Monday Open Thread


Marc Ambinder has grown too big for his britches:

I Am a Blogger No Longer

This is my final blog post for The Atlantic. Five years ago, as a way to boost the competitive metabolism of The Hotline, Chuck Todd hired me away from ABC News to create “Hotline On Call.” I was to be the first political reporter working for a mainstream news organization whose output would be exclusively online. “On Call” made its debut in early September, the same week that Chris Cillizza began “The Fix.” Back then, reporters didn’t blog. Newspapers and magazines hired curators to update their websites, and reporters would occasionally post online, but there was a strict separation based on platform. You were considered legitimate only if your byline appeared in print. You were considered a blogger if it didn’t. And you didn’t want to be a blogger, because bloggers back then were second-class citizens of the country of journalism. Bloggers were partisan activists, yellers, provocateurs and upstarts.

[...]

Really good print journalism is ego-free. By that I do not mean that the writer has no skin in the game, or that the writer lacks a perspective, or even that the writer does not write from a perspective. What I mean is that the writer is able to let the story and the reporting process, to the highest possible extent, unfold without a reporter’s insecurities or parochial concerns intervening. Blogging is an ego-intensive process. Even in straight news stories, the format always requires you to put yourself into narrative. You are expected to not only have a point of view and reveal it, but be confident that it is the correct point of view. There is nothing wrong with this. As much as a writer can fabricate a detachment, or a “view from nowhere,” as Jay Rosen has put it, the writer can also also fabricate a view from somewhere. You can’t really be a reporter without it. I don’t care whether people know how I feel about particular political issues; it’s no secret where I stand on gay marriage, or on the science of climate change, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. What I hope I will find refreshing about the change of formats is that I will no longer be compelled to turn every piece of prose into a personal, conclusive argument, to try and fit it into a coherent framework that belongs to a web-based personality called “Marc Ambinder” that people read because it’s “Marc Ambinder,” rather than because it’s good or interesting.

[...]

I loved the freedom to write about whatever I wished, but I missed the discipline of learning to write about what needed to be written. I loved the light editorial touch of blogging , but I missed the heavy hand of an editor who tells you when something sucks and tells you to go back and rewrite it.

I love blogging because I have lots of opinions and an obsessive-compulsive need to inflict them on other people. Plus I love getting called names and being psychoanalyzed by total strangers.

As for that “light editorial touch,” bloggers have lots of volunteer editors more than willing to tell us what we’re doing wrong. Ironically, one person who has never told me I’m doing it wrong is the person whose blog I’ve been ruining for over two years now.

Go figure.

What’s up with you today?




Oh, Ezra! You’re sooooo smart!

Ezra Klein


Ezra Klein must be smarter than the rest of us otherwise he wouldn’t have a column at WaPo:

This isn’t a very popular statement, but there is a role for elites in public life. Just like I want knowledgeable CEOs running companies and knowledgeable doctors performing surgeries, I want knowledgeable legislators crafting public policy. That’s why we have a representative democracy, rather than some form of government-by-referendum. But of late, the elites in the Republican Party are abdicating their roles, preferring to pander to the desire for free tax cuts and the hostility to Al Gore than make tough and potentially unpopular decisions to safeguard our future.

You might not know this but half the people in this country are below average in intelligence. We don’t want those people making important decisions by themselves because they might elect some know-nothing chillbilly bimbo from the Arctic wastelands.

Luckily for us there are some really smart people in this country (like Ezra) who went to the best schools (like Ezra) and who are better informed than the rest of us (like Ezra.) That’s why he formed Journolist, a private listserv for lefty elites. Ezra personally selected the best and brightest 400 “left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics”

The Journolistas wanted to be sure that the smelly less-intelligent proletariat types (that’s us) had the proper guidance in making decisions like who to vote for. So they would discuss it and decide what we should be told to decide.

But even the super-smart Journolistas didn’t always agree with each other, so they made sure to discuss it in private first so they didn’t confuse the rest of us. You know, just like your parents used to do when you were a little kid.

(Here endeth the snark)

The biggest problem with elitism is the “elites” are never as smart as they think they are. But that’s not the only problem.

Membership in the “elites” becomes incestuous and self-serving. Entry into the group is based more on social class and connections than competition using some objective criteria. New members and wannabes engage in sycophancy.

Arthur Silber:

I think it was in early 2003 that I was invited to become a participant in an oh-so-exclusive and oh-so-secret private email discussion group.

[...]

When I first joined the list, I was very flattered. I was still a new blogger, and I was kinda sorta “in.” Whoop-ti-do! I was on a list with famous people! It was, like, totally cool, man. I’d be included in cutting-edge discussions! I’d see great, powerful new ideas being developed in real time! How fucking fantastic!

[...]

So a lot of it was simply boring. Beyond that was an element I found considerably worse, an element that I grew to dislike intensely. The toadying around the most famous members of the list was transparently obvious and frequently sickening. “Oh, your article about blah-blah-blah was magnificent!” “Oh, please, please write about X! You’re the only one who could do justice to this urgent issue! And you’ll treat it with your unique sensitivity and perceptiveness!” It was nauseating. Of course, the famous list members loved it.

I don’t mind in the least that we here at TC are considered untouchable lepers by the rest of Left Blogistan. Being an outcast is liberating. Since I’ll never get invited to join Journolist version 2.0 I am free to say “Ezra Klein is a dipshit.”

One last point, regarding the dangers of not being as smart as you think you are. Go back and read the last sentence of that quote from Ezra at the top of the post. It’s based on the premise that the Republicans KNOW that the Democrats are right but pretend to disagree for corrupt reasons.

