Peter Van Buren Says Thanks, and Goodbye

I’ll save someone the time typing in the Comments section – yes, yes, I won’t let the door hit me on the ass on the way out.

I’m going to take a break with this blog. I may post here and there when I get bored, I may rerun some old things, I may do nothing at all. But after some six years and over 2,000 posts, I’m gonna do something else. Not sure just what yet.

The reason is simple: the Internet has become too boring and too toxic. It is no longer a matter of having a thick skin, it is a question of why bother.

The past election finally broke the idea of the informal interchange blogs thrive on, as it broke journalism. And as it apparently caused most of America to lose its mind.

Partisan reporting devolved into partisan facts; for example, though the basics are black and white in how the government’s document classification system works, the mass of media allowed itself for over a year to believe that Clinton had no classified material on her email server because someone retyped things without the SECRET headers, then spent months telling everyone even if she did that did not matter, even after it did. There are plenty of other examples. For example, a large number of Americans now believe, based on no real evidence presented yet so far, that our government is literally controlled from Moscow. But mention the idea of a Deep State and you’re labeled a nut case conspiracy theorist. Sure.

Journalism used to involve sources, people and documents – facts. Reporters told us how they knew something so we could judge the validity of the reporting. If the source on a new strategy toward India was an intern who quit last year versus a senior national security advisor, we could judge. Now, major stories are near-exclusively sourced anonymously, and often include second and third hand leaks and rumors, all jumbled together as fact. As long as the main story point supports a given bias (Trump is bad) most people seem to play along. As the old joke goes, that’s not reporting, it’s typing.

Outside of some pretty dank hyper-conservative media, it is impossible to write about Trump except to ridicule him, and even that must be done in the most juvenile ways to pass muster. I can’t write about a decision, or compare something today to actions of the Obama administration, unless I also call Trump a petulant fool, a man-child, orange Cheeto, and state he is planning to start a war with China, Iran or North Korea this same day. Anything less than that and I am a fascist, nazi, rethugblican, or just plain stupid. History has been rewritten on the fly to deify Obama, and even George W. Bush has seen a bit of a makeover. Anything other than overt attacks on Trump are labeled as support. There is nothing left to write other than grade school level insults.

There is no point I can see anymore in researching and writing an explainer on how something like the Emoluments Clause works, for example, when the response is inevitably something like “You suxxxx, go f*ck Putin, stupid white man!!!!”

I also see no real progress being made now that everyone is empowered to insult everyone else. It is not “resistance” to call me names for being straight and white. Legitimate political criticism of a politician is instantly labeled misogynistic. Or homophobic or sexist or racist.

Oh yes, and I’m threatened by all this, I’ve heard a million times. Friends, I’ve been shot at, mortared, told I might go to jail under the Espionage Act, made to believe the government might seek to bankrupt me in legal costs, stuff like that. Trust me, your Tweet is not a threat. It’s just tiresome, repetitive, and unoriginal.

The final straw for me is the attack on free speech from the left, the growing sense that the use of violence is an acceptable tool to silence offensive speech as long as you can say without irony your violence is the anti-fascist kind. Progressives, if you can’t see the wrong in using fascist techniques to fight fascism, I can’t help you. But God help all of us.

So anyway America, enjoy. I’ll be over here in the corner with a water glass of tequila, watching as we tear ourselves apart, and wondering how long 300 million people can keep the lights on with a near-complete lack of civil discourse. Then again, I always was a big Mad Max fan.

See you later.

(Sound of the door slapping me on the ass as I walk away…)

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

23 thoughts on “Peter Van Buren Says Thanks, and Goodbye”

  1. I would love it if you could read this text in a youtube video. To share with the reading-impaired. But what am I saying…

    I don’t know if you really see the pattern behind this, but even if you did, you would be wise to keep it to yourself. My avatar should indicate I have reached your position a while ago.

  2. I am terribly sorry, Peter. I understand where you are coming from. I have received attacks from both sides for posts on some sites where I acknowledged that I did not support, or vote for, either Clinton or Trump. It is not just the left that does this, but, you are correct to point out the irony of “progressives” who resort to fascist methods to keep ideological discourse pure. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate your contributions, and that you will be missed.

