Glenn Greenwald's daily fixation about the perils and abuses of executive power have always been widely supported and promoted by the Cato Institute, the libertarian "think tank" founded by the now infamous right-wing industrialists known now as simply "The Koch Brothers." Glenn's latest number one fan on Twitter is Cato's (and Reason Magazine's) Julian Sanchez (@normative). The two of them have recently been the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb of the NSA/Snowden outrage machine, gleefully trading-off with and echoing each other's efforts to keep the topics of the NSA, Ed Snowden and Bradley Manning in the forefront of the media's attention span.  And the Kochs just couldn't be happier.

This paragraph will help you understand why:

From:  The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right by Lee Fang

Perhaps the most insidious strategy of the Koch brothers has been their ability to co-opt social liberals. The Cato Institute is known for its promotion of gay marriage and support for immigrant rights. In fact, a small number of libertarian fronts that receive funding from Koch charitable foundations do not toe the orthodox conservative line when it comes to issues like evolution or even drug policy. But these otherwise laudable causes are mostly a ruse. While the Koch brothers fund seemingly reasonable social libertarians with one hand, they finance a set of vicious social conservatives with the other. Peggy Venable, a longtime Koch operative, helped mastermind the crusade to rewrite the history textbooks in Texas to promote antigay bigots and to censor references to immigrant civil rights leaders like Cesar Chavez.6 Americans for Prosperity spent considerable resources promoting Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce and Colorado’s Tom Tancredo, two of the leading anti-immigrant politicians in America. Koch also gives heavily to antigay groups like the Heritage Foundation. In fact, Charles attends meetings of the Council for National Policy, the nation’s largest meeting group for far right social conservative donors, and in a speech posted on the group’s website, pledged an “alliance” with the social right to change American society. Essentially, Koch will fund both conservatives and liberals when it comes to social policy. Because for them, social initiatives are more often a Trojan horse for imposing their radical economic views.

[bold emphasis added]

Like most of the Right's calculated maneuverings, organizations like Cato are fond of any effort that attacks any institution of power which far right authoritarians like the Koch's don't now control. For decades, they have paid for an orchestrated effort to destroy the American people's respect for goverment, and thus, any authority that can pass social legislation aimed at greater wealth equality and social justice, which are both outcomes vehemently opposed by the Kochs and their plutocratic brethren. It is not an accident that Progressive civil libertarians and socially-regressive Ron and Rand Paul supporters have come together to noisily protest the evils of the "surveillance state," as Greenwald so lovingly refers to it. It's a strategy long in coming.

I urge you to read Lee Fang's book and understand just how systemic the plutocratic influence has become in America, and why it is leading to what George Packer calls "The Great Unwinding" of the American way of life. It is not that the strident voices like Glenn Greenwald's are not discussing matters important to liberals. They are. After all, Progressives—or at least, those claiming to be progressives—are his market and drive his income. But it is the way they are discussed that is working at cross-purposes with the larger goals of the American left. They rely on a ginned-up outrage directed mostly at mere tokens of authority, such as black Presidents like Barack Obama, and not at the true causes of our problems: the plutocratic elites like the Koch's who are only too happy to promote and pay for this distracting, hyperbolic antipathy toward elected representation and executive power. 

Does Glenn Greenwald openly work with The Cato Institute? No. At least not from any evidence I've seen.  But he has been paid to write for them in the past, and they eagerly stoke the outrage he so easily manifests with his daily writing. Outrage which an army of Julian Sanchez cohorts can get behind and push, helping to steer it in ways more directly in-line with Cato's ultimate goal of dismantling the Progressive agenda on behalf the Kochs and their many right wing friends in the energy, finance, cattle, and agricultural industries.

It is an informal convergence of interests that makes Greenwald their proverbial useful idiot who helps to drive the narratives that they want to see driven. Just as far and as fast as he can drive them.  And since he creates more disaffected progressives with every article he writes; people who often shriek that they are "done with voting","done with democrats," and "done with false hopes and promises," he is helping to drive the American Left right over a cliff and straight into the waiting arms of the quasi-fascist, quasi-theocratic plutocratic elites like the Koch family. The very forces of darkness who have spent at least 75 years trying to become the true fascist authoritarians that Greenwald professes to fear. Revealingly, he almost never actually writes about those fears, choosing instead to write passionately in favor of things like the Citizens United ruling on electioneering, which actually serve to stoke the causes of those fears. Handsomely.

If America, as we once knew it is to survive, the agenda of the Kochs and their elite partners must be stopped. But getting outraged at the latest Glenn Greenwald trope won't do that.  It will only add more fuel to the raging inferno of hate and disillusionment which will ultimately assists the ultra-far right with their ambition to seize total control of the United States. As articles like this demonstrate, they're already almost there. 

For better or worse, and regardless of their motivations or tactics, Greenwald and the Washington Post have helped to bring the NSA security debate to the front of the public discussion.  But now more mainstream journalists, advocates, and elected officials have to step-up and translate all this legitimate concern, and yes, even outrage into effective public policy prescription and legislation that can balance the security vs. liberty scale in a way that most Americans can support. That is an outcome that the Kochs are hoping Greenwald and friends will impede by promoting so much rage, distrust and rancor that only a dysfunctional national apathy remains. And again, we're nearly there.

I feel this entire NSA issue is far to complicated to be solved by any knee-jerk outrage about "civil liberties" and "respecting the fourth amendment."  It's just one more intricate problem that only responsible governance can address. A governance deriving its power from the consent of the governed. A governance with a real and potent authority that Libertarian industrialists, and the pseudo-Libertarian actors like Greenwald simply detest.

