Thursday, September 18, 2008

Seeking to Hire Ignorant Ghostwriter for Book That Already Exists

One of my first posts on this blog was about a job ad on craigslist that turned out, from my perspective, to be a bit odd. It represented itself as an even-handed "teach the conflicts" sort of site that would offer an even number of articles in support of each side -- that is, each of two sides, in other words, "BOTH" sides -- of various controversial issues. See the "climate change" post way down below.

Somehow, a few days later, I saw an ad that turned out to be from a very similar company. The URL's (which I continue to disguise, out of mild litigational paranoia) were quite different, so I don't think it's the same people.

Now, the new ad was not looking for contributors to their di-polar multi-issue website. Instead, it was looking for a person to write (I believe the apt term here would be ghostwrite, but that never became entirely clear) a study of 9/11. The backers turned out to be an investment firm (let's call it Lonesome Cowpoke's Mutual Fund Barbecue Emporium, or LCMFBE) that has (strangely enough) an entertainment-and-media-production arm (let's call them Lonesome Cowpoke's Movie Hut, or LCMH) which does movies. This is L.A., fine. They wouldn't say what they wanted it for -- were they looking for an eventual movie script, a book, a fifty-thousand-word tattoo? The posted compensation was something low, and weirdly structured, like "$10 - $15/hr, for the first $300." ...Huh?

I applied anyway, because my googling showed that the founder of these two Lonesome Cowpoke companies was also the founder of another investment firm -- let's call them Hideous Bloated Reptile Carcass Investments, Ltd., or, let me see, HBRCI -- that I had actually worked for (in the period commonly referred to as "the past") until I left in disgust (what was I disgusted about? Why, the carpet, of course! I'm a wood-floor guy; it's the Brooklyn in me). But who knows? Maybe Lonesome Cowpoke was a real Saint Goodman Trueheart; as far as I knew, he was no longer with HBRCI. True, google also showed that one of his partners in the new entertainment venture had been to jail, but not everyone who goes to jail is guilty. Looking into 9/11 is so important that I don't care if the people involved have spilled some milk in their day, as long as they're not part of the cover-up. I was curious. So I sent this (names have been changed to protect my buttocks):

Dear Gentlemen: My name is Jamey Hecht, and I edited Mike Ruppert's book, Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil; it was the largest selling book on 9/11 except for the Kean Report itself. In Rubicon, Mike and I broke the story of just how the most powerful airforce in the world was neutralized over the world's most protected airspace. In Mike's famous newsletter, I published several major articles about 9/11 including a study of the book you mention in your posting -- Richard Clarke's Against all Enemies. I've spoken at conferences about 9/11 in Toronto, New York, and elsewhere. Before I moved to L.A. in 2005, I was quite active in NYC's 9/11 Truth Movement, and I have contacts there and elsewhere in the 9/11 community. Here is some footage of me co-hosting (with Ed Begley, Jr.) "Confronting the Evidence," a forum at the Manhattan Civic Center funded by 9/11 critic Jimmy Walter:

I was surprised to see your advertisement, in part because I am familiar with Mr. [Lonesome Cowpoke's] remarkable and indeed legendary career in the [scrimshaw] investment business -- for over a year I was an account executive at [Hideous Bloated Reptile Carcass Investments, Ltd.], the largest and oldest [scrimshaw] investment firm in the United States, a company whose very existence derives from Mr. [Cowpoke's] work. It is very reasonable indeed for people interested in [scrimshaw] to be interested in 9/11 -- the crime was, among other things, a means of generating popular support for a series of resource wars; those wars are occasioned by a new scarcity of petroleum, natural gas, copper, cement, water, and so on. This escalating resource scarcity will drive an economic contraction unlike anything the world has ever seen, and under those conditions [scrimshaw] is likely to pass $5,000 per [trinket of incised decorative whalebone, or TOIDW]. The strong case for eventual [scrimshaw] prices like $5k/[TOIDW] made by people like commentator and investment strategist [Captain Ahab] is far stronger when one includes Peak Oil in the story. And the story of 9/11 is the story of Peak Oil.

For all these reasons, I am interested in learning more about the opportunity you described. For example, roughly how many pages are you expecting for that first $300? [LCMH] is evidently a film production company; is the project intended to result in a book, a film script, or both? If we do meet, I look forward to listening to your views on 9/11, your plans for this project, and your reflections on your own unique story.

I am also the author of three books of my own, the most recent of which will be published in February of 2009. My home is in Los Angeles, and I would be happy to meet with you to discuss the possibilities. A partial resume, including clickable links to my many articles on 9/11, Peak Oil, [scrimshaw], and geopolitics can be found at Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, Jamey Hecht, PhD

Sounds like a pretty good fit, right? Next step: Lonesome Cowpoke sends me and a host of other non-zillionaires an email asking us to answer, in one page of 10 point type (I won't make you read 10 point type, I promise; this is about 16pt, and below is around 12pt, at least on this screen), four questions. They appear below in bold, along with my responses. I know the Verdana typeface is about as visually appealing as a dogshit snowman, but it does simulate the email experience pretty well, so bear with me:

What do you think the completed project will show?
Let’s zoom the lens out for a moment, and take a look at the big picture of the existing work about 9/11. The total population of books, web sites, and DVDs on 9/11 can be thought of as a distribution of points in logical space, with clusters of completed projects gathered at various nodes along various axes: “LIHOP” or “MIHOP” (Let, or Make, It Happen On Purpose); plane or no plane hit the Pentagon; controlled demolition at WTC7 only, or controlled demolition at WTC 1, 2, and 7; remote control flight or hijackings; immobilization of Air Force by stand down, or by overlapping war-game drills, simultaneous with each other and with the real emergency; and so on. Ideally, the results of a given historical research project ought to be determined exclusively by the quality of the information regarded as legitimate by the researcher, and the course of his or her process of logical arrangement, inference, argumentation and eventual persuasion of self and others. In reality, what a 9-11-01 research project winds up saying is influenced by the motivations of the researcher – and if there is a producer (such as Langley or the White House, or a citizen idealist, an artist, etc.), by the motivations of that producer. For the moment I know nothing of your own motivations, which constrains the accuracy of my prediction here, but I trust they are impeccable.

