The Supreme Court has just flipped America the finger. Their Voting Rights Act ruling was a last straw rubbing up against my last nerve.  I have just had it with them, and with the entire radical conservative agenda. Something has to start changing, and I'd like to do anything I can think of to nudge that change along. I think recent events show that it's way past time for running down the hall with our hair on fire. We all need to do something, and soon, because things really are that bad. And they're getting worse.

I have a very simple idea that could prove useful in getting people off their butts and into voting booths where they can help vote these venal obstructists out of Congress in the 2014 midterm elections.

The project needs a research volunteer to help compile a few key voting facts and statistics. These will help tell a story on the project's website and motivate people to participate. It shouldn't be more than a few hours of work for anyone with modest research skills.

If you'd like to help me out with this, please email me using my Contact form.

If I don't know you, please give me a little background on you and your skills. As happened when I assembed the team behind StopRush.net, these kinds of crowd projects can swell pretty fast. And if it doesn't need you now, it probably will later if the idea catches, so having your name around will save time down when and if it needs more human resource.

Thank you.

 

We now know that Issa asked for very results the Inspector General gave him. The IG was asked to look for "Teaparty" targeting, but no one tells us until now that IRS had been looking for "Progressive" and "Occupy" groups all along, too. Issa just didn't ask for those. This entire "scandal" was a god damn hoax. We were played. Perfectly and completely. 

Considered alongside today's Voting Rights atrocity in the Supreme Court, I can't even quite articulate the level of disgust I feel for my country right now. We should bill that fucking car thief even if he does apologize.

Salon:  Darrell Issa’s credibility is over

Now it’s clear Issa played us this whole time, thanks to new documents that show the IRS also targeted “progressive” and “Occupy” groups, in addition to Tea Party ones. And if it targeted groups on both sides, it wasn’t really singling anyone out (the only group actually denied tax-exempt status was a progressive one, after all) and the whole scandal falls apart.

HuffingtonPost/Sam Stein: IRS Targeted Progressive Groups, Too, Documents Reveal

The Morning Plum: Darrell Issa backtracks on IRS scandal

The news that progressive groups were also targeted by the IRS should, in theory at least, prompt reporters to press leading Republicans on a simple question: Do you still stand by your insinuations that the White House or Obama campaign were somehow behind the politically motivated targeting of conservatives?

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:

Few people under 50 can grasp what the last seven years of the Vietnam war was like.  It had cost over 21,000 American lives, far more than that in casualites and permanent disabilities, and generally tore America apart, socially, politcally, and spiritually. It was one of the most traumatic periods in our history, and in many respects, we are still reliving and resolving issues stemming from it.  Modern conservatives still hang much of their pro-military rhetoric on the canard that "we didn't fight to win in Vietnam."  Well now it seems that the conservative hero of that era, Richard Milhaus Nixon, on his way to the presidency, actually conspired to prolong the war to damage Democrats for their part in waging it, and allowing him to "win it." 

Days before the 1968 election, the nation had been greeted with the news that the end of the war might be nearer than anyone thought possible during the so very nasty presidential campaign between Nixon and Hubert Humphrey (President Johnson, so politically damaged by the war, had decided not to run for another term).  A deal had been struck between North and South Vietnam, a jubilant American people were told, and that peace was finally imminent.

But just days later, the nation's hopes were crushed as it was told that the deal had collapsed and the war would go on.  The  campaign momentum that had been shifting back toward Humphrey on the news of a peace deal, swung right back to Nixon. Tricky Dick went on to win the election, and the rest, was to become a very dark and ugly history that we are still paying for today. Rather than end the war, as Nixon promised during the campaign, he went on to expand it into Laos and Cambodia where still thousands more people died, while here at home, he set the tone and substance of the "imperial presidency" that many allege, not wrongly, we still endure today.

