Why Does Rep. Pete Hoekstra Hate America?

by matttbastard

Shorter Pete Hoekstra: “It’s totally Obama’s fault that unsuccessful terror attack was indeed unsuccessful”:

Shame, that. Maybe one day Hoekstra’s vibrant wet dream of death and destruction will actually come true. And then Darth Cheney (who already co-owns a successful terror strike on the homeland — in your fail-tastic face, Barry!) can finally have the satisfaction of saying “I told you so.” 

PS: Bull-fucking-shit.

h/t Crooks and Liars

Update: Roy Edroso explores the right-wing blogosphere so we don’t have to (thank God!)

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Canadian Libel Reform, Meet Economic Reality

by matttbastard

So, you think that recent SCOC ruling will help fight the chilling effects of Canada’s draconian libel laws? Think again, says Ryerson journ prof Jeffrey Dvorkin:

While editors are hailing the ruling as a breakthrough for more aggressive journalism, it also makes it clear that these days, news organizations may be less able than ever to deliver on these expectations.

That’s because as layoffs continue at news organizations and as newsrooms are pared down to the editorial bone, the ability of news organizations to engage in deep, contextual investigative journalism is far from what it once was, or what it should be.

News organizations almost everywhere are dropping their investigative units as too expensive, too time-consuming and far too unable to deliver the requisite audience numbers. Instead, investigative reporting is being contracted out in the U.S. and other countries to “stand-alone” not-for-profits such as ProPublica, Global Post, and the Center for Public Integrity, among others. In Canada, we don’t even have that option.

[...]

My guess is that media law departments are now advising chief editors to restrain their journalists from doing more aggressive reporting unless they can prove that every effort (including a demonstrable commitment to editorial resources) has been made to get all sides of the story. It’s that commitment to shoe-leather reporting that is among the first things to be dropped in a downsizing news organization.

Dvorkin also addresses a matter that Jeff Jedras brought up the other day, the perceived lack of “professionalism” among us foul-mouthed Cheeto-eaters, and may finally have come up with a viable solution on how to effectively net-nanny teh ornery tubes:

The ruling addresses the issue of ethics, standards and practices among bloggers – those independent reporters and opinion-mongers whose power and influence are growing just as legacy media’s reach and heft are diminishing. The ruling brings the blogosphere under the same right, responsibilities and obligations as the mainstream media.

[...]

The challenge for the online community is to create a set of ethical standards that will give bloggers the same credibility with the public as valid as those espoused by the mainstream media. In effect, bloggers need an ombudsman.

Indeed. A ‘blogbudsman’, if you will. I nominate Canadian Cynic.

What?

h/t Bill Doskoch

Update 12/29: Via the wonders of Twitter, Jay Rosen points to a 2008 post of his regarding the seemingly endless handwringing from legacy media types re: blogger ethics:

If “ethics” are the codification in rules of the practices that lead to trust on the platform where the users actually are—which is how I think of them—then journalists have their ethics and bloggers have theirs.

  • They correct themselves early, easily and often.
  • They don’t claim neutrality but they do practice transparency.
  • They aren’t remote, they habitually converse.
  • They give you their site, but also other sites as a proper frame of reference. (As with the blogroll.)
  • When they grab on to something they don’t let go; they “track” it.

In all these ways, good bloggers build up trust with a base of users online. And over time, the practices that lead to trust on the platform where the users actually are… these become their ethic, their rules.

Those in journalism who want to bring ethics to blogging ought to start with why people trust (some) bloggers, not with an ethics template made for a prior platform that operated as a closed system in a one-to-many world.

That’s why I say: if bloggers had no ethics, blogging would have failed. Of course it didn’t. Now you have a clue.

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War is Over (OK, Not *Over*, But…)

by matttbastard

Was going to pick up on what BooMan, Jed Lewison & Jeff Fecke had to say re: Jane Hamsher’s unholy alliance with Grover fucking Norquist and the  more-progressive-than-thou campaign to unseat that notorious corporate shill, Bernie Sanders (and there was great rejoicing among the assembled Trots  in the spartan Vermont offices of the Socialist Equality Party).

But fuck it — it’s Christmas Eve. We can declare a temporary armistice and put down the hunks of pie until at least, er, Saturday. Y’know, peace on earth, goodwill towards bitter personality cultists, all that rot — right, kids?

Right?

