Many of us in the liberal/progressive space have spent years decrying the pathetic state of the corporate news empires that govern our daily lives now.  We know what they are doing to us, and there's rarely much we can do to stop it.

Perhaps ironically, and due to the very market forces we often renounce as ineffectual, things are happening that promise to restore at least a semblance of intelligent and responsible balance to the media's scales.  Probably without initially intending to, @MSNBC, chasing that almighty dollar, has begun a steady transformation of cable news that seems to be on the verge of making real reporting, careful research, thoughtful analysis, and strong voices stylish and marketable enough for prime time.

Whether in the form of  Rachel Maddow, Chris L Hayes, Melissa Harris Perry, Krystal Ball, Lawrence O'Donnell, Steve Kornacki, Martin Bashir, or many of the fine contributors, panelists and guests they are bringing forth each day, such as Joy Ann Reid, Joan Walsh, Goldie Taylor, Anthea Butler, and Ari Melber, @MSNBC is steadily elevating the national discourse by producing segments like the one below. 

It takes a lot of thought to produce a tribute like this, but you can't do it unless you care. MSNBC has assembled a lot of fine people who care. They may not get us out of this mess, and Comcast may yet put the brakes on their development, but for now, they sure are a step-up from where we've been. I'm thankful for all of them.

The Maddow Show Gives Thanks



A lot of people have missed this excellent little movie about the history that brought us here. People mock Mike Huckabee's ludicrously partisan history texts, but those people are educating a new generation to think like they do. Progressives should be spending billions on short educational blips like this one that get their message across with an economy of words and ideas. They are dirt cheap to produce, but just look at the page views. That's how it's done, folks. We need to fight this culture war in the trenches, and videos like this make great bullets.

I'm collecting articles and videos that examine many of the key problems facing Progressivism in the United States. I grow weary of tweeting them individually, so I thought I would combine them here. Where appropriate, I sometimes link to introductory blog posts which I felt might properly frame or augment the work. I also toss in a much older post on Conservatism… because  I can. If you like this sort of compendium, you may also may want to see my Rants & Primers page. I hope you will please pass them on via the Tweet button below.

Scroll the Table of Contents to see all the titles. Click the bold & underlined title above each blurb to read the essay.

Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America ^

by Sara Robinson

This is now my number one must read on this page and is likely to remain so for quite some time. It's a brief and concise primer on just what the cultural forces have been at play for 400 years, which have led to this rank devolution of the American experiment.  A demotion from which will probably never recover until we fight a more honest Civil War; one that addresses the enemy''s true nature and motives, and not merely the digestible political ploys and pretexts of the day, as we experienced in the 1860s.

It is No Mystery: The Real Reason Conservatives Keep Winning ^

by Joe Brewer

I am much happier when Brewer focuses on things like this, rather than trying to persuade me that merely playing with words and "frames" will change anything.

Have you ever wondered why it is that Progressives repeatedly lose ground in American politics? We almost always have the facts on our side. The experts agree with us. Hell, a lot of us are the experts. And yet history clearly shows that Conservatives have the best political game in town. They dominate political discourse, establishing which frames shape the most important issues of the day. 

What’s going on here? Why is it that Conservatives are so good at winning and Progressives produce a lackluster resistance at best? The answer comes from a fundamental insight from evolutionary biology. Stated simply, it goes like this:

When two groups compete, the one with the most social cohesion wins in the long run.

Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. ^

By Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein

Few articles like this have ever been written in the history of American politics. And the book from which it comes is an extremely important read.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition

Land of Promise^

by Michael Lind

Let's stop with the obsolete Left vs Right labels, which just confuse people, and mean less and less as this battle goes on.  Conservatives and Liberals are basically in a duel to the death over which two philosophical outlooks should prevail: The Jeffersonian or the Hamiltonian views of government. This is a must read book, but this article gives you a taste of it.

“But that would not be true,” he continues. “What is good about the American economy is largely the result of the Hamiltonian developmental tradition, and what is bad about it is largely the result of the Jeffersonian producerist school.”