Old news for most of us; grim details of nearly a half-century gone by that many of those who prospered in the boom times that followed would probably rather forget. But others are far too damaged to ever forget.  Whether you agreed with the war or not, you had to have been affected by it. I was in high school at the time, and it pretty much defined me, my clothing, my friends, teachers, school work, family life, and my later views and philosophies as they evolved. I still so clearly remember my mother's anguish as she anticipated my brother's pending draft number as it was about to be announced in the selective service lottery.  My father, a WWII war hero who was awarded the Distiguished Flying Cross, sent his medals to Nixon to protest the war.   The Vietnam war was everything and everywhere throughout the American existence. If you didn't live through those times, you can just take the Iraq war fiasco, and multiply it by 100. That was Vietnam.

And it still won't go away. Vietnam is the war that will never die.  And now we learn that almost a third of it was prolonged because 1) Richard Nixon was a monumentally traitorous scumbag, and 2) Johnson lacked the courage to admit to the American people that his knowledge of just how big a scumbag Nixon had been was inhibited by the fact that the knowledge came via an illegal wiretap. How ironic that it would be Nixon's own wiretap efforts that would destroy him, but one still has to wonder how different the world might have been if Johnson could have admitted to one wrongdoing in order to reveal an even greater one. A wrongdoing that cost so many people their lives, ruined or reshaped their survivors, and probably permanently altered the trajectory and ultimate governability of the American experiment. 

There is no outrage because outrage is now a tactic, not an emotion. 

Today is the 10th year anniversary of the Iraq war. Seems like a pretty good time for bloggers and the media to remind us that it wasn't the first unnecessary, or unnecessarily long war, by hammering on this Nixon story hard.. Yet if not for Rachel @maddow (again), and perhaps a few Twitterers like me, the U.S. media would scarcely give this incendiary story more than a passing glance. We've become so accustomed to outrage being a tactic in our politics, or for link-baiting a blog site, or for driving a hashtag campaign, that all the genuine emotion has been sapped from the word, as well as its utility in shaping our national discourse. Who has the time or emotion for one more outrage? Especially one that is now 45 years old.  

I do. And I really think that you should too.  

Now prepare yourself

Because this story may and should upset you on many levels.

First, the basic outine:

LBJ Tapes Show Richard Nixon May Have Committed Treason By Sabotaging Vietnam Peace Talks

Next, the larger context and relevance…

Once again, courtesy of Rachel @maddow, whose team is just so damn good at that:

Rachel Maddow: History shows war a tool for political opportunists

 

Related

 

A lot of noise is filling the Twittersphere about the "UniteBlue" idea.  I've posed some questions, as have others, and @eileenLeft has alleged some skulduggery about @SayethSimon.  

As usual, #p2 trolls, whacks and  just people not particularly fair minded have jumped on any new criticism of anything they have decided to like as if someone just shot their pony through the nutsack.  Such people don't serve progressive interests well, in my view, but others find them interesting and entertaining, so in the name of diversity, I ignore most of their incessant blithering and bleating.  I am sure this post will be like chum in the water for the hatriots and acrimony trolls. But then, almost anything I say, write or tweet usually is. So there's that.

Anyway, as he should have, UniteBlue's founder Zach Green responded to some of this dust-up with some much needed clarification about UniteBlue. This was all good. Unfortunately, he also went on to mischaracterize some valid criticism, questions, and observations about connections to his past clients as  "smears." They were not. At least none that I saw were. If discussing your lack of apparent lack transparency, or some of your past commercial clients is "smearing" you, you're just in the wrong line of work.  I sincerely hope he will update his post and soften some of that criticism of his critics. That tone may play well to his membership faithful, but it won't to too many others, nor to future commercial or nonprofit clients. They can be very senstive about appearances.

 

What follows is my reply to Zach Green's  post. I don't know if he'll post it, but from what I've seen of his character thus far, I think that he will.

Update:  He never published this, nor did he publish the comments of most other critics. So net net, his post was a puff piece meant to bullshit everyone and make excuses for an unethical launch using other people's work. I was disappointed. I expected more. 

Note: there are a few grammatical edits and typo edits made here that were not in the original comment.


Zach, thank you for finally making a public statement about this. And FAQ was long overdue, in my view. I don’t assume you are speaking directly to me in your post, but as you touch on many things I did in our tweet exchange, let me respond as if you had.

As I tweeted to you the other day, respectful responses to criticism and questions only make you and your projects stronger. I am adamant about fairness, and if things said about you and/or UniteBlue (UB) are untrue, I’ll be the first to help set the record straight. I have before, and I will again.