Here, have some Ramones. I mean, if Joey and Johnny could put aside their utter loathing for each other for all those years in the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and, um, filthy lucre…?

Wishing you and yours a very happy holidays on this Historic Occasion.

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More on Jane Hamsher’s Nixon-Goes-To-China Epiphany (Now With Less CAPSLOCK)

by matttbastard

My esteemed friend Sarah Jaffe takes issue with several of the points I raised in yesterday morning’s post on Jane Hamsher:

This combines SEVERAL things I hate into one paragraph. “Ugly Red State mugs” well gee, you know what? Those are real fucking people too. I’m so tired of the red state/blue state snobbery I could spit. You know what? I lived in red states. I busted my ass on multiple political campaigns in red states and saw one of them turn blue (Colorado). I’ve talked to pissed-off overworked people who are just looking for someone, ANYONE to give them a narrative of how they got so fucked–and we haven’t been doing it.

Also, since when does anyone who calls themselves a lefty get to snarl and sneer at populist street protest? Sure, I laugh at “look at this fucking teabagger” too, but you know what else I do? I wonder why the fuck we’re not out there, because at least those people are putting some effort into it. And to some degree they ARE protesting the right people, even if the narrative they have (ZOMG SOCIALIST!) is just factually wrong.

[...]

So while I disagree with partnering with Grover Norquist, who is no kind of populist and every kind of rich plutocratic asshole, I absolutely don’t have a problem with acknowledging that the teabaggers A. have some legitimate grievances and B. are using tactics that get attention. I also don’t have a problem with someone staking out a hard and fast progressive position and vowing not to swerve from it.

First of all, considering I spent my formative years going to cattle auctions, milking goats, and generally living like, as Levi Johnston infamously put it, “a fucking redneck,” I think I’ve earned the right to indulge in the occasional good natured rhetorical aplomb with regards to rural culture. Perhaps I should indeed have used ‘Real Americans’, since that terminology is apparently less provocative (if ironic in this instance, considering how the accusation re: my supposed dehumanization of red-staters was phrased).

No matter. Next time I’ll make sure to include photos of me contentedly playing on a pile of dry manure (yes, they do exist) before I offer any pithy asides that may (or may not) implicitly question the humanity of those who think the POTUS is the anti-Christ and people of colour are jackbooted thugs coming to steal guns and impose Marxism on the American populace.

Now, I don’t want to waste too much time addressing nits when there are more substantive concerns to address. So I’ll only briefly deal with the contention that, because I am a Canadian, I have little right to comment–even in passing–on the health care debate in the US.  Amusing, since, in today’s dynamic, neoliberal North American economy, my options to live/work/go to school south of the border are severely restricted by prohibitive costs and outrageous restrictions on so-called preexisting conditions, thus giving me and other Canadians who might one day wish to grab hold of the American dream a stake in whether the current system is indeed reformed (though certainly not as immediate as those who currently reside in the US).

Additionally, Canada’s universal health care system has been unceremoniously yanked into the debate by both pro-and-anti reform factions during the course of the debate, which threatens to reopen health care as a wedge issue here in the Great White North (and, trust me, if the current neocon government in Ottawa gets a majority —  which seems all-too-likely — it will almost certainly utilize the tactics employed by the US insurance lobby, very much eager to further tap into Canada’s lucrative health care market, to bully through ideologically-motivated reforms of a decidedly regressive, pro-market nature).

Regardless, am certain the next time a transformative national event like, oh, say, Iran’s Green Revolution sweeps over Twitter like a digital tsunami, Sarah will refrain from offering opinionated commentary (or actively agitating) because she already has constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of expression, assembly and association and, thus, far less of a vested interest in any outcomes. Also, by this metric, I suppose we can all stop paying attention to the 85% of USians who already have health insurance — which would probably mute most of those advocating for both killing and passing the Senate health reform bill.

Hey, at least we’d get a much-needed respite from the migraine-inducing bloviating of Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews.

Anyway, enough with the gristle — on to the meat.

Sarah seems to have (mis)interpreted my objections to Hamsher’s position (and my contempt for teabaggers) as evidence that I’m against street protest (unless one considers the heavily manufactured fauxtrage of the tea party movement to be populist and not fauxpulist — Hamsher certainly had her doubts about its legitimacy last spring). Which is funny, because a lot of my snark is predicated on the notion that Hamsher ISN’T hitting the streets, but rather using her digital platform as a half-assed means of protest without sacrifice, something that the largely upper-middle-class netroots (and, unfortunately, yours truly) has been guilty of perpetuating. Maybe I missed the portion of Hamsher’s post where she advocated actually getting progressive boots on the ground, instead of continuing to solely rely on FDL petitions and electronic advocacy campaigns to pressure Washington.

