It is at least interesting to see the latest mainstream media insult circulate liberally across the country, one designed to reduce bloggers to little more than reactive agitprop sensationalists. This week it’s “(insert example of ridiculously overblown commentary here) could have been found on Daily Kos”. I might take more offense, except when I know the major players frequently fall far short of their own lofty journalistic standards. We’ve consistently recognized, called out, and sometimes outright mocked op-ed columnists, television commentators, pundits, and members of the fourth estate. We shouldn’t expect a mea culpa any time soon. But when we can produce all sorts of facts to prove our point, we can certainly make a strong case on our own behalf. And we can certainly keep sharing our own voices for the benefit of all, unimpeded by what anyone might say.
Feb 17 2010
Is the blogosphere a community?
On Saturday, I saw a very interesting piece by Cenk Uygur, whom I have admired, on FDL, “It’s Time for a Progressive Revolution,” in which he said:
If ever there was a time for primaries, it’s now! Almost every Democrat running for re-election should get a primary challenge. This is our best chance at a progressive revolution. You know who should run? Teachers, farmers, dentists, moms, small business owners, cops, butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers. And anyone else with a shred of integrity who actually cares about our democracy.
Normally, you need a boat load of cash to run against a member of Congress. Hence, you need special interests behind you. And hence, all of our members of Congress are sell-outs to special interests. Hence, only 8% of people want to re-elect them. But right now might be one of those moments in a democracy where the people stand up and roar. Right now, all you might need is to just not be an incumbent.
It was focused on the 2010 elections, while the Full Court Press is building for 2012 because of issues of resources and filing deadlines. But I was piqued by his saying, “Almost every Democrat running for re-election should get a primary challenge,” and I loved the broad sentiment, “You know who should run? Teachers, farmers, dentists, moms, small business owners, cops, butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers. And anyone else with a shred of integrity …” Seemed like there was the basis for some dialogue here.
So I posted the Full Court Press proposal on the Young Turks website. I was immediately met in the comments field with a cascade of viciousness. From KenTX:
I’m the REPUBLICAN who is kicking your ass, in your own liberal blogosphere.
We already control cable news, satellite radio, and the AM radio airwaves. Now we’re in your kitchen, cooking an omlet.
By the time 2012 gets here, there won’t be anything left of the Democrat Party…
Jan 19 2010
Our Role in Keeping the Home Fires Burning
I know now that it is foolishness personified to believe that the Democratic Party, nor any of the existing spheres of influence currently established will provide the strong leadership we need. Back in 2006, I was, of course, certainly elated that we had won back control of the House and the Senate, but my reservations then were that the core of the majority body were the same bumblers and bloodless supposed “leaders” whose inaction led to a loss of control in the first place, back in 1994. Unfortunately, these fears seem to have been confirmed. Some have proposed term limits to counter-balance this tendency and while I have my own reservations regarding that solution, I know that surely there must be a better way than what we have now. Long ago, my home state, Alabama, knew that its concerns were likely subordinate to that of wealthier, more well-connected states, so it consistently has elected the same weasels to office, knowing that with seniority comes power and with power comes the ability to set legislative priority.
Even dating back a hundred years ago or more, the state continued to elect the same decrepit, graying elder statesmen for this very reason. The most notable example of this was when, out of fear that these men would die in office, a special election was held, whereby voters could select not only these long-standing candidates for perhaps the last time, but also those who would immediately take power the instant they passed away. “They will be our pallbearers”, one of the ancients was reported to have said at the time. This unique balloting situation was partially due to the fact that Alabama was a poor state and couldn’t afford the additional expense of printing out a second round of ballots if one of its aging representatives died, but it was also due to the fact that the state wasn’t willing to give up its share of influence in the Congress until it absolutely had to, either. If Robert Byrd runs again, one wonders if the voters of West Virginia would be similarly inclined to pursue this strategy. One also wonders if this unique course of action had been employed in Massachusetts had Ted Kennedy’s illness come to light back in 2006 how different the situation facing us today would have been.