This is one of several ways your thinking becomes warped by arrogance and conceit. You think everyone else either knows you’re right or they are incapable of understanding the truth. You stop listening to them, and since you alone are right and they are dishonest or stupid, you stop trying to persuade them and start looking for ways to manipulate them or to achieve your goals in undemocratic ways.

That’s a slippery slope with a sharp downgrade.



Federal Judge says don’t enforce Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell


New York Times:

A federal judge issued a worldwide injunction Tuesday immediately stopping enforcement of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, suspending the 17-year-old ban on openly gay U.S. troops.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ landmark ruling also ordered the government to suspend and discontinue all pending discharge proceedings and investigations under the policy.

U.S. Department of Justice attorneys have 60 days to appeal. Pentagon and Department of Justice officials said they are reviewing the case and had no immediate comment.

The injunction goes into effect immediately, said Dan Woods, the attorney who represented the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay rights group that filed the lawsuit in 2004 to stop the ban’s enforcement.

Ironically we have a Republican group doing more for LGBT rights than Barack “fierce advocate” Obama.

What are the blogospheric reactions?

Buffoon Juice:

Get ready for loud bally-hooing over activist judges. Much gnashing of teeth and such. Oh, and no more soldiers getting booted out of the military for the horrible crime of being attracted to the same sex and having the integrity to not lie about it. The question is – will the government appeal the ruling? What will Obama do?

From the first comment there we can see the Kool-aiders are already making excuses:

I suspect the DoJ will appeal the ruling, because unlike the Bush administration (and Alberto Gonzales in particular), they understand that the Executive branch is not allowed to pick and choose what laws they like.

“Poor Barack, he has a duty to be a fierce advocate for a law he promised to get rid of.

But what about an opinion from someone who actually knows a thing or two about the law, like Ann Althouse:

But what damnable luck for the Democrats to have this thrown at them 2 weeks before the election! It’s such a bad issue for Obama. He hasn’t done what he promised, and he’s fought against constitutional rights that he ought to be actively pursuing, whether he’d made promises or not. He’s going to have to rest on the argument that he was always all about Congress making the change. But why hasn’t his Congress gone his way?

What about one of those evil reactionary wingnutters like Allahpundit at Hot Air?:

Decision time for The One: Does he appeal or not? If he decides not to, he’ll undercut Gates’s insistence that no action should be taken on the policy until the Pentagon completes its review of the effects on readiness. If he does appeal, he’ll antagonize the lefties (especially young voters) whom he needs to turn out next month. The obvious solution is to punt and avoid a decision until after the election, but I’m not sure liberals will let him get away with that. What if the “professional left” mobilizes and demands a decision before November 2? Prediction: Heart-ache at the Pentagon.

Exit question: Is this actually a blessing in disguise for the GOP? We may well have a Republican majority in the Senate next year, and without this decision the survival of DADT would fall mainly on them. Their inclination will be to satisfy the social-con base and vote to keep it, but that would put them on the wrong side of public opinion (including Republican opinion) and would instantly destroy any chance of rapprochement with gay voters. The judge let them off the hook by taking the issue out of their hands. Abortion redux! (emphasis added)

Barack Obama campaigned with Donnie “Pray teh gay away” McClurkin, refused to participate in gay pride events or to have his picture taken with the mayor of San Francisco (Democrat Gavin Newsom) and opposes gay marriage.

I hope I’m wrong but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say the government will appeal this ruling. Just a hunch.


UPDATE:

Poliglot:

In a move expected by most legal observers, the U.S. Department of Justice this afternoon filed notices of appeal in two cases striking down the federal definition of marriage, contained in the Defense of Marriage Act, as unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro had ruled on July 8 in the cases, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services, that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional on several grounds, finding that the marriage definition violated the equal protection and due process guarantees, as well as the Spending Clause and Tenth Amendment.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which argued the Gill case on behalf of the plaintiffs, issued a statement moments after the government’s filing.

“We fully expected an appeal and are more than ready to meet it head on,” Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director, said in the statement. “DOMA brings harm to families like our plaintiffs every day, denying married couples and their children basic protections like health insurance, pensions, and Social Security benefits. We are confident in the strength of our case.”

The White House issued no comment on the filing and directed questions to DOJ.

If Obama is gonna go all-in to defend DOMA he’ll do the same for DADT. Anybody care to bet me?



Breaking up is hard to do


Elon James White at Salon:

Defending Obama and the Democrats is hard.

Not because I don’t think they’ve done some good in the past two years, because I do. It’s hard because I find myself constantly defending them, even when I’m not ecstatic about what’s happening. Don’t let my overly public defense of the Democrats fool you; I’m annoyed, tired and frustrated like a lot of people. Yet I don’t suffer from this enthusiasm gap that’s become all the rage to discuss. My enthusiasm is as strong as it has ever been because my choice is to either be frustrated with the Dems but know that a lot of good will come out of it or let the crazy people win. My issues with the Republicans and the Tea Party aren’t simply “a difference in opinion”; I’m overly enthusiastically against what they represent. I was really happy about Obama but my enthusiasm is on overdrive when it comes to stopping the Republicans.

But this doesn’t mean I’m drinking the liberal Kool-Aid.

I’ve mocked the Democrats on numerous occasions in the past two years when I believed they were really screwing up. Their P.R. skills are lacking even when they’re doing the right thing. The party’s various concessions to the bat-shit crazy contingent in order to push policies through has made my stomach hurt quite a few times, but even with all of that, I still have all the enthusiasm in the world. I am a hundred percent on whatever side that isn’t the one who keeps spouting off about “Real America.”

These days in Left Blogistan there are basically three different groups.

The first group are snorting Kool-aid powder straight from the package. These are the people who say that Obama is doing a stupendous job and has made historic achievements during his first two years in office. Obviously they’re either lying or delusional and I’m not sure which is worse.