As it stands now, this statement from you serves as a public record, and you have made numerous assertions that can and will be checked out by people much smarter than me.  I assume they will check-out as you have represented them. In the meantime, permit me a few responses and comments to your words. 

To begin with, regardless of how this all pans out, your rather cavalier response to questions  like “Are you making money?" read as if such questions are of trivial  consequence, a tone which just does not serve you well. If you were building a better word processor for progressives, no one would much care.  But the buzz you are generating (and nurturing) about UB is much more aspirational in tone.  

Both you and your more engaged members speak almost reverentially of  UB as a nascent "movement" with clear political goals, objectives, and implications for Progressives. Goals and objectives which you admitted to me are not all that clearly articulated, nor yet presented anywhere coherently. A marketing-oriented “About” document on your site is not the best way to describe a serious idea aimed at social change. In fact, this FAQ, written as a defensive instrument, is the clearest discussion of the questions and issues that your project presents which I, or anyone else I have spoken with has yet seen. 

When any commercial business aspires to be an instrument of social change, it gets into territory that it often didn’t initially prepare for. Only the naive or delusional would suggest that motives, money, credibility,  and veracity are unimportant to a fledgling political project of the sort that UB purports to become.  Not being prepared, nor having good answers for obvious questions can and has been a fatal mistake for many efforts of this sort.  Change.org and other success stories were armed and ready for such questions from their very first press release and yet even they still run afoul of many people who feel deceived by the shifting ground on which their business model was based. UB does not have their backstory, players, or resources. It has to be even more careful. 

Had it been me, I would have formed a non-profit, built a solid board of advisors, and fully disclosed that it had a favored-nations agreement with 140dev.com to use its technology. That’s just how it’s done in the major leagues, these days. Your project would then be at least partially accountable to people outside your immediate business interests.

So yes, UB should have been more careful about its launch posture, in my opinion, but what’s done is done—at least thus far. Even so, I think more discussion of what I see as unforced errors may be instructive here.  

You repeat again in your FAQ that your boilerplate “privacy” document has some particular illuminative value that shines some light on your veracity and credibility with respect to your downstream ambitions. It does not. You admit it was acquired from the web, yet when I showed you what was in it, you didn’t even know it permitted precisely the use of email addresses which  you implied that it did not. I asked you directly, not if you would ‘rent’ your email lists to anyone, but rather, whether you would send product or service mailings that were of interest to your clients (a very big distinction). 

As I noted in my tweets to you, your privacy  document clearly said you reserve the right to do just that. You have yet to clarify explicitly what you will and won’t do with your access to your members, either via the twitter API, or the emails and other information you are acquiring.  You need to do that, and be much less evasive about such questions in the future or they can come back to haunt you.

As for your overall operational model, I wish you had reached out to more of the Twitter community 8 months ago. As a long standing member of the #p2 community,  I have watched many ideas for community sites, filters and directories come and go. I have seen almost your exact model in several forms proposed, and expressed the same qualms about them that Karoli has in her blog post which I will cite here:

http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/2013/02/26/this-uniteblue-scuffle-is-twitters-fault-and-they-could-fix-it-if-they-felt-like-it/

Who is UniteBlue,  many have a right to ask, to rule on who is and isn’t a “top progressive?” By itself, the idea is offensive to many, but as Karoli implicitly suggests, you also take on the role of arbiter of who is not one, and even who is not a progressive at all.  It would probably take me about one day to embed a dozen or more conservative trolls into your “validated progressives list, and you would have absolutely no way to prevent it.  You’ve already found many already, but they were just fails in your software, and not the work of professional false flag operatives,or other kinds of black-op thugs, goons, spies and trolls.

Since you provide absolutely no insight into your magical process for verification, I can only assume you would be fully prepared to explain why it failed so miserably once I—or someone else—proved that it did. 

And what about your liability? What if one of your validated progressives turns out to be one of the many paid political operatives on the right that I, and my many Progressive friends have been battling with for years?  They would skillfully plant disinformation or outright lies into your streams and it would be a daily struggle to discover, stop, or counteract  them.  As it stands now, they still have to work pretty hard to run such propaganda operations.  Your “validated lists” would make it so simple, they’d take turns doing it daily. I haven’t checked, but I’d bet they already are. 

