Archive for the 'The Internets' Category

The demoralization of Dana Pico.

Nov 14, 2011 in Clueless Conservatives, Curiosities, The Internets, We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

Our chief rival blogger, Dana Pico, has called it quits.

While there is always some value to a good rival, the decline of Dana’s site was ultimately an act of justice. By good rival, I mean Dana Pico and his crowd of co-bloggers and regular commenters were always ready to engage and at least present a fairly well-distilled authentic version of the blather that passed for Republican thought. I probably couldn’t last long on Red State without getting axed, but Dana Pico had one conceit that made his blog tragically superior to most rightwing blogs: he wanted an unfettered free speech zone, where liberals and conservatives would match wits without fear of removal.

Now, this is standard practice at Iowa Liberal, but for a rightwing blog that’s quite amazing. Rightwing blogs do no exist to create dialogues or foster advancing thought. They can only exist as echo chambers, and the only liberals who can hope to remain standing in a comments thread are those too weak and easily battered about to pose a real threat. The model is Rush Limbaugh’s show, where an intelligent, articulate liberal who will stand his ground has no chance of making it through the polished screeners or Rush’s mic-cutting button.

Dana bemoans the loss of his regular commenters, and I couldn’t help but feel a little pang of responsibility. As I read the names, Sharon, Eric, DNW, assovertincups, etc., I could almost recall the precise threads that led to their demise. And I was directly involved in each. Yes, I made Dana’s friends go away, but it’s a political blog, not a Facebook page. So screw’em. I didn’t chase them away with cruelty or mocking, I chased them into corners and didn’t let them bullshit their way out. Climbing out the window was their only option. Or stopping the bullshit and being intellectually honest, but apparently that’s a worse option than suicide to such folks. The bullshit is what fuels their existence. Why argue with me and concede anything when they can go listen to Sean Hannity tell them they’re brilliant?

The real sad part of it all is Dana himself, who really did exist in a class above his partners for most of his blog’s existence. Dana could marshall facts together in a manner that demonstrated at least some regard for the value of veracity. His interpretations of a chart might have been skewed, but he was much less likely than other rightwingers to throw complete fiction out there. He might have been veered into racist dogwhistling with his constant invocations of Barack Obama’s middle name, but he somehow managed to convey in his writing a bit of a wink and a nudge: hey, don’t take it too seriously, I’m just razzing.

But ultimately, Dana couldn’t outrun his allegiance to the letter R next to a politician’s name. After eight years of George W. Bush, leaving the country in financial ruin, disrepair, and locked in permanent war, Dana doubled down, declaring Gee Dubya the second best president of his life next to the sainted Ronald Reagan. The hated and reviled Dick Cheney, architect of America’s degradation via torture and surrender to polluters, was Dana’s choice for 2008. Dana dutifully defended Sarah Palin and recently Rick Perry, calling them smart and relying on the defense that people once called Reagan dumb. Personally, I think comparing Palin to Reagan demonstrates more disregard for Reagan than it does credibility for Palin.

The flipside of this is that Dana also tried getting revenge for Dubya by branding President Obama “the worst president” of Dana’s life. The fact that Dana was forced to recognize that Obama prosecuted the “War on Terror” with greater