This group has been steadily decreasing in size since Obama’s inauguration.

The second group are the ones that acknowledge that Obama has been a major disappointment but continue to support him anyway. This group includes those people who are recovering from Kool-aid as well as those who only experimented with it or used it socially. But there are also a number of people in this group who never drank the Obama juice but nonetheless voted for him and continue to support him and the Democratic party, primarily on the theory that “the Republicans are worse!”

We’ll talk more about these guys in a minute.

The last group are the people that Markos Moulitsas referred to as a “paranoid band of shrieking hold-outs.” They used to be Democrats but now they’re independent liberals. I’m one of them, as are Riverdaughter and the rest of the writers here at The Confluence. If you have big tire tracks across your back then you’re probably one too.

We weren’t fooled by the slick con job that the Malefactors of Great Wealth paid David Axelrod hundreds of millions of dollars to put over on the gullible. We refused to be bullied into either going along with the fraud or keeping silent.

We were prematurely correct about Obama, so of course we are hated and despised.

Now let’s go back and talk about that second group.

To hear them tell it, Obama and the Democrats in Congress are well-intentioned and share our values and goals, but they are cowardly, weak and spineless as well as politically inept. They don’t want to accept that Obama and the Democrats aren’t weak, they’re corrupt.

In other words, these people are in denial.

I’m gonna pick on Susie Madrak a little because she provided the perfect analogy.

Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere’s anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing the administration of “hippie punching.”

“We’re the girl you’ll take under the bleachers but you won’t be seen with in the light of day,” the blogger, Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars, pointedly told Axelrod on the call, which was organzied for liberal bloggers and progressive media.

Let’s expand on Susie’s analogy a little bit. Obama is the guy who already has a girlfriend (Wall Street, et al.) and doesn’t take the “under the bleachers” girl on dates or buy her gifts, he just uses her for booty calls. If he makes any promises he doesn’t keep them and when they do hook up he doesn’t even bother to provide “mutual satisfaction.”

That sounds like a pretty good description of Obama’s relationship with the netroots to me. The question is why the hell anyone would anyone want to be the girl in a relationship like that?

Susie:

As much as I despise the weak-kneed, corporate ass-kissing Democrats, I hate the Republicans even more for bullying their way into the front of the economic policy debate and forcing bad policies that just don’t work.

They don’t care. They’re Republicans, they don’t have to!

So the girl in Susie’s analogy tells the guy she doesn’t like the way he’s treating her but he doesn’t change and she keeps meeting him under the bleachers for those booty calls anyway because she *knows* that deep down he really loves her and one of these days he’ll realize it.

If this girl was your friend, what advice would you give her?

Unless and until liberals and progressives are willing to say “Enough is enough!” they are gonna keep getting screwed. As long as they keep supporting Obama and the Democrats because “the Republicans are worse!” they are sending the message that all the Donkeys have to do is be the lesser of two evils.

If the Democrats won’t give you what you want you need to find someone who will.




WTF Friday – Squishy Goo-Goo Edition


I knew I could count on poetry major Chris Bowers over at Cheetoville to bring WTF Week to a big finish:

As the election approaches, the buzz in Democratic activist circles is the need for GOTV. If we can turn out the vote, and get the composition of the electorate back to what it was in 2008, then Democrats will win.

[...]

Here at Daily Kos, we are going to engage in very different, but still very important, form of election activism. It’s a type of activism no one else is working on, and it is well-suited to our medium as a blog. It’s a grassroots-based search engine optimization campaign, which I call Grassroots SEO for short.

[...]

The goal of Grassroots SEO is to get as many undecided voters as possible to read the most damaging news article about the Republican candidate for Congress in their district. It is based on two simple premises:

1. One of the most common political activities people take online is to use search engines, mainly Google, to find information on candidates. (For more information, see the Pew Internet and American Life Project’s report on 2008 online political engagement.)

2. These results of these searches are always in flux based upon hyperlinks anyone posts anywhere on the Internet, including message board comments and social networking sites (but not email).

As a result of this, not only is it possible for us to use our hyperlinks to impact what people find when they search for information on candidates, but we would be foolish not to do so in a way that benefited our preferred candidates. We are already impacting search engine rankings whenever we post any hyperlink anywhere, so we need to make sure the way we use hyperlinks helps result in our preferred political outcomes.

IOW – “Hey kids! We’re gonna Google-bomb ‘em!

Who thought this shit up, Bill Ayers?

If you extend this line of thought out, what Mr. Squishy Goo-Goo is saying is that after winning back control of Congress in 2006 and capturing the White House in 2008, the Democrats have done such an historic job of running the country that the only way they can win on November 2nd is by trashing the Republicans.

I guess John Cole forgot to tell Chris that Obama was the most successful Democratic President in his lifetime.

Chris didn’t talk to Steve Benen either:

I don’t expect the public to have an extensive knowledge of federal policymaking history, but I at least hoped Americans would realize the scope of recent accomplishments. We are, after all, talking about a two-year span in which Congress passed and the president signed the Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, Wall Street reform, student loan reform, Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, etc. Policymakers might yet add to this list in the lame-duck session.

If Chris had talked to John and Steve and Greg Sargent and Jonathan Chait and the rest of the cheerleaders over in the Kool-aid Kingdom he would know we’re living in a progressive paradise.


What does Obama’s 2008 campaign manager think will happen 3 1/2 weeks from now?


Trying to reshape expectations for the midterm elections, David Plouffe said Thursday that the Republicans should be expected to make a full sweep of Congress – and key gubernatorial races – given the environmental advantages they have. Anything less, he said, should be seen as a disgrace.


Hopenchange motherf**kers! Hopenchange!