The @uniteblueLOL account shows they are already well aware of you, and I will bet real money that a lot of them are already busy creating clever ways to game you and your membership. It’s what they do, and it’s why such focused identity groups (and avatar campaigns) like UB have been rejected time and time again by many others.  It’s also why you will have a very hard time getting notable Progressives and celebrities to join you. They aren’t going to risk their cred by taking a flyer on yours, or your super-duper, deluxe progressive identification algorithms.

Now, as to your statements about @ConnectTheLeft and  @SayethSimon, they  are just not supported by any evidence, and are directly contradicted by her version of events; by several witnesses to CTL conference calls; by CTL team members, and by the massive public record called Topsy.com seaches.  

Clearly, someone is lying, and I don’t think it is EileenLeft—or you.  Eileen's well known passion, efforts, and trademarks for CTL would certainly seem to put the burden of evidence on Simon to show that it is she who is lying.  There are virtually no meaningful facts to be found in his “statement of truth”.  There are unsubstantiated claims; claims that seem to project everything Eileen’s team knew to be true about Simon, onto her.  The record indicates otherwise, as far as I’ve been able to tell.

Other people are at work debunking his missive (which I assume will soon be posted here), so I won’t steal their thunder, but when all the smoke dissipates, Simon says  little beyond providing a connnecttheleft.com receipt, which no one contests was his, a @connecttheleft Twitter account  receipt  and some assertions that team members will defend him (but he doesn’t name them). Perhaps he and Eileen should hash this out in a Google hangout to clear the air for good.We can all watch.

Simon’s posturing is not helped by the fact that I asked him several times in private if he did what Eileen had alleged. He took hours to not respond.   A simple "no" would have sufficed. Instead,  we got him claiming credit for something that thousands watched @eileenleft doing every day. His name has rarely if ever publicly came up in connection with CTL, beyond someone enthusiastically supporting it, as many did.

Eileen’s  story is that his only involvement was to rapidly squat on the connecttheleft.com URL, a fact he confirms in his letter, some fervent tweets, and a few drunken conference call rants about his legendary music industry accomplishments. I found this amusing, as to me, he claimed to have been an aspiring web designer. Music never came up. Ever. I don't know him well enough to know what is true and what isn't. But perhaps you do. 

Regardless, whatever Simon said to you about CTL’s origins is in no way an indictment of you or UB. What he allegedly did, if true, as I believe it is based on evidence I have seen is simply disgusting. But you may have felt everything he represented was true, and bear no blame for believing what he claimed was true. Does admitting that  muss UB’s hair a bit? Sure. But so what?  A worthy  project can overcome that. Just say you didn’t know, apologize for lending any credence to his smear, thank her for her contributions, and everyone moves on. 

Finally, having seen many posts and postures, I don’t think either I, nor anyone else has been engaged in “smearing” you or your efforts. They have asked questions, discussed issues, questioned assumptions, and reacted to your tweets and various revelations about a very popular progressive alleging harm to her. That’s just the price anyone pays for conducting their business in the social sphere. It can all be resolved civily and in good faith through public exchanges like these.

As I have said, I don’t agree that UB, as currently constructed, is a very good idea. But progressives often disagree with each other and I am certainly not going to expend any time or bullets attacking you or UB over a difference of opinion. It may well morph into something I could enthusiastically embrace. I’d welcome that. 

Regards,
Matt(a.k.a. Shoq)

Related

You have probably heard by now, that the Republicans, under the leadership of the ethically-challenged Reince Priebus, are actively "investigating" a plan to subvert our democracy by rigging the Electoral College in their favor. In a nutshell, the idea is to allocate electoral votes in key battleground states by congressional district. This means that all those little rural red districts, which outnumber the far fewer blue districts (with all the big cities and people in them), would get far more votes.

Thus, had this rigged system been in place in 2012, Mitt Romney would have just been sworn in as our president. And if it's put in place for the 2016 election, there is no almost no way a Democrat could ever garner enough electoral votes to win the White House. It would be game over for Democrats, and likely the same for the progressive agenda that Barack Obamas has finally advanced after decades of inaction. 

