What is the role of an embassy?

I had a bit of a discussion with a poster on Debito about what the U.S. embassy in Japan is supposed to do. In previous years, they have dropped the ball so often on their actual mission, that people forget that there is a ball.

I am borrowing from the Wikipedia on Diplomatic Mission, which is what the embassy essentially is:

Role

The role of such a mission is to protect, in the receiving State, the interests of the sending State, and of its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law; negotiating with the Government of the receiving State as directed by the sending State; ascertaining by lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State; promoting friendly relations between the sending State and the receiving State, and developing their economic, cultural and scientific relations.

So this easy explanation is very clear, ne? The embassy is not a permanent business convention in the foreign state. The people there are not lackeys to do the bidding of the big multinational corporations, and the well-connected executives and their families. They are supposed to represent Americans’ interests in Japan.

Whenever there is a Republican administration, the State Department allows a lot of shit to go on with the embassies—and particularly the Japanese one, where clubby meetings in the shadows are a way of life for the powerful, much more than in America.

What I want to focus on, is to ask: how much has the U.S. Embassy done over the past 10 years for the people[?] Not, for the business class who happen to be Americans. Not, for military who are Americans stationed in Japan. Not for university administrators, who are relying on the embassy to help fill their American-based schools. Not new passports. Not tax advice. I mean, policy help for Americans in Japan.

And I’ll bet you it’s damn near zip.

Zippo. Nothing.

In defense of the Tokyo embassy, I must say that some of the people attached to it have been bringing American concerns to the Japanese government of Minshuto (DPJ). But I don’t think there’s been any follow-up. I think it’s in the style of a kabuki, where the issues get communicated, and the communication gets received, and then someone maybe even writes the concern down on a note pad with an elegant binder. And that is that. The junior-boy Japanese who takes the note (and notice, it’s mostly men), is going to do it in the most practiced, blank-faced manner, as if the “other side” hasn’t learned to look for other non-verbal cues in the behavior of the people there, to judge their emotions.

Ah, yeah.

The biggest farce is that embassy apologists have actually convinced any number of Japan-side Americans that the diplomatic mission really is properly there to be this business and university junket that issues passports on the side.

[Update 9/21/11: Per the debito.org website, there is new information about this occurrence.]

[Update 9/23/11: Unfortunately, most of the commentary below goes to the Debito-Tepido online pissing match, not the topic above. I approved the posts because I wanted to be fair to the commenters. But I have my doubts about whether there is a “fair”. It just all starts to remind me of an old episode of Star Trek.]

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37 comments

  1. Eido INOUE · September 6, 2011

    FYI, the original article (about William Lake’s American daughter not receiving help from the U.S. Consulate in Osaka) that prompted your discussion has now been deleted from both BAChome and CRNjapan.

    Similar to how the Mick Hogan story was deleted (even from debito.org) from the internet after it was discovered to be false.

    Additionally, DMCA takedowns have been sent to wordpress blogs that attempt to reference this story.

    • hoofin · September 6, 2011

      Inoue-san, who determined that the story is false? Just Binging a source like Facebook, there really is a William Lake, and he contends that his daughter was turned away from the Osaka consulate for not being eligible for a repatriation ticket back to America. Is CRN being hoaxed? BAChome? Allegedly, this man has been pursuing the issue from 2009 2005 at the earliest.

      It would be nice if these website had a policy of saying exactly why they were redacting something that had appeared on their site. DMCA is supposed to be used solely for copyright matters, and I imagine someone could get themselves in a lot of trouble if they sought to use it in a harassing way like Health One did with letsjapan.org two years ago.

      I hope this story isn’t similar to one about the bar in Hokkaido, where their willingness to admit or deny that someone claimed he was refused entrance was seen as “proof” that the bar did not discriminate against foreigners.

      I need to see more evidence to be convinced about what the William Lake situation is. Back on topic, I don’t see the embassy or consulates doing very much about this, only Congressman Smith . . .

      • Eido Inoue · September 7, 2011

        If you want evidence of U.S. embassies not helping out its citizens, you should pick a better example:

        http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110906zg.html

        Not informing the next of kin (U.S. citizens in the U.S.) that an U.S. citizen had died overseas until five months after the fact, despite being promptly informed by the Japanese police? That’s shocking.