Dishonest Intellectuals


I was so busy ranting and raving yesterday that I missed a good one. Glenzilla wrote a good piece on the pervasiveness of Democratic dissatisfaction, and linked to this post by Michael Kinsley at Politico on the topic of intellectual dishonesty:

The blight of intellectual dishonesty is everybody’s problem. What is intellectual honesty? Yglesias seems to think it’s the same thing as accuracy or honesty, plain and simple. But it’s not. Accuracy means getting your facts straight. Honesty means not telling conscious or purposeful lies on questions of hard fact. Intellectual honesty is more demanding: It means being truthful about what’s going on inside your own head.

To start, you shouldn’t say anything that you don’t believe is true. But that’s just to start. Intellectual honesty means that you have a basis for your belief, that you have tested your belief against other beliefs on the same subject, that you have no blinding bias or, at least, have put bias aside as best you can. “Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”: Your views on, say, the constitutional limits of presidential war powers should not turn on which party controls the presidency. Your views on one subject should be consistent with your views on all other subjects. And if you’re going to base your reelection campaign on your opponent’s 20-year-old arrest for drunken driving, or on how his visits to Washington as a teenager (you visited once; he visited three times and even sent his mom a postcard saying he was having fun) make him too “inside the Beltway,” you need to have handy an explanation of why you believe that this is one of the most pressing issues facing voters.

Glenn had this to say:

It’s fine if someone wants to be a cheerleader, clapping loudly in order to rally the troops. Every Party has and needs those types of people (though it’s strange (though not unusual) that a person who wants to do that would call himself a “journalist”; generally one finds that trait in political operatives and spokespeople).

[...]

The claim that dissatisfaction among Democrats is confined to a “couple of blogs” might advance Schmitt’s political objectives. Given the human craving to make perceptions correspond with desires, it likely makes him feel good to believe that it’s true. But it’s so plainly false that it’s hard to believe that anyone could say it with a straight face, let alone believe that it will help anything — their Party or themselves — to claim it. As a general proposition, papering over serious problems — pretending they do not exist — is never constructive, and that’s certainly true when it comes to a Party’s political failures. Worst of all, making this claim obscures a very important truth that ought to be promoted and amplified, one which the establishment media (“move to the Right!”) will do its best to deny after November: Democrats do themselves no favors when they ignore the wishes, values and agenda of their “base”: i.e., those who are most responsible for their being in power. Quite the opposite is true.


You may have noticed that my most spittle-flecked rants are the ones directed at the A-list progressive bloggers rather than Republicans or right-wing bloggers. The reason for that is best encapsulated by this comment from WMCB:

I do not get freaked out and angry when my elderly dog with a bladder problem keeps peeing on the corner of my couch. I don’t LIKE it, but I sort of expect it.

I do, however, get pissed off as hell if my husband is doing it.


Once upon a time Left Blogistan was a meritocracy. This was back in the days when the Mainly Stupid Media was discussing the distinguishing characteristics of the Clenis and swooning over Commander Codpiece. More and more people started using the internet and some of them started web logs which were basically diaries or journals where people posted their thoughts and ideas.

Some of these “blogs” focused on news and politics. The authors usually didn’t have special sources of information, they just did analysis that was very different from that being done by the chattering classes. A few of these bloggers gained fame not because somebody handed them a megaphone but because of the quality of their writing.

Other writers linked to them, blogrolls were started, and an online community formed. These bloggers eschewed groupthink, were irreverent and took pride in being members of the “reality based community.” Oh, and they said “fuck” a lot and used lots of other profanity too.

Those were heady days, heady days indeed.

I’m not talking about latecomers like Ezra and Matty Y. who went straight from potty-training to professional (paid) blogging. I’m talking about people like Digby, who built her reputation without ever revealing her true identity. In fact, many people were surprised to learn that Digby was a “she,” not a “he.”

Then came the wunderkind (almost all male) who looked at blogging as a financial opportunity and talked about business models. These were guys like Markos and Josh. They were followed by Arianna and other well-funded entrepreneurs who simply bought their way in. Last of all came the Gen X’ers like Matt and Ezra who were just hired and given the online equivalent of megaphones.

Somewhere during the time the blogosphere was becoming”professional” it also became corrupted. Most of us didn’t realize it until about 2008 when we were shocked and dismayed to learn the true natures of many people we had come to respect.

I don’t know if they changed or it was bullshit from day one. Some of both I’d guess.

For years they told us about the moral and ethical failings of the Republicans and Movement Conservatives. We were told we should aspire to more than just winning elections. We were supposed reform our political system by replacing the faux-morality of the right with a true morality based on truth, respect for the law and principles of democracy.

We opposed the war, racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry. We despised the “Village” and government secrecy. We tried to use the internet to organize grassroots activism and counter the influence of the malefactors of great wealth.

So what happened? Obamanation happened.

VastLeft:

This year’s running of the quadrennial horse race exposed — to those who would notice — many flaws in the progressive blogosphere, some as surprising as they were disappointing: bullying groupthink, classism, misogyny, and disturbing appetites for stale rightwing baloney and newly minted Drudgian smears.

Overarching the whole experience was a cloud of truthiness, believing whatever it felt good to believe, facts-be-damned.

The Obama skeptic found her/himself in the Ron Suskind role, the nose-against-the-glass reality-based wonk who “just didn’t get it,” being read the latest edition of the Arthur Jensen speech.