Hamiltonian development built the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad, the land-grant universities and the Interstate highway system. In the process, the United States became a giant, interconnected market, a place where companies like Standard Oil, General Motors, John Deere and Sears Roebuck could thrive. The government — and the American military in particular — also played the most important role in financing innovation at its early stages. The industries that produced the jet engine, the radio (and, by extension, the television), radar, penicillin, synthetic rubber and semiconductors all stemmed from ­government-financed research or procurement. The Defense Department literally built the Internet.

How Ralph Nader’s Sins Set Trayvon Martin’s Killer Free^

The Powell Memo is still not fully understood by far too many Americans—especially on the Left.  Jonathan Alter frames it all quite perfectly here. If you have never seen the entire Powell Memo, do so after you read this introduction to it.  You will have a clearer understanding of how just how a dangeous conservative extremism has managed to seize control of America


By Michael Kazin

You just can't understand where the American Left is now,  unless you really understand where it was, and how it got here. Michael Kazin is an historian, and long-term observer of the Left, its expectations, its successes, and its more recent wallowing in failure.  This piece is essential reading. In discussing it, RedEarth at Democratic Underground writes:

The liberal triumph of the 1930s was in fact rooted in decades of eloquent oratory and patient organizing by a variety of reformers and radicals against the evils of “monopoly” and “big money.”

Sadly, that triumph has been all but obliterated by a Left that assumed it had won the broader economic war, and set out to win every cultural war on its agenda. The impact was to dilute its ranks, obfuscate its purpose, and minimize its power.  We must get it back.

How Obama's Long Game Will Outsmart His Critics^

By Andrew Sullivan

Sometimes it takes a conservative to explain Obama's long game strategy to progressives, who have never been very patient (see next essay too)

 But given the enormity of what he inherited, and given what he explicitly promised, it remains simply a fact that Obama has delivered in a way that the unhinged right and purist left have yet to understand or absorb. Their short-term outbursts have missed Obama’s long game—and why his reelection remains, in my view, as essential for this country’s future as his original election in 2008.

When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?^

By Jonathan Chait (Introduced and augmented by Bob Cesca)

Former New Republic editor, Jonathan Chait explains a basic fact: Liberals have always been dissatisfied with the Democratic presidents they elect, and then mythologize them after they leave power.  He details how modern liberals are ignorant or unwilling to look at those presidencies as a mix of some successes, and a whole bunch of failures, yet still posture as if all those disappointing white presidents should still be the measuring stick for our only black one.  I don't feel he gets into just how much of this national liberal malaise is actually promoted by a very small cadre of liberal bloggers and the "professional left."  Take away Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher


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

By Tim Wise

This is simply a must read. It not only debunks Ron Paul as anything like a serious option for progressives, but he destroys ridiculous pseudo progressive rationales from people like Glenn Greenwald that pretends he has anything to offer them at all:

I want those of you who are seriously singing Paul’s praises, while calling yourself progressive or left to ask what it signifies — not about Ron Paul, but about you — that you can look the rest of us in the eye, your political colleagues and allies, and say, in effect, “Well, he might be a little racist, but…

President as Piñata^

By Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times

Kristof always comes around to making the big observation when it most counts. If liberals don't recognize who the real enemy is (radical conservatism), and soon, we're all in for some pretty rough water ahead:

"In this economic crisis, Obama will face the same headwinds. That should provide a bracing warning to grumbling Democrats: If you don’t like the way things are going right now, just wait."

Health Insurers Now Have To Take Their Medicine^

By Karoli

Despite the best efforts of Jane Hamsher, and all the other professional left demagogues who have torn it down, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) had a very big time-bomb inserted into it. One that was too wonky to even be understood by the media, and most of the left taken in by all the "sell out" narratives which polluted our national health care dialog. Read here just how the ACA was always designed to eventually change our health care system forever by deconstructing the very financial appeal of private health insurance.

What if Obama Loses?  Imagining the consequences of a GOP victory.^

Compendium of Essays Assembled By Washington Monthly Magazine

"But there’s also a widespread assumption that extreme positions taken in the primaries will fade in the general election as candidates “move to the center,” and will disappear entirely once the serious business of governing begins. Surely President Newt Gingrich would not get rid of child labor laws. Surely President Perry would not seek to eliminate three cabinet departments.