Unfortunately, Article II of the U.S, Constitution would let the Republicans do this, and get away with it, if they chose to do it. While legal challenges would surely result, the constitutional foundation of the ploy would probably be upheld by the Supreme Court. 

We now know that once again, the pure evil  @Alec_states is the organization behind the curtain that has been promoting  this really bad idea, and have been slowly cultivating it for a long time. I am not exactly surprised. 

As I see it, about the only way to stop them is a massive public outcry that rattles House members to their core, and makes them think the perception of election rigging would cost them their seats. Thus, they would pressure key votes in their respective state legislatures to back away from this vulgar manipulation of the process. Hopefully, Democrats will regain the House in the 2014 midterms, and some kind of legistlative action, short of a constitutional amendment, could create future obstacles to this national-level gerrymandering. But I don't have much hope of that. The best course is to make Republicans feel the pain, pre-emptively, and encourage them to seek the White House the old fashioned way: by winning elections fairly.

I won't waste more words trying to summarize this mess any further. It's best to read those bloggers and journalists following the matter day-by-day. Start here, with Maddow's first "wake up call" broadcast. Then read the key details of this plot from @crooksandliars/@Karoli, and a larger analysis by The Nation's John Nichols. Then proceed down the list of of all the other links below to fully understand the danger, and how few options we seem to have to prevent it. I will be updating this post as more information becomes available.

Please pass this post to friends so they'll have an easier time time grasping this pending crisis. If you have new references you think should be included, please use my contact link at the top of this blog.

The most important thing you can do is make noise about it. Let Republicans know there will be hell to pay for attempting this, beyond their first phase in Virginia, which is already poised to go foward (as discussed below). This is not the sort of thing we can easily undo later. We cannot wait until it's a forgone conclusion. We must act—and soon.

Explainers

The Early Wake Up Calls

Overviews

Detailed Analysis

Obstacles to Their Plan

Other Media About the Issue

Take Action

See Also

Who Broke America’s Jobs Machine? – Barry C. Lynn and Phillip Longman

Every thinking American, and certainly every progressive should read this.  Hell, even some of you vapid wingnuts should read it. You might even realize that things aren’t quite what you were told they were.

Barry Lynn is the author of “Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction,” and much of this article is a simplified glimpse of just some of what he covers in it.  It gets to the heart of what his larger work does: that monopolies are a gruesome monster under our national bed, and we’re doing nothing to slay the beast.

Get your friends and family to read it too.  Perhaps if enough of us grasp just what a beast has taken hold of us, perhaps we can figure out how to break free of it and reverse some of the damage it’s done.

Some excerpts:

But while the mystery of what killed the great American jobs machine has yielded no shortage of debatable answers, one of the more compelling potential explanations has been conspicuously absent from the national conversation: monopolization.

But at least the plethora of different brands vying for your attention on the store shelves suggests a healthy, competitive marketplace, right? Well, let’s take a closer look.

In the health aisle, the vast array of toothpaste options on display is mostly the work of two companies: Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble, which split nearly 70 percent of the U.S. market and control even such seemingly independent brands as Tom’s of Maine. And in many stores the competition between most brands is mostly choreographed anyway. Under a system known as “category management,” retailers like Wal-Mart and their largest suppliers openly cooperate in determining everything from price to product placement.

Over in the cold case we find an even greater array of beer options, designed to satisfy almost any taste. We can choose among the old standbys like Budweiser, Coors, and Miller Lite. Or from a cornucopia of smaller brands, imports and specialty brews like Stella Artois, Redbridge, Rolling Rock, Beck’s, Blue Moon, and Stone Mill Pale Ale. But all these brands—indeed more than 80 percent of all beers in America—are controlled by two companies, Anheuser-Busch Inbev and MillerCoors.

Another way that monopolization can inhibit the creation of new jobs is the practice of entrenched corporations using their power to buy up, and sometimes stash away, new technologies, rather than building them themselves.

