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



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?


Shoq's Related Posts

Team Manning Attacks

Other Resources