Update#1

Now that he's been shamefully "Pulitzer-recognized" for his famously shoddy work on the Snowden/NSA stories, Greenwald is less and less ashamed of demonstrating his frequent willingness to support the Koch cabal's transparent efforts to suck in the gullible on the left.  Here's the latest example: 
 


 

And not to be outdone, Glenn's frequent partner in these things, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has dropped any and all pretense of caring about any issue but  their hyperbolic hysteria over the "surveillance state." Here, we see their "senior activist" essentially providing an endorsement of the Tea Party because of the empty Liberty Now! rhetoric that EFF helped them refine over the past year.  They suggest not the slightest concern for the well tread fact that Koch/Cato and the Teaparty often use this simplistic civil liberties dogma in precisely the same way that conservatives have always used race*: to seduce voters motivated by narrowly focused, single issue, dogwhistle politics.
 


 

I will let Bob Cesca from the Daily Banter explain this farce to you:

"It’s difficult to find a more ridiculous whitewashing of the tea party outside of the tea party itself. The legacy of the founders? Wow. First of all, the tea party doesn’t even understand the actual Boston Tea Party, much less the intent of the founders. Yet the heretofore respected EFF has bedazzled the tea party with the gilded legacy of the almighty founders. As for the leaders the tea party has elected, is there one — just one — who’s not completely nuts or totally unqualified for the post?"

Here's Bob's entire post. Don't miss it ? Electronic Frontier Foundation Praises the Tea Party, FreedomWorks and Birther Larry Klayman

* Note: On using race and similarly incendiary issues to hang entire political strategies upon, Brian Beutler of the New Republic wrote a great paragraph today in his piece, The Right's Racial Blinders What really explains the politics of the Obama era.  The entire piece is excellent, but this is the money graf for my purposes:
 

See how it works?  The plutocracy will use race, civil liberties, environment, or any other issue they can that will—or might—lure gullible populations into their sphere of influence. They will achieve their selfish agenda by any means necessary.   But then, the same is largely  true of Greenwald. He hung his career on civil liberties, and always had libertarian leanings (to put it nicely) which never much cared for progressive politics or helping progressive causes.  As a result, ginning-up the importance of Koch projects, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, the Teaparty, or any other tool that supports or extends his hyperbolic surveillance state narrative seems a perfectly rational thing for him to do. 

But as more and more journalists and pundits discover him, post-Pulitzer, and finally-tune into his past and tactics, I wonder if he will be so cavalier about being this revealing of himself in the future. It was one thing when he was a nobody, and Tim Jacob Wise wrote a piece like this:

Of Broken Clocks, Presidential Candidates, and the Confusion of Certain White Liberals

But it will be quite another now that he's a Pulitzer Prize contributing author, Glenn Greenwald.

Stay tuned.

 

Related

"Few people have done more in-depth research, reporting, and writing on the post-Obama conservative movement than Lee Fang. The Machine goes beyond the headlines and explores exactly how this ideological movement operates."
—Amanda Terkel, senior political reporter, The Huffington Post

 

After the 2008 and 2012 elections, we all thought the country was shifting toward liberal values. The right wing saw it too, so they warmed up their machine built over 30 years, stretching from Capitol Hill to local school boards. Think tanks and lobby houses, new media and old, consultants and old-time party hacks all fell into line to rev up The Machine against the newly-elected moderate Democrat named Barack Obama.

Yes, Hillary Clinton, there was and still is a vast right wing conspiracy. Luckily for us, Lee Fang has written the story of the conspiracy in the Clinton years and following right up to the 2012 election. Names, dates, and secret meetings are all in one compact book, where Lee's narrative proves what we all know: A small handful of billionaires and corporations drive politicians, the news, and day-to-day political discourse in this country.

 

And the graphic Greenwald wants you to look at is a fake — an altered version of a Think Progress graphic showing Norwegian anti-Muslim terrorist Anders Breivik’s citations of US bloggers in his “manifesto.” The altered graphic, to which they added my name in a very deceptive manner, with a bright green bar to make sure you didn’t miss it:

Once again, as he did with the Bradley Manning saga, Glenn Greenwald has sensationalized and distorted a complicated story, doing the best he can to glue the very worst possible interpretations onto important facts in order to further is now-routine Libertarian attacks on Obama—and most institutions of legitimate government. I assume his new monetization scheme he introduced the day before he broke the story has benefited from all the noise he's created. But now the rest of the media, and all of us, have to sort out the relevant facts, something Glenn is rarely very interested in because they clutter up his angry stick-it-to-the-man (or at least Obama) libertarian narratives.

To be sure, violations of our privacy can be a threat to our democratic principles and ideals. But as recent events have demonstrated, so too can terrorism. The balancing act we must do will be discussed for generations to come (if we last that long). I think it's essential that we discuss them fairly, and demand that our journalists do too.

Because most of my friends and readers don't have the time to parse all this stuff, I am going to present here some simple descriptions of what PRISM, and related NSA snooping projects actually do, without all the agenda-hawking hyperbole being baked into so many accounts. None of these programs are some wholesale sweep of private data and communications that Greenwald and others have tried to suggest. I will update this page as more or better pieces become available. My personal thoughts on Greenwald and this drama appear at the end.

Overviews if PRISM

U.S., company officials: Internet surveillance does not indiscriminately mine data

According to a more precise description contained in a classified NSA inspector general’s report, also obtained by The Post, PRISM allows “collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,” rather than directly to company servers. The companies cannot see the queries that are sent from the NSA to the systems installed on their premises, according to sources familiar with the PRISM process.

Crucial aspects about the mechanisms of data transfer remain publicly unknown. Several industry officials told The Post that the system pushes requested data from company servers to classified computers at FBI facilities at Quantico. The information is then shared with the NSA or other authorized intelligence agencies.

According to slides describing the mechanics of the system, PRISM works as follows: NSA employees engage the system by typing queries from their desks. For queries involving stored communications, the queries pass first through the FBI’s electronic communications surveillance unit, which reviews the search terms to ensure there are no U.S. citizens named as targets.

That unit then sends the query to the FBI’s data intercept technology unit, which connects to equipment at the Internet company and passes the results to the NSA.

The system is most often used for e-mails, but it handles chat, video, images, documents and other files as well.

“The server is controlled by the FBI,” an official with one of the companies said. “We do not offer a download feature from our server.”

Another industry official said, “No one wants the bureau logging into the company server.”