Beginning in Reagan’s first term, antitrust enforcement all but ended. Throughout the 1980s, the opponents of antitrust sometimes buttressed their arguments by stoking fears about the supposed dangers posed to American manufacturers by their Japanese rivals. But for the most part such arguments proved unnecessary, as the government had already largely retired from the field, leaving corporations largely to their own devices. By the time Reagan left office, laissez faire had become conventional wisdom.

There is so much more in this brief work. You will come away knowing a lot more than you knew going in about just how successful radical conservatism has been at changing all of our rules, and breaking most of what had been working in America for rather well. Then the Chicago school and Ronald Reagan broke it.

Read the article

A Cautionary Tale of Infiltration, Betrayal, and the Activist Community

by Melissa Brewer

I've been busy with worky stuff, so I didn't have time to blog Melissa's moving, informative, and maddening essay when it was first posted. I apologize to her for that. She wrote an important introduction and overview of the noisy Twitter conflagration that made her life a living hell, and has embroiled me and hundreds of other people for months. It is best read together with Matt Osborne's tidy little synopsis of this Ratfucking* of the stopRush effort and me.

Although they'd like everyone to think that what they did was just about me, what Heather E. Chase (@heatherEchase) and Imani Gandy (@angryblacklady) did had an impact on many people. Particularly affected by their selfish machinations were about 3000 #StopRush volunteers, but also several other women who have spent their lives fighting for women's rights. And their fight was much greater than building a small wiki project that died only a few months later when it's founder was able to leverage the attention she received into a paying contractor's job with a bona fide and well respected women's rights organization. Evidently, they made this acqui-hire before Chase and Gandy had admitted what they'd done to us. It might have made a difference in their decision.

Of course, many other people—even well branded bloggers—who never bothered to research any of the story before "defending their friends," were lured into that embarrassing trap based on their modest acquaintances, and these women’s shrieks of "conspiracy theory! conspiracy theory!"  They have been quiet lately, probably due to the fact that their friends, the  purported "victims," Chase and Gandy admitted doing exactly what we said they had done.

Melissa's story will explain a lot of things to you. I urge you to read it. Some highlights:

I’m writing this post today to tell you a story. It’s the story of a man who wanted to “infiltrate” a movement and manipulated many people so that he could “make his way” as the next Breitbart or James O’Keefe.

I felt good about my involvement in StopRush. I was true to the boycott, too. In fact, because of StopRush, I’ve learned how to vote with my wallet in a number of ways. I’m a conscientious consumer. I have StopRush to thank for that.

As depressing as it’s going to sound, this story is also about hypocrisy in its very core form. While #TeamUterati “worked” to further “women’s rights” and decry slutshaming on a public level, none of the “TeamUterati women seemed to think twice about aiding and abetting Jason Wade Taylor in his “war”. The women targeted in his ruse included… (emphasis mine).

If this story doesn't open your eyes to the dangers of bloggers acting as careerists, using any means necessary to promote themselves at the expense of other progressive causes and the broader public interest, nothing will.   

I'd like to be able to say Melissa's post has led to better relationships between like-minded people on Twitter, particularly those who are more than sick of the drama these people continue to flog every day. Unfortunately, all it's done is bring her more strident and vitriolic attacks from those who are now so thoroughly invested in all these manifestations of Internet Disinhibition run amok.

*A Note About The Term “Ratfucking.”

Chase and Gandy and their supporters lamely try to deflect from the selfishness of their deed by saying that Matt Osborne and I have claimed that what they did was "political."  Why? Because Osborne used the term "Ratfucker."  This is a typical Breitbartian trick where you try to obfuscate the guts of a story by picking off tiny tangents that you hope the gullible will be distracted by.  It was just more of the spinning and manipulation that these two cunning women have used since they first started denying that they did anything at all (most stridently argued to friends in private). They had been slowly backing away from their denials before finally admitting what they did—but only after we published hard evidence that proved it.  They excused it all with still more cover-ups, unsupported assertions about my "bullying and abusing women," and of course, their ongoing use of other people to mask their duplicity. Along the way, they shamelessly encouraged their vicious supporters to attack mine (ironically, often women themselves).  

