Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Centrism vs. Radicalism

David Brooks is at it again, pissing me off to start my day. According to Brooks:

"the netroots candidates are losing"
"Clinton has established this lead by repudiating the netroots theory of politics."
"the netroots are losing the policy battles."

Glenn Greenwald has the perfect analysis which I'd like to add something to if I can.

This argument is moldier than the block of swiss my grandmother keeps in her freezer. I would call it rhetorical jujitsu, but that's giving it far too much credit. Let's call it political reverse psychology. Brooks plays the Concern Troll, supposedly advising all those radical, nutjob bloggers that they really need to stop being so rude, because they're hurting their chances to win elections. They should soften their stance and come to the "center". The evidence of this is supposedly Hilary Clinton's lead. But the concerned advice he's dishing is just a trap.

Ultimately, the Right has lurched so radically far out on the wing that when the pundits and demagogues are herding and frightening people back into the "middle" politically, they are really landing firmly in the CENTER-RIGHT, not in the old center. They expanded the limits of rightwing politics while dividing the country, thus keeping the middle or center from naturally evening out at the true halfway point.

Imagine it's a football game with the regular guy voter sitting in the stands watching the game. While Joe Sixpack is consuming beers and copious amounts of nitrates and sugars, he's being distracted by the cheerleaders (Paris), halftime show (American Idol), obnoxious announcers (O'Reilly/Rush/Hannity) and O.J. running the ball to the other end zone. Meanwhile, one of the teams is gradually moving their defensive goalposts five yards back at a time. So when Joe Nascar begins to sober up from his Budweisers, he doesn't realize that one end zone is now 20-30 yards deeper than the other. All the while the announcers ignore or cover up the fact that the field has changed.

In the end this is yet another example of the rightwing using it's old media marketing and propaganda machine to rebrand the definitions of terms associated with liberals (as the word "liberal" itself has been rebranded by conservatives as practically a slur). Take the word "radical" - here is the Websters definition as applied to politics:

"of, relating to, or constituting a political group associated with views, practices, and policies of extreme change"

Is that the first image that comes to mind, or is it the street-fighting, unwashed, unshaven, stoned hippies turning main street into bedlam? While the latter was once true there are two problems with it. Firstly, those Sixties Radicals are (lamentably) GONE. Yet the rightwing keeps on digging up the bones of those hippies and skullfucking them to scare the pants off of the ignorant and close-minded, despite their having melted away decades ago. Secondly, it's a favorite technique in which the rightwing negatively labels and brands the opposition so that they themselves cannot be accused of being the actual radicals (see my previous post on the term "fascist").

Thankfully, "Tightey Whitey" Brooks has been so consistently and spectacularly wrong about so many hugely important subjects that it's quite reassuring. You really have to wonder about these pundits who have gotten it so consistently wrong each and every time over the past half-decade. Don't you think once in a while, some of these NostraDumbAsses would get it right just out of sheer luck? You could make a mint betting against these guys' predictions and my money's on the Netroots.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Out of Town

Hey all - I'll be out of town this weekend in Vegas so there won't be any new posts until Tuesday. Thanks for visiting and there will be much more here in the coming weeks.

– Lefty

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The F-Bomb

Here's something that caught my eye and has been drowned out since the media's old flame OJ is back in town.

John Kerry (link) was answering questions from the audience at a college in Florida when a young man stepped up to the mike to ask the senator a question or two. He got a bit worked up and loud and wound up causing a scene, culminating in his being tasered while defenseless on the ground.

Chris Matthews (link) had Joe Conason on with a woman from Code Pink, a leftwing activist/protest organization to talk about the video. My jaw almost hit the floor when Tweety (that's Matthews' pet name in the leftwing blogosphere) actually dropped the F-bomb...


Now, this is NOT a term that you normally hear on corporate cable news, and certainly not one I'm accustomed to hearing come from lips that were crazy-glued to Bush's behind for 5 long years. A few gems from Matthews from the Bush Years:

"Sometimes it glimmers with this man, our President, that kind of sunny nobility."

"Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs ..."

"And that's the president looking very much like a jet, you know, a high-flying jet star."