        • hoofin · September 7, 2011

          So what you’re telling me is that besides the child kidnapping hijinx, (see Wikileaks on Savoie matter, here), they also take 5 months to let stateside survivors of an everyday American know that a loved one passed away? I bet if either of these cases involved an executive with one of the Tokyo offices of some big international company, neither of those unfortunate results would have happened . . .

        • tony · September 24, 2011

          According to the article, they did not inform the family that the case had been closed for five months.
          >The police investigation into his death was officially closed on Feb. 22, but the family was not informed of the fact until July — five months later.

          The family had, apparently been informed of the incident itself.
          >He remained in a coma for five days before dying of his injuries, his mother by his side,

          • hoofin · September 24, 2011

            It would be nice to know what the real story is to that one.

    • hoofin · September 7, 2011

      By the way, I am not having any trouble accessing the CRN story you linked to, today.

      • Arudou Debito · September 21, 2011

        That’s what I told Inoue when he first made the claim as a Debito.org Comment a couple of weeks ago — as he inaccurately claimed the post on CRN was down. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now. I think Inoue needs to use his insomnia to research and update his claims. He certainly demonstrates an obsessive need to scour any venue that does not match his agenda (which panders to and defends racist practices in Japan), and inaccurately (and overgeneralizingly) flame anyone he can. Get a life, Eido.

        • hoofin · September 21, 2011

          It is unfortunate that that small group, associated with Tepido, decides to make a pissing match about everything. I think I get a few other commenters from there from time-to-time. I happen to think that Eido is a good guy, and you, also, a good guy. So it’s my hope that they will someday cease with the game that is going on there.

          When non-Japanese are present in Japan, it’s important that there is equal protection of the law for these people. The policing power is supposed to be with the “state”. The idea that friendly phone calls will fix everything is a bit misguided. If that worked, then everything the world could be solved by the friendly phone call. Usually, the friendly phone call or mention results in the big blow off. If it even happens 1 times in 10, there is a problem.

          So it is silly to make a game where someone like yourself points out discrimination, and a few others decide to make an issue about whether there was the friendly phone call. The issue is not whether there was the friendly phone call. It’s: where did the deed doer decide (get the idea) to do the discriminatory act?

          • hoofin · September 26, 2011

            Apparently, this comment was condensed at Tepido to mean that I was saying “don’t make friendly phone calls”. (Ah, more delightful bickering . . . ) I think it’s clear from the text is that where there is law without teeth, the friendly phone call can likely be something that gets ignored. Maybe not with “keep out” signs, but definitely on more material matters. So don’t bet it all on a phone call to fix what might be a serious issue.

        • steve · September 22, 2011

          Mr. Arudou,

          I used to read everything you posted, but now you have lost all credibility to me and should be ashamed of yourself. It is unacceptable to alter the record (to which you exclusively have access) in an effort to distort the truth, even if it is for a good cause. This is disingenuous to those who look to you for guidance, and when you get caught, it undermines not only your work, but also that of others. It is further unacceptable to leverage this altered history to hurl insults such as “get a life” and “troll” at your perceived enemies.

          You surreptitiously edited the bold text you inserted into Mr. Inoue’s comment to leave the appearance that he was trolling your blog. When Mr. Inoue left that comment on your post, the original article had indeed been removed from CRN. You must be aware of this fact; you all but acknowledged it when you injected the following into Mr. Inoue’s comment:

          – Oh there you are, Eido. I thought you weren’t participating on Debito.org anymore (you’ve said so on at least two occasions, here’s one). Clearly you’ll only drop by if you can make some kind of stink or blame me for something.

          Anyway, I can’t explain. They’re the source, and if the source won’t back something up, then that’s that. It’s their responsibility, like any source, to back up their claims. Waiting for final confirmation about what happened.

          Now that the original article has subsequently been republished on CRN you edited the original comment to it’s current form:

          – Oh there you are, Eido. I thought you weren’t participating on Debito.org anymore (you’ve said so on at least two occasions, here’s one). Clearly you’ll only drop by if you can make some kind of stink or blame me for something.