I think part of what we are struggling with is an ability to adjust to uncertainty. I have recently noticed that workers in their forties and fifties, those who have paid into the system for years, are now beginning to get laid off in scores. First came the low-wage earners, then came the young, now a group previously insulated from layoffs. This makes for an angry, confused electorate, one which might finds itself unable to construct much in the way of a unified front from within, but still votes to throw the bums out when it comes time to cast a ballot. What I do know, based on observing larger trends over time, is that the economy will come back eventually. This is, of course, not exactly comfort food to those drawing unemployment and subsisting on a fraction of their previous income. And, we must admit, nor is it a good sign for the party in power.
We can tout a stimulus as a job saver, but the true measure of its impact might potentially not be measured for years. The same goes for health care reform. What leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many about the program is that it begins collecting the necessary tax revenue to properly fund it almost the instant it is enacted, yet is not fully implemented until 2014. Not only that, some parts of it will not be in full force until a few years after that. While this implementation stage might be the only way the system can go into effect without toxic shock, that very fact has and will prove to be a powerful talking point for Republicans and disaffected Independents already skeptical of increased taxation, for whatever means.
In situations like these, the natural inclination is to look for a historical antecedent, and some point back to the 1982 Mid-Congressional elections as well as the 1966 cycle. Neither of these fit the profile neatly. The Democratic majorities in the House, for example, were far greater than they are now. In 1966, the Democratic party shed 47 seats but still had a majority cushion of more then 50 seats. In 1982, Republicans picked up 26 seats, but the majority Democrats still had over 100 more than the GOP. No one knows the number of seats that will be lost this coming November, but I still am unconvinced that control will change hands in either chamber. What is more likely is severely reduced numbers which will likely require more conciliatory and concessionary measures with minority Republicans. And, to be blunt, perhaps that isn’t all bad since resounding majorities in both the House and Senate have not prevented legislation from proceeding forward at anything more than a snail’s pace. The Republicans may have put all of their winnings on obstructionism, but inter-party fighting has proved itself a far more effective opponent than anything the GOP has flung at it.
What concerns me more is the completely justified anger at Wall Street and big business, who have methodically bought up every seat at the bargaining table if not other seats in other contexts. This sort of conduct is indefensible from whichever context it is examined, and President Obama and the Democrats in power could launch attacks against this base inequality that would prove to be very popular with voters. Though a few Republican voices might sound the alarm, it is a position that rarely goes sour and can always tap into an endless source of anger, frustration, and bile. Populist anger at the wealthy is an ancient tactic and one that even the most fervent second-guesser can do little more than scream about, since few actually will listen, or have much in the way of general sympathy.
As for more contentious matters, Democrats must avoid letting their opponents frame the issue for them. To some extent, I understand anyone’s fear of big government, if only from the context of reduced efficiency of work and decreased quality of service. Since the Recession began, I have noticed that in many government agencies, budget shortfalls and layoffs have gummed up or slowed to a trickle what would seem to be rudimentary, straightforward processes. In so doing, this has given government employees no incentive to do an efficient job. If you will please pardon, I will again refer to a personal example from my own life. When I filed for food stamps two and a half months ago, the framework existed to allow and encourage claimants to send out applications online. But, as I found when it took twice as long as it ever should have to receive my benefits, budget deficits prevented the agency from being able to hire and train the necessary people to process these online claims. Thus, my file sat on a desk for a month and if I had not contacted an advocacy agency, it would probably still be there.
In Progressive circles we talk frequently about Good Government™ and its enormous potential to do a massive amount of laudable things. I, of course, believe in it as well, though I recognize that up to now it is still a dream kicked further and further down the road. President Obama was swept into power talking about the merits of smart government and, lamentably, up to this point, I’m afraid I don’t see it. Yet, neither am I willing to sagely propose, as some do, that there is some purity in the private sector. Different name, same trough. I suppose it depends on that which you fear the least. It is the formation and perpetuation of systems which have shortchanged all of us that leads people to make conclusions as to the ultimate success or failure of any new enterprise, government or otherwise. Our pessimism might not be justified, but our skepticism is not.