What is Prism (by Kevin Drum (Motherjones)

Obviously this is still a little fuzzy, but the picture that's developing is substantially different from the initial reporting. If tech companies have agreed only to build more secure ways of passing along data in response to individual FISA warrants, that explains why they've never heard of PRISM and why they deny being part of any program that allowed the government direct access to their data.

Technically speaking, this also makes a lot more sense. The process described by the Times sounds quite plausible, in contrast to the "direct access" story. Further reporting might clear this up even more, for example by explaining just how automated this system is and when human intervention is necessary.

Through a PRISM darkly: Tracking the ongoing NSA surveillance story
I'm a huge fan of tech journalist, Mathew Ingram. But while I very much disagree with some of his takes on this story and feel he's far too trusting of Greenwald (something others have learned not to do),  he's very good at presenting the more ominous side of the story without some of Greenwald's dishonest and distorting reporting.  So in the interests of presenting some balance, I include his summation of some of the technical reporting he's seen. Keep in mind, this was early on, and many new facts are coming to light daily which sap some of the "big brother" hyperbole and drama from this story as he's written about it here.

This story is moving so quickly that it is hard to keep a handle on all of the developments, not to mention trying to follow the denials and non-denials from those who are allegedly involved, and the threads that tie this particular story to the long and sordid history of the U.S. government’s surveillance of its own citizens. So we thought it would be useful to try and collect what we know so far in a single post, which will be updated as often as possible with new information.

Note: Ingram is a Canadian, so as a targeted "foreigner" in the NSA's crosshair, I feel he can and should be rightfully concerned about just how far these NSA programs can go. I personally feel most of these fears are grossly exaggerated, but I respect anyone's right to have and report on them as they see fit.

Critical Overviews of Recent NSA Revelations

NSA Bombshell Story Falling Apart Under Scrutiny; Key Facts Turning Out to Be Inaccurate (by Bob Cesca)

It turns out, the NSA PRISM story isn’t quite the bombshell that everyone said it was. Yes, there continues to be a serious cause for concern when it comes to government spying and overreach with its counter-terrorism efforts. But the reporting from Glenn Greenwald and the Washington Post has been shoddy and misleading.

FISA 702 or PATRIOT Act 215? Questions on the Guardian/Wapo surveillance scoops (by @MSNBC contributor, Joy Ann Reid)

In other words, is this about domestic surveillance or foreign surveillance? You could argue that either way, the government colluding with phone or Internet companies to sweep up “metadata” is hellafied creepy either way. But in the interests of accuracy, the reports should get the law right.

Views and Commentary

We Are Shocked, Shocked!  (by "Wired" creator David Simon)

Is it just me or does the entire news media – as well as all the agitators and self-righteous bloviators on both sides of the aisle – not understand even the rudiments of electronic intercepts and the manner in which law enforcement actually uses such intercepts? It would seem so.

http://muckrack.com/link/vBZ0/we-are-shocked-shocked

 

Personal Thoughts About Greenwald And This Story

The day before he started blogging about "leaked" information from the NSA, he announced that his Guardian-based blog would now allow "reader support."  I'll reserve further comment on that amusing coincidence for another post.

Suffice it to say that Glenn is the PT Barnum of libertarian bloggers, and credit must be given to his flair for exciting people enough to throw money at him for distorting very important stories; stories which he may have legitimately broken, for legitimate reasons, before demagoguing right out of them any and all fairness, rationality, and respect for disagreements about what the material facts might mean. As usual, rather than go do the hard work of reporting themselves, most of the mainstream media will just suck up Greenwald's reporting and use it to sell papers.

By the time anyone realizes many of the facts were completely distorted, the popular memes and misconceptions are already out there, and nearly impossible to get back. By then, Karl Rove and the conservative noise machine have been able to recast the anger they generate into weapons they can deploy against democrats and progressives.  Lee Fang's new book goes into how this works.

The result is one more huge and noisy distraction from the larger problem we all face: how to recast a global political system that is completely dysfunctional, and unable to correct the imbalances created by global capitalism run amok. None of us are comfortable knowing corporations or government have such unfettered access to our communications. But I am far more uncomfortable with the lack of focus by progressives who claim they wish to address that crisis.  They are thrilled by these hyperbolic fireworks that people like Greenwald are so good at igniting, without understand that such stories just misinform, distract, and dispirit the very voters we need to fix all these pressing  problems while we still have a habitable planet to host them.

Related

 

Update1:  This term has been recast as "Puritopian."  Emo Progressive was never coined by either Joy Ann Reid or myself. It had already gotten traction before we came together and tried to give it greater definition. We succeeded, perhaps too well. Like others, we were never comfortable with it because it was far too disparaging of emotion, which in itself is not a bad thing.  At the same time, we never much liked "Pro Left" either, as many of the people associated with the behavior and attitudes were amateur writers and boggers. Thus, we now feel that "Puritopian" is a better term of art to decribe the beliefs and attitudes that were being discussed on this page. You can read more about the term as soon as I have time to write it up here. For now, just substitute it wherever you see Emo Progressive below.

Update2: I've never been able to get "Puritopian" to gain much traction because too many people had already become too enamored with the "emo" in "emoprogressive," (which I still dislike).  So I found a middle ground and defined a new label which seems to be resonating with many in the social media space already. That new label is: Emotarian


 

Note: Joy Ann Reid and I posted the definition below on Urban Dictionary. But it really needs more discussion than what can be posted there. So this post will serve as an ongoing primer on the subject, and will be expanded incrementally.   If you have comments or ideas for things to include, please post them below.

Emo Progressive

The Original Definition, reprinted from Urban Dictionary

Emo Progressive (or "emoprog") is a self-described liberal or progressive, often with strong libertarian leanings, whose primary political orientation is to be angry, dissatisfied and unhappy with the state of the nation at any given time, because in their view, liberal policies are not being implemented quickly enough or articulated forcefully enough. They have particular contempt for Democratic presidents.

