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    • Here was my neighborhood last night
      Because the family of a mentally ill Philadelphia man holding a knife called for an ambulance, and the cops showed up. They claim he “charged” them and they shot and killed him. The mental health unit is a pilot program and isn’t paid to work on the weekends. Protesters didn’t do this, looters did. (Maybe … Continue reading Here was my neighborhood last nigh […]
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      This second excerpt from my interview is more interesting and longer. This is the second clip from my interview with Ian Welsh (Ian blogs at ianwelsh.net). For this segment, we went on a wild ride discussing the big picture mess that is US politics and society more broadly. I asked Ian what might happen if […]
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Live by the sword, die by the sword

By now, many of you will have seen the text of Peter Daou’s email. The Confluence also received the email from Peter. There is no doubt in my mind that Peter is correct about the sources of the negativity launched at Hillary Clinton by Obama’s campaign. At the time that Obama became a serious contender late last fall, I wrote a series of posts at DailyKos remarking on the absurdity of the accusations hurled against her.

Pre-emptive Clinton Character Assassination

Quick! Get Barack the Smelling Salts

The Incomparable Mr. Obama

Obama is Not a WATB! Take it back!

In our society, a woman is forbidden by custom and social conditioning from firing back. So, Senator Obama’s campaign took advantage of this. The set up was quite neat: First, say how uncomfortable it is for a woman to go negative. It’s unseemly and unladylike. Heavens, we must all be living next to Jane Austen with all the tut-tutting about how truly awful it would be if Hillary went negative. Second, hit Hillary with some absolutely ridiculous charge, like, I dunno, playing the race card by bringing up Obama’s former drug abuse. Nevermind that she never said it, one of her surrogates floated the notion. Nevermind that Obama himself wrote about the subject. Clinton brought it up and that is not allowed.  Third, sit back and watch her twist herself into a pretzel trying to defend herself without looking abrasive.

In short, she has been not allowed to criticize, compare, chastise or get angry about anything with regard to Obama, while his campaign can float any dirty little thing they want against her. And it is all vaguely reminiscent of the Edwards attacks on Hillary in the late summer and THAT was strongly influenced by Newt Gingrich’s famous brochure on the manipulation of Language as a Key Mechanism of Control.

Now, I don’t know who started it or who picked up where the other left off but I find it very curious that John Edwards started this line of attack and when his star was fading, Obama took up the torch and made it burn even brighter. The Kossacks on DailyKos became one huge opposition research focus group where first Joe Trippi, then David Axelrod could test out various viral memes. Then they set up yahoo and google groups and coordinated diaries so they would make the rec list every day. It got to be so obvious that I called it the Rec List Hostage Crisis. The negative stuff on Hillary that flowed from the rec list was non-stop and still is. It has now reached a hyperbolic state of vitriol that is no longer believable. But when it first started, it was *very* believable, at least to the uncritical mind. And many jumped on the bandwagon and spread the memes from blog to blog. In fact, when I set up The Confluence, I made sure that it would not permeate this site if I could help it. The comments sections are set up to forward to the moderation queue any of the trigger words found most commonly in DailyKos Obamaphile threads. The comments are examined in context and any negative advertising is deleted.

Because that is what this is, folks, negative advertising. In essence, the Obama campaign is using the big name blogs as dissemination sites for negative advertisements. They don’t have to pay much to get this going. (What would a functioning FEC say?) They just have to drop some keywords into a few rec list diaries and repeat them ad nauseum until it takes. Then they play group dynamics to split the unwanted dross from the highjacked site. At that point, the meme just reproduces and spreads.