Eric Boehlert:

One of the most interesting things bloggers have told me (often off the record) about the primary season was how clear it became that their readers really did dictate what the bloggers wrote. For years, bloggers and their readers had been in heated agreement about Bush, about Iraq, about the MSM. But in lots of cases they were not in agreement about who should be the Democratic nominee and bloggers mentioned to me how strange and uncomfortable that schism was, and how in the end many of them did just punt. Meaning, they got tired of fighting with their readers and simply didn’t write certain things because they knew it would create a pie fight within the site. They’re not especially proud of it, but they have conceded that they did alter what they wrote. And that for them it was a real eye-opener because they had spent years educating their readers about politics and the press and creating certain narratives together. And then during the primary season, some bloggers felt like their readers just completely ignored those shared lessons (and of course, the readers would say it was the blogger who ignored those shared lessons) that left the bloggers with the uncomfortable choice of essentially rejecting their readers or editing what they wrote. Today, some will admit they opted for the second choice.


How about Digby?:

“I thought it was character assassination,” Digby told me a couple weeks after the RFK controversy had passed. She was exhausted by the toll the campaign had already taken on the blogosphere. She was also aware of the kind of pie fights that would erupt on her site if she posted a condemnation of those who unfairly attacked Clinton for her RFK comments. So Digby, who never endorsed either candidate, simply passed on the story. “I’m a chicken shit,” she said with a shake of her head.


Whether corrupt or chickenshit, the things we saw were more than just disappointing, they were an infuriating betrayal of everything we believe in. Worst of all, things haven’t changed.

These “leaders” of Left Blogistan sold us out on health care reform. They traded away any discussion of single payer in exchange for Obama’s promises on the ambiguous “public option.” Corrente has done a good job of documenting the way all the big blogs acted in unison in squishing any mention of single payer.

So instead of being advocates for us they became cheerleaders for ObamaCare. But Obama fucked ‘em, and we got fucked too.

Maybe they thought they were really doing the right thing, but what they did violated basic principles of democracy. We’re supposed to be all about openness and grassroots “bottom-up” action.

What the A-list bloggers did was to conspire in secret (through the Journolist, other listservs, private emails and/or White House conference calls) to suppress open discussion and impose a “top-down” outcome. If wasn’t the first time or the last.

Now they’re trying to use the Jedi mind-trick on us and convince us we’re living in a progressive paradise. Sorry guys, but that only works on weak minds so don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

Of course they don’t care what we think because we were prematurely correct and carry the PUMA taint.

Well they can all kiss my taint.


Just say No!

Is this WTF week?


Sombody said I seem angry lately. You think so? I wonder what gave them that impression.

Greg Sargent is buns up and kneeling:

What if the Dem base’s lack of enthusiasm is rooted in the fact that Dems aren’t even aware of how much Congress has accomplished in the last two years?

A new poll from Pew and National Journal contains a really striking finding: Only one third of Democrats think this Congress has achieved more than other recent Congresses. Meanwhile, 60 percent of Dems think it has accomplished the same or less.

[...]

Yet despite passing an enormous stimulus that many credit with rescuing us from disaster, passing health reform after a half century of failure, rescuing the auto industry, and successfully completing the biggest overhaul of Wall Street regulations since the Great Depresssion, only one third of Democrats think this Congress has achieved more than other recent ones.

Maybe this speaks to an enormous Dem failure to communicate their successes. Or maybe it’s another sign of how bloated expectations were amid the euphoria of Obama’s win. Or perhaps the sense of just how monumental our problems are — and the fact that Dems secured such large Congressional majorities — led rank and file Dems to expect truly historic, paradigm shifting levels of leadership.

Or maybe it’s because 60 percent of rank and file Democrats DON’T DRINK KOOL-AID!

(But that’s probably because they’re bitter, clingy racists, right Greg?)

Steve Benen assumes the position:

I don’t expect the public to have an extensive knowledge of federal policymaking history, but I at least hoped Americans would realize the scope of recent accomplishments. We are, after all, talking about a two-year span in which Congress passed and the president signed the Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, Wall Street reform, student loan reform, Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, etc. Policymakers might yet add to this list in the lame-duck session.


Uh, Steve? Didja ever consider that maybe we DO KNOW what Obama and the DINOcrats have been up to, but WE’RE NOT FUCKING HAPPY about it?

Here’s Glenzilla with an example of what I’m talking about:

As I’ve noted before, the column of mine which produced the greatest level of hate mail and anger in the last year — both in terms of intensity and quantity — was this one from August, 2009, when I compiled the evidence strongly suggesting that the White House, despite Obama’s multiple statements to the contrary, had secretly bargained away the public option with corporate interests early in the negotiation process and therefore did not intend to push for its inclusion in the final bill. That produced so much anger because it contradicted the central Democratic orthodoxy at the time that Obama — as he claimed in public — was trying as hard as he could to have a public option in the health care bill, but . . . gosh darn it, he was unfortunately stymied by his inability to get 60 votes for it, despite his best efforts (the fact that the health care bill ultimately passed via reconciliation, whereby the public option would have needed only 50 votes, was a separate issue).


Gee, What’s not to love about that, Steve?

But wait, there’s more! Jonathon Chait at the New Republic:

Depressed Democrats Losing Touch With Reality

Every time a Democratic leader tells the base to stop whining and wake up to the fact that this is the most successful period of liberal governance in more than four decades, liberals just get more petulant.


Jeebus! Whose side are these fuckwads on, anyway?

Serenity now! SERENITY NOW!

Senorita! Mas cerveza y tequila aqui, por favor!


The Republicans are worse®?

SERENITY NOW!


Kevin Drum at MoJo:

That final quote is priceless. “The health reform law did not deliver the uninsured in the way that insurers wanted.” Apparently they wanted the uninsured trussed up and delivered to their doorsteps wallet first, but without any actual obligation on their part to provide decent service in return. And they know just how to get their wish: “The industry would love to have a Republican Congress,” says Wendell Potter, a former Cigna insurance executive. “They were very, very successful during the years of Republican domination in Washington.”