          Anyway, I don’t know what you’re talking about on one count. It’s still up at CRN Japan.
          http://crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-mltabsd.html

          Anyway, I can’t explain. They’re the source, and if the source won’t back something up, then that’s that. It’s their responsibility, like any source, to back up their claims. Waiting for final confirmation about what happened.

          I’ve added emphasis to the text you inserted after the article was republished on CRN. The fact you subsequently spliced in a new paragraph is easily detectable from the second “anyway” summarizer because it ruins the flow of your comment.

          Anyway, I no longer see you as a truthful source.

          Anyway, I shall no longer be reading your blog.

          • hoofin · September 22, 2011

            I don’t know if you realize, but you are posting to my blog and not to debito.org.

            The short line of the story is that the post you mention has to do with a series where the Tepido gang takes something they read on Debito, and then try to “disprove” it.

            When the Mary Lake incident happened, Eido Inoue went around and pointed out that CRN, which had been publicizing the State Department’s failure to persuade the kidnapped Mary Lake to come in, had, for some reason, taken the post down for several hours. Later, it came back up. No one knows why, but Eido was suggesting that it was similar to the Nick Hogan punking from last year.

            I don’t think that Debito’s addition really changed anything at all. It maybe makes Eido look silly, but, in fact, it was kind of silly to go around telling people that because you couldn’t access a story on CRN, that that meant it was false. The evidence is clear that it wasn’t.

            The Tepido gang has done this a couple times this year, which is probably why Debito has no patience for them, and doesn’t do perfect re-edits.

            The point is: Who was really wrong? Who jumped to conclusions?

            You are of course free to read any space on the internet. But you can’t convince me that Debito’s quickie edit was anything more than pointing out that the CRN webpage in question was very much there, and that the critic was the one who jumped to the wrong conclusion about the kidnapped Mary Lake story.

            • steve · September 22, 2011

              Hoofin, I know this is your blog.

              Mr. Arudou posted a comment on your blog. I responded to that comment on your blog. I trusted that you would not manipulate or outright delete my comment on your blog. Not now, not months from now. So I posted on your blog, not Mr. Arudou’s.

              I tried the link over the course of a couple of days, but it didn’t work – I think it redirected to the homepage if I recall correctly. I couldn’t find a link to the article from the CRN homepage. I didn’t know the link was working again until I saw Mr. Arudou’s post this morning calling Mr. Inoue a troll.

              Of course it is conceivable the article was moved to some obscure corner of the website, then back to it’s original location, only giving the appearance of having disappeared. My main point is that I don’t think it is odd to wonder why a controversial story suddenly becomes inaccessible simply because it often equates to retraction.

              However, I do find Mr. Arudou’s recent behavior odd and disappointing. I am not sure I agree with your assessment, but this could be because I don’t follow tepido and therefore didn’t understand the relevance of their actions, which you invoked in defending Mr. Arudou’s comment editing to facilitate an attack.

              In the end, I guess we’ll likely agree to disagree, which is better than all parties calling each other hitler ;-).

            • hoofin · September 23, 2011

              Steve, I see what you are saying. But I still look at the whole thing as a, well, as a spat. I don’t think what Debito did was wrong–because he gets a ton of commenting traffic on the site. Was it a zing? Yeah, probably, but so what? There is an unpleasant situation right now between the people who don’t like the one site, and those other people who do some incredibly goofy things to menace Debito and the site.

              Several months ago, I had hoped that the dissenters would just go off and do their own thing. I enjoyed reading the other peoples’ comments on Debito’s site, and if they just make general comments on mine, I am delighted.

              They should really just go off and do their own things, and not keep circling back to the Debito community. It’s an opinion blog that seeks to keep people current with news or other happenings, and a commentating group that is fairly open even if it is moderated. It is what it is.

            • Sawney Bean · September 23, 2011

              Hoofin, do you really, for a second, think that Debito would have let Steve’s comment through on his site? Part of the reason Tepido exists is because of the overly enthusiastic moderation of anything that might be even slightly contradictory to Debito’s message.