It’s very much like a virus behaves. It infiltrates the host, inserts its own DNA and the commandeers the cells reproduction facilities to make more copies of itself. And these copies break free of the cell and spread the infection. At this point, the infection on the left blogosphere is severe and chronic. There may not be time to turn this around but we are going to try. The first thing we did was not succumb to the infection. That’s why you are reading this blog right now. We are out here and we will not go away. But that is not enough. Now it is time to expose the GOP like tactics that the Obama campaign has borrowed. These tactics work because they divide the target and prevent power through a union. They pander to our base instincts, in this case, the feelings of superiority that comes from being at the top of the social hierarchy as an American male. They make one set of supporters sound like Sports Illustrated swimsuit models with PhDs and the others as tired and stupid old has-been hags.

If this is how Obama wants to win, then we will need to show who he is and why he is willing to tear our party apart to get what he wants. And if Hillary has to do some of this work herself, well, fighting adversity is what we are hiring her for. But Obama’s campaign of negativity is going to meet its Waterloo. Count on it. I have not yet *begun* to snark.

John Adams: TV Worth Watching

Ladies and Gents, I am about to head out to the BFF’s house. I have neglected the poor man recently so he is going to cook me dinner tonight. And since he is such a good cook and good company, I cannot resist. I hope he has the TiVO set for the first part of the John Adams miniseries tonight on HBO so we can watch it together. Here is a trailer:

The movie is based on the book by David McCullough. (Highly recommended. I bought it for the BFF for Christmas several years ago but *I* read it first.) John Adams was a motivating force in the separation from England and writing the Declaration of Independence. Oddly enough, he wasn’t heavily involved in writing the constitution, at least, not as involved as James Madison and others. Adams was off in France during much of that period of time, serving as our Secretary of State of sorts. So, much of what the Constitution is based on is the Federalist Papers. It might be a good time to revisit those papers because if I recall my poli sci 101 correctly, the Constitution was written in part to protect the rights of property owners from the effects of mob rule. Yes, our founding fathers were liberals, up to a point.

In any case, we will be discussing some of the outcomes of Federalism and its effects in modern politics in the days ahead. Expect “Federalist” to make a repeat appearance in our posts. But does that word mean what people like Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts think it means? And what does Barack Obama have to do with Federalists?

Stay tuned….

“Pursue essential purposes calmly” – J. Gould

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat if necessary. We have an interlude of 40 days and 40 nights til the spin cycle winds down on the Pennsylvania Primary.

For the real deciders — undeclared superdelegates — this interval will be a time of reflection. They face one momentous, uncomfortable decision for themselves, their constituents, their Party and their country. No matter how frantic the crossfire gets, no matter the clamor outside their cloisters, they won’t be rushed.

The focus of their deliberations will be Obama first, History second, Hillary third. Below the fold, a look ahead at this period of reflection … and our parts in it. Continue reading

Bill Bradley disenfranchises MI and FL. AND CA, NJ, NY, MA, AZ, OH…

Bill Bradley and Nita Lowey were on Meet the Press this morning and Tim Russert (aka Pumpkinhead) and Bradley had the following exchange:

TR: What should happen to Michigan and Florida?

BB:Well, I think the rules are the rules. MI and FL both knew that they wouldn’t be seated if they moved their primaries up. They decided to do that anyway. I mean if we want to make sure that MI and Fl are seated, well, then, don’t let that determine the outcome. They get a 50/50 division and go into the convention, everybody will be there.

TR: Are you disenfranchising the voters of MI and Fl with that position?

BB: Well, I think this is not the voters, per se, but the parties of those states made that decision and there are consequences for that decision.

Continue reading

Sunday: Solidarity

Welcome new readers of The Confluence. We are a merry band of bloggers, exiles by our own choice or our own words, standing on the brink of a new progressive blogosphere. Make yourself at home and join us in solidarity.