Though I too have engaged in finger-pointing as to why we’ve reached this climacteric a mere year after it seemed like we were on top of the world, I recognize that it is ultimately a self-defeating activity. In the end, it doesn’t matter whose fault it was, unless that entity or collective body is willing to reform itself. Barack Obama was a rock star once, not a vacuous celebrity as some tried to paint him. Having released a critical disappointment that didn’t sell nearly as well as advertised, he is now facing the first openly hostile reviews of his career. Yet, have no fear, fans. Americans love a comeback, particularly with an extensive tour attached to it. Someone as talented and as capable easily has the dexterity and strength to exceed our wildest expectations again, but only if he has the help he needs and he presses an agenda with a reasonable chance of succeeding.
No person is an island. We have wept and prayed and fasted and purged and been delayed by the same impasse. My own contribution to a growing canon of proposed solutions is that we take a more active stance within government itself. Anyone can lock arms, hold hands, and sing stirring songs. Anyone can find themselves beholden to Protest Culture™, whereby one assumes that rallies, marches, and symbolic posturing are sufficient in and of themselves. Anyone can oppose and find with opposition a million followers, a million voices of affirmation, and a million friends and supporters validating each and every sentient point. We can hold the feet of our elected Representatives to the fire, but I believe in the value of electing new feet that won’t need to be forced towards the fireplace on a maddeningly consistent basis. This is within our power.
I am reminded of how much talk yesterday revolved around a plea for us to not sanitize the legacy of Dr. King and to keep his memory alive as a revolutionary who made many in positions of power very uncomfortable. Indeed, if all we remember him today was as a purveyor of sentimental, feel-good platitudes, then we forget that he was more than that. Far more. Had he been merely Santa Claus, he would not have been assassinated. At times, traditional liberalism has been reduced all too often to a never-ending Pete Seeger concert, with the sting removed and without any obligation whatsoever to be self-reflective. When I left a more conservative, more Christ-centered faith of my own accord and moved towards unashamedly activist liberal faith, I always found it curious how easily the John Lennon song “Imagine” was adopted as a kind of mission statement of sorts. If one examines the lyrics literally, its lyrics advocate an atheistic, anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist Utopia—a fact that gets overlooked due to the attractiveness of the melody that obscures what even a cursory examination of the words implies.
It is time for Democrats to be bold and edgy again. I see this all the time in the blogosphere, but I rarely see it among elected representatives. And even when a Representative or Senator does stick his or her neck out, it is usually to make a splash by forcefully uttering some patently inflammatory or controversial statement, knowing full well it will be media catnip. The immediate impact is usually positive, but few know how to push their agenda beyond immediate shock value and dramatic statements that sound compelling at first hearing, but often are a bit on the childish end of the spectrum by the end. And, it hardly needs adding, even these sorts of attitudes are in short supply, all told. No one ever confused the base as being anything less than fired up and ready to go. If those elected to serve us are not willing to listen to us, we have an obligation to replace them with those who will, and in so doing, being willing to drafting candidates from within our ranks to fill the slots. Those willing to complain are legion, but those willing to serve are often not. Participatory Democracy does not depend on a particular Patrician class we deem the experts and the only sorts that can get the job done. The skill set needed now and forever is only the willingness to run and the ability to learn the game.
Dec 24 2009
Health Care Truths, Not Health Care Myths
Having passed a long-overdue Health Care Reform Act, expect the media to dust off long-composed narratives it kept in cold storage until this point. The instant President Obama signs the bill into law in a massive ceremony full of important people, flashbulbs, and saturation coverage, there will be many who will seek to make the gravity of the event better understood by means of analysis and interpretation. Contrary to what some may write, I am not entirely convinced that Health Care saved Obama’s Presidency, though it would certainly have removed the last of the luster around him had it failed. There will be many contentious fights to come, but the passage of the bill will likely limit GOP gains in next year’s Mid-Congressional election. It will provide momentum to force through other reform measures and will be a face saving device to aid vulnerable incumbents. But like much of politics, the ultimate impact of it all is indebted to future understanding and events yet to come, of which none of us is privy.