Emoprogs are ideological purists who disdain compromise and incremental change, which they see as "selling out" classical liberal ideas like full employment, an end to all wars, state secrets, and liberal social policy.

Emoprogs dislike Republicans but reserve their greatest disdain for Democratic presidents, whom they relentlessly attack for not meeting a set of ideological goal posts that are constantly adjusted to ensure that the president will be deemed a disappointment, "not progressive enough" or "just like a Republican" no matter what policy achievements are made.

Emoprogs routinely dismiss or ignore congress' role in making or impeding policy, believing presidents can simply "use the bully pulpit" and "fight" in order to overcome constitutional or legislative obstacles.

Emoprogs have a strong affinity for third party politics as a way to punish Democratic presidents. They are especially hostile to President Barack Obama and deem anyone who expresses a lack of ill will toward him to be "Obamabots" and enemies of liberalism.

Example1: After Eric Holder announced congress had blocked the Justice Department from trying 9/11 mastermind KSM in civilian court, social networks lit up with emo progressives complaining that President Obama had broken his campaign promise to end military tribunals. Their criticism did not mention congressional Democrats who helped block Holder.

Example2: Emoprogs dismissed healthcare reform as a failure, saying President Obama should have used the bully pulpit to achieve a single payer system, despite the fact that Sen. Harry Reid made it clear that such a plan could not pass the Senate.

 

Related Reading

In a pointed essay about how wrong some libertarian bloggers masquerading as progressives can be, Booman Tribune (@booMan23) outlines a very good summary of just  some of the major progressive achievements of the Obama adminstration.  Despite the incessant and destructive doom and gloom whining of a professional left that profits from all the hysteria they manufacture, and the general ineffectualness of a progressive movement that now seems to have been far more interested in bumper sticker slogans that made them feel good,rather than in the long,hard slog we needed to make real political change, the Obama administration has gotten far more accomplished than any of these do-nothing idealogues really want you to know about.  

Why it that? Because the more you know, the more likely you are to vote.  And that means Obama would easily win reelection, and that's just something they cannot stomach because he's not "just not progressive enough" to suit their suspiciously juvenile expectations or tastes.

Whether they actually feel that way, as so many irrelevant socialists, anarchists, and nihlists have always felt in our nation's history, or they are being well-paid by the right wing to appear as if they feel that way, is really irrelevant in the current shadow of an impending Right wing takeover of the White House and Senate. Their glum, disappointed, despiriting voices and screeds deface the pages of countless newspaper, broadcast, and blogging  accounts so often, the apathy and despair in the electorate is palpable, and probably far greater than is being reflected in Obama's low approval numbers.  

Those numbers always take a plunge after the latest "Caver in Chief" memes get planted by the Hamshers, Greenwalds, Uygurs, Schultzes, Moores, Ratigans, Daous, and the rest of the perpetually petulant rich people gambling with America's future so they can look important to the 7% of democrats who will never be happy with any Democratic president.  These memes get traction not because they are true, but because these people get more traction in the main stream media than do all the other voices who actually lay out the facts without all the ruinously simplistic distortions and polemical firebombs designed to get them high-fives from their friends and sympathetic media hosts, and generally advance their career profiles and products, no matter how much they posture otherwise. Whether they really want to destroy the Obama presidency is secondary to the fact that they actually are.  So why are they so culturally suicidal with so much at risk for our society?  Ask them. They will spin you up a nice lie, replete with just enough pseudo-progressive blither blather that you might actually confuse them with sincere progressives.  They're not.

But enough preamble. Here is Booman's list, mostly reformatted and marginally reworded to suit this purpose, and with just enough of his lead-in retained to provide some context:

On many of the issues that most concern [Glenn] Greenwald, the two parties are frighteningly alike. How do we get these assholes to stop the insane War on Drugs? How can we ever shrink the Pentagon down to a reasonable size? Is there any end to the expansion of the surveillance state? It seems like neither party has any interest in budging on any of these questions, and it's appalling.

But how about the areas where they do differ?

  • Obama has overhauled the food safety system
  • Advanced women's rights in the work place
  • Ended Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) in our military
  • Stopped defending DOMA in court.
  • Passed the Hate Crimes bill.
  • Appointed two pro-choice women to the Supreme Court.
  • Expanded access to medical care and provided subsidies for people who can't afford it.
  • Expanded the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Fixed the preexisting conditions travesty [and rescissions] in health insurance.
  • Invested in clean energy.
  • Overhauled the credit card industry, making it much more consumer-friendly.
  • While Dodd-Frank bill was weak in many respects, it was still an extremely worthwhile start at re-regulating the financial sector.
  • He created a Elizabeth Warren's dream agency: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • He's done a lot for veterans
  • He got help for people whose health was injured during the clean-up after the 9/11 attacks. 

None of these things were priorities for Republicans. They actively opposed, directly or indirectly through obstruction, every single item on this list. In fact, they succeeded in killing a Cap & Trade bill in the Senate after it had passed through the House.

All of these things are improvements that would not have occurred under a McCain-Palin administration. Moreover, a McCain-Palin administration would have moved in the other direction on most of these issues, or come up with even worse compromises.

Booman then concludes with:

The president has achieved a tremendous amount under the circumstances. And it matters greatly that he not be replaced by Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, or Michele Bachmann. Or even Ron Paul.

Thank you, Boo. It needed to be said. 

Moreover, it needs to be repeated to everyone. Please use the Retweet button below and help do that. Thanks.

Note:  :Last  year, a team I assembled produced a far more extensive list and published it at ObamaAchievements.org.  We are about to start updating it to include some of what can be found above, and certainly all of what is found in Milt Shook's much later effort, which you can read here:

TO THOSE WHO CONSIDER PRESIDENT OBAMA A DISAPPOINTMENT; YOU'RE JUST NOT PAYING ATTENTION!


Related

I get asked a lot why I persist in relentlessly calling on serious journalists to investigate the outrageous hyperbole and egregiously distorted facts about accused Wikileaks source, Bradley Manning. 