But back to their tangent:  Not only did the term "Ratfucker" long ago escape its Watergate-era boundaries and come to mean any dirty trick done for any kind of gain, but even at face value, it was appropriate  Chase and Gandy were played by Jason Wade Taylor,  a con-man who absolutely had a political agenda and used their greed and epic ethical fails to assist him.  Their motives were never political, and no one ever said they were.

Rather, their motive was to raise funds to pay their salaries in a quick-and-dirty advocacy effort that designed to do just that. I know. I was there when it was formed. In those days, I spoke to Gandy nearly every day. Out of work, and out of money, her constant refrain (very closely paraphrased) was "I have just enough cushion to last until maybe October. I need to make this work or I will need to find a job."

Ratfucking me and StopRush, apparently, was part of "making this work."

Please read Melissa's story in its entirety. It's an important one with many lessons for social media activists.

Update No. 1 

The always dishonest and complicit @MiltShook (a blogger of such stature, he writes his own reviews on Amazon), who continues to deny—and conceal—his major role in this drama, has been spouting off on Twitter about how "Shoq wrote Melissa's piece." This is typical of Shook, who makes straw assertions like these about me almost every day since I eviscerated a truly ridiculous undocumented hit piece he wrote about me on behalf of Chase, Gandy, Jessica, Padilla, and Himself.. Shook postures that he wants all this to stop, while tweeting almost hourly about me. A few examples.  Had I written Melissa's essay (replete with tales of her rape and abuse), I would hardly have been as fuzzy about the perp's motives as she was. She gives them wiggle room. I don't. We already know and proved exactly what their motives were.

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  • Today, Breitbart Blogger Lee @Stranahan claimed he got a threatening phone call from the infamous Jason Wade Taylor, aka Randy Hahn
  • Shortly thereafter, @HeatherEChase shows up on his radio show to say that yes, that was ABSOLUTELY JWT on that tape.
  • The problem is that a dysfunction monkey with a hearing disorder could tell that it wasn't him.
  • JWT has threatened me many times. No one loathes him more than I do. But I know what he sounds like, and this "caller" not only wasn't him, but he sounds an awful lot like the so called "Swatter" that Stranahan has made a career out of talking about.
  • Someone will soon put up a side-by-by side comparison of the the caller with JWT and you can judge for yourself. They are similar as Milk and Gatorade.
  • So many of us asked, in effect,"Why did professional liar Stranahan set this up? We know they both want JWT to go away, but why such a badly acted show like this, that is so easily debunked with the naked ear, let alone professional audio forensics?
  • Matt Osborne started blogging about the incident.
  • Well, it turns out, they talk often, Heather and Lee. Huh. The guy who defends James O'Okeefe. Alrighty then… but
  • Why is she FORCING people to believe this "threat" was by JWT, when it so clearly wasn't?
  • Because she's desperate to show that JWT is threatening her, when there has been no other evidence of that any of us have seen. Supposedly, she'd been working with the Houston Police to file charges against someone she has been speaking to regularly. I told Stranahan to press some today. He won't, because the penalties for false police reports are STEEP.
  • Heather told Lee (earlier on this show) that she expected ME to provide MY evidence to the houston police. (I never said I filed a report)
     
  • All of this is an ongoing Web of lies Chase has told to escape one simple reality. She was conned by JWT, as many were.
  • She felt he was a rich dude who would fund her projects with Angryblacklady. They were conned. Simple. No shame in that. We all were.
  • The problem is, they provided recordings and emails to him, then lied and said they never asked him for money. They did.
  • JWT has claimed that he has recordings of her proving that she did. He has already played 1.5 of them and promises more soon. It is essential to Chase's entire career (in her mind), and perhaps AngryBlackLady, that JWT (and me) be discredited. So she keeps pushing these yarns about everyone connected, hoping most people think she's "too nice" or "too woman" to do such a dastardly thing.
  • The smartest thing she could do is just admit it, apologize to Osborne, Me, Karoli, Vdaze, HoneybadgerLA, and Angryblacklady for her horrible bungling of everything she's touched  (except wiki software, which she is good with) since last January.
     