  • If you haven’t read ronkseattle’s summary of the DailyKos writer’s strike so far, please do. At the heart of this strike is the idea that free speech really should be free. It should not be held hostage to the proprietors of large web sites. As dissenting voices are chased from the marketplace, so are the ideas that go with them. We do not know what the future holds for the political blogosphere but there are hundreds of voices that go unrecognized because their sites do not reach the threshhold level of size. Stay with us as we brainstorm on how to change this model.
  • Tom Watson puts his finger on the problem in his post on The Left Splits: Writer’s Flee DailyKos over Clinton Bashing. Here’s the money quote:

    The resentment among non-Obama backers is growing rapidly – you can see it in the comments here, and I can see it in my emails. There’s a real split among party activists, and it’s getting wider. Some of it is motivated by the media’s love affair with one candidate – and hatred for the other; Keith Olbermann’s embarassment drove many over the edge. But much of it comes from boorish, Stalinist behavior online – the kind of “you’re either with us or against us” attitude we saw so much of when the Bush crowd was flying high. It’s disturbing, particularly because so many of the targets are women. This is not the Democratic Party many of us have worked for; this is not the progressive blogosphere we’ve supported. Without blaming the worthy candidacy of Senator Obama in any way, this is not a progressive movement – it’s a harsh, echo-filled politburo bathed in faux post-racial hosannas and the gauzy camera lens of “hope.”

    This is also the time to note the lack of leadership in the party.

  • A funny thing happened on the way out of Macy’s yesterday. I was on the way to my car when I passed two retail assistants talking to one another while on a smoking break. One turned to the other and said, “Yeah, but what about Michigan and Florida?” *ping!* Did I hear that right? Just two average NJ Joe’s standing on the sidewalk in front of Macy’s, dragging on their Camels and talking about delegate counts? Yes, my droogs, they knew the frickin’ delegate counts and they knew which states were important and they knew what was going on. So, as I passed them, I updated them that Michigan was headed for tha do-over but I didn’t think that Florida needed one. One of them burst into howls of laughter while the other just smiled and nodded his head. The laughing one stopped and asked, “So, didn’t Hillary win Florida?” and I told him, “Yes, 1.75 people can’t be wrong. They certainly voted like they knew what they were doing.” He started laughing again and he and his friend went on talking as I went to my car. Now, I don’t know about you, but it is my humble opinion that when the average cashier at Macy’s knows what the score is and who is ahead, it is going to be very difficult to spin the Florida controversy as a win for Obama. This experience is not atypical for what is going on all around me in NJ. When people spot my Hillary button in Starbucks, they start to talk politics like it is second nature. My asian colleagues hash it out with me at lunch. My *sister* who is not a politico, sucks up information like a sponge on this stuff. People are tuned in and are following this like a real horserace. And I think they know what is going on, who is pulling the strings and just how much they can trust the media. Thank you SNL. So, if I may make a recommendation: wear your Hillary button (or Obama button, if you must *sigh*) on your jacket or your backpack or your sleeve when you’re out in public. And don’t be afraid to engage people in political talk. You know what’s going on and can fill in the missing pieces. Listen to what people are saying. Hold back the emotional aspect and just listen. The public is waking up and using its mind. And that is a powerful thing that we need to encourage.
  • Oh, give me a BREAK, Josh! How the hell do *you* know Hillary unleashed the Jeremiah Wright stories in the news? Do you have proof? Have you seen the secret drop site somewhere in the DC metropolitan area where an operative from Hillary’s campaign stands, slouched up against a park bench with a package full of already publicly available videos of Wright going off on a tangent? Oo, Oo, maybe there is a balcony somewhere where a geranium is changing position on a daily basis. Will you get real? Anyone could have dragged that stuff out. The Republicans have picked their candidate. The primary season is over for them. They can spend all of the rest of the year picking off our candidates. And it’s not like Obama didn’t share some culpability for his situation. After all, Hillary didn’t force him to associate with Wright for 20 years or include him on his spiritual advisory panel. But so what if Hillary’s campaign *did* whip up this frenzy? Politics is not a tea party. Are you going to come to Obama’s defense every time something negative comes out about him? Can’t he fight his own battles? This is just silly and unworthy of a Polk Award winner. It’s just another example of the Clinton Rules/Obama Rules. Put up or shut up, Josh.