But this is creating a wee problem for everyone. You see, Republicans are loudly proclaiming right now that they want to eliminate the part of the law that forces everyone to buy insurance. But that’s exactly the part of the law that insurance companies like. In fact, they want to see it strengthened. At the same time, they want to get rid of the popular parts of the law that keep insurance companies from figuring out ways to screw patients. But those are the provisions that Republicans say they’ll keep if we turn over Congress to them.

And yet, the insurance companies are massively funding Republicans this cycle anyway. Why would that be? It’s almost as if they’re sure that Republicans are just blowing campaign smoke and will support their agenda once they’re safely in office. They’re so sure, in fact, that they’re willing to put their money where their mouths are to the tune of millions of dollars.

So which do you believe? Republican mouths or insurance industry money? Decisions, decisions…..

Lets see Kevin, the Democrats passed a bill requiring every American with two nickles to rub together to give one of them to a health insurance company and the Republicans say they want to repeal it so you think we should . . . trust the Democrats?

WTF?

I mean seriously, WHAT THE FUCK???

Seems to me I recall that the health insurance companies donated to Obama early and often, along with the Wall Street bankers, BP, and the rest of the malefactors of great wealth. And wasn’t it just yesterday that the DNC was bragging about how much money they were raking in?

Let’s not forget Stupak-Pitts and Executive Order 13535 either.

You want to know the worst part? Kevin Drum GETS PAID TO WRITE THAT DRIVEL!

I remember when Mother Jones was a liberal publication, not another propaganda outlet shilling for the DINOcrats.


Make room for Melissa at the loser lunch table!

Melissa McEwan, the latest blogger to be slushied by the Obama machine

I saw this righteously indignant rant from Melissa M at Shakesville last night:

1. When I wrote passionate criticisms of a Republican administration and Republican Congressional majority who failed to champion LGBTQI equality, assailed women’s bodily autonomy, treated Roe as a suggestion, refused to disclose lobbyist visits to the White House, invoked the separation of powers to protect themselves, called for spending freezes on social programs, legitimized rightwing extremists, advocated for offshore drilling, pushed HSAs, escalated a war, thumbed their nose at due process, engaged in black ops, treated scientists with contempt, expanded the executive’s extrajudicial powers, demeaned liberal activists, and invoked state’s-secrets privilege for bullshit reasons, I was a principled progressive.

2. When I write passionate criticisms of a Democratic administration and Democratic Congressional majority who fail to champion LGBTQI equality, assail women’s bodily autonomy, treat Roe as a suggestion, refuse to disclose lobbyist visits to the White House, invoke the separation of powers to protect themselves, call for spending freezes on social programs, legitimize rightwing extremists, advocate for offshore drilling, push HSAs, escalate a war, thumb their nose at due process, engage in black ops, treat scientists with contempt, expand the executive’s extrajudicial powers, demean liberal activists, and invoke state’s-secrets privilege for bullshit reasons, I am a stupid ingrate who doesn’t understand how politics works.

Yes, Melissa, this is how they operate.  In 2008, we were smart, politically savvy, astute observers of the body politic *until* we announced we were supporting Hillary Clinton, who we had determined from observation as the best qualified candidate for president.  Suddenly, we weren’t smart anymore.  No, we were racists, dried up pussies, stupid, low information, working class, uneducated.  In general, we were stupid voters who had never paid any attention to how politics works.  We lost a lot of friends.  People ran screaming from us in terror in case the cooties we got were contagious.  I mean, wouldn’t you rather be a hot, young, creative class voter than a tired old Roseanne Barr?

But we stuck it out because we are not Roseanne Barrs.  We’re just people who happened to see the peer pressure tactics of the Obama machine for what they were.

Now, it’s YOUR turn to feel that kind of unpopularity.  Isn’t it fun?  Nothing you say will be taken seriously anymore.  Your opinions can be dismissed.  You’re naive, stupid, a whiner.  You’re a loser.  Oh sure, they loved you in 2008.  That’s because they had you convinced that some dude was going to protect your reproductive rights better than some 60 year old woman or anyone from the Republican side of the aisle.  And how did that turn out?

The funny thing is that we’re still personas non grata and you’ll probably gravitate to the other new losers.  *You’re* not like one of *us*, right?  What Jane Hamsher calls “a certain kind of woman”?  And what kind of woman would that be?  The kind that were right about Obama?  I think Jane has us confused with some of the people who became Tea Partiers and birthers.  That’s not who we are.  And we’re not all women either.  It’s a shame really.  Together, we could be formidable and shake the bastards to the core.  But as long as they continue to atomize the left by planting misrepresentations of Bill Clinton’s record in the comment sections of your blogs, keeping the former Clintonistas at arm’s length. we will never become a threat to them.

We would mail you out our complimentary Welcome to Under the Bus package with its white sheet and hormone replacement therapy starters but myiq2xu bristles when he doesn’t hear an acknowledgment that you piled on us during the primaries for no legitimate reason. I don’t argue with a homocidal clown.

One more thing:

This is for Peter Daou, who pointed out that it is Obama’s lack of principles that is the problem with the left blogosphere.  I wrote this post about the very same thing about a year ago.  I’m reprinting it here in it’s entirety. It’s not that we were cheering for Obama’s failure.  We’re not Republicans.  But we did expect him to do the right thing for all of the citizens of the US, not just the ones who funded him.  Based on our observations of his career in the Senate, the way he ran his campaign and our own personal experiences in 2008, we had no reasonable expectations that he was going to govern as a Democrat.  This is how his administration has played out, exactly as we predicted.  Jane et al are little late to the party, Peter.  They still hate us and have a weird notion of who we are.  It’s leading to the marginalization of the left.  There’s not much time to fix this.  They need to get a clue and fast.