Well, perhaps we now have a good example of why it mattered so much to me. It seems that a famous story about Gitmo torture deaths by journalist, Scott Horton, doubted by some at the time, but which nonetheless won the National Magazine award, is now collapsing under a scrutiny that such a sensational story should have gotten when it first appeared.

Perhaps this fiasco will cause some to look again at the equally dubious Manning exaggerations now going into their 7th month.

Since last December, the Manning story has gone from a single post by Glenn Greenwald, who took ridiculous liberties with facts and his own beliefs to spin a yarn of government malfeasance bordering on conspiracy, torture, and a wanton disregard for established rules of military justice and decency. All without a single shred of proof, or even a credible source, outside of the accused's attorney, and a pretentious hacker named David House, who used 15 minutes of knowing Manning as a pretext for visiting him, then parlaying those visits into international fame by spewing psycho babble about Manning looking "catatonic" to his professional hacker's eye.

But as Greenwald often seems to do with his stories, that story had planted a seed that would then grow in the minds and blogs of the disaffected left, and particularly an angry civil liberties lobby that has welcomed any story of alleged abuse of power or other wrongdoing that could be used to shame, embarrass or inconvenience the Obama administration. 

Within weeks, the story was being aggressively shipped from, and pimped by Jane Hamsher's FireDogLake.com, Truthout, and countless other progressive and wikileaks-obsessed news sites and bloggers, all thrilled to have another new outrage that they could use to drive traffic to their web sites.

Inevitably, mainstream news outlets picked up the buzz, and without even a phone call's worth of effort to confirm a single fact or allegation, they repeated Greenwald's views and conclusions almost verbatim, and ad nauseam.

Soon enough, driven by Greenwald's grotesquely inflated reputation as a reputed expert on matters of constitutional law and torture (he wrote a book), the stories were being purportedly "investigated" by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations. Of course, in every case, the only reason these organizations were looking into it at all, were, by their own admission, because of "reports" of abuse by none other than Glenn Greenwald himself (citing the lawyer, himself, or self described torture experts from Firedoglake). Such a small world.

Never one to let ethics dampen his enthusiasm for promoting a good story, Greenwald would make a huge noise every time one of these organizations would appear to confirm his conclusions that Manning was being tortured, rarely if ever hinting to his readers that their interest was generated by Greenwald himself.

Since then, I have continually tried to use my Twitter presence and blog to alert journalists and the media to the many holes, half-truths, and outright distortions in the Greenwald and Jane Hamsher narratives about the Manning story.

Detail: About Dr. Jeff Kaye, Firedoglake, and Pfc. Bradley Manning

More of my posts: http://shoqvalue.com/?s=manning

Alas,because of Greenwald's weird popularity, driven by the blogosphere's increasingly sloppy criteria for what a "journalist"is (Greenwald doesn't actually call himself one, but dresses in the trappings of one with nearly every word he writes), and probably his legendary tenacity for attacking and bullying critics, it was only a very few columnists like Joy Ann Reid who took my bait and looked deeper:

Finally, Someone Else Has Questions for Bradley Manning & David House
 

Joy-Ann has done a lot more work since, and tells me she has some revelations coming on this case. I am eagerly awaiting them.

In the meantime, I urge every thinking person to consider this embarrassing Scott Horton fail, and realize just how deeply susceptible we have all become to these sensational stories that can gain swift traction on the Internet, but which are rarely vetted by it.

Instead, the mainstream media diligently takes dictation, happy to echo the totally free content and accrued site visitations which they receive as a result of this thin and dubious reporting from the aggressive self-promoters like Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher.

I realize that liberals like to feel a kinship with victims of injustice. But we have more than enough real ones to worry about, without outrageous exaggerations, ginned-up by people always on the lookout for something which might be used to embarrass the Obama administration.

I will now head off to find some lunch, and await Greenwald's loyal minions (or Glenn himself as sock puppet), who will comment below that another "Obama cultist" has smeared their Dear Leader again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven't even had breakfast yet, haven't blogged in a month, and I am still recovering from some weird 3-day, ass-whoopin flu or whatever, so this is gonna be rough. But I want to get it out there.  It's important.

My friend @rootless_e, whom I have been urging my twitter stream to follow (but not often enough), has painted a scathing and laser-pointed portrait of the very punditocracy that I so often deride in my Twitter stream as a big part of the reason the Democrats can never find enough support to do anything, and why the Senate and perhaps even the White House are more than vulnerable to a calamitous GOP takeover in 2012. 

Since Barack Obama began to find success in the Democratic primaries of 2008 he and his supporters have attracted virulent attacks from the professional left of liberal commentariat, lobbyists, pundits, think tankers, and academics. The underlying basis for the attacks is class – the class of professional liberals/leftists, cut off from any popular movement, derives its authority, prestige, and income from its status as the official interpreter and judge of "leftism" or liberalism. That's why they get writing assignments, TV invitations, grants, jobs in DC or NY writing position papers for liberal institutions. The term "professional left" describes a group of people who generate liberal/leftist opinion as their profession (these are not organizers). But while the professional right is disciplined and assiduous in supporting the Republican Party, the professional left is disciplined and assiduous in attacking the Democrats especially the Obama Democrats. There are three main reasons:

Full (Long) Story (after you finish up here, please :)

You won't see words like this coming from the very family of journalistic fame whores and careerists that he reveals here. They are that now legendary "professional left," which former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was mocked for labeling, mostly by that very same Professional Left.  Just as the right has learned to shame the media away from criticizing Fox news, or the Christian right, or lobbying, or the excesses of the defense industry, this class of raconteurial oligarchs are able to carp, snipe, whine, and snivel to a devout audience of readers about any topic that drives their papers, blogs, and podcasts, as well as their careers forward.

While of course, they fill the databases of their blogs and other publications with a daily supply of pedestrian stories of interest to Progressives, that's not the stuff of celebrity blogging, nor profitable page views, nor the advertising revenue (or prestige) that comes with them.  For that, they often rely on sensational stories that cherry pick facts about anything likely to inflame a sincere Progressive's sensibility, especially if it comes from any kind of leak, action, or allegation made from, or about, the Obama administration. 