If so, my bad.

The biggest point of contention I have with Hamsher’s post (and perhaps I didn’t originally articulate this clearly enough) was her declaration that the only thing separating progressive populist anger from screeching teabagger rage was ‘the message’. But, in fact, it’s not simply the message that differentiates the populist left from the populist right. It’s the motivation behind the message.

Many progressives are angry and motivated to act on said anger because they want to build something that will better the lives of real people, not simply line the pockets of corporations (hence the principled objections to the health care legislation, which many, including Hamsher, view as a ginormous corporate giveaway).

In stark contrast, it seems all too apparent to me that the organized teabagger movement desperately wants Obama’s agenda to fail miserably because they are threatened and offended by the success of an uppity fucking nigger who needs to be put in his place (up to and including 6 feet under) — point fucking blank. Killing what is admittedly a horribly, horribly flawed health insurance bill is part and parcel of this mindset.

(YMMV, of course, but, speaking as a person of colour, the dogwhistles contained within pretty much all missives eminating from the angry USian right silently screams ‘lynching party’).

So, on the one hand we have a broad, socially dynamic movement trying to create something that will benefit a broad range of people; on the other, a racially and culturally homogeneous reactionary backlash attempting to destroy the Other and anything the Other supports, out of fear and hatred.

Teabaggers definitely aren’t afraid to threaten and potentially utilize violence to achieve their destructive, regressive goals. Anyone who has read David Neiwert over the years (especially what he’s written following the 2008 presidential election) knows that playing footsie with pseudo-fascists is a dangerous game when so-called ‘mainstream’ movement conservatives do so. The same also holds true for progressives (and many libertarians, who, ever since Obama ascended to the White House, appear to have rekindled their mid-’90s love affair with black helicopter paranoia).

One can — and must — analyze the ongoing deficiencies of the progressive movement re: tapping legitimate populist anger (as I’ve attempted to do so in the past) without giving any quarter to the far-right. But by stating that the only thing separating tree-of-liberty-watering wingnuts from progs is ‘the message’, it appears Hamsher has done one of two things: Either she has has imbued legitimacy to a racist, conspiratorial backlash; or she has de-legitimized progressive activism by associating it with myopic, potentially deadly obstructionism.

Look, I’m sure one could argue that the KKK represented some legitimate grievances white Southerners held during Reconstruction; its tactics have certainly garnered lots of attention over the years. Shit, the Klan even opposed the Iraq war — but it did so because it believed the US was acting as a proxy for the ‘Zionist Occupied Government’ (ZOMG!) I would have been horrified to see members of the anti-war movement citing them as parallel to the peace lobby, separated only by ‘message.’

Envious progressives eager to (belatedly) tap popular dissatisfaction with the status quo shouldn’t be trying to emulate the right with tea party-lite appropriation simply because the Tea Party brand is now familiar to the public at large. People will always opt for the real thing when presented with a watered down option (just ask the Democratic Party during the DLC years, when the Dems responded to GOP ascendency by diluting its own liberal message with conservative messaging — not that things have changed all that much). Of course openly carrying firearms and threatening violent revolution gets attention — if it bleeds, it leads — but are we really willing to go to similar lengths to get the powers-that-be at Fox News to grant an extra programming block or two to the left. (What was that about “staking out a hard and fast progressive position and vowing not to swerve from it”? Hmm.)

I believe progressives need to continue carving our own niche and not allow the right to continually draw the parametres of public discourse. Hit the streets, smash the corporate state, raise fucking hell and don’t let anyone push us from that path. But for God’s sake don’t fucking give batshit racist misogynists with guns who are acting in direct opposition to our goals the rub in the process.

Steve M., directly addressing Hamsher and her recent decision to offer an olive branch to the anti-establishment right via Fox News, nails it:

Fox books liberals for two reasons: to be punching bags or to help reinforce messages Murdoch wants to deliver. I watched your clip and you weren’t treated like a punching bag — so that leaves only one choice: you were there to play “Even the liberal…” — that is, you were there to deliver the message “This bill is so awful even some liberals loathe it.”