From my perspective, the completed project will likely indicate a de facto web of evolving symbiotic relationships between the “legitimate” and “illegitimate” power groups within the US and among nations. Though rivalries beset and sometimes interrupt these relationships, mutual interest generally guides the individual people involved: like-minded military leaders; weapons dealers and manufacturers; persons and institutions engaged in narcotraffic and money laundering; or in the commerce of natural resources like oil; government intelligence agents and agencies, on and off the payroll; and a powerful minority of elected and appointed civilian government officials. Nobody is truly in charge, and the game plays itself. That is called deep politics, a phrase coined by Peter Dale Scott. But occasionally, a coalition will emerge around a particular project that seems to form a discrete historical episode, and people refer to the sum of the participants, along with the project itself, as a conspiracy because it includes both “legitimate” and “illegitimate” individuals and groups.

How might that information be useful?
Beginning on the day of the attack, the 9/11 Truth Movement ran the same inevitable course repeated by domestic dissent and political critique so many times: formation, momentum, growth, penetration by unidentified representatives of the critiqued; disinformation campaigns; factionalization, and fizzle. It is always possible, however, to rebuild and extend the work of social repair that such movements represent. Apart from that utopian ambition, it’s inherently valuable just to make sense of the attacks and assassinations, the engineered coups des etats and the falsely triggered wars. That sense-making happens in paperback-and-podium argumentation pitched at various levels of sophistication for various audiences; it happens in documentaries; and it can happen in the arts. It cannot happen in the courts: published in September 2004, Mike Ruppert’s Crossing the Rubicon was a solidly documented, robustly argued legal case against Dick Cheney and others, constructed strictly around means, motive, and opportunity. Though it remains the 2nd or 3rd best-selling book on 9/11 after the Kean Report itself, Rubicon has been resolutely ignored by the mainstream media and gone unchallenged by any legal (or other) representative of those it accuses. The way to get media attention is to publish – wittingly or unwittingly – a true story mixed with a poison pill of disinformation.

What do you think the formal title of the project should be?
Denial and Decay: The Origin and Future of 9/11

What questions do you have about the project - if any?
Have you chosen a genre for the project? Do you want a trade paperback non-fiction work of historical research in a popular tone? An insight-oriented work of scholarship with abundant documentation? If it’s a film, do you want to make a documentary or a drama? Are these questions still being shaped and asked and decided? Are you anticipating new investigative work, or do you feel that the existing body of knowledge about 9/11 is so vast that nobody need take the risks entailed by interviewing new witnesses, the delays entailed by new FOIA requests, and so on? Have you a time frame in mind?

And that was it. The dude wrote back with a few very brief comments, the most substantive of which was, and I paraphrase: we want to discover and assemble the best info on what occurred, without any political agenda.

A few weeks went by, and then the guy called me, and he began the conversation with, "What can I do for you?" And I'm like, well... I applied for the 9/11 work you described, because I've got some expertise on that subject and have written several books on other subjects; I've worked for your enterprises before, so I share your interest in [scrimshaw], and I have a PhD... I hand-delivered my resume to your office admin the day you advertised the job... any news?

"No, we're looking at other people."

Now, I know these craigslist adventure stories of mine might sound like sour grapes. I think they're much more interesting than that. I do get plenty of the gigs for which I apply, and I never blog or even karaoke about 99% of the ones I don't get. I blog about them when there is something about the nature of the specific ad that strikes me as dubious, and I check it out for curiosity's sake (and, sometimes, because I actually hope to make a buck), and it turns out to be oddly stinky.

You're interested in the best info on what occurred? Why not study Paul Thompson's work? It's a staggeringly complete timeline of every sneeze and twitch that had anything to do with 9/11 since the Devonian, and it's composed of exclusively "mainstream" news sources like CNN and US News & World Report, the New York Times, and so on. Why not read Peter Dale Scott? Mike Ruppert? Mark Robinowitz? Maybe this guy thinks those men are morons? I don't know what he thinks. I think they're the best authorities in the world on the subject.

So I've come up with a few hypotheses about this little mystery.

(1) Lonesome Cowpoke is a street-smart toughguy who is just beginning to realize there is more to life than making money. He has no idea what research is, owns no books, and has never thought about these issues before. Having decided he's interested, he takes his usual approach to any problem that does not directly involve profit: he delegates it to someone else. Trouble is, if he delegates it to somebody who actually knows something about these issues and about how books get written, he may not be able to treat the person like a disposable underling, and Lonesome finds that prospect very, very unsettling. Or:

(2) Lonesome Cowpoke is a shill, who is cooking up a steamy loaf of disinformation for The Man, and needs some naifs to help stir the batter for ten dollars an hour. Or:

(3) Lonesome Cowpoke thinks that a person with expertise is a biased person, and he wants himself and his
delegatees to be impartial. That's like seeking out jurors who know nothing about the case, right? Or is it more like nominating a demented Alaska mayor to serve as the President of the United States Senate?

As for me, Homie don't care. But it was worth blogging about.

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