Also to be found in copious quantity are the requisite gross of stories lamenting the end of good cheer among legislators of different parties. One would think that this health care bill has ushered in a golden age of distressing polarity, but it has not. Most people are terrified of change. Many will sign on to change in the abstract, but once the concrete is poured, their opposition hardens. Trusting in the known is much like betting on the favored horse, but trusting in the unknown possibility comes with it 50-1 odds. Most people are not riverboat gamblers, but if they were, they’d often reap the rewards of taking a chance for the sake of positive gain. This truism has no allegiance to party or ideological affinity. Nor is it an American institution.
While the Senate has always been structured to foster some degree of collegiality by its very makeup and its relatively small size, one mustn’t let the myth obscure the facts. The Senate may be a family, but it is a strangely dysfunctional one, and the House equally so. This is, we needn’t forget, the same collective body where Representative Preston Brooks savagely bludgeoned Senator Charles Sumner with a cane on the latter chamber’s floor. At other crucial points in our nation’s history, decorum has been replaced by nastiness and I think perhaps our latest group of elected representatives do not remember or have not studied precisely what happens when measures this large and all encompassing are further hyper-charged by massive displays of public sentiment and outcry. Regarding this subject, Senator Orrin Hatch strikes back at us in the blogosphere for daring to hold his feet to the fire as well as the feet of other legislators. We ought to take this as proof of a job well done and aim to keep it going.
I am also not particularly sympathetic to Representatives and Senators who have complained about the extended hours needed to pass this bill. If they had resolved it in a more timely fashion, then this matter would have been dealt with long ago. Republicans have used stalling tactics and obstructionist procedural measures, but as we all knew, the Democratic party itself was the real enemy at work. Attempting to pacify various factions within itself to hold together a fragile coalition is what took so long to reach resolution. Moreover, if this is what it takes to achieve true fairness and equality, I wish they’d be in session every year and even up until Christmas Eve, if needed. It is, of course, true that Senators need to spend a certain amount of time campaigning, raising funds, and observing for themselves the nuts-and-bolts of the policy issues upon which they will propose and vote. However, too often these are excuses cited for not being in session at all, especially when needed legislation is allowed to die a needless death or is tabled in committee with no re-introduction ever intended.
[f]or more than 30 years, the major parties – Democrats and Republicans – worked every angle to transform politics into a zero-sum numbers game. State legislatures redrew Congressional districts to take advantage of party affiliation in the local population. The two-year campaign cycle became a never-ending one.
Politics, however, has always been a game of knees to the groin and leaps to the jugular. When contentious matters and contentious times existed, collegiality was the first thing to be discarded and shed. In times of plenty with few especially pressing matters, then party lines could sometimes seem obscured or unimportant. The so-called “Culture Wars” are a partial explanation for that which we have been facing. In truth, the Republican party began to take a sharp right turn beginning with the Contract with America in 1994 and then culminating in the election of George W. Bush. When Bush played directly to the Republican base at the expense of the middle, this caused a correspondingly swift and sharp reaction in the left wing of the Democratic party, which the Progressive blogosphere correctly considers a call to arms. Returning to the idea of truth versus saccharine sugarcoating, yet again, it is tempting for all of us to invent our own mythology, particularly when it suits our cause, but this is a compulsion we must never adopt for whatever reason may be. The truth will set us free, but freedom is often pricey, especially when we remove it from circulation.
Dec 23 2009
True Reform is Found Beyond the Beltway
Eleven months after President Obama took office, many Progressives are feeling understandably shortchanged. We were led to believe that finally a candidate with authentic liberal credentials had a legitimate shot at the White House, and so we embraced pragmatism when the most liberal candidates dropped out of the race. To be sure, there were several voices screaming out that Obama, if elected, would be far more indebted to the center then he ever would be to the left. These were loudest in the blogosphere, by far, and a few of them have recently exercised the cathartic, but ultimately hollow right to say I-told-you-so. This song and dance has historical antecedents that stretch back decades, but it would be best if there were no need to repeat the process once more.
I think we may have put the cart before the horse. I think we might have assumed that reform could be accomplished purely by political means, instead of reform being reached by grassroots mobilization that forced government’s hand. Recently we have become aware, once more, that the American political system is not designed for sweeping change. The rules of the Senate were instituted to ensure that those with sober contemplation, not rash passion, ultimately won in the end. We can lament this fact and rightly decry it as anti-democratic and elitist, but the truth of the matter is that this is how the system works. I don’t think that the President failed us nearly as much as the system did. In mentioning this, I’d much rather focus on going forward than licking our wounds.