We don’t think that this year, with this GOP, those assumptions are warranted. And so we asked a distinguished group of reporters and scholars to think through the hitherto unthinkable: What if one of these people actually wins?"

Christopher Hitchens, Glenn Greenwald, and the War of Ideas^

By A. Jay Adler

It is no secret that I find the overread and overrated blogger Glenn Greenwald to be a pretentious phony and rather an insult to a long tradition of progressive thinkers and writers with whom too many other overpaid pundits mistakenly associate him. He doesn't discuss ideas, he flogs political demons as a career objective, upbraids government and chief executives for sport, and continually masks whatever emotional monsters compel him to lash out at his growing numbers of critics, such as yours truly.  Why should we care? Because his thinly disguised, poorly formed libertarian agenda, and vicious attacks on Democrats (and anyone in power) are often taken seriously by a growing sea of 3rd-rate pundits writing way outside their weight class. He provides them with easy polemical diatribes mixed with tendentious word salad that provides them with rich and controversial content they can report on, rarely bothering to vet it for facts or relevance.  If it bleeds it leads and Greenwald's prose drips with the blood he drains out of any public figure or action he chooses to gut with his digital pen. And he has a famous habit of trying to badger and browbeat his critics all over the internet with shrill accusations of corrupt motive, egregious malice, or any one of several pet forms of bad faith. Often his more scholarly critics will risk accusations of cowardice, simply because they resent his uncivil and intellectually dishonest manner of discourse. His popularity (at least until this year) says far more about our vanishing standards for thoughtful writers than it says about his modest intellectual stature. It is a continuing shame that so few writers with intellectual firepower will take him on as forcefully as this one does.

The author of this essay is a Professor of English at Los Angeles Southwest College. But from this profile you can clearly see why he can so easily dissect Greenwald. He's a real human being, with rich life experiences, who can discuss politics and philosophy in the context of his — and our — lives.  If you read Greenwald much, you know there is no life in anything he writes about. His words are acerbic, glum, and dispiriting. His common goal is to paint incendiary and dehumanizing portrayals of anyone who has ever sought to serve in government.  He never has his own expertise or solutions to bring to his narratives. The goal is to always tear down someone else, and drive his readers into pitchforked frenzies of ideological zeal.  He does it so well that his screeds will suck all the oxygen from the national conversation whenever he drops a new one at, the, or whichever venue is giving him space that day.

To some minds, including mine, he is a viciously judgmental person with no real beliefs to be found outside of the palpable hatred he exhibits for the powerful people who control the nation he left (he now lives mostly in Brazil). He writes manipulatively, mostly to advance himself and whatever agenda he rationalizes in his own head (he never writes of any goals or objectives for himself or society, except in the broadest possible terms that can never be challenged by any self respecting liberal), until the topic has been exhausted in the media. When challenged, he is lightning fast in responding with a tweet or a blog comment that avoids any response to the criticism, deflecting with some shrill label for his accuser like "cultist!" or "mentally deranged sycophant!," or some other churlishness that would embarrass him if serious people were paying as much attention as they should be. Once he's milked his subject for a few weeks, often distracting the entire nation with it, he drops it like a stone and moves on to his next equally vitriolic contrivance. He is the anti-government, anti-social, and anti-joy blogger, who does nothing to help America battle its way back from its slide into the radical conservatism that has consumed it, choosing instead to be a high profile careerist lobbing spitballs at the powerful from the comfort of his not-very-cheap seats in Rio de Janerio.

After seven years of getting by with very little real criticism, many are finally coming to see just how Glenn Greenwald operates, and how fragile his intellectual stature really is. Hopefully, this essay will be the first of many to take a swing at his glass jaw. I found it brilliant.

Proud To Be A Liberal^

By Brian Elroy McKinley

Excellent overview of some of the most misunderstood (and misrepresented) aspects of Liberalism, and why it's always been seen as sitting at the very base of American values (according to almost any non-partisan historian or political scientist).


By David Frum (Introduced and commented on by @shoq)

Former Bush speechwriter, David Frum explains why his precious Republican party and much of conservatism have devolved into a trade fair for ideological and personality marketing.  The takeaway from this is that these are not responsible people, are sociologically reckless, and are incapable of anything like what we once thought governing was supposed to be about.