No one on the right is “uniting” with you on principles. The Fox audience doesn’t want to join you to help make a good bill. The Fox audience wants to kill this bill, brutally and mercilessly, and then get every single Democrat out of office. (And if Big Medicine really didn’t like the idea of seeing this bill killed, it would tell Fox and the GOP to call off their dogs, and they’d dutifully comply. Big Medicine loves this bill compared to what it could have been, but no bill at all is still the fat cats’ preference. Watch this report in its 2 1/2-minute entirety if you doubt that.)

I agree that the bill is rather awful, and I’ve been vacillating on the question of whether it’s worth voting for, so I respect your intentions. But if you think left and right are meeting right now, your vision field is almost as warped as that of the we-love-Hillary-and-Sarah PUMAs.

Even the liberal Jane Hamsher.

Even the liberal Jane Hamsher.

Even the liberal Jane Hamsher.

Again, it’s not the message, which, in this instance, is in direct concert (kill the bill!), it’s the motivation — and, based on their apparent willingness to make peace with the far-right fringe to achieve their aims, one can’t help but question that of Jane Hamsher and others suddenly pining for a ‘tea party on the left’ (to say nothing of their judgment).

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Jane Hamsher’s Recycled Capslock Radicalism

by matttbastard

You want to know why the (dis)organized left has been a relatively ineffectual force in USian politics over most of the last 40 years? Check out so-called kill-biller netroots activist [sic] Jane Hamsher, who, in the course of her vain crusade to crush the Senate’s (admittedly flawed but better than, y’know, nothing, ie, the status quo) health insurance reform legislation, has decided that if you can’t beat the Teabaggers

 you might as well break out your own nutsack and…

well, you know the rest:

But in the very next breath, they will then promote statistics that say the tea parties are more popular than either the Democratic or the Republican party, and wonder if it’s an opportune time for a third party candidate. (From the “right,” of course, because who would take the “left” seriously.) At no time do the synapses firing in their brains make the connection that both the “lazy progressive bloggers” and the tea party activists are saying almost the exact same thing about the Senate bill.

[...]

There is an enormous, rising tide of populism that crosses party lines in objection to the Senate bill. We opposed the bank bailouts, the AIG bonuses, the lack of transparency about the Federal Reserve, “bailout” Ben Bernanke, and the way the Democrats have used their power to sell the country’s resources to secure their own personal advantage, just as the libertarians have. In fact, we’ve worked together with them to oppose these things. What we agree on: both parties are working against the interests of the public, the only difference is in the messaging.

Ok, so: We have an astroturfed right-wing social movement of sorts (almost singlehandedly keeping the polyester lobby and Lee Greenwood from starving) that, following a TOTALLY SPONTANEOUS RANT on CNBC from Rick Santelli, decided to utilize the angry-shouty bits of Saul Alinsky to get their ugly red state mugs on Hardball every fucking night for several months straight. And this is the (bipartisan) model that Hamsher apparently wants to emulate (nearly 8 weeks after the mission accomplished moment that was NY-23) because “the only difference [between wingnuts and progressives] is the messaging”?

John Cole caustically questions the logic at work here:

Really? Progressive bloggers are saying the same thing as the tea party activists? I really fucking missed out on all of the posts at Eschaton that Obama is a socialist. I haven’t seen Markos in his tree of liberty t-shirt yet. There is no telling what David Sirota might do or say, so I’ll give you that one.

Hey, at least this way Hamsher doesn’t have to actually read Rules for Radicals and fully invest in the long, hard goddamn work that is required to achieve meaningful, popular change in the current capitalist system; she can just watch old YouTubes of this past summer’s townhall chaos and crib the important (ie, angry-shouty) parts. Yes, this is how Hamsher defines ‘populism': Hold your breath and stamp your feets until Tweety gives you facetime on MSNBC.

Look, I’m on record as stating that the nose-holder/kill-biller battle is, in the long run, a good thing for the left. No matter which side of the divide one falls on, the debate is being driven by progressives; the right’s obstruction-uber-alles strategy has so marginalized it over the past 12 months that the corporate gatekeepers of the 24 hr news cycle seem to have finally lost all interest (yeah, yeah, so the GOP is against [insert Democratic initiative] — tell us something we don’t already know). And, yes, the fact that we see so many progressives on talking head programs articulating the particulars behind the biggest progressive legislative initiative in 40 years (and, in the process, grabbing control of the Beltway narrative) is something to celebrate — even if the dialogue is at times heated.