I understand why we placed our trust in Barack Obama. We recognized the destruction wrought by eight years of neoconservative rule and with it the disconcerting notion that government predicated on evil can level its opponents and eviscerate easily. That it is much more difficult to build up rather than ruin is perhaps the toughest lesson of all. But with it comes the realization that established precedent is nearly impossible to reverse when passed. We may be unhappy with the scope of the bill, but we would be wise to celebrate that if someday Republican rule returns, it will be difficult for them to dismantle that which will be signed into law shortly. We should not accept this as any final word on the matter, but neither should we refuse to note how an eighteen-round fisticuff with the American mentality ultimately turned out in the end. This country was forced to confront some of the most massive fault lines that lie deceptively harmless most of the time, until seismic tremors threaten to shake us apart.
Any worthy social movement promising transformative change begins among an oft-quoted small group of thoughtful, committed citizens. The Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Rights, and our latest struggle for LGBT marriage equality fomented and were codified from well outside the Beltway. Though ultimately legislation was proposed and passed by means of the Legislative branch, the energy and forward momentum swept up a million unsung heroes whose names may be lost to history or relegated to obscure footnotes, but whose bravery and achievements cannot be understated.
While it is touching that during the Presidential Election we temporarily shelved our skepticism as a result of being star-struck, we should not have failed to recognize that leadership comes from everywhere and every corner, not just the occupant of the White House. We focused our entire attention and hung our hopes upon the success or failure of one person, and while it is true that one person can change the world, his or her leadership ability must be augmented by other leaders. These inspirational individuals are frequently not pulled from the ranks of public service. Their occupations vary, just as those who desire change pull from all walks of life and all vocations. It is more leaders and more passion that we need.
Dr. King may have been the towering giant of the Civil Rights Movement, but Ralph Abernathy, Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, Fred Shuttlesworth, and many others less well-known filled out the inner circle that produced progress on a scale that is still difficult to fully comprehend. Along with the notable names are a million others who are the pride of their city or town, but little more than strangers in other places. I hardly need note that none of the public figures I have outlined were members of the House or the Senate. Reformers are rarely beholden to the political game because it requires a kind of willingness to bend to the prevailing will and howling winds of popular sentiment, else one find oneself out of power. So long as this is the case, real reform measures will be stymied or watered down during the process of deliberation.
I almost need not mention that Congress is meant to work for us, but that it only pays attention to our concerns when we articulate them with force, clarity, and with united purpose. When we are united behind a cause, not a personality, and especially not a party, then the sky is the limit. Making our dreams a reality requires more than one election cycle and we ought to really contemplate why it took a once-in-a-generation candidate to patch up the variety of competing interests and disconnected factions of the Democratic party to achieve a sweeping victory.
Instead of cursing our fate and gnashing our teeth out of betrayal, we should re-organize, but this time around the issues that our elected representatives either will not touch, or will whittle away to ineffectual mush. We have before us a fantastic opportunity to change our priorities and establish successful strategies. Legend has it that right before they put the rope around his neck, the labor leader Joe Hill stated, “Don’t Mourn! Organize!” Liberalism is alive and well and if we learn from this experiment we will not have failed. The new birth of freedom long promised is ours for the taking, provided we grasp hold of it. We will live to fight another day.
Dec 03 2009
Politico Reaches a New Low
I wasn’t sure Politico could stoop any lower than it did when it published seven highly subjective (to put it lightly) meta-narratives that the Obama Administration supposedly did not want to become public knowledge. Widely ridiculed, the column caused the periodical’s credibility to take a severe hit, and unfortunately its turn towards right-wing distortion in opposition to fact seems to have continued. While none of us knows for sure what goes on behind closed doors, in true Politico style if I had to guess before I knew all the facts, I’d conclude that someone must be pushing the notion that it must incorporate more content that appeals directly to conservatives into each daily edition. Right-wing points of view have a place, but sloppy logic never does.