I wrote this in April, 2009.

Thursday: This is what happens when you don’t have principles

Posted on April 2, 2009 by riverdaughter | Edit

What do the following posts have in common?:

The New Masters of the Universe by James Kwak at baselinescenario.com

The Obama Enigma by E.J. Dionne at WaPo

G20 Color Commentary by Adam Posen on Planet Money

What’s Wrong With Washington? by James Wolcott at Vanity Fair

Actually, the Wolcott piece doesn’t belong.  I just liked his description of Fox News gasbags like Karl Rove and Bob Beckel as “plump juicy roasters”.  Wolcott makes it safe for the mixed metaphor.  The piece is hillarious and spot on.

For the other three, the theme throughout is one of trying to make sense of several moves by the Obama administration and the various players in the economic mess.  One gets the sense that what is going on is not that hard to figure out: The finance industry is taking us to the cleaners.  It is going to prolong the recession/depression because it is going to be the last entity called upon to make any sacrifices.  Each piece suggests that the White House is playing a dangerous game and gambling whole industries and our futures by engineering workarounds that won’t upset the bankers and their friends in the private investment clubs who stand to make out like bandits on our dime. Each solution is tailored to extract the least amount of pain from the wealthy and well connected and saddles the rest of us with the most risk. At the heart of this is the fact that each crisis is dealt with individually, as if the other crises were unrelated.  Each is solved in isolation, deal by deal, banker by banker. And it’s ticking off the rest of the world.

Nicolas (pronounced nee-ko-la) Sarkozy may be a petulant prima donna but he’s right about one thing.  The world cannot get on its feet economically if we continue to deal with the finance industry in a piecemeal fashion without regulatory fixes.  If there continues to be separate deals for each problem and no international or domestic law to hold the financials accountable, there can be no trust or faith in the system.  If there is no trust, there is no confidence that once leant, your money will come back to you.  People understand risk.  What they don’t understand is how their governments can allow them to be fleeced.  Confidence needs to be restored to the system to make sure the money flows to where it is needed.  That can’t happen until the big countries involved agree to set standards for financial transactions and regulations.  We are global now.

But this is not something that is in Obama’s blood.  Obama is of the “everything is on the table” variety of president.  Actually, I don’t think we’ve ever had a president who has ever put his principles on such a sliding scale as this one.  George W. Bush was a stickler for details compared to Obama.  And Bill Clinton, that master of triangulation, at least had the perfectly rational excuse that he was faced with an overtly hostile Congress and national press.  But what is Obama’s excuse for throwing away the tenets and principles of the party he comandeered to shmooze his way to the top?  He has every advantage a president could want and still he sides with the bad guys.

Well, we shall see if Sarkozy follows through with his threat and walks out.  Europe may not be doing enough to stimulate the economy but at least they aren’t stupid enough to throw more money at the banking industry and not ask, “And how do you intend to spend this?”  You have to draw the line somewhere.  And after all,  a leader has to have principles.

OT

It occured to me that there are those who would argue that healthcare benefits that the unions demanded are ruining the auto industry.  This is the lame excuse we hear from the plump juicy roasters on cable TV all of the time.  You know, “Healthcare costs add $X to the cost of an automobile, blah, blah, blah.”  It makes you kind of PO’d to buy a car if your mind is on how many gall bladder operations and hemorrhoid treatments those X number of dollars paid for.  But even if the UAW *did* ask for so-called “gold-plated” policies {{snort!, like a working class guy isn’t going to have to run the insurance gauntlet anyway}}, the cost of those policies wouldn’t have increased so damned much if it hadn’t been for Harry and Louise.

Remember them?

If you don’t like the cost of the cars, you can send a thank you note to the GOP.

Story of the Week: WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Releases Afghanistan War Logs

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

The biggest story in the news today is the massive leak of government documents to three major newspapers: The UK Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel in Germany by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

He has been called “The Robin Hood of Hacking.” As the founder and public face of WikiLeaks, which posts secretive documents and information in the public domain, Julian Assange believes total transparency is in the good of the people. But Assange — who reportedly lives an itinerant existence, traveling the world with a back-pack and a computer — is himself a shadowy figure. Little is known about his life: he has refused to confirm his age in interviews or give a fixed address. But on July 26, mathematically-trained Australian changed the media landscape — and possibly the course of history — by releasing around 90,000 classified U.S. military records from the war in Afghanistan.

In 2006, Assange decided to found WikiLeaks in the belief that the free exchange of information would put an end to illegitimate governance. The website publishes material from sources, and houses its main server in Sweden, which has strong laws protecting whistleblowers. Assange and others at WikiLeaks also occasionally hack into secure systems to find documents to expose. In December, the website published its first document — a decision by the Somali Islamic Courts Union that called for the execution of government officials. WikiLeaks published a disclaimer that the document may not be authentic and “may be a clever smear by U.S. intelligence.”

The website went on to get several prominent scoops, including the release in April of a secret video taken in 2007 of a U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a dozen civilians, including two unarmed Reuters journalists. Assange helped post the video from a safe-house in Iceland that he and the other WikiLeaks administrators called “the bunker.”

From The NYT yesterday: View Is Bleaker Than Official Portrayal of War in Afghanistan

The secret documents, released on the Internet by an organization called WikiLeaks, are a daily diary of an American-led force often starved for resources and attention as it struggled against an insurgency that grew larger, better coordinated and more deadly each year….

The documents — some 92,000 reports spanning parts of two administrations from January 2004 through December 2009 — illustrate in mosaic detail why, after the United States has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001.

