October 1998 Journal entries


I'm going to try to update this online journal from time to time, with answers to reader questions, links that I find interesting, etc.

Something I'd like to draw your attention to is that the CIA Inspector General's second report has been released -- following to the letter the process Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair describe as the "un-cover up" in their highly informative book Whiteout:"The Agency first denies with passion, then concedes in profoundly muffled tones, charges leveled against it." Robert Parry (who broke many contra stories in the 80s) has an excellent summary of the report.

In this second report the IG acknowledges that the CIA was aware from the start that the Contras were running cocaine into the U.S. This is of course what reporter Gary Webb described in his Dark Alliance series in the San Jose Mercury News (now out in an expanded version from Seven Stories Press. There is an overview of coverage of Webb's book at the AAN website.).

And while the mainstream media, acting in their capacity as self-appointed protectors of the status quo, did their best to discredit Webb -- essentially ruining his career -- this story is being quietly buried in the back pages, if it runs at all. The New York Times buried it on page A-7 of a Saturday edition -- on a three-day weekend, no less. Ironically, the Times Book Review had just run a hit piece on Webb's and Cockburn's books a week earlier -- disingenuously noting that "What makes both these books unsatisfactory is their inability to reach inside the intelligence community to cross-check sources and allegations ..."

In other words, as John Strausbaugh notes in the New York Press this week, "He's calling them irresponsible for *not citing Agency sources*, the way your obedient Langley correspondent for the New York Times or the Washington Post would have done."

All those papers that ran headlines like "CIA investigates itself, finds no evidence of wrongdoing," would seem to owe Gary Webb an apology. But I woudn't hold my breath.

And by the way, has anyone else noticed that in three issues, Brill's Content -- the magazine that was supposed to "hold the media accountable" -- has yet to mention Gary Webb's name?


I see that Scott Adams' new book, The Joy of Work, devotes a full eight-page chapter to Norman Solomon's critique, The Trouble With Dilbert. Not that Scott really addresses any of Norman's points, mind you -- he mainly makes fun of his appearance and suggests that he must be a Communist or something. (The reductionist argument that anyone who finds fault with corporate America must therefore be a damn Commie also showed up in the Suck column on this topic.)

Not that I'm excited about getting dragged into this particular debate again. I did one goddamned cartoon suggesting that Dilbert might not be the radical hero of the downsized the mainstream media was portraying him to be, and ever since, I've been tagged as The Guy Who Hates Dilbert. As I've said in any number of interviews, I think Dilbert is a funny cartoon. I like Adams' absurdist humor, and I've spent enough time in cubicles myself to enjoy his take on that world. But he's not a radical social theorist. The social critique in Dilbert is essentially: bosses are stupid and cubicles are small. It's Dagwood Bumstead for the nineties.

And Scott, if you're out there, I gotta say -- not a very classy response, bubba. You're the nine hundred pound gorilla. This is like going after a gnat with a howitzer, and it just makes you look defensive and a little pathetic.

Disgruntled has a story, The Dilbert Empire Strikes Back, and a sidebar on Adams and downsizing. Norman Solomon will soon have a web page with a section on The Trouble with Dilbert (including the entire text of the book). I'll link to it when it is up.

An Actual Response From an Actual Reader

>Dear sir,
>I have a couple questions for you:
>Are you the artist as well as the writer?
>How did you get on TV?
>Approximately how many cartoon frames do you have ( our guess is 2-3
>(excluding eye shifts)?
>What is it that you're trying to say?
>Who is the duck?  What's his deal?
>What does any of it have to do with "tomorrow"?