        • Wilford Brimley · September 24, 2011

          How is explaining someone’s motives pandering and defending racists practices? Part of addressing those practices is understanding them. In this case while the practice might have been racist the motives were not. Understanding those motives will let you address them without screaming from the ramparts “RACIST RACIST RACIST!” when in fact the person you’re screaming at was not until they met you…

          • hoofin · September 24, 2011

            As I keep saying, you fellas lose a good part of your argument in the nastiness and ad hominem attacks that are replete on your club’s website. Had you simply made it about something other than constant nit-picking about Arudou, whatever you have to say would have had more credibility.

            When you parrot that Debito, as a commenter, uses a lot of the models of describing Japanese racism that were used in, say mid-1980’s American racism college debates, I can only point out that Debito is a product of that time, who left the scene here after that had (supposedly) changed on U.S. campuses. So you men are heavy on criticism for style, rather than substance.

  2. Eido Inoue · September 22, 2011

    Hello Debito. A little birdie mentioned you made an appearance here and felt compelled to address me. I’m surprised that you did this, as you’re not known to venture outside your domain (where you can control the content) often. Truthfully, I’m a little disappointed that you resorted to name calling. Not that it bothers me. With all the debating that you’ve taught at the uni I just expected better technique from you.

    First, I thought I was helping you (as I did before) by pointing out, as early as possible, that CRN had pulled the page. That’s because I remember the biggest mistake (from the perspective of your blog) you ever made: publishing that last CRN story about that con man and you almost ending up unwittingly assisting in money wire fraud. After CRN pulled the story, you then had to issue a retraction, blemishing the perceived reliability and reputation of your site. I don’t blame you for making an exception to your historical record policy and deleting the post and comments from your site.

    So, I thought I was doing you a favor breaking my self-imposed no-post rule and giving you (and Hoofin) a “uh oh, here we go again with CRN” heads up warning so you don’t end up committing too far like you did last time. You’re welcome.

    Next, regarding how “[I] inaccurately claimed the post on CRN was down. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now“: I took your advice and used my insomnia to see if I needed to update my claim! You know what, I stand by my claims. Now, I know you won’t believe me, despite the fact that I think I know a thing or two about the internet and web pages, so I’ll tell you or anybody else how they can confirm for themselves. It requires no special skills or tools or knowledge or access, so there’s no need to name drop my employer. Web pages are often copied and cached all over the internet. From many different time periods. (especially in Japan) Do a little searching, and I’m sure you’ll find a copy of the page for the date range in question, which will returned a redirect to the homepage for the address in question. This happens on Apple iWeb based sites when a page never existed or is deleted. (Go ahead, try it. Go to a iWeb based site and type a gobbledygook address). But wait, there’s more: iWeb sites are based on static files, which means the meta data they return to web browsers (in particular, the page creation / modification timestamps) can give accurate to the second information on when the page you were reading was touched or came into existence. iWeb even goes one step further and places yet another timestamp in the html header showing the date that’s separate from the filesystem timestamp. How you see the source and the HTTP modification date depends on your web browser. One thing’s for sure, though, is that there is a page on a site that has a date that is way too far in the future considering when the page was supposed to have been originally published.

    Finally, I want to compliment you on your excellent work regarding this first real true scoop. Your recent post on William Lake and BAChome is some of the best work you’ve done in years: it has real names of important people on the informal public record with real dates (and real email addresses!), willing to put their reputations on the line by marking the mail as not only non-classified but CCing many government officals AND the press (CNN). The government must feel extremely strongly that the “evidence is clear it wasn’t” [what William Lake and the other two organizations claimed had happened]. In particular, these quotes in your post, written by a U.S. government worker in the open to news organizations and other important people that could discipline her if she misspoke, are particularly damning:

    * “The information you are reporting regarding recent events at Consulate Osaka is factually incorrect.”

    * “… we have been in contact with the child’s father, who is aware of what actually transpired.”

    * “Mr. Lake’s most recent Privacy Act Waiver allows us to speak about his case with other people…”

    * “We regret that Mr. Lake has misunderstood many of the facts concerning the events of last week…”

    * “I reiterate that the Consular Officer in charge of American Services in Osaka and the Office of Children’s Issues together report a very different version of what happened.”