  3. it’s a shame. I count you as one of the most courageous whistle-blowers and enlightened bloggers artculating the corruption and incompetence of out-of-control government. And always with a biting edge. I can’t blame you. Apparently 300 million people have taken liberty to mean libertine. Self-absorption replaced self-sacrifice in our duty to each other as the once-great republic fades and something dangerously unstable replaces it. We are truly past countdown and into the launch phase of crazy. Enjoy the water glass.

    1. “I count you as one of the most courageous whistle-blowers…”

      Ditto here. You are a true hero, Peter.

  4. Godspeed Peter. This queer tranny anarcho-Marxist solutes you. As Chris Kristofferson told Sinead O’Connor- Don’t let the bastards get you down.

    P.S. Anyone who’s a Mad Max fan couldn’t possibly be a homophobe. The Road Warrior is like the most homoerotic movie ever made.

    “There has been too much violence, too much pain. None here are without sin….”
    -The Humungus

  5. Thx for your good work on the vigil. Rest up, find your next thing, and stay skeptical. Many out here look forward to an occasional piece.

  6. Peter, I enjoyed your book We Meant Well.
    You just need a strong comments moderator to filter out the ad hominem garbage before you look at comments. A majority of the public cannot be reasonable or polite in debate.

  7. That’s too bad.
    I have heard your interviews, and read numerous articles and blogs you have written, always feeling you were thoughtful, perceptive, and always interested in the heart of the matter.

    Here’s the kicker: no matter what kind of work you do, the great mass of people won’t be able to tell the difference whether it was well done or not. In regards to writing, they won’t even be able to discern what it is they are actually reading or what you are trying to say. Most can’t tell the difference between information and entertainment, in the same way many people can’t tell the difference between love and abuse. The reason is because it is oversimplifying to say the difference is easy to see, or obvious. It takes some education to even know there is a difference, more so for it to become obvious.
    As Aristotle said, the educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead.
    Anyway, this is not a left or right thing, its a human thing (see: Hoffer’s “The True Believer”). There will always be trolls and people who want to bring you down. Just because they are the ones commenting doesn’t mean there aren’t people who thought carefully about your work and didn’t comment. In fact, how do you even determine how many of those there were? Or will be, since the work basically rests in perpetuity on the net?
    This piece is in effect, a great argument for how solid journalism is needed now, more than ever.
    As for the trolls, it’s not a sin to be an ignorant confused misanthrope, is it? Most of us were there anyway, when we were about 14 years old. Others carry it on… way way on, that’s all.

  8. Best wishes to you — and thank you for everything you’ve written. I think solutions to our problems lie outside the two party duopoly [actually one party, united for war and Wall Street] — and we’re experiencing the pain and idiocy that will be involved. The lies that have been told have crept up on the government and the structures of our society: no one trusts, everyone [except the elites] is suffering, traditional systems are cracking apart. It’s going to be ugly. I am sorry you had some of that ugly directed at you. Rest, refresh, renew — and I hope to meet you again online.

  9. Nothing has changed. The main stream media lies about everything related to foreign policy. Or they completely ignore what is actually going on. That has been the corporate media policy since the Korean war and later the bombing of Laos.If you think anything will change as long as the capitalists rule you are in for a load of disappointment.

  10. Please don’t go. Our youth and young adults have been brainwashed enough. They have no critical thinking skills and resort to the tactics you describe because there is no intellectual depth. Continue to do what you do. If you reach one person, you have taken steps to change many. Voices like yours are most important and impactful of all.

  11. The Antifa movement is mindless angry leftists getting in fights with powerless poor white retards. It is the most pointless thing I have ever witnessed. For all of its faults the Occupy Wall Street movement at least had the right enemy. This is so pointless I have to wonder if the pentagon and wall street organized this in the classic divide and conquer strategy. The wall street bankers have to be laughing their asses off at this.

    1. “This is so pointless I have to wonder if the pentagon and wall street organized this in the classic divide and conquer strategy.” Yes, yes they did.