I do read Politico on a daily basis, if only to see media framing devices at work, and so yesterday I was incensed, to say nothing of dismayed to note that apologizing for rape apologists appears to be no big deal. Since the media is comprised of human frailties, it frequently mirrors the frustrations and the flaws of its creators. For example, an article published this week took Senator Al Franken to task for not taking questions from reporters and instead directing them to his own public relations manager. Exclusive stories and one-on-one scoops are the Holy Grails of the profession and with the continued decline of the industry, so one can understand easily why disappointment and resentment might build if one of the most colorful and newest Senators might wish to refuse to play ball.
Politico portrayed the decision to avoid contact with the media as evasive and obstructionist by implying that the Junior Senator from Minnesota was too staff-driven and not the soundbyte machine that some had hoped he would become once finally sworn in to take his seat. That the Fourth Estate would be surprised by his desire and strategy to be kept on a deliberately short leash strikes me as disingenuous at best. Candidate Franken wisely restrained himself from drawing too much undue attention during the campaign and during the exhaustive recount process that immediately followed last year’s election made only short, safe statements while keeping largely out of sight until the situation was resolved. This was a carefully crafted design that did him well before and abandoning it now doesn’t make much sense. Once established and having achieved some degree of seniority, Franken will have the freedom to branch out and speak his mind without fear of serious backlash or threat of losing his seat, but for the moment the most sensible solution is to for him to learn the ropes and avoid stepping on toes in the process.
The column critical of Franken’s media management style took special effort to note that the Minnesota senator is one of only a very small number of elected representatives who do not stand directly at the podium to make statements to the press or undergo question and answer sessions. Reading between the lines, the column implied that perhaps the Senator had something to hide or was afraid of letting his true self and true concerns shine through. It cited an anecdote where Franken very nearly answered a reporter’s questions before deciding instead to pass the inquiry along to his communications director. The disappointment and let down inherent in the entire column was clearly palpable and I have to say that while a part of me wished also for more candor from him, I also understood the Senator’s dilemma and did not disagree with his choice of resolution.
Returning to the column referenced in the beginning of this post, I cite a particularly revealing segment to reveal a better understanding of the full picture.
In a chamber where relationship-building is seen as critical, some GOP senators question whether Franken’s handling of the amendment could damage his ability to work across the aisle. Soon after Tennessee GOP Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander co-wrote an op-ed in a local newspaper defending their votes against the Franken measure, the Minnesota Democrat confronted each senator separately to dispute their column – and grew particularly angry in a tense exchange with Corker.
People familiar with the Corker exchange say it was heated and ended abruptly – a sharp departure from the norm on the usually clubby Senate floor.
As rendered, the entire story reeks of false concern and shame. It is certainly true that the Senate as an entity is an elite club where partisan differences are often merely for show and bi-partisan friendships help grease the wheels of legislation, but a reliance on deep background sources to make a damning point always raises alarm bells to me. Nebulously defined sources of information remind one of celebrity gossip more than hard news. Some outlets, it needs to be mentioned, won’t even use anonymous sources because they leave a column’s veracity quite understandably open to question. Without credibility, a news article reads as fiction, defeating its entire purpose for existing.
Here is what actually happened. Here is how Senator Franken dared to create this supposed maelstrom of ill-will and resulting uncouth broach of decorum. In particular, note the first sentence of the paragraph and how it prefaces what follows afterward.
Franken, who declined to be interviewed, has said previously that the measure was inspired by the story of former KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones, who alleges that she was drugged, beaten and gang-raped at age 19 when stationed in Baghdad. She fought the arbitration clause in her contract, and in September the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that Jones’s sexual assault allegations were not “related to” her employment, allowing her to proceed in court. KBR is fighting the ruling.
Yes, how dare Senator Franken not add a few choice bon mots to flesh out the interpretation of a contemptible act that one would think speaks quite sufficiently for itself. As for the he said/he said conflict, we are told that it didn’t end up with F-bombs being dropped or with personal attacks being levied on the floor of the chamber itself, quite unlike the conduct of certain other Senators from a party that shall remain unspecified. The left-wing blogosphere has become a convenient target for Republicans and Trusted Media Outlets™, particularly if and when they get thoroughly bored with blowing spit balls at each other. People familiar with the exchange say their anger was heated and ended abruptly—a sharp departure from the norm.