They don't set out to provide passive, thoughtful, journalistic analysis of a story that helps a reader understand a policy, position or action, but rather, they laboriously contort any aspect of that story in order to make the reader see the issue and context as they do. It's advocacy journalism at its very worst, and by today's standards, William Randolph Hearst would be seen as a rank amateur at this game. 

Whether about some latest White House leak, allegation of "torture," or alleged policy walk-back, from the headline of their work, they will set out on a polemical joyride which, even if failing to get that reader to entirely agree with their take, will often succeed in delivering them to a mental destination where they feel outraged, demoralized, or just apathetic about the President they elected, and the Democrats they must support if they don't want to see their country move even further back in time under another ruinous Republican rule.

They almost never talk about how that administration and party can be worked with constructively, without tearing apart the leadership (and morale of the electorate) in the process.

About the Voting Right's Act, LBJ once said to Martin Luther King, "make me do it." And so he did. But by taking to the streets and attacking THE problem and the people standing in the way of solutions, and not the President he needed to help make that change happen.

The popularity of the Professional Left is powered by the passionate, if often gullible beliefs of a large, but very fragmented progressive community, many of whom are rarely schooled in the complex nuances of how politics in America works in even the most basic ways, never mind how formidable are the forces aligned against anything which might alter the badly broken status quo.

They got used to reading many of these Pro Left bloggers and journalists back in the early days of blogging (way back around 2000-2005), when the Left was in the opposition, and anything "anti-Bush" would get them a loyal and devoted following. But after Obama took over, and Liberal blog traffic plummeted, and suddenly they had no easy outrage to use for marketing their 1500 WordPressed treatises on anything. So almost gleefully, they turned on the very president they helped elect, using a few problematic issues like Gitmo and the Wars, both very difficult problems to resolve in this age of obstruct-anything Republicans—without Making Him Do It.

And then there are the sites like FireDogLake and Salon's Glenn Greenwald,who push a daily diet of "Just like Bush" memes on their readers, not merely because they can drive traffic, but because they further their own political agendas, which are always some kind of weird flirtation with a third-party effort that might challenge the status quo. But rarely is this done with any focused or sustainable effort (or articles about people pushing same). Instead, it's just enough to excite the disillusioned, keep them reading, and probably likely to vote for whatever half-baked candidate or party they have been misled to believe is even plausible (e.g., Sanders, Kucinich, Paul, Johnson, Feingold, etc.). 

Believing anything else, they are told, is giving in to a "fear the GOP evil more strategy," being sold by feckless Democrats who merely want to retain power at all costs.  And of course, they are partly right about that. That's what any political party tries to do.  But sadly, those fears of the great evil are also quite real, as recent events in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Florida are nicely illustrating for us.  While we do need to find a way out of this quagmire of dysfunctional plutocracy, we will never do it by disemboweling what remains of a badly weakened democratic party, and casting the country into another dark age of GOP rule.

Despite the bleatings and blatherings of these Pro Left propagandists with their mixed ideologies and agendas, there still remains a huge difference between the parties. Only one of them can still be "Made To Do It."  The other will be all to happy to do what we see happening at the state level now: crushing what remains of our democratic traditions and laws, and changing all the rules so they can disenfranchise as many voters as possible, thus helping to ensure that we will never be able to make any of them do the people's business again.

Now please read the piece. I have stolen none of its massively awesome thunder :)

Other Vitally Important Reads For A Sunday

As some know, I have strenuous disagreements with Glenn Greenwald. But they are usually less on the issues than on tactics. While I think his criticism of executive overreach are consistent, they are also overblown and nearly hysterical at times. And his tendency to viciously attack and berate his critics in attempts to intimidate them are melodramatic, churlish, and too often excused by his fanboys and girls.

And of course, his many exaggerated claims about Bradley Manning's treatment (without immediately disclosing that he had a book coming out with a major chapter on such mistreatments) was a blow to some of his credibility in my eyes.

I feel that Greenwald appeals to a global civil libertarian lobby that, while quite vocal and often strident, is largely impotent and entirely ineffective. I'd like to see leaders emerge on the left who can be much less divisive to the left. People who can persuade by sheer force of evidence and moral argument, than by hyperventilating so often that outrage fatigue is the net effect on many.  Such people would be able to fight for our rights without helping to enable and empower the Republicans and Corporatists who are so keenly bent on making our lives and liberties that much worse.

Even so, I completely agree with Dave von Ebers here:

So, while I disagree with him at times, I nonetheless respect him; and no matter what any of us thinks of Mr. Greenwald’s substantive positions on the issues, we have to be alarmed by this, as reported on the Tech Herald website today:

This thugocratic effort to discredit or intimidate Greenwald, assuming it's all true as written by the Tech Herald, is a throwback to some of our darkest days when politicians and industrialists (and even some Unions) often acted with impunity against domestic enemies. It cannot be acceptable, even as a plan that is never executed. (There doesn't seem to be any evidence that any of what the Tech Herald exposed was actually implemented, but given what we know from Wendell Potter about Cigna's efforts against Michael Moore, I am inclined to believe some of them were  implemented—or at least close to being implemented.)

I am weary of people on the left and the right who think that all issues and disagreements are one-dimensional affairs, when our problems are so multi-dimensional. Like Dave, I can strongly disagree with Greenwald's manner and tactics on parts of an issue, while respecting his views and passions on others parts that issue. I think we'd all make more progress if others were more willing to make concessions to situational pluralism;  openly, honestly, and without hesitation.

That said, and without excusing these planned corporate gangsta tactics in any way, I also think this can serve as a reminder to Glenn, his fans, and everyone else, that bullying and other forms of intimidation are never acceptable, no matter who unleashes them on whom.

Marcy Wheeler and Digby have more

 

Finally…

A real journalist steps up to knit together the many questions about the Manning story that you probably won't be reading at Firedoglake and Salon.com.  But now, thanks to this post, we may finally see some from the rest of the stenographic media. Emphasis on "may."