Note: Mediamatter's Jamison Foser has urged me many times to see Frum as a manipulative phony quarterback who routinely fakes left, but runs right, blowing a lot of pseudo-moderate smoke to steer Republicans toward his preferred (only slightly less crazy) candidates such as Mitt Romney. I realize there may be a lot of that in Frum's motivations, but that doesn't mean some of his analysis is not on-point, nor useful to the left for its indictment of so many aspects of this Republican noise machine run amok.  Read his take on Frum here.

The Professional left^

by Rootless_e,

A good introduction to the professional left, and why many of us feel it's hurting Progressivism and America.

Fight the People: 40 years and counting of left wing failure in America^

by Rootless_e

Progressives vs. the President^

by Bob Cesca, Blogger

Bob is one of the few bloggers from the glory years of progressive blogging whom I find myself in agreement with most of the time. That's partly due to our similar pragmatic bent, and partly because he's a lot smarter and more eloquent than I am.  Bob was a front-line blogger when the American left was duking it out over Obama, Clinton and Edwards in the primaries, and knows first hand that most of the so-called Progressive left never supported Barack Obama in the first place. Most of them were John Edwards supporters. And yeah, that judgment worked out well for us, eh?  Below are some other must read posts from Bob that are well worth the read by anyone who wants to more clearly understand where so much of this misplaced anger at Obama really comes from, and how it gets memed all over the Internet, often with very destructive effects on broader progressive narratives, interests and goals:

Has American-Style Conservatism Become a Religion?^

by Joshua Holland, Alternet

Josh is one of the most even-handed, level-header journalists writing today. This essay is a must read to grasp the forces at work inside the often overlapping Conservative and Republican machines.

What is Conservatism and What Is Wrong With It?^

By Philip E. Agre

Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:

How Bullshit Magically Turns Into Fact^

By @Karoli

My good friend Karoli takes on a topic that has consumed both of us, and our friends, for years: how the entire angry political blogosphere, whether right, left or libertarian, seems to need to magically transform bullshit into fact.  If you like this essay, you are sure to enjoy these other work of hers, each hitting a different bullseye on a different target, but all on the same shooting range of social justice.

Barack Obama and the myth of the progressive ‘majorities’^

By Joy Ann Reid

I continually point out that I think Joy is one of America's best political analysts working today. Here she completely guts the ridiculous assertion, so often made by disaffected liberals, that President Obama squandered huge progressive majorities that he never actually had.

List of Liberal Achievements that Made America a Great Nation ^

By Shoq Value

They pretty much speak for themselves.

How I Left The Left ^

By CitizenK (Blogger)

"It's an article of faith among the left that its harsh — and often brainless and naive — criticism of President Obama puts it squarely in line with the left wing "insurgencies" (as Katrina Vanden Heuvel wrote) that pushed Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson to the great reforms of the New Deal and the Great Society. This might be a fair point if it bore any actual relationship to reality."

George Carlin on The America Dream^

I often like to discuss the difference between diagnosing a problem, and treating one. George never spent much time on the latter, but when he engaged in the former, few could match his brilliance.

Why I am Not Disappointed by President Obama^

By Jake Lamar

On October 8, 2011, Democrats Abroad France held an event titled "Voices for Obama" at the Nikki Diana Marquandt Gallery in Paris. One of the speakers was the American author Jake Lamar

Journalists Swing The Tire. ^

by prolefeedTV

A VERY important short video about how our precious Fourth Estate is now little more than a yard sale. But hey, and least there's a swing in the yard!

A Progressive Mission Statement: Positive Goals to Move Progressives Forward^

by Milt Shook

My friend Milt has a gift of making the complicated sound simple. But then, some things are simple to start with, such as most of his rather intuitive bullet points as listed here.

The Rise of the New Global Elite^

by Chrystia Freeland

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he declared the rich different from you and me. But today’s super-rich are also different from yesterday’s: more hardworking and meritocratic, but less connected to the nations that granted them opportunity—and the countrymen they are leaving ever further behind.