  12. I am VERY sorry to read this. I’ve read your pieces for a long time and will miss your thoughtful commentary. This particular piece is spot-on. Good luck.

  13. I am really sorrow filled about your going away, but at the same time, fully understand that we have indeed sunk to these lowest of journalistic depths.Wish you the best and hope you are off growing some fine thing somewhere. Thank You!!!!

  14. Thank you for your service, Mr van Buren. I am a progressive, but I have always appreciated, just as I have always appreciated Ron Paul’s stance I war.

    I would like to say, I myself find non violence to be a first principle and a necessary condition for being a progressive. I feel that label is often falsely appropriated by neoliberals to give the appearance that they support progressive policies (they don’t) and that many on the RIGHT then associate the actions of neoliberals with the term progressive. I also do not advocate for antifa tactics or any kind of violence in protest.

    I say that as one who has been involved in BLM protests and actions, NoDAPL, protest against the police murderers of unarmed innocents, etc. Antifa elements have always wanted to get involved in these actions and my groups have always refused them. In our minds, MLK had it right, violence only begets violence (often from the police), takes one further from solutions, and caps it off by undermining support from the surrounding communities.

    Anyway, I just wanted to mention that. As a progressive, there is not one thing you wrote that I disagree with. As a matter of fact when I share this with my progressive friends, most of them will express disappointment that you are leaving the fight. And I wish it weren’t so.

    I will say that maybe you misestimate the hunger on the left for exactly the things you mention in this letter. A voice against the deep state. A voice which demands evidentiary argumentation. A voice that will fucking stand up for the right to free speech of the most abhorrent of us, for as their rights go, so go everyone’s. Finally, a voice to stand against war.

    I’m feeling down right now, too. I see how McAuliffe allowed that girl to get murdered, let the whole situation happen, threw two known antagonists together and let them fight till somebody got killed… And isn’t that just the oldest game in the book for the deep state?

    So at last take heart, please I hope this will add a little nuance to your view of progressives. I am sure there are many things we do not agree, but obviously the reverse is true as well.

    TRUE progressives have been aware of the rise of the deep state, in fact we are most likely the true target of what happened in Charlottesville: the left hates us way more than they hate the right, what would they do without their protagonist? Anyways, too many words from me, and please, we would all benefit from more words against war from you, I Hope we get them. Peace, brother.

  15. As I have often noted in the valley of the blind the one eyed man will be soon executed.

  16. It seems ironic to me (as a half amused, half aghast Candian observer), that the left and their hypnotized media fraternity brothers are exactly what they shriekingly proclaim Trump and his 62 million voters to be: fascist thugs, Russia enablers, war mongers, and state controlled media.

    Peter – although there are bands of roving loonies (paid or otherwise) whose welfare checks fund their online assaults on free speech, the sane and reasonable peoples vastly outnumber them, even if they are not as rabid and visible. I encourage you to carry on. Every true journalist and level headed commentator is needed now more than it ever has been in America’s short and bloody history.

  17. Shake it off! All this M$M & rigged social media focus on extremes and fear-mongering fantasies is designed to do exactly this – make us give up. People’s egos keep us from ever seeing someone say “hey – you’re right!” but CHANGE DOES HAPPEN (look at LGBTQ rights in the last 10 years).

    2016 proved for the 1st time people can refuse to vote for the candidate with $1.2 BILLION corrupt dollars AND THE M$M DEEPSTATE OLIGARCHY IS RIGHTLY TERRIFIED. Now all we have to do is get people to quit being idiots by saying “I like the Green party platform that is even better than Sanders which makes him the MOST POPULAR politician, and that they also don’t take BIGPAC$$$ but I can’t vote for them because they can’t win because other people won’t vote for them because I won’t vote for them because they wont vote for them because they can’t win… because I won’t vote for them.”

    Go have some fun. And then back to it!

  18. I really enjoyed your perspective, the people you are angry , never would care forfacts to begin with. Farewell and hope to read you soon again, finally I would never recommend anyone alcohol, weed is better.

  19. Thousands share this view. Take a needed break. And thank you for the wisdom and intelligence you have shown over the years.

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