As the new American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, tries to reverse the lagging war effort, the documents sketch a war hamstrung by an Afghan government, police force and army of questionable loyalty and competence, and by a Pakistani military that appears at best uncooperative and at worst to work from the shadows as an unspoken ally of the very insurgent forces the American-led coalition is trying to defeat.

Here is the NYT “War Logs” page that collects the related stories.

From today’s Der Spiegel article: The Afghanistan Protocol: Explosive Leaks Provide Image of War from Those Fighting It

The documents’ release comes at a time when calls for a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan are growing — even in America. Last week, representatives from more than 70 nations and organizations met in Kabul for the Afghanistan conference. They assured President Hamid Karzai that his country would be in a position by 2014 to guarantee security using its own soldiers and police.

But such shows of optimism seem cynical in light of the descriptions of the situation in Afghanistan provided in the classified documents. Nearly nine years after the start of the war, they paint a gloomy picture. They portray Afghan security forces as the hapless victims of Taliban attacks. They also offer a conflicting impression of the deployment of drones, noting that America’s miracle weapons are also entirely vulnerable.

And they show that the war in northern Afghanistan, where German troops are stationed, is becoming increasingly perilous. The number of warnings about possible Taliban attacks in the region — fuelled [sic] by support from Pakistan — has increased dramatically in the past year.

The documents offer a window into the war in the Hindu Kush — one which promises to change the way we think about the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. They will also be indispensible for anyone seeking to inform themselves about the war in the future.

Here is the UK Guardian page on the war logs with many stories based on the leaked information.

The Guardian has a video of Julian Assange: Julian Assange on the Afghanistan war logs: ‘They show the true nature of this war’

The Guardian has also prepared an interactive map with their selections of the most significant incidents covered in the war logs.

A good summary of the information in the logs at the Wired blog, Threat Level The story quotes the official Obama administration response to the leaks from the NYT:

“The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security,” said White House national security advisory General James Jones, in a statement Sunday. “Wikileaks made no effort to contact us about these documents — the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted.”

At the New Yorker, Amy Davidson highlights one shocking incident:

…an incident report dated November 22, 2009, submitted by a unit called Task Force Pegasus. It describes how a convoy was stopped on a road in southern Afghanistan at an illegal checkpoint manned by what appeared to be a hundred insurgents, “middle-age males with approx 75 x AK-47’s and 15 x PKM’s.” What could be scarier than that?

Maybe what the soldiers found out next: these weren’t “insurgents” at all, at least not in the die-hard jihadi sense that the American public might understand the term. The gunmen were quite willing to let the convoy through, if the soldiers just forked over a two- or three-thousand-dollar bribe; and they were in the pay of a local warlord, Matiullah Khan, who was himself in the pay, ultimately, of the American public. According to a Times report this June (six months after the incident with Task Force Pegasus), Matiullah earns millions of dollars from NATO, supposedly to keep that road clear for convoys and help with American special-forces missions. Matiullah is also suspected of (and has denied) earning money “facilitating the movement of drugs along the highway.”

…..The Obama Administration has already expressed dismay that WikiLeaks publicized the documents, but a leak informing us that our tax dollars may be being used as seed money for a protection racket associated with a narcotics-trafficking enterprise is a good leak to have. And the checkpoint incident is, again, only one report, from one day.

Glenn Greenwald also has a post on the leaks.

Greenwald tweeted a little while ago that if Julian Assange got the Nobel Peace Prize he would be much more deserving than the last guy who won it.

This story is huge! This is the modern-day “Pentagon papers” that could bring down the wars pushed by Obama’s “best and brightest.” It’s terrific that the story came out on a Sunday; this should be fodder for cable news all week. Let’s hope they have the guts to cover it.

Daniel Ellsberg, the guy who released the original Pentagon papers and was targeted by a “White House hit squad” in 1972, fears for the life of Julian Assange. He told The Daily Beast last month

Do you think Assange is in danger?

I happen to have been the target of a White House hit squad myself. On May 3, 1972, a dozen CIA assets from the Bay of Pigs, Cuban émigrés were brought up from Miami with orders to “incapacitate me totally.” I said to the prosecutor, “What does that mean? Kill me.” He said, “It means to incapacitate you totally. But you have to understand these guys never use the word ‘kill.’”

Is the Obama White House anymore enlightened than Nixon’s?

We’ve now been told by Dennis Blair, the late head of intelligence here, that President Obama has authorized the killing of American citizens overseas, who are suspected of involvement in terrorism. Assange is not American, so he doesn’t even have that constraint. I would think that he is in some danger. Granted, I would think that his notoriety now would provide him some degree of protection. You would think that would protect him, but you could have said the same thing about me. I was the number one defendant. I was on trail but they brought up people to beat me up.

You believe he is in danger of bodily harm, then?

Absolutely. On the same basis, I was….Obama is now proclaiming rights of life and death, being judge, jury, and executioner of Americans without due process. No president has ever claimed that and possibly no one since John the First.

What advice would you give Assange?

Stay out of the U.S. Otherwise, keep doing what he is doing. It’s pretty valuable…He is serving our democracy and serving our rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations, which are not laws in most cases, in this country.

Thank you Julian Assange! And thank you to Pvt. Bradley Manning, who is the probable source for the leaks to Assange and is now under arrest. Free Bradley Manning!!

Conflucians, as you work your way through this material, please post anything you think is important for us to know. This story must be pushed hard!

UPDATE: Here is the data that is posted at the WikiLeaks site. Each of the newspapers made their own choices about what information to reveal and what to hold back. The NYT negotiated with the WH in making their decisions. It will be interesting to see if they left out some material that the foreign papers include. The also claim they asked Assange not to post material that would be harmful to troops in the field, although that probably wasn’t necessary.

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