“I don’t know what his motivation was for taking us on, but I would hope that we won’t see a lot of Daily Kos-inspired amendments in the future coming from him,” said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, No. 4 in the Senate Republican leadership. “I think hopefully he’ll settle down and do kind of the serious work of legislating that’s important to Minnesota.”
Silly me. I wasn’t aware that the act of rape or violence were a bipartisan matter that might be best resolved by compromise. Could we say that a rape only traumatizes 3/5ths of a person while we’re at it? Seems fair enough to me. You really confuse me, Senator Thune. You remind me of the mainstream media and its attitude towards little old us out here in the blog realm. First you say that the blogosphere isn’t an objective source of news or information and is of no real consequence, but then you throw darts at us as though you were really paying attention all the time. One can’t be on two sides of an issue at once, even though as a politician I’m sure you’d like to present that concept. One can be either one way or the other, but not both simultaneously.
[Franken] Aides point out that despite attacks on Republicans by liberal commentators like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and on blogs such as Daily Kos, Franken never appeared on any of the shows or on the blogs to make a partisan argument about the matter, saying that the senator turned down entreaties to do so. Also, they point to the 10 Republicans who voted for the amendment as proof that it wasn’t a partisan measure.
Yet again, we are encouraged to believe that Senator Franken is somehow cowardly for not going on the defensive or bolstering his claims by directly speaking out in favor of them. While the blogs and the increasingly ravenous media love a contentious argument, the Minnesota Senator is wise to not draw undo attention to himself. Those who hog the spotlight risk taking the focus off of the reform measure that desperately need to be enacted and serve as an unnecessary distraction. One person is a much easier target than a collective group of people with similar goals. In addition to being common sense, this is also Public Relations 101 and the fact that Politico is either unaware of it or instead determined to provoke an exchange reveals that a once noble profession acts increasingly like a drowning man. Ignore those who are unhappily going down with the ship, because their spite and desperation reveals everything about them and almost nothing about us.
Jul 10 2009
What the hell happened to ThinkProgress.org?
I used to go to Thinkprogress.org at least once a day. They were a fantastic source of news you wouldn’t get anywhere else.
Since Obama has been elected, however, they’ve become, frankly, pathetic.
Almost every single story over there now is about Republicans.
It’s almost like they didn’t notice that Republicans are out of power now.
Hello, guys, those fools lost the election. They are no longer in power. They like to make a lot of noise to DISTRACT YOU.
Why is a place as smart as thinkprogress taking that bait?
Here is a list of the stories there right now:
Right Wing Concocts False Claim That Obama Is Steering Stimulus Money To Areas That Backed Him
Right winger’s argument against a right to health care: ‘Should food be a basic human right?’
Aspiring philosopher Palin quotes ‘Plato.’
Jeb Bush: ‘I don’t know’ if Obama is a socialist.
Palin’s key reason for resigning was inflated.
King’s New Rationale For Voting Against Slave Labor Resolution: It Wasn’t ‘A Balanced Depiction Of History’
Steele dismisses Palin as ‘old school’: ‘That’s not the generation of candidates I’m trying to groom.’ (Updated)
All of this is completely irrelevant. NOBODY CARES about any of this bullshit. Not even the Repubs believe their own bullshit except for the TRUE idiots like Michelle Bachman.
How about some stories like this one:
AIG seeks clearance to give $235 million in bonuses.
Or about how Obama’s new Vietnam is killing American servicemen every damn day.
How about some real news?
I think it’s sad. And disturbing.
May 06 2008
Updated – China Talks While Suppressing Speech
First, please take a moment to reflect on the cyclone in Burma, which the AP estimates has killed over 14,000 people. The military junta in Burma has been roundly criticized for failing to enact an early warning system that could have saved lives:
The government had apparently taken few efforts to prepare for the storm, which came bearing down on the country from the Bay of Bengal late Friday. Weather warnings broadcast on television would have been largely useless for the worst-hit rural areas where electricity supply is spotty and television a rarity.