Want to vomit yet? For this power-slut to wonder aloud, on air, that this might be the beginnings of fascism, to me speaks volumes. First, he wouldn't dare say it if he thought he would be reamed by the corporate higher-ups (in my opinion one of the main sources of American Fascism). Second, when the idea that there is a fascistic streak coursing through the country is even approached by a pro-establishment, mainstream media whore like Tweety, you can bet this thought is creeping into the national consciousness. This guy is a follower, not some idealistic leftwing rabblerouser.

The main problem with bringing the term into our dialogue is the implication that a fascist is a Nazi. The world has seen many different types of fascism, and most of the others don't include the hideous inclination to slaughter Jews. But the one group who are not true fascists are the Islamic Jihadists. The freshly minted term Islamo-Fascist as applied to terrorists and other arab people by the FOX radicals is really a psychological tool to position themselves as the opposite of fascist. The Bad People are fascist and we are of course the Good Guys so naturally we can't be fascist too. It's pretty brainless.

As Joe Conason aptly quoted Sinclair Lewis in his excellent book, It Can Happen Here, "When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag carrying a cross."

Are we there yet?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Law school dean fired for liberal ‘political views.’

Just as I was explaining how powerful a tool email is for expressing ourselves, this happens. From

Law school dean fired for liberal ‘political views.’
About a week ago, the new law school at the University of California at Irvine hired Erwin Chemerinsky, a well-known constitutional scholar, as the school’s inaugural Dean. But yesterday, Michael V. Drake, Irvine’s chancellor, fired him, “saying that he had not been aware of how Chemerinsky’s political views would make him a target for criticism from conservatives.” Chemerinsky confirmed his firing to the Wall Street Journal today:
The chancellor “said he hadn’t expected that I would be such a target for conservatives, a lightning rod. It’s clear that significant opposition developed,” though the chancellor didn’t specify where it was coming from. […]
“Obviously I’m sad because it’s something I was excit[ed] about. I’m angry because I don’t believe anyone liberal or conservative should be denied a position like this because of political views.”

(HT: Atrios)
UPDATE: The LA Times notes that April 2005, Chemerinsky “was named one of ‘the top 20 legal thinkers in America’ by Legal Affairs magazine.” 3:57 pm

If you're reading this and fuming, email the Chancellor at and let him know it's unacceptable to fire someone who is qualified simply because they are a liberal and some people wouldn't like that. I hate to even bring this up, but the Chancellor is a person of color. And HE fired someone for a reason other than their qualifications. Maybe someone can send me an example of a conservative being fired for his political views. I'm sure the silence will be deafening.

Petraeus, Betrayus, Schmetrayus. Whatever.

Whatever. I think that kind of sums it up. For months the GOP has been stalling real decisions in Iraq by building up a report on the status and progress (?) in Iraq by General Petraeus. Then as we near the actual report, word leaks out that the "Petraeus Report" would be written by the White House. You know, that fountain of impartiality and honesty. All the while the usual media elites are building up Petraeus as some kind of saint. He's been claiming progress in Iraq for four years, including one curiously timed Op-Ed just before the 2004 election.

So Petraeus gives his little report to a joint session of Congress and guess what he said? We're making progress! Woohoo! Meanwhile, places a full page ad in the NY Times with the headline "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?", the purpose of which is to call into question the data he was presenting. Of course, the rightwing media machine responds with fake fainting spells and hyperventilation, frequently claiming that MoveOn is calling him a "traitor". Yes, the ad calls into question where his loyalty lies (Bush vs Everyone Else), but nowhere does the actual word "traitor" appear in the ad.

When the rightwing puts words in our mouths, we really need to spit them back out in their faces as Markos Moulitsas does so eloquently here.

Following the "report", Saint Petraeus goes on FOXaganda to give a "Briefing for America". Not an interview, a briefing. FOX has officially Jumped the Shark.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Stop the DC Establishment

Glenn Greenwald is teaming up with FireDogLake (another fine blog) for an online petition to tell the Democratic leadership to stand firm against capitulating and prolonging the war.