Why Obama hasn’t closed Guantánamo camps^

But Congress has made it nearly impossible to transfer captives anywhere. Legislation passed since Obama took office has created a series of roadblocks that mean that only a federal court order or a national security waiver issued by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta could trump Congress and permit the release of a detainee to another country.

See Also

Occupy Wall Street, The 30 Second Commercial

Over ten days ago on Twitter, I was saying that the criticism that the #OccupyWallStreet protest “needed a message” in its early days was nonsense. Americans, nay, most citizens of the world already knew what the message was.  And that message was this:

“The 99% have a very big problem, and the 1% better address that problem soon, or things are going to get pretty ugly for everyone.”

Nope, the problem was definitely not the message. Not then, and not now. This Occupy Wall Street wake-up call to America is really so very clear and simple, this just-released video shows just how easy it is to get that message out. (I  continue below the fold after you’ve watched it.)

See? Messages are easy!

Blog posts, tweets, and videos like this are a snap for anyone who knows the problem.  And there’s a lot of those around, and soon they will be making hundreds if not thousands of such expressive message pieces all over the world. In fact, they probably made 100 of them as I typed this sentence.

And they should. But messaging about the problem is merely messaging about the problem.

Messages about the problem are not messages about the solution

The much bigger hurdle #OWS (and all of us) face is the problem of building bridges between the expressions of the message, and the policies and laws that can be enacted to respond to the messages in a free and still modestly democratic society.  And that is an outcome that most mature citizens that I know still value highly, and would like to see evolve to respond to this challenge. They don’t want to toss the baby of civilization out with the bathwater of global corporatism.

Change is good. Too much change is a Mad Max movie, and not everyone looks good in rich dystopian leather.

The long term solution (and even if the short term, if you get off your asses and drag people to vote-in some real change candidates), is to @OccupyCongress.  Unless you have a better near-term legislative body with it’s own military that we need to hear about, it remains our most immediate path to building a new tomorrow with the tools which our ancestors died building for us yesterday.

And if you think just @OccupyWallSt or even an @OccupyCongress movement can produce lasting revolution and social justice on a broad scale? Well, you might want to look into present day Egypt  for another kind of wake up call.

It’s all pretty easy on paper and via Twitter and Facebook. But making civilization work using actual civilizations is a whole lot trickier.

See Also

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

Here it is…

A brilliant and important, five month old column by Mark Morford, written just after the disastrous midterms, which closely resembles a post I have written again and again in my own head.  But as my Twitter followers know, I’ve only been able to tweet (ok, rant) about it in 140 character bursts. I’m just too fucking ADHD to write this well. So shoot me. Fortunately, Morford is not. You simply must read and understand it.

Oh, now you’ve done it. See? You see what happens when you young, liberal voters get so disgruntled and disillusioned that you drop all your party’s newborn, hard-won ideas about Hope and Change, without really giving them sufficient time to mature, without understanding that hugely foreign concept known as “the long view”?

And like me, he doesn’t just chide the dreamy-eyed idealists for neglecting a long view, but also for not realizing a threat to their well being that is more terrifying—and potentially more deadly—than anything this nation has never faced. Worse than the Civil War, Dred Scott, Pearl Harbor, or 9/11. (Yeah, Teaparty, chow down, motherfuckers. I consider you a greater threat to America than terrorism. Deal with it.)

Check it out, kiddo: This is not just any Republican party you allowed back into power; these mealy folks are not anything like the war-hungry, Bush-tainted army of flying monkeys and Dick Cheney moose knuckles you so wonderfully helped bury in the history books last election.

No, the GOP of 2010-2011 is even weirder, dumber, less interested in anything you even remotely care about; this GOP is infused like a sour cocktail with the most cartoonish, climate change-denying Tea Party dingbats imaginable — most of whom think you’re an elitist, terrorist-loving, gay-supporting threat to “real” American values, btw — all led by a tearful glad-hander named Boehner who wears a shellacked tan so creepy and surreal it makes Nancy Pelosi looks healthy.

Read Full Article

When you finish, take stock of these sad and terrifying facts. If it all comes to pass, as is far more likely than not, the gloom and doom of the last midterms will seem like a day at the beach:

Thanks to @raindrops_SF for this bit of perfect prose. Pass it to everyone you know—before it’s not too late.


