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

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 :)

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