    * “Mr. Lake has indicated that he is willing to provide a sworn affidavit that Ms. Vause told him his daughter Mary appeared in person at the Osaka consulate. However, even taking [Beth A. Payne] at [her] word that Mary Lake called [as opposed to fled to inside] the consulate…“

    This is explosive stuff! I’ve never seen a government official communicate like this so openly with so many important (and independent for the government news sources) people in a CC list. Nice work at getting this raw sourced data! It’s a wonderful change of pace from most of your content this year.

    Clearly this is a conspiracy of the highest order: the government, and the U.S. news, must be in on it. They’re denying and lying about the event to prevent the truth of their mistake from being known. And it runs all the way to the top, based on who’s CCed and thus covering for this lowly bureaucrat.

    Hoofin concludes his last comment with “The point is: Who was really wrong? Who jumped to conclusions?” Indeed, Hoofin. Indeed.

    As for Debito, I wish you the best of luck in your upcoming overseas endeavor. I hope that a change of scenery, culture, and job will finally allow you to put your demons to rest, and you can find a country, some friends, a soul mate, and a family that you can embrace so they will embrace you back, much like what I (and many others) found in Japan. I sincerely mean that.

    • Arudou Debito · September 23, 2011

      I don’t think you’re sincere at all, Eido. This post by you on Japan Probe proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt. By your very tone above, you’re as usual being a smarmy little [unflattering word]. That’s putting it like your trolling kind would. On my site, I would just note more charitably that you’re an apologist in activists’ clothing, snuggling up to people you might see as rivals so you get enough dirt on them to eventually turn on them (your words, see Japan Probe link above). You’ll do that, of course, as soon as you can find a big enough group supporting your world view you can glom onto, and take the public eye off you (in this case, internet trolls on Tepido) — because you’re too mentally insecure to stand alone and stand up to bullies. You’re the typical contradiction found amongst the less savory internet denizens: a coward and a bully.

      No doubt this exchange will turn up with that group as evidence of something anti-Debito.org (it should in fact be seen as evidence of your obsessiveness). But so what, I’m not a moderator of this site and don’t need to act in moderation. So I’ll say what I feel: Get lost, turncoat. Don’t turn from snuggler into stalker.

      • hoofin · September 23, 2011

        Well, this is a bit of a role reversal for me, too, guys. And so, I have to remember how it goes from Debito’s moderating:

        Hey, we are getting far off topic, so let’s circle back or maybe continue this off-blog.

        I hope I did that right.

        • Arudou Debito · September 23, 2011

          Understood. Sorry, Hoofin. Sauce for the goose.

          • hoofin · September 23, 2011

            It is no problem. I really wish the other side would create some constructive counterarguments, and then you could do a Talking Heads on YouTube.

            • Greg · September 23, 2011

              “Troll,” “apologist,” “smarmy little [unflattering word]”, “mentally insecure,” “coward,” “bully,” “turncoat,” “stalker.”

              Reading Debito Arudou’s response above, I join Eido Inoue in being surprised that this is from someone who supposedly taught a class on “Business English and Debate” at Hokkaido Information University.

              If name-calling and profanity are what professionals can look forward to should they ever start taking Mr. Arudou seriously, it is not difficult to understand why his efforts have been largely ignored for so long.

            • hoofin · September 23, 2011

              I’m not surprised at all, given the history of this little spat. I don’t think it’s reflective of the overall person, but rather an example of “text proofing”—taking some small snippet of text out of a volume of material and trying to make a proof out of that.

              I don’t see any profanity in those comments. They are right at the level of ad hominem that seems to go on at Tepido. Things along the lines of, “well, if employer [electronics company] or employer [major search engine company] knew that [so-and-so] was saying these things in their off-time (or maybe while on the clock!), then they might have second thoughts!”

              Frankly, it’s time for you guys to move this pissing match, wrapped in the rhetoric of alleged injustice and good intentions about what you see as a problem at Debito’s moderated chat board, over to your Tepido hangout.

            • Greg · September 23, 2011

              “I don’t see any profanity in those comments.”