Email works. For example, FOX "News" was slated to host a Democratic presidential debate in Nevada. For some reason the Nevada State Democratic Party went along with this. The netroots was fired up, wondering why in the world would they allow this Republican propaganda network to host a Democratic debate. So they sprung into action petitioning and emailing the Nevada State Party Chairman, among others. The Chairman must have gotten the message loud and clear as they backed out. You would too if you came in to work and checked your email to find what I have to imagine is thousands of email complaints and petitions.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Morning Brew

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone on the coming electoral slaughter in 2008 for the Republicans. It's a good thing for them they will still be able to steal a race here and there.

The Nation explains how right I am about the left dominating the online political arena. (Insert smug emoticon here)

And of course all week I'll be linking to coverage of the upcoming "Petraeus Report" which will be written and edited by the White House and then credited to Petraeus.

Keep an eye on the TV coverage and watch as the big media outlets pretend as though this is not a politcal document/report. As though the military is somehow the only major institution that the Republicans haven't co-opted and abused for their own partisan profit.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Joe Conason Double Post

Joe Conason, who writes for and the NY Observer, tackles George Bush's Magic Benchmarks and says Don't Believe The Hype.

And finally...

Support the Troops! ALL the troops.

Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq
HBO, Sunday night, 10:30 p.m.

The REAL Rudy

Robert Greenwald has a new video up for Brave New Films. Greenwald is an independent filmmaker who has produced documentaries on Iraq, Wal-Mart, and FOX "News". More recently, in what I think is a terrific move, he is producing video shorts at Fox Attacks and Brave New Films.

His latest video addresses Rudy Guiliani and his fateful decision to place the emergency command center at Ground Zero (before it was called Ground Zero). Were you under the impression that Rudy knows how to handle terrorism? Or that he was some kind of hero in the days after the attacks? Here is what he said about the days following 9-11:
“I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. I was there working with them. I was there guiding things. I was there bringing people there. But I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I’m one of them.”

"Using his mayoral archives, the NY Times found he spent 29 hours between September 17 and December 16, 2001."

Keith Olbermann also reported that he spent more time at Yankee Stadium taking in ballgames than at Ground Zero. I haven't found any examples of the so-called "liberal media" taking him to the woodshed for shameless duplicity like this. The media image of Rudy is every bit as mythological as the image of George Bush was before Katrina washed it all away. WHO is telling you that Rudy knows so much about handling terrorism and terrorist attacks?

Glenn Greenwald has some thoughts and analysis on The Real Rudy...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Rick Rubin

The NY Times Magazine ran a great piece on music producer Rick Rubin and the new realities of the music business. Rubin helped start Def Jam Records and produced some of the landmark rap albums of the 80's. He has also produced all kinds of albums by a diverse group of artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, Audioslave, Neil Diamond and the Dixie Chicks. He's now co-head of Columbia records and is trying to help steer Columbia and the music industry in general through panic and uncertainty.

Blog Roundup

A few articles worth reading:

Sidney Blumenthal with a Salon exclusive: Two former CIA officers say the president squelched top-secret intelligence, and a briefing by George Tenet, months before invading Iraq.

Matt Taibbi on the The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury.

Vanity Fair: Al Gore speaks about press attacks, misquotes and distortions in the 2000 Presidential Campaign.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Overthrow The Punditocracy!

I can't say it enough. Please read Glenn Greenwald. Every day.

He is tirelessly chopping away at what I think is the biggest obstacle in the road back to rational thought and progressive change - The Punditocracy and the Elite Washington Media Establishment. Not so much the politicians or the servile and hacktastic staffers (although he does). He is dead-on in targeting the beltway media stars and think-tank "scholars". The man is easily the most prolific blogger around and is so well-researched, and flat out nails so many arguments, it's actually scary.

Glenn deciphers the language that passes for political argument in Washington and the establishment media. Maybe the best thing about his work is the fact that he eagerly interacts with the subjects of his frank critiques and gleefully tears down their flimsy justifications - with evidence. He will go back and provide context and examples of things which they have said in the past and use them to expose not only biases but stunning intellectual laziness and dishonesty (which seem to walk down the street hand in hand).

And boy does it piss them off. Yeah I'm talking to you, Joe "Serious" Klein.
Please read Glenn's work - every day.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Welcome to Leftopia!