“The government misled people,” said Thin Thin, a grocery story owner in Yangon. “They could have warned us about the severity of the coming cyclone so we could be better prepared.”
Some in Yangon complained that the 400,000-strong military was only clearing streets where the ruling elite resided but leaving residents, including Buddhist monks, to cope on their own in most other areas.
The AP reports that the UN and aid organizations are mobilizing supplies, and that the EU has committed $3 million in humanitarian aid, the Chinese government stands ready with $1 million in cash and supplies, and the US is giving an intial $250,000 in aid with more to come if a disaster team is allowed inside the country.
UPDATE The BBC is now reporting that the death toll has reached 22,000:
The death toll from Burma’s devastating cyclone has now risen to more than 22,000, state media say.
Some 41,000 people were also missing, three days after Cyclone Nargis hit the country on Saturday, state radio said.
Apr 24 2008
Tibet: Chinese Government Tries To Tone Down Nationalism…Will It Work?
There is a BIG difference between a protester and a separatist. A protester is a white man, holding a Tibetan flag, yelling, screaming and cussing at Chinese, a man ill-informed and stubborn. A separatist is a Tibetan man holding a Tibetan flag, yelling, screaming and cussing at Chinese, with the intent of separating the People’s Republic of China. In total, about 30 “protesters” came, and 2 “separatists” came. That’s right, only 2 Tibetans, and two or so dozens of ill-informed westerners.
Quote from text accompanying this pro-China YouTube of the protests surrounding the Olympic torch relay in Australia today:
Apr 21 2008
China, Tibet and A Tale of Two Women
There is still no word regarding the whereabouts of Jamyang Kyi, the Tibetan journalist, singer and author who has been detained by Chinese authorities according to her husband:
Her husband, Lamao Jia, told The Associated Press she was first detained on April 1 and has not been seen since April 7. He said he didn’t know who had taken his wife into custody.
Described as “apolitical”, Jamyang Kyi focuses on the issues of Tibetan culture and women’s rights. This YouTube gives on a flavor of the type of creative work she produces:
Reporters Without Borders has issued a statement calling on the European Union to intercede on her behalf: http://www.rsf.org/article.php…
While Jamyang Kyi uses the language of song to try to build cultural understanding, Duke University student Grace Wang, from Qingdao, China, attempted to use the language of reconciliation and understanding to bridge the gap between pro-Tibet and pro-China groups on campus.
She is now the victim of a vicious online attack for speaking out.
Jan 21 2008
Tech Talk – Uploading your first web page!
So you’ve made your first web page based on the last tutorial and now you want to know how to change it and upload it. The most important thing to remember when working with web sites, web hosts and servers is that everything is based on files and folders just like your computer. On most hosts you’ll be allowed to access the folder “www” or “public-html” in your account. This is where you’ll be doing 99% of your work. Inside that folder you can create unlimited new folders for various parts of your website.
Editing Your Page
You already know the basics of HTML if you are posting on blogs. You know how to create links and most know how to add images. How the page looks now, however, is up to you. There are a number of free web design programs but I think it is important that you know how to do coding by hand. This way you’ll be able to locate and fix mistakes later on.
Open up your “myfirstpage.html” page which you stored on your desktop last time. Right click or double click anywhere on the page to and select “View Source” or “View Page Source”. You will see the coding you cut and pasted last time.
Now let’s personalize it:
Jan 18 2008
Tech Talk – Building your first web page!
Many of you have noted that you perceive web design as voodoo magic or something completely outside your realm. I get the same reaction when I bring up Art or people watch me draw. Well I’m here to demystify things for you. If you follow the simple steps outlined you’ll create your very own web page. In the following essay I will tell you how to put it on the web.
There are many reasons that a netroots person may want to create a web page or HTML document. Single pages can be used as billboards for various topics you are interested in. They are static, which means they will be easily indexed by most search engines and will help to build interest in long-term issues like the environment, health care etc.
So what makes a web page a web page? Some very simple coding. Below the fold you’ll find the bare minimum coding you’ll need to make your first web page along with an example.