This morning, I tweeted this disturbing and sometimes insightful, but ultimately maddening, guilt-ridden sanctimony dressed up as constructive criticism in  op-ed by Steve Almond in the NYTimes. Wanting to think more about it, the best I could say at the time was this tweet:

RT ‏@Shoq: I've been scolded for saying we mock rather than advance ideas. Still, this a mea culpa from a liberal Fox watcher
I shared it with my good friend, Joy-Ann Reid (@theReidReport), Managing Editor at, and a Miami Herald columnist. As usual, within hours, she'd let loose with blistering critique that captured much of what irked me when I read Almond's piece the first time. You can read her post here. 

On any given day, I agree with almost everything Joy says, and this day was no different, for the most part. But I did have some concerns about dismissing the entirety of Almond's essay too casually, feeling that as is often the case, that all elusive truth may lie somewhere between two poles.  So I wrote this to Joy in response, and felt I'd blog it. Just because I can.


Thank you joy,

You have told the other side I've been wrestling with so much better than I could.  But I am still torn because while my reaction this morning was just like yours (and I tweeted about it), after reading it again, I am still plagued by the nagging sense that he (and Karoli) are also more than partly right; that we do give them too all far much attention in a meta sense. While, as you point out, there are damn good reasons do that, it's become such a reactionary passion on the left, that it empowers all the lefty demagogues (those self-flagellating masters of the liberal universe), while generally sucking all the energy from the progressive room. There's just not too much remaining for the political process (which serves the status quo nicely). I see this progressive anger-fatigue every day, and it's really worrying me. I see it worrying others, too. Obama can lose, and lose convincingly. And the Senate may go with him.  We all know this. And I think all the anger-merchandising, so well played by the corporate media (and the liberal and conservative industrial complexes, as well), are to a large degree distracting us from really focusing on shaping messages and getting out that vital progressive congressional and presidential vote, without which, we're probably just doomed.

But what the writer doesn't get right at all (besides the ridiculous title) is that he has no real end game; he never discusses where all that surplus attention that he wants to conserve would go if recovered. He hints at it, but so minimally, that he's implying that just turning the other ear and merely showing up to vote will mitigate the damage that a highly cultivated incivility is now doing to us.  It won't. All the polite rhetorical salon parties he imagines won't make the smallest dent in the Koch/Fox audience axis, and they still vote far more reliably than we do.

No, as you point out, ignoring and negotiating just doesn't work. We have to defund, deflect, or somehow denude their omnipotence; strip it from our politics and culture with a combination of strategies that ignore the more cynical of the noisy megaphones, while pushing back effectively against the most influential of them, denying them social and financial currency where possible In the absence of bigger plans, I am going to keep on with efforts like StopRush, which may yet show that market forces can greatly impact how these influencers really operate on and against all of us.

It's all I can do… for now.






 "We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike" (attributed to Adolf Hitler).

The above quote gets a lot of traction on the Internet, and I think it's another one of those memes that too few people debunk or even bother to investigate. I've tried, and despite thousands of Internet posts to the contrary, I have never found any real proof that Hitler ever said these particular words. But that doesn't mean they aren't substantially suggestive of what his positions on trade unions were. They are.
American conservative propagandists (such as the famously stupid Breitbartian fame whore, Brooks Bayne) frequently try to claim that Hitler, whom in their ignorance they mislabel a "socialist," couldn't possibly have been anti-union, because, to paraphrase their apocryphal idiocy, "everyone knows socialists are a worker's party."  In fact, even really lazy students of history know that the Nazis used the socialist label to sucker workers into thinking they cared about their interests, solely for purposes of using their community organizing outreach apparatus, and intimidate anyone on their membership rosters. The Nazis—and especially their Führer—detested Marxists in general and Communists in particular. And since their power ultimately derived from the rich, slave-labor-loving industrialists (in Germany and the United States), unions were the absolutely last people on their Christmas card list.
Hitler suppressed trade unions (along with Communists and Social Democrats) in early 1933. It was a key part of their rise to power. They raided and destroyed offices, liberated printing presses and other hardware and beat or imprisoned members and especially leaders. The SS and their brownshirt stooges rampaged through every trade union office of the Social Democrats, took control of their newspapers and other publications, and seized almost all of their financial assets.  
Except for a few placeholder puppets, most real union officials were either killed or removed to the concentration camps. The net effect was to crush any power that the trade unions had so the Nazi's could use the shell of what remained for their own propaganda purposes.
But don't take my word for it. Take it from one of the word's foremost historians and a true expert on the Third Reich, who is the source behind my words above:  The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans 
History counts.