But seriously. If Hamsher thinks the answer to filling the social movement vacuum on the left (and staking a firm leadership position in the process) is to set your capslock on STUN and start hammering out “YOU WORK FOR US!!1″ until your keyboard breaks, well, she’ll find that there’s lots of room out in the wilderness with the rest of the reflexive, wild-eyed Obama bashers who have fizzled out with more heat than light. Let’s just hope she brought a sturdy pup tent and lots of pemmican for the duration — they don’t do wealth redistribution in Outer Wingnuttia, natch.

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Cynical Calculations

by matttbastard

Cosign with Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason, who incisively and cooly slice away the bullshit surrounding Obama’s Afghanistan escalation:

Obama’s new “strategy” is no strategy at all. It is a cynical and politically motivated rehash of Iraq policy: Toss in a few more troops, throw together something resembling local security forces, buy off the enemies, and get the hell out before it all blows up. Even the dimmest bulb listening to the president’s speech could not have missed the obvious link between the withdrawal date for combat troops from Iraq (2010), the date for beginning troop reductions in Afghanistan (2011), and the domestic U.S. election cycle.

[...]

The only conclusion one can reach from the president’s speech, after eliminating the impossible, is that the administration has made a difficult but pragmatic decision: The war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, and the president’s second term and progressive domestic agenda cannot be sacrificed to a lost cause the way that President Lyndon B. Johnson’s was for Vietnam. The result of that calculation was what we heard on Dec. 1: platitudes about commitment and a just cause; historical amnesia; and a continuation of the exact same failed policies that got the United States into this mess back in 2001, concocted by the same ship of fools, many of whom are still providing remarkably bad advice to this administration.

[...]

In office less than a year, the Obama administration has already been seduced by the old beltway calculus that sometimes a little wrong must be done to get re-elected and achieve a greater good.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

(Photo: Peter Casier, World Food Program, used under a Creative Commons License)

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From Marc Lepine to Hiram Monserrate

by matttbastard

This was the first thing I read today, 20 years after the violent massacre of 14 young women (because they were women):

New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate, one of the Democrats who helped “defend traditional marriage” in the New York Senate last week by voting against a bill that would have made same-sex marriage legal in the Empire State, was sentenced to 250 hours of community service. 52 weeks of domestic abuse counseling and three years of probation, on an assault conviction stemming from a December 2008 incident where he “accidentally” slashed his girlfriends face while beating the crap out of her after he dragged her through the lobby of his Queens apartment building.

Prosecutors had said that Monserrate, an ex-Marine, lashed out at his domestic partner, Karla Giraldo, with a glass in a fit of rage after he found another man’s business card in her purse. The glass broke against her face, cutting her near her left eye down to her skull and leaving a lasting scar.

Monserrate had been originally charged with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of assault after cutting Giraldo’s face during a bitter argument in his apartment on Dec. 19, 2008. However, in October, New York William M. Erlbaum, who presided over his trial, acquitted him on the two felony assault charges, which carried a mandatory sentence of seven years in prison and would have forced him to forfeit his Senate seat.

Dawg:

Has anything really changed since the now-disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment held a mess dinner to honour Marc Lepine?* I would like to believe so. I would like to think that these annual memorials and the respectful newspaper editorials and the gentle men who wear white ribbons are making a difference.

But the fact that so many still appear to have trouble with woman-hatred–trying to wish it away, reduce its significance, confine its existence to a “lone madman,” blame it on a nonexistent Muslim bringing-up, or even, on the fringes, excuse it, tells me that we have much, much further to go. Violence against women continues to flourish, including mass murder. Still think Marc Lepine was alone?

Indeed, we still have miles to go in this struggle. April Reign charts the course we need to take:

This year as you remember and mourn the loss of 14 of our sisters remember also the words of Joe Hill; Don’t Mourn, Organize!

Help Equal Voice to get more women elected, fight for strong gun control, support women’s reproductive choice, donate to a local shelter, help a woman or a young girl learn tech skills or use those skills to help others.

In the words of Emma Goldman;
“No real social change has ever been brought about without a revolution… revolution is but thought carried into action.”

Let’s get active.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers