantage of very young prostitutes and you’re coming from misanthropy as you do it. And the fact that the very young prostitutes are there, not in all cases but in some cases, is a story of a poor person trying to subsist within the corrupt system they are fighting. If they fought tenaciously against corruption, it is a good thing. But I think if you turn around and hire the girls just the same, coming from a “peculiarly vicious and schizoid attitude toward women,” then criticize that too.

        I see that there is more than one moral scale- so I’d like to consider them both as important, simultaneously.

        I see your point about people like Masha Gessen defending their right/ability to keep on doing what they were doing. I wasn’t talking about poking fun at other, ineffectual or hypocritical journalists – I literally said were they cruel to “individuals on the street who had nothing to do with power and nothing to do with anything.”

        I see your point about their writing style and mixing fact with tall tale to avoid blackmailers. So I guess in that circumstance, I have no way of knowing if I am objecting to something that was just an embellishment and they really didn’t do.

        Is a concern troll disingenuous, like you secretly want the opposite outcome to what you claim? I think that is a little unfair. I might be mistaken or off the wall, but my reservations about A & T weren’t feigned.

        Kevin Carhart

      2. Fiver

        Does the “Gondo Wisdom” of Taibbi and Ames “loud and loutish behavior” include Ames’ utterly repugnant opinion and treatment of Russian women? How far would this attitude fly in the US if given high-profile coverage?:

        “Most notably, the Exile nurtures a peculiarly vicious and schizoid attitude toward women. While Russian women are rhapsodically celebrated as long-legged gazelles with loose morals–“the most physically attractive women on earth, and…usually available to the highest bidder,” expat women are ridiculed at length as “fat-ankled” and defensively sexless. Self-hating geeky American men are encouraged to take advantage of the perception that all Americans are rich and have oodles of condomless sex (sometimes in the ass!) with drunk, nubile dyevushkas. Ex-girlfriends are held up to public ridicule–Ames at one point chronicles his threats to kill a pregnant ex if she won’t have an abortion. The club listings are rated by three factors: how cheap the beer is, how thuggish the crowd is, and how likely an expat male is to score: “Babes with nose-bleeds and their pot-bellied, cell-phone-totin’ sugar dyadyas. One of the highest concentrations of beautiful chicks–and heavily armed men–in the world. (If you have an 8-ball of whiff you’ll get laid.)”

        It’s not ironic–Ames and Taibbi explicitly scorn the bourgeois safety net of irony–and it’s not just a rhetorical stance. “You’re always trying to force Masha and Sveta under the table to give you blow jobs,” complains their first business manager, an American woman, in chapter six, “The White God Factor.” “It’s not funny. They don’t think it’s funny.” “But…it is funny,” replies Taibbi. They take particular glee in trashing several former female staff members in print, taking multiple potshots at the aforementioned business manager’s “gorilla ass.” They’re equally nasty to her replacement, who quit in disgust after they went on a four-month “brain-sucking speed binge.”

        And Ames’s treatment of Russian teenage girls is documented with frightening glee. In the book he recounts one evening with an expat investment banker pal and what he thought were three 16-year-old girls:

        “When I went back into the TV room, Andy pulled me aside with a worried grin on his face. ‘Dude do you realize…do you know how old that Natasha is?’ he said.


        “‘No! No, she’s fif-teen. Fif-teen.’ Right then my pervometer needle hit the red. I had to have her, even if she was homely.”

        After they do it, she tells him she has a three-month-old baby.

        “It was hard to imagine that Natasha had squatted out a baby,” Ames writes. “Her cunt was as tight as a cat’s ass….I’d slept with mothers before–they’re a lot wider. Sex with them is like probing a straw in a mildew-lined German beer mug.”

        Later he learns that she’s lying–she has no baby, but rather is four months pregnant. After she has an abortion, he writes about her in the Exile, suggesting that she be sterilized and awarded “one of those cheap trophy cups with the inscription ‘World’s Greatest Mom.'”

        You more than once bemoan “concern trolling” in response to someone who has legitimate reservations about THAT SORT OF CRAP??

        There was no need to go after Foust with such relish at the prospect of inflicting personal pain. He was quite capable, and had more than enough information available, to thoroughly “take down” (I note the left, too, adopts the language of power without question these days) Foust in a serious, effective, controlled, mature and above the belt fashion. None of Foust’s attacks cited is anywhere close to as vicious on a personal level.

        Taibbi has done some great stuff. I don’t know Ames. But if I were them, I’d want this stuff scraped from my record every bit as much as Foust wanted to get his original blog removed. Going after powerful goons does not give one license to act like one.

  31. different clue

    Good people get uncomfortable when bad people get treated meanly. It isn’t nice to treat bad people meanly. But if we really are on the recieving end of an undeclared war against us by the Class Enemy Occupied government, we can’t be nice anymore if we wish to survive.