I'm pleased that some of the work that my friends and I did is pointing out some of the gaping holes in the story around this Manning detention circus, and the fact that almost no one else has been taking a careful look at all the clowns. They've accepted uncritical, politically charged reporting from Greenwald, Hamsher, House, and FiredogLake, or entirely client-centric spin from Manning's attorney, nearly verbatim—for months.

@MSNBC and Miami Herald columnist Joyannreid writes:

How well does David House know Bradley Manning?

The issue of Manning’s cognitive function is relevant both because of the torture allegations being made, and because of more recent allegations that have surfaced about Manning’s state of mind going back perhaps to 2007.

And this:

So now I’m really confused. A guy who had possible links to Manning before his alleged theft of classified data and who was stopped by Homeland Security from getting on a plane and had his laptop seized in relation to the Manning case, is nonetheless permitted near exclusive access to the defendant at a U.S. military base?

Read the Post

 

Please RETWEET this.

With the button below.  Perhaps we can actually nudge (shame?) more of the media into asking a  few questions. Who knows? Maybe we can start a trend. Again, their tendency to take the easy content, and add no value, is most of my complaint in this entire Manning/Wikileaks affair. If stories this interesting can't get our media to go long on following leads that may be important to the truth, what will?

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Meet Mike Gogulski

The video below was made by him. And who is he?  Why, he's a close associate of one @DavidMHouse, the "friend of friends" of Bradley Manning, who provided the sole "eyewitness" account of Bradley Manning's "deteriorating" condition, using words he was quite obviously coached to use by someone, perhaps Dr. Jeffrey Kaye?

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, and currently living in Bratislava, Slovakia, Gogulski calls himself a "stateless person."  On his websites,including nostate.com and golguski.com, he indulges in all sorts of hoary rhetoric that boasts of his love for anything anarchy, like most of the people House seems to be connected to (including, we might speculate, associates of Julian Assange?)

Mike is also the co-administrator of the Bradley Manning mailing list (see bottom credits).  And who is the other administrator of this list, which has very few active users, as far as I can tell? Why, it's David M.House! 

Now just because they share a love of anarchy, and co-manage a mailing list dedicated to Bradley Manning, I am not going to suggest that Mike's video in any way represents the views of David M. House, nor the other programmer/hackivist types Mike runs with. But the sheer loopiness of the ramblings in this video sure might provoke thinking people to ask questions about some of those connections.  And since our stenographic media hasn't yet asked any probing questions about David House yet, that might be a good thing.

 

Note: Mike looks a bit older here, than in his Website photos (by at least 10 years). But all email roads lead back to the same Golguski. They are one and the same.

 

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About this post

What follows was extracted from an 8700 word essay that I wrote yesterday, entitled:  On Jane Hamsher And Our Fact-Free Media: It’s Not Just For Fox News Anymore. That too-lengthy screed tried to explain a number of ethical fails that explain Jane Hamsher's Twitter attacks on me, after I had criticized some of what I considered to be FDL's reckless and self-serving coverage of Pfc. Bradley Manning. Unfortunately, more than a few important threads got overwhelmed and lost in all that sauce.

So this post will focus on a few of those threads, adding only a postscript and update at the very end,  which has some new information, as well as an important question for Bradley Manning's "friend," David M.House).

[About] All those [Firedoglake] funding drives…

…may very well be the reason that Jane [Hamsher] is so upset with me. Since I have been fearless about calling her out, perhaps she fears that I just won't shut up, and that I will keep talking about all that damn money, continuing to remind readers that despite her blithering about progressive values, she's mostly running two very successful businesses; FDL and her advertising network, Common Sense Media. Both enterprises are highly vulnerable to conflict of interest charges, especially considering how often Jane conducts various fundraising drives for something or other. Oh yes, how she hates it when people talk about that damn money.

And she should be more than a little nervous, because few of her readers really know just how the professional fundraising game is really played, or how many magical accounting tricks get used to conceal expenses or other fiduciary mechanics which might appear questionable, even when legitimate. Yes, yes, yes, of course all those funding drives are always tied to non-profits.  But in the fine print of many of them, one can almost always find a convenient disclaimer that some funds raised will be used for, among other things, "speaker fees, events, communications, advocacy, etc.." Just the "event" expenses can cover for anything from promotion, travel and entertainment expenses, to simple hair and make-up fees. As written on an FDL contribution page

The Bradley Manning Advocacy Fund is a new public advocacy effort for Bradley Manning that will organize events, issue press releases, recruit spokespeople to speak out on Bradley’s behalf, and assemble researchers and witnesses to help with Bradley’s case.

Anyone care to place any bets on who gets fees as a "spokesperson?" To be fair, this fiscal smokescreen is common in many left and right political efforts, but it almost always roughly translates to: "Oh, by the way, it's not unlikely that some amount of money—or even a lot of money— will probably go to FDL and/or Jane Hamsher or her designees, for whatever perfectly legal administrative costs, personal services fees, or other expenses will not fail too many smell tests." FDL claims the Manning funds are being passed to a bona fide, tax-exempt non-profit called the "Institute for Media Analysis." While this group is legitimate, and has worked with Democracy Now (in some capacity that I couldn't determine), the "contact" for this charitable effort, is one "Trever Fitzgibbon," who, curiously enough, became an FDL blogger only on January 25th, 2011, posting a few minor articles about Manning, almost as if this would validate an ongoing interest in the case.

Hmm. Now why would Trevor want to suddenly pop up as an FDL blogger? It ain't like his career needs the exposure. Fitzgibbon is a well known professional media consultant who founded "Fitzgibbon Media," a very successful firm which almost exclusively farms opportunities arising from progressive celebrities, causes, interests and liberal organizations including Health Care for America Now, Moveon,org, Bruce Springsteen, etc.. We can assume the firm—and it's founder—are handsomely compensated for their efforts. And perhaps because he has such experience and clout, and knows how to drive efforts that produce the really big bucks, Fitzgibbon has slipped into the FDL blogging stream to help ramp up the visibility of…

A second "advocacy fund" for Bradley Manning?