Welcome to Leftopia!
This blog is meant to teach people how to participate in online politics - how the blogs work, what bloggers to read, where to voice your opinion and generally fight back!

Make no mistake, liberals are winning the fight online! That is why this blog is sorely needed - liberals who are not tech, internet or blog savvy need to be brought into the blogosphere. Blogs are truly the future of the progressive movement and there are still many on the left who are not involved but who care deeply about these same issues and are political activists outside of the internet. It is critical that they get on the bus and further strengthen this movement.

Comments Sections

Most blogs will have entries or posts which consist of news, opinions or both. They generally don't run much longer than your average op-ed column. The great part about blogs is that YOU can respond back. And you can respond to the responses and so on. Thus begins an organic discussion (or fight) about the topic and assertions made in the post.

It is recommeded that you try to keep some anonymity in your online name as you might want to be as candid as possible. You don't want anyone to follow you home so to speak.

The right-wing media likes to cherry pick particularly ugly or incendiary comments posted by users to score cheap political points and generally smear and frame blogs as being some kind of uncivil haven for radicals. Don't be fooled. While some blogs do moderate the comments sections, most are very open discussions in which anyone can post anything anonymously. There is a major difference between what is posted by those who run the blogs and write for the blogs and what users comment in reaction to those entries. The media tries to blur that distinction and attribute user comments to the bloggers themselves. Right-wingers have also been known to masquerade as liberals and then post bigoted, stereotypical or even threatening comments in order to use them as "examples" of the danger and incivility of blogs. Ultimately they simply don't want more people to participate in online political discussion. Why do you think that is?

Take Action!

Now we come to the most critical part. DOING SOMETHING!

I used to wonder about exactly what effect blogging, emailing and posting comments online would have in the real world. Turns out, a ton!

Firstly, arguing with political opponents online is not only fun but very effective. This is not TV, where the house always wins. Online, conservatives do not have any advantage whatsoever. They must convince people using actual arguments and logic. They cannot coerce or cut off anyone's mic. They cannot parade imposters posing as liberals or Democrats. They cannot reinforce their frames and narratives by only inviting weak representatives of Democrats and liberals to the fistfight that is cable television politics (see Alan Colmes). And those who would stand up to their talking points and propaganda always can.

Amateur Reporting and Investigation

These days, anyone can break a story. Newsrooms are constantly trimming their staff and this the amount of time that reporters who actually want to do some investigative reporting can. In addition, as the blogs often work, someone will spot something that the mainstream media have overlooked either negligently or deliberately (they do - wake up). Then other blogs will link to that story in their blogs and next thing you know it's flying all across the blogosphere.


On to the good stuff, where to go, what to see. These are my personal favorites with a brief blurb about each.
News and opinion site. Headlines of mainstream news stories are linked to and op-ed style opinion pieces are published. Comment pages for most stories and opinion posts are lively and well-monitored.
Video clips from television and internet are provided for viewing and/or download in several formats.
Original reporting and muckraking site which has broken many big stories and focused in-depth reporting where mainstream media outlets have not. Quite often well ahead of the curve in investigative stories.
An online spinoff from the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. Provides a forum for online progressive discussion.
Sober media watchdog which posts viewable and downloadable clips of mainstream media with criticisms and rebuttals. Particularly draws the scorn of Bill O'Reilly as they have the nerve to quote him directly and refute his claims.
More of an online magazine, but Glenn Greenwald posts every day and is a must-read. Also posting weekly articles are Joe Conason and Sidney Blumenthal who are well worth the time.
The Godfather of liberal blogs. Was instrumental in putting liberal blogs on the map and establishing the format of entries and comments. Truly cultivated a community based around the site which has inspired many members to start their own blogs themselves.


The community of blogs, bloggers and users who discuss and comment.

Someone who intentionally posts controversial or contrary messages in an online community with the intention of baiting users into an argumentative response.

Concern Troll
Someone who posts messages which claim to share the same viewpoint as the others but having some "concerns". Merely intended to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt within the group. Example: Those who are "concerned" that Democrats' investigations of the most unpopular President in modern times will hurt them.

Contraction of “iPod” and “broadcasting” (but not for iPods only). Posting audio and video material on a blog and its RSS feed, for digital players.