    This Mr. Fouts appears to be a weaponised Class Enemy Occupation servant. Mr. Ames has tried to de-weaponize him.
    Whatever it takes, if it works. I wonder if disturbed Atlantic readers will start boycotting Atlantic Magazine’s advertisers until Atlantic Magazine fires this Mr. Fouts from its pages (or blogspace).

    Some of the very last commenters just above brought up points worth remembering. Mr. Fouts (and all the little Foutslings) work for Chevron and all the Social Class Chevrons of the world. Chevron needs to be forced to pay for its actions and the actions of its “plausibly arm’s length” blame-taker partners.

    Knowbuddha offers a valuable article about DoD aggression against reporting to further DoD aggression against the public mind. That also deserves more exposure/study.

  32. Patrice

    How many commenters here have ever witnessed a close relative being savagely tortured to death?

    From the Ames’ article: “Novaya Gazeta sent a correspondent into Zhanaozen, Elena Kostyuchenko, who reported counting a total of 64 dead bodies in the main hospital morgue in Zhanaozen, all victims of the massacre, as of 9am on December 17th; the correspondent added to that another 23 dead who, according to surgeons, died on the operating tables, bringing her total to 87 dead; and she reported at least 400 wounded from her reports. Novaya Gazeta also reported bodies seen piled up in the main police station—where scores of locals were savagely tortured, some released to the intensive care ward in the main hospital, others either buried out of site or unaccounted for.”

    If this report is even close to being accurate, then Foust deserves to be shot for covering up a massacre, and all the rest is a sideshow.

    “Does reality essentially remain outside language, separate, obdurate, alien, not susceptible to description? Is an accurate and vital correspondence between what is and our perception of it impossible? Or is is that we are obliged to use language only in order to obscure and distort reality – to distort what happens – because we fear it? We are encouraged to be cowards. We can’t face the dead. But we must face the dead because they die in our name. We must pay attention to what is being done in our name.” – Harold Pinter

  33. Everythings Jake

    Seemed to me that even the government lower reported number of 15 dead people was sufficient to “polemicize the riots” given the inherently heinous nature of the state’s action.

  34. Yata

    “some guy with a goatee is having a meltdown on Twitter.”

    Yeah..stay away from those meltdowns, buddy.

  35. jdenim

    Kudos to Ames for a taking down a soul-less skeeze bucket and shining a light on some very dark places, but I have to side with the readers who came away this piece feeling icky. Ames’s ad-hominem rant against arbitrary American mediocrity diminished what was an otherwise really good piece, and it probably alienated at least half of his audience. I mean how many Americans are tall, goatee-less, and ivy-credentialed with a 4.0 GPA?

    Again, this Foust slimeball definitely had it coming, and I have the utmost respect for Yves and her right to control the content and tone of her blog, but I worry that vitriol like this Ames piece is chum in the water that will attract the kind of hyper-partisan name calling trolls which make so many other sites such awful and un-inhabitable places.

  36. Fiver

    1) This could’ve been a good piece. But the low road venting of the spleen, using predominantly material from a 1-man/1-reader, half-blog/half-diary to create a stick-man BS forensic psychiatric profile of tagged a “bullied twerp” was totally out of bounds. Pissing on his schools (only elites allowed?), his failure (how many millions fail?), his intellect (what ARE we going to do with all these troublesome morons?) et al is regrettable, but:

    To take his account of intense bullying as true, that he was suicidal, that it affected him deeply and badly, to take that account as accurate and then use this knowledge YOU had, but that the world other than him did not, as a personal weapon to satisfy a discharge personal anger, by publishing something you KNEW he would deeply regret ever having posted (as do many, many millions who did not really understand the Internet’s unforgiving memory)is more than passing strange coming from someone who is presumably working for a more decent way of doing things. Perhaps a little more classy. And perhaps a bigger target. Someone like the Atlantic, for instance, or Chevron, or all those far slimy-but powerful entitites that hired him. He is a relative peanut that required 1 page with a couple of excerpts and links based totally on his misrepresentations, in order to sink what might’ve bee a perfect FBI plant. Leave the private stuff out of it. Not at all needed to tell the story. Not respectful of any sense of limits. Should’ve been short, excellent read.


    a) If the Reader piece linked above by another poster is accurate, as well as my understanding of it, i.e., that this is the author reporting on his own actions and words regarding some women in a foreign country, and in particular very young women in ways that would be considered completely unacceptable in most of the West given the women in question are the victims of a brutal social power equation, then perhaps the author would care to explain it.

    b) If on the other hand it was an attempt by Ames and Taibbi two do porno humour, it belongs with bullying in the Maladaptation Bin.

    1. Marcus McSpartacus

      Yes, because we don’t want our feelings hurt or disturbed, that’s what’s most important.