On their contributions page for this "fund," Hamsher's FDL doesn't seem to feel obligated to point out that nearly $160,000 dollars has already been raised by another, far more established public advocacy and defense fund run by "Courage to Resist." That effort is clearly stating that much of the tax-deductible contributions are for advocacy efforts, while a separate stream of non tax-deductible money goes directly into a trust established by David Coombs (Manning's attorney) for actual legal costs. This group, which has Michael Moore and Daniel Ellsberg on its advisory board, has a long and proven track record at raising money for similar causes to Manning's.

But back to FDL's contributions page.  Note the very misleading words in the page title, "Donate to the Bradley Manning Advocacy fund: make a tax-deductible contribution for the public defense of Pfc. Bradley Manning." Here, the word "defense" has a slightly ambiguous—if not an overtly misleading—implication. And then further down the page, we find the following copy:

We think this fund to advocate for Bradley is deserving of your support. 100% of contributions to this fund will be used to pay expenses related to the advocacy and defense of Bradley Manning. (Bold emphasis theirs. Underline, mine.)

Only their lawyers can say for sure, but it certainly appears to me that the wording suggests that most of the funds will be used for advocacy related purposes.  Yet the wording, first ambiguously, and then unambiguously, suggests that at least some monies will go toward Manning's legal defense costs. They are clearly designing their copy to aim it straight for those good Samaritans who would want to help out with Manning's legal fees, while minimizing any questions that might arise about what else the money could be used for. Regardless of the real or inadvertent intent in FDL's wording, a careful observer still can't help but wonder, "why the duplication of fund raising efforts at all?"

If such famous people like Moore and Ellsberg are already raising money for public advocacy and defense, wouldn't a consolidated effort make far more sense? But then, of course, Hamsher wouldn't have any control over the use or accounting of that other fund, and thus, not have a very easy time billing it for any expenses that she, David House, or FDL staff or associates might wish to recover from it. But these matters are above my pay grade. I will leave such questions to the real journalists to ask Ms. Hamsher. I'm just some anonymous man who lives with his mother.

These kinds of fiduciary details, and adequately disclosing them (or the appearance of adequately disclosing them), have often seemed problematic for Hamsher. Especially those oh so tricky political action committees. The legendary Rogers Cadenhead has famously told much of that story, and far better than I ever could.

Post-script

Let me add here a comment not in the original post. My purpose in bringing this up is to show that Firedoglake, considered such and "important blog" on the left, has a Jane Hamsher wing with its own agenda, and it stands apart from the rest of the FDL community, which as I have said before, has many good and well intentioned bloggers. The Hamsher wing, on the other hand, is not all that different from Fox News, @msnbc, or Michele Malkin's HotAir.com. It's a commercial enterprise, and acts like one. It plays upon progressive sentiment and issues so that it might drive website traffic from its core demographic; American liberals who feel there are important voices at FDL.  And there are some. Many in fact.

But none are so prominent as Jane Hamsher, who uses FDL as a vehicle for her own self promotion. With all the problems facing America right now, such egocentric publishing venues, especially run by someone so clearly willing to take no prisoners, and use any and all tactics available to her to crush or smear even a casual critic, is neither very progressive, nor conducive to progressive causes, and certainly not helpful for building a progressive future for America.

Update: Feb 1st

This morning Jane attacked me again, eager to employ anyone she felt could help to throw anything available at me, even if it again meant she had to buddy-up with the execrable wingnut, Erick W. Erickson (CEO of Redstate.com). Even more remarkably, she jumped into Twitter-bed with one of Twitter's more deranged borderlines, the perpetually unemployed Daniel Spengies (Warning: graphic info enclosed). a.k.a @Ratboy1979.

This character, famous for tweeting into any stream that gets him negative attention, might be described as mobile sociopathic research laboratory in the body of an overweight sumo wrestler who'd been bottle fed on crack cocaine and drain cleaners as a baby. Yep, he was the perfect hit man for any progressive leader who presumably had a reputation to protect.

In a twisted conversation few could believe was happening outside of a video written by @theOnion, the two of them confirmed each other's hypothesis that @Shoq, an anonymous cat (who was on Twitter for a year longer than she was), just couldn't  possibly have more followers than she did. Thus, the only explanation was that he was some sort of master hacker with access to the "authority nodes". No one seems to know what they are, exactly, but we're sure it's a reference to some peer-to-peer networking jargon that she picked up somewhere or other, while trying to impress someone or other.

She also tries to (feebly) suggest that Trevor Fitzgibbon was solely responsible for the Bradley Manning Defense Fund, even though she knows that under IRS rules, his nonprofit doesn't have to reveal diddly about its donors. Thus, unless he wanted to reveal his contacts and bookkeeping to the world, any arrangement with FDL would be known only to he and Jane Hamsher.

For his part, Trevor (who is on Twitter) seemed to wisely stay far away from her mayhem, no doubt realizing that nothing good could come of drawing still more attention to the curious questions I was raising. Questions that might lead to inconvenient questions about why such a famous promoter had been brought in late, to raise money for a poorly articulated advocacy effort, and a vaguely described legal defense fund, both of which were redundant with a prestigious and well managed existing effort with exactly the same goals.

You can see Jane's latest responses, in all their embarrassing viciousness, here: : http://chirpstory.com/li/628

A message for  David M. House: David, you can keep refusing to respond to my question on Twitter, but I will keep asking it anyway:

When did you actually meet Bradley Manning (whom you characterized as a "friend of friends," even one time?" In researching your story, and your Boston programming associates, I cannot seem to get an answer to this riddle. Is it possible that, until you visited him at Quantico Brig for the first time, and began your storied TV career, that you had not actually met him even once before? All I can find are connections to at least one complicit associate of Adrian Lamo (who outed Manning). But surely you had other connections to Manning besides a link to those hackers, also deeply implicated in the Wikileaks affair… right? I'd appreciate your answer, by Tweet or direct message. Thank you.

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