I was just given this by a reader of this post. It is equally brilliant and a must read:


With Rep. Peter King holding hearings on "Muslim Radicalization", and American Muslims being screamed at and harassed while attending a fundraiser for battered women, can Muslims safely live and pray in the United States of America?

In his new video "Wandering Strangers," @jasiri_x raises questions about who's a terrorist, and why people seem to forget freedom of religion is a constitutional right. It was produced by Kreid and directed by Paradise Gray.


And I too shed tears on 9-11
asking God why looking for the signs in heaven
But let me remind the reverend
When it came to lynching the Christian knights were behind the weapons
When burning crosses in the nighttime were present
In the name of Jesus we were terrorized no question
Our hurt is the witness but we aint hate the church or religion
We put the blame on the person who did it you should search for forgiveness
this verse for the critics you're totally wrong
why did Thomas Jefferson have a Holy Qur'an
when you mention radicals why is it only Islam
wasn't Timothy McVeigh OK with a bomb
didn't the government fund Saddam
and the Taliban in Afghanistan before it was Obama's Vietnam
didn't ya forefathers come to these shores and waters
to escape persecution religious wars and slaughter
and wrote the Constitution will you ignore the authors
without freedom of religion then do you see us as citizens
burning Qur'ans just leads to more division
ain't that what the terrorist wanted which sides really winning

Imagine being denied a place to pray
in America where your just trying to make a way
Is this the land of the free I think it's safe to say
we coming face to face with hate today
wasted racists make it seem like Islam's the enemy
callin Obama a Muslim want him gone like Kennedy
wasn't love thy neighbor how Jesus formed his ministry
but I don't qualify cause I'm the wrong identity
say good bye integrity and so long dignity
They say it's not religion just the mosque vicinity
to Ground Zero
then dishonor the 1st responders by denying em health care is that how you crown heroes
this is the way truth sounds in ya earlobe
stop listening to those Fox clowns and weirdos
how you gonna justify vilifying and hating
when the funder of the Kingdom foundation owns ya station
and if it's about freedom what are we really debating
if we all brothers and sisters why aren't we relating
they say it's about respect then call us terrorists
Nazis, jihadists, but never Americans


Copyright 2011 –

This afternoon, I stopped by my mom's house…

…just to check in on her, as I try to do regularly, even if I don't need the free lunch. When I arrived, she was scanning pages of my Dad's war diary, a classic piece of memorabilia chronicling his 25 missions over Germany in a B-17 "Flying Fortress," while serving in the Eighth Air Force's 96th Bomb Group in England from 1943 to 1944. 

Noticing something odd, I snatched the paperback-sized tome from her, and was shocked to find a newspaper photograph stuck to an inside cover page, from whence it must have come unstuck after some 65 years of being hidden there between that page and the book's inside cover. This incredible artifact, shown below, witnessed my dad being medaled with the Distinguished Flying Cross, one of our nation's highest military honors.

Medaled with him, are the three other surviving crewmen from what was surely deserving of the title, "a mission from hell."  The six other crewmen aboard that ill-fated flight were all killed. Returning over the English channel, after one of the largest daylight bombing raids of the war, their aircraft sustained heavy anti-aircraft flak damage, and punishing incoming cannon and machine gun rounds from two different flights of German fighters. The pilot, a friend of my Dad's since flight school, took an exploding flak shell right in his torso and died instantly. His entrails rained down on the navigator's station directly below his chair—where my father sat. Trained as a pilot, Dad was summoned to what remained of the cockpit by Fred, the co-pilot, himself badly wounded and unable to fly. Dad moved Fred below, and took control of the aircraft, and got it back on course, heading across the Channel to the English coast, but only after the crew had taken their typical "Do We Desert and Head for Sweden and Sit Out the War" vote. (Despite all the nonsensical movie portrayals of the imagined heroics of that time, this vote was a regular event aboard many Allied aircraft throughout the war). 