              Excuse me, but with all due respect:

              You would not have removed the expletive from Debito Arudou’s posting to this website and replaced it with “[unflattering word]” had you not felt it would be offensive to some of your readers and inappropriate. It is certainly true that Debito Arudou’s blog commentary is unusual for a public figure; his use of the F-word and other expletives in response to feedback (critical or otherwise) is not something you would find reading the website of well-respected professionals.

            • hoofin · September 23, 2011

              It was not profane. It was unflattering.

            • bs detector · September 23, 2011

              I see, so you thought that troll, smarmy, insecure, coward, bully, turn coat, and stalker are NOT unflattering words?

              Your explanation sounds like (unflattering word) to me.

            • hoofin · September 23, 2011

              The difference was unflattering and maybe to the point (although I disagree), versus plain unflattering. Not profane, though.

              (P.S. time to take it over to your hangout at tepido.org)

      • Andrew in Iwate · September 23, 2011

        Debito, you could easily stamp out 80% of the Tepido crowd if you just let comments through. Also, if you would refrain from ad-hominem attacks like in your post above, you wouldn’t make many opponents. The existence of Tepido is, for the most part, nothing more than that.

        I held you in high regard until you responded poorly to me raising questions about your very thought provoking JT article about naturalized citizens referring to themselves as foreigners. Part of me wonders why I forgave your behavior up until then, and part of me wonders why you so eagerly chewed up the curious supporter that I was. More than anything, I just don’t understand why don’t realize that you needlessly make supporters into detractors. You know that censorship and name calling as bad, so why do it? Why be your own enemy?

        • hoofin · September 23, 2011

          Andrew, it’s like I say, if these comments could be made over at the forum that was set up specifically for that purpose. I have no control over moderation on another person’s website, and am only letting these through so that you can have your say and also emphasize that I do not control the other site.

  3. Pingback: Shlong-measuring war spreads to Hoofin’ | Tepido.org - Not the Hokkaido Crusader
  4. level3 · September 23, 2011

    All I know is from multiple stories we’ve all seen, it does seem the US State Dept. doesn’t really give a shit about its citizens in Japan unless they have connections in business or politics, preferably both. Combine that with bureaucracy and no civil servant willing (or allowed) to stick their neck out and possibly create an “incident” with Japan, our big trade partner, without permission from Hilary Clinton herself, and only a fool would go to the US embassy, let alone a consulate, expecting immediate help, or even help promised beforehand.

    from the horse’s mouth, not Wikipedia
    http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7110a.html

    “Japan is an independent, sovereign country. One of the chief attributes of sovereignty is the right of a country to make and enforce laws within its own borders. Just as in America, the government has the internationally recognized right to try foreigners as well as its own nationals within its territory….

    While in Japan one is subject to the same laws as is a Japanese citizen. A U.S. passport does not entitle its bearer to any special privileges. One should not expect to receive preferential treatment or to expect that the same array of legal rights accorded one under the U.S. judicial system are necessarily applicable in Japan.”

    • hoofin · September 23, 2011

      Level 3, a point well taken, that Americans should not expect “special privileges” in Japan. But they should expect–demand even–something called “equal protection of the law”. And, of course, where American laws apply extraterritorially to Japanese entities controlled by American ones or American people, then American laws apply.

      • hoofin · October 1, 2011

        By the way, my quote in the original post above was, of course, Wikipedia. But Wikipedia got it from the Geneva Convention.

  5. David · September 23, 2011

    Hello Hoofin,

    I have read your comments on Debito’s blog from time to time and also from your own blog. I don’t know you well but I remember you as a tax expert and you had some very helpful things to say about that one $400 tax deduction that American ex-pats apparently couldn’t take in recent years. I’m posting now on your blog, for the first time, for a couple of reasons.

    First, two days ago I tried to post a comment on debito’s blog that was in response to this post from you:

    “In America, instead of doing something meaningful like pay more taxes or volunteer to serve, it became fashionable to display a yellow ribbon “in support of” American troops or whatever the cause might be. This was particularly slick, because not only did it fill the space where the answer to “what are you doing to make things better? (win the war, etc.)” would go, it came across as if the ribbon flyer actually was doing something by the symbolic act.”

