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.


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.

Update #2

A far more intellectual dissection of this very problem has just been published. I urge you to read: Cyberlibertarians’ Digital Deletion of the Left


When computers are involved, otherwise brilliant leftists who carefully examine the political commitments of most everyone they side with suddenly throw their lot in with libertarians — even when those libertarians explicitly disavow Left principles in their work.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Overviews if PRISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Prism (by Kevin Drum (Motherjones)

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

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

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

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

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

Critical Overviews of Recent NSA Revelations

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

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

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

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

Views and Commentary

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

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


Personal Thoughts About Greenwald And This Story

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

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

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

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



I have just read for the fourth time, Sara Robinson's important 2012 essay entitled, "Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America"

It's not long, and one of those reads which I think every 10th grader should be forced to consume, and then be quizzed on again and again until the foundational concepts are ingrained and at least partially understood.  Until such understandings are embedded in each generation's mindshare, each will too easily fall victim to the same forces of plantation economy, aristocracy, and other rank manifestations of predatory capitalism that have soiled the one before.  Free markets have done much for civilization. But only by making them a little less free are we going to be able to constrain their raging excesses and the humanistic failures that have resulted from them.

Below are the last few paragraphs of Sara's post. They make for a tidy list of some of the greater threats posed by this centuries old culture war of inbred and nouveau-greed lording over historically disadvantaged populations of compliant serfs. It's a war threatening not just America, but the entire planetary ecosystem of our delicate species.


It's not an overstatement to say that we're now living in Plantation America. As Lind points out: to the horror of his Yankee father, George W. Bush proceeded to run the country exactly like Woodard's description of a Barbadian slavelord. And Barack Obama has done almost nothing to roll this victory back.

We're now living in an America where rampant inequality is accepted, and even celebrated.

Torture and extrajudicial killing have been reinstated, with no due process required.

The wealthy and powerful are free to abuse employees, break laws, destroy the commons, and crash the economy — without ever being held to account.

The rich flaunt their ostentatious wealth without even the pretense of humility, modesty, generosity, or gratitude.

The military — always a Southern-dominated institution — sucks down 60% of our federal discretionary spending, and is undergoing a rapid evangelical takeover as well.

Our police are being given paramilitary training and powers that are completely out of line with their duty to serve and protect, but much more in keeping with a mission to subdue and suppress. Even liberal cities like Seattle are now home to the kind of local justice that used to be the hallmark of small-town Alabama sheriffs.

Segregation is increasing everywhere. The rights of women and people of color are under assault. Violence against leaders who agitate for progressive change is up. Racist organizations are undergoing a renaissance nationwide.

We are withdrawing government investments in public education, libraries, infrastructure, health care, and technological innovation — in many areas, to the point where we are falling behind the standards that prevail in every other developed country.

Elites who dare to argue for increased investment in the common good, and believe that we should lay the groundwork for a better future, are regarded as not just silly and soft-headed, but also inviting underclass revolt. The Yankees thought that government's job was to better the lot of the lower classes. The Southern aristocrats know that its real purpose is to deprive them of all possible means of rising up against their betters.

The rich are different now because the elites who spent four centuries sucking the South dry and turning it into an economic and political backwater have now vanquished the more forward-thinking, democratic Northern elites. Their attitudes towards freedom, authority, community, government, and the social contract aren't just confined to the country clubs of the Gulf Coast; they can now be found on the ground from Hollywood and Silicon Valley to Wall Street. And because of that quiet coup, the entire US is now turning into the global equivalent of a Deep South state.

As long as America runs according to the rules of Southern politics, economics and culture, we're no longer free citizens exercising our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we've always understood them. Instead, we're being treated like serfs on Massa's plantation — and increasingly, we're being granted our liberties only at Massa's pleasure. Welcome to Plantation America.

How do we even begin to unmask and redress these crises of a modernist empire spiraling out of control? Will it be fixed  by carping on the marginal excesses of it, as seen in the issues of drones, national detention controversies and bank bailouts? Or will it be by finding new leadership and policy precepts that replace the ones which are clearly failing to provide for the common good? Ones not motivated by wealth accumulation or careerist ambitions, but rather by a sincere desire to advance our species toward its collective survival and some kind of satisfying intellectual and cultural status quo that endures long enough to reward successive generations without falling victim to them.

I have my ideas for getting there. I am sure you have yours. It's time we started to share them together, and out loud, in hopes of finding a brighter future before we're denied access to one by a dark and aggressively resurgent past. 

Due to my recent cancer surgery, I have lost any natural chance of having my own biological children. But I hope I have at least a few good years left where I might be able to do something to help all the other children on this rotating sphere of cosmic debris we're all traveling on.  We all get only a very brief span of years to do whatever good it is that we're going to do with them. We should probably get started.

Read the entire post. Then tweet me your thoughts.

I said yesterday I was (mostly) staying out of this #Uniteblue crap from now on, but since this is an extension of something that I caused to happen, I need to comment. So I have.

Once again, the ever shape shifting UniteBlue project has taken my advice, and formed a Nonprofit. As usual, they have announced this with great fanfare, and also as usual, provided not a single really relevant detail. Since this "progressive" enterprise's website never publishes any comment but those which gush about it (but allow no criticisms whatever), I am forced to post my comment to them below:

Dear Greens,

Anyone can file a nonprofit corporation. What matters is the business relationship between @UniteBlue and your @140dev.@140elect companies.  

Obviously, you stated at the start you wanted to make money, so the Nonprofit will now serve as your marketing "front end" driving traffic and clients to your businesses. You can get away with that, but not without honestly and openly describing the relationships from the start so that "members" know what they are getting into.

Until you do, this is all fluff meant to make you look like a serious not-for-profit enterprise. Again, you've already stated elsewhere in your evolving history that you're not; you're in this to make money. 

Be honest with people, or they will eat you alive.

I know you are not likely to post this (as you haven't posted any others), so I will blog it on my own site, as I did with my last reply.

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




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:


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. 

Matt(a.k.a. Shoq)


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.


The Early Wake Up Calls


Detailed Analysis

Obstacles to Their Plan

Other Media About the Issue

Take Action

See Also

Yesterday afternoon, some #StopRush/#FlushRush folks got a fund raising drive going to help out Richard C. Myer's family, who were threatened with eviction after his tragically sudden passing last month from a massive heart attack. I asked my Twitter stream to get on board with the effort. The goal was $1200, so they'd have enough money to pay two months and keep the nasty landlord at bay until Richard's death benefits arrived. The response was just fantastic. 

From Cowoman's update:

So far we have raised $3125.84; I am so happy I could cry. I want to thank you all for giving me the opportunity to do something small that made my year start off with such fulfillment and joy. Seeing Candy's face when I hand her your generous gifts will be more reward than I can express.

From Richard's wife to #Stoprush volunteers

To Stoprush: 
You all wonderful people. Thank you from the bottom of me and Randy's hearts. I would love to join you all and keep Richard's web sites going.  I want to keep Richard's dreams alive. If you all need any help at all please contact me. I have a facebook page. 

Thank you all for saving me and my son's home. Richard was more then an activist. He was a wonderful husband, a great father, and my bestfriend. I will never in my life meet such a special man like him again, so please help me keep the the very thing he loved in life: the people he helped and loved—and his activist's work.

Thank you all so much. I will never forget such heros who saved me and my son's life.

Much love,

Candy myers

To all of you who responded, thank you so much for your generosity. Richard was a gift. He will be missed by so many.