The plane limped across the water at an altitude of only 250 feet.  With two flaps shredded, and an unresponsive rudder, Dad was pretty sure the plane wouldn't make landfall.  But ditching in the water would mean almost certain death for two crewman who were still alive (at that time), so he pushed on, desperately scanning the air charts for an emergency landing field. He found one on the charts, but as he approached it, there were no runway lights on. Confused, he radioed the field, and a young British officer told him that the field was closed for some reason that she would not elaborate about, but he was ordered to either find another field, or ditch the aircraft. He radioed back, "Well, young lady, you might want to open it again, because I'm about to land there, and having your permission isn't the first thing on my mind right now."

So land he did. And both he and his crew were immediately arrested and detained for about 12 hours. It was quite remarkable why the field was closed, and due to something widely documented, and which had a dramatic impact on the British people, as well as my father's life. I can't tell you what that is, however, because the event is traceable, and it would reveal my Dad's identity, and thus, that of your's truly, as well.  All I can say is that this medal ceremony was witnessed by a major figure in the war, who personally commended Dad not only for his flying skills, but also his judgment in disobeying a direct order in order to save what remained of his crew.

My father was about as liberal as an economist who believed in capitalism could be. And it skeeves me to this day, when some moronic conservative berates me or some other liberal as being somehow unpatriotic, disloyal, or cowardly in the face of imminent danger to their country or themselves.  Few of those blowhards ever faced a real threat, as my father had, except perhaps in their fantasies.  And I have little doubt that if they had, even fewer of them would perform as well as he did—or as valiantly.

In my view, our nation is now under a greater attack than anything the Nazis or Japanese ever threw at us.  The ruthless greed and unthinking recklessness of the super elites and their conservative tools must be stopped, or future generations will never know of the liberal luxuries which my father's generation, through their service and their bravery, helped me and my contemporaries to enjoy.


I almost forgot the best part of this story.  For years, I thought I had lost my Dad's medals. I only learned years later from my older brother, that in fact, he had sent all of them, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, to President Nixon, as an act of protest, after learning of his secret invasion of Cambodia.

Update 2

My older brother has added yet a new detail I was unaware of until now. My father's takeaway from his WWII experience was that war, for almost any reason, is insane, and something to be avoided at all costs. His contempt for the Vietnam War was not at all in step with his own generation, and the thought of my brother being drafted was so loathsome to him that he had quietly considered weatherizing our family's Canadian cottage to give my brother  sanctuary there, should it come to that. Fortunately, it did not.



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.


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 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 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: :

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.


Shoq's Related Posts

Team Manning Attacks

Other Resources

This morning, the always brilliant and ever-sensible Ezra Klein  wakes us up with this:

The 111th Congress refuses to go quietly into that sweet night. Friday, of course, saw the $850 billion tax deal sent to President Obama. On Saturday, the Senate broke the filibuster protecting the Don't Ask, Don't Tell rules. On Sunday, it passed the food safety bill. Those three accomplishments — all of them significant in their own right — now join the 111th's other achievements: Health-care reform, the financial-regulation bill, the stimulus, Ted Kennedy's national-service bill, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program and student-loan reform, just to name a few. And the 111th may not be done: Chuck Schumer wants them to stick around to pass a bill giving health benefits to the Ground Zero responders.

That is not to say it hasn't failed on at least some of what it promised to do.

But for now, spare a thought for the 111th, the most productive Congress we've had in decades.

Ok, so that said…

And without even a sip of coffee to help me get off on what may prove an epic rant for a Monday morning, does THAT sound like the miserable, anti-progressive Congress and Administration that a few very vocal bloggers have been telling you it was for the past two years? If it does. you're contributing to a reckless, never-satisfied, never-realistic, and never-reasonable ideological framing that is as destructive to this nation as the Republicans are trying to be every day.