  • JohnGcole (owner of Balloon-juice.com(a fine blog), befriended Chase after Angryblacklady introduced them,
  • Having no information to work with, Cole is simply defending someone he believes in, but has no evidence to exonerate. Admirable, but misguided.
  • Cole has made the unfortunate mistake of attacking me personally, and my cancer, to try and shut me up, He's admitted this in his stream.
  • Cole used to attack me routinely because I criticized his friend Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher. Apparently, John wants everyone to like his friends.
     
  • All of this is connected to an 11 month long drama that began on the woeful day that a woman named Heather E Chase conned her way into my life, and then proceeded to do her level best to destroy it, while freezing the StopRush effort in its tracks and disrupting the lives of dozens of people and some really good twitter communities.  
  • I suspect when her real story is known, we will know that this is not new for her. She's a former video gamer, They can sometimes create real-life villains to battle, just like they used to do in virtual fantasyland.
  • So now do you get it?
 

Related 

 

http://www.alternet.org/media/how-fox-news-created-new-culture-idiots

I've said for quite a few years now that Fox News was making the douchebags and assholes among us into a mainstream demographic.  And while a brilliant essay on so many levels, I will always cherish it for this brief synopsis of the social psychotic named Roger Ailes, who is single-handedly taking down America for his own amusement and enrichment..  Not for nothing does this scumbag travel in a 9-person security cocoon. 

It is not just Fox News commentators but Fox News itself that has the appropriate, in-your-face, I’m-entitled-to-do-this,especially-because-you-dislike-it vibe. Which should not be surprising from a tightly controlled outfit in which everything flows from a single source, chairman Roger Ailes. Ailes has personal flaws that do not necessarily make one an asshole but that clearly shape the coverage, including his paranoia and his extreme politics. We find more telling evidence by considering the man in a happy moment, a victory lap. In an event celebrating Fox News’s success, Ailes said of the competing networks’ talent, as though sharing in the agony of their defeat: “Shows, stars, I mean it’s sad, you know? . . . I called and asked them all to move to the second floor wherever they were working. Because when they jump, I don’t want it to hurt.” By which he meant that he wouldn’t mind at all if his competitors not only lost the contest but felt humiliated enough to kill themselves. He meant of course to gloat but also to show his contempt. He meant to broadcast his contempt and to have a laugh about his being in a position to advertise it.

The comment was at least poor sportsmanship. A longtime practitioner of blood sport media politics, Ailes has emerged as its undisputed heavyweight champion. Politics is indeed a rough sport, but there are still boundaries that while crossed are nevertheless there, or sort of there. It is possible to have a minimal sense of respect among fellow sportsmen, seen as equals off the playing field, and even to display grace in both victory and defeat. Ailes’s comment suggests that he makes little effort at this, even as he does make an effort to draw attention to the fact that he cares not. He keeps it personal, on and off the court.

Ailes is a poor sport but not in a set contest fairly won. His main victory was to redefine the whole sport itself — that is to say, to redefine news. While American TV journalism has always walked a fine line between informing the public and satisfying media capitalism’s demands for viewers, ratings, and ad dollars, the line was more or less there, and it represented respect for what some regard as the fourth branch of government and a democratic society that depends on real news. Ailes obliterates that line with his “orchestra pit theory,” which he puts as follows: “If you have two guys on a stage and one guy says, ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem,’ and the other guy falls in the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?” The implication of course being that TV can and should cover the sensation rather than the substance, that it should move still further away from professional journalism and toward infotainment in a pure ratings contest. Fox News has changed the game and won, with an ever-thinner pretext of service. (It has very little actual news gathering and reporting staff; it freely crosses its own purported division between reporting and editorializing; and it now boosts for and even instigates protest movements and financially backs specific political candidates.) For its loyalty and attunement to its fans, it has been richly rewarded with outsized profits and unprecedented political influence.

If we ask why Ailes fought so long and so hard for all this, however, the answer is not simply the ample rewards. His victory lap comment also suggests fundamental contempt. It suggests contempt not just for his competitors but for a society of people who have always counted on news with a lot of information shaped by a good-faith attempt at impartial presentation. Our fundamental need in a democratic society, for each of us to make up our own mind, now goes unmet by the whole media environment. It reflects not the minds of equals deliberating together about what together to do but the tenor and voice of a single asshole’s mind.

Read it all at Alternet