      1. Fiver

        Bullshit. The point is there was NO NEED to launch a vicious personal attack when all the information required was available to thoroughly shred the man’s credibility as an reputed “analyst” just by taking apart his arguments, exposing his paymasters, etc. This guy Foust is an irritating pawn with virtually no prospect of ever becoming an effective “troll” or shill-for-hire. In that respect, much better to go after much bigger, tougher targets – ones who can actually inflict damage.

      2. NickP

        Argue the death toll number. Argue Foust’s positions – and he has MANY after many prolific writing years (including one on “unaccountable killing machines” (drones) just a few days ago, I might add: Jabbering on about “pea brains” and bullying and what schools Foust went to fits the very caricature Ames is attempting to shove in our faces.

        The fact is that Foust makes coherent arguments that are ripe for debate. So debate them.

  37. Jim

    To Dan Duncan:

    “I am out.” Dan I really hope that this is not the case.
    Things are just starting to get interesting.

    To me, you always seemd to hold back, at least on the blog, from giving you own vision of what was needed for our country.

    Patience is a great virtue when dealing with politics–I hope you will continue to pound out your perspective here at NC.

    Take Care

  38. LarryTOregon

    That a non performer coward like Fouts can appear before Congress and post in the Columbia Journalism Review and Atlantic says more about these three institutions than anything this chump coughs up??? It is killed or be killed (figuratively of course) and he knows this. It may be unpleasant for some but he deserves NO MERCY.

  39. CAW

    Excerpted from the book the eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia, pg. 191. Mark Ames visits Edward Limonov’s apartment:

    ‘”It’s better than not being famous,” I said, looking over at his new
    girlfriend. Her name was Nastya. She was a little punkette, dressed adoringly in
    a spiked dog collar, thrashed boots, army coat, and Grazhdanskoye Oborona
    T-shirt. Limonov claimed that she was 16 – or rather, that Nastya told him she
    was 16.

    She squinted at me with sly, Asiatic eyes and said, “He doesn’t look American.”

    Limonov laughed. “No, he’s Chechen,” he said. When Nastya spoke, I noticed her
    two front teeth, slightly crooked and too large for her mouth. No fucking way
    she was 16. More like 14, tops. She slumped back
    in the divan, boots pigeon-toed, fumbling restlessly with a strand of hair. She
    stared at me like a little child, unabashed. Limonov pointed
    to a Pulp Fiction poster that she had defaced by erasing Uma Thurman’s eyes and
    drawing devil’s horns on her head. He was annoyed, but clearly proud.”‘


    Among the eXile’s “911 Things to Hate About America”:

    “Too stringent age-of-consent laws in most states”



    Excerpted from an article on eXile columnist and associate Edward Limonov, by Mark Ames:

    ”[Edward Limonov’s ex-wife] hooked up with a famous metal guitarist and later died of an apparent drug overdose, while Limonov began a series of affairs with ever-younger fans of his bad-boy politics and art.”



    Edward Limonov interviewed by Mark Ames:

    ”[Mark Ames] Your current wife, Katya, is quite beautiful, but before her you were dating a lot of teenagers. Do you miss the teenagers at all?
    [Edward Limonov] We’ll see what happens next.”



    Edward Limonov wrote in the eXile:

    ”I had one difficult relationship with a charming girl, twelve years old. On June 20 a charming girl was supposed to bring some things to me. In the evening. But it just so happened that that day, that morning, in fact, I came across Nastya’s party card, with her photo and age. And that was that. There was no reason to go hunting young sluts anymore. Why bother, when a perfect child had appeared among my own followers? A child has everything. A young slut. Light.

    Damn, how she worried me…how I lusted after her! We didn’t do it until August. We did everything but. […] The editor of an edgy youth newspaper, the leader of a revolutionary party. Who else should a young talented girl — a girl who chose a book of Bosch reproductions when I invited her to select a present — fall in love with? Who else?”



    From “Field Guide to Moscow: Skholnitsa Statutoria” :

    ”Danger if Provoked: Low. The Skholnitsa Statutoria generally provokes more than is provoked. If cornered alone in an unfamiliar environment, she will say no but mean yes.

    Mortal Weaknesses: Pimply boys who are more interested in playing guitar than talking with them, downloading ring tunes, Mark Ames.”



    Excerpted from the eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia, pages 152-153:

    A few days later, she came to meet me with two of her friends, one who was also
    16, and another, Natasha, who looked even younger.

    Russian law states that any woman 16 or over is eligible; if a girl is between
    the ages of 14 and 16, and she looks 16, then she is still
    legal, so long as she didn’t prove she’s under 16.


    When I went
    back into the TV room, Andy pulled me aside with a worried grin on his face.
    “Dude, do you realize…do you know how old that Natasha is?” he said.


    “No! No, she’s fif-teen. Fif-teen!” Right then, my pervometer needle
    hit the red. I had to have her, even if she was homely.’”

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