No, there is nothing wrong with "criticism," as so many of the complainer-apologistas need to hear to feel validated, if not exonerated from their complicity in helping to drive down Congress's approval ratings, widening the "enthusiasm gap," and turning the House back over to the Republicans. But there is a lot wrong with making those  criticisms so relentless, so vicious, and so irrationally intense that it merely fuels Republican message machines, dominates the media narratives, and tears down a very fragile relationship with those center-to-right leaning independents who still control our elections. We are already suffering from all that, and the 112th hasn't even begun yet.  And when it has, the "it's not progressive enough, good enough or fast enough" crowd will be blogging away as if they had nothing to do with the disemboweling of a painfully brief period of Progressive governance; one that miraculously intervened after 8 years of hideously incompetent conservative governance, which itself followed 20 years of mostly ruinous conservative hegemony. Despite their frequent carping to the contrary, those perpetually dissatisfied critics very much did play a role in that evisceration.  And anyone watching the past 18 months knows it. They've been rabidly gnawing at the fabric of this administration since being denied a grossly overrated "public option"—something which was always little more than a hacked-out consolation prize that the purists used to mollify and outrage the Single Payer hopefuls who never EVER had a prayer of success with the Blue Dog coalition and Conservadems in control of Congress.

The loss of a single policy failure, combined with the disappointment that comes with realizing that one Presidential election cannot possibly undo years of conservative operatives and policies buried in our Federal agencies, courts, state department, military, and local governments, became the defining attitude of the day. And the results, as the midterms just demonstrated, have been positively wretched. Hope has turned to horror. And not because it was inevitable. But because Obama never had the real majorities so many imagined that he did, and rather than work diligently to build them, progressives largely sat back as a few petulant voices controlled the media narratives and destroyed whatever leverage we may have had to move forward. Was Obama and his team blameless in all of this? Of course not. They've made many tactical and spiritual blunders. But every administration does. Just as every administration in our history has been criticized for not delivering on some of their promises. That's just the nature of our system, if not modern politics everywhere. No president can just reverse all that the previous president did wrong, or all of politics is nothing but a circular road to nowhere. It takes time, and the consistently expressed will of the people to make real and lasting change; a populist will that must be expressed by larger movements than mere parties can muster. The teaparty just proved that. Now the progressives must prove it again.

We are where we are, and it's not a pretty place to be. But there is still a chance to improve that place. Retaking the House in 2012 is a long shot, but it must be a key goal of a real and more potent progressive movement that we must build, and starting now. Because without the House, and a stronger Senate, we have no chance of any President fixing anything in the short or long term.  And if the "I want all the ponies I was promised" ideologues (and the stealth right wing operatives gleefully building atop their mawkish malaise), whose controversies are critical to their publishing revenue, continue attacking this current administration with the same intensity they have deployed thus far, then the productive 111th Congress will not be the last casualty.  The next victims will be the 2012 Senate, and probably the White house. And that will thrust our fate into the hands of these Teapublicans, a political class of know-nothings unseen in our history. A group that might not even be legally sane, let alone able to govern a diverse and complicated nation faced with an almost unmanageable number of complex issues.

The likely outcome of that transfer of power will be catastrophic. It will thrust new dead-weight atop a plunge already in progress; a dive so fast and steep that this nation is rapidly sinking toward a new depth that will feel like a dark age tinged with a backlit media glow.  By not coming together and giving President Obama a more unified base of progressive support that can help him chip away at the plutocratic excesses and religious conservative zealotry that forge the political plasma he was elected to work within, we are risking one of the most colossal nation-state meltdowns in history.  We will find ourselves deep in a new abyss, the contours of which will be defined by leaderless, science-less, reasonless, and totally senseless ignorance, malfeasance and greed.

At risk is nothing less than a complete dismantling of most liberal policies and achievements that made America the model of a modern nation that it has been—or at least pretended to be. And from that tragic and unnecessary gutting of our modern heritage, the American experiment will probably never recover. If that happens, our lack of health care and other progressive issues will pale in comparison to the even uglier, and probably totalitarian country we will have to become in order to appease a desperate, ignorant and myopically gullible Fox-fed public that will accept any solution that keeps our pathetically antiquated trains running anything close to on-time.

By pretending that perpetual dissatisfaction is the same as constructive criticism, and thinking every interest group can get every prize it thinks it deserves without first working with every other group to achieve a real and lasting control of this government, the entire game will be lost to a ruthless and unrelenting conservative-corporate enemy. For want of a better and more perfect pony, and right this very minute, America will lap the entire pack of empires that stumbled and fell, and be reduced to one more also-ran in the horse race of history.