    I responded by pointing out that after 9/11 volunteerism increased sharply. People trying to volunteer for the military skyrocketed but the vast majority simply didn’t qualify. In addition, hundreds of charities sprang up raising millions of dollars. Volunteerism in general rose. Moreover, what you call “fashionable” (wearing the yellow ribbon) is what many call “patriotism”, which also increased after the attacks. I thought you were being a bit unfair and, perhaps more importantly, factually incorrect. On the other hand, I didn’t quibble about your comment about too many slogans. On the contrary, I ceded that possibility (frankly I don’t really know what you specifically were referring to but I lived on the West Coast so maybe your exposure was much greater). Anyway, I said I tried to post my comment. However, it was rejected by Debito even though in no way was my post disrespectful to you.

    I recall several months ago this website called “tepido” being mentioned on debito’s blog (nb: I visited debito’s blog very infrequently, mostly to get helpful information related to living in Japan, like how to renew a visa). It sounded like the sight was a haven for kooks although at the time I never visited it. Today, for the first time I did and I’ve changed my mind. Oh, sure, there are kooks that post there but the same could also be said about debito’s blog. For one thing visiting the site confirmed what I already knew. A lot of people have gotten censored on debito’s blog simply because they didn’t put forth the “right” point of view.

    Through torpido.com I saw your blog linked and came here today, in part, to bloviate which brings me to my second reason. In today’s blog you wrote: “Whenever there is a Republican administration, the State Department allows a lot of shit to go on with the embassies—and particularly the Japanese one, where clubby meetings in the shadows are a way of life for the powerful, much more than in America.” Republican administration, huh? Hmmm. And what is the factual basis for that comment? Earlier today, when I was going through the tepido blog, I noticed several posts from you dated from maybe this spring. If I recall correctly, in one your posts you made a positive reference to some websites including the Huffington Post and Paul Krugman. So now I’m thinking…Hoofin is a staunch defender of debito, he made some factually incorrect statements about Americans after 9/11, and he makes a derogatory remark today about the Republican party. Again, hmmm. Hoofin, are you a far-left, anti-American liberal like debito? You don’t have to answer that of course. It is none of my frickin’ business anyway. But my sister, whom I love dearly, is a self-proclaimed far-left, anti-American, anti-business (actually anybody who wears a suit), anti-Republican artist living in San Francisco and so my radar tends to go up when I’m exposed to similar behavior.

    Blogs are personal endeavors and bias is bound to come forth. But in large part it doesn’t have to be like that. Whenever asked why he injects so much politics into his stated goal of improving human rights (i.e. why does he post things that will unnecessarily alienate people who would otherwise listen to him) he always responds with some bullshit answer about you can’t separate the two (politics and human rights activities). To me that’s a cop out. If I mass mail a brochure designed to raise money to save the whales you better believe I’m not going to make negative remarks about any political party, for example, because it simply defeats the purpose. I can raise the most money if I focus on the goal at hand. For that reason it never ceases to puzzle me why some bloggers want to promote a cause that should transcend politics but nevertheless manage their blogs as if it’s nothing more than a left or right wing diatribe. If bloggers like debito (and yourself) want people to respect their opinions it is important to be objective. That in turn leads to credibility. To me debito clearly is not. There is something wrong there that maybe I can’t even get my arms around. As for you, I still very much trust your word on tax law and I think you are an intelligent, well-meaning person. But until I feel you’re more objective politically speaking, tepido will carry more weight with me.

    Regards,

    David

    • hoofin · September 23, 2011

      Well, David, you’ve got so much there. Do me the favor, and wait a while, and perhaps I can get back to you on where your political opinion disagrees with mine; and, where you missed other writings of mine along the way that contradict your conclusions.

      I am not anti-American, of course. Any regular reader knows that clearly.

      I think your arguments about the nature of blogging are stuck in 2003. I think people’s opinions about politics naturally come out in any forum–certainly I see this on Facebook. It all depends on whether it’s dialed up or down—just like in real conversation.

      As I said, I will get back to you when I have better time. Let me think some more about your points.

  6. Pingback: The Debito-Tepido dispute comes to visit Hoofin to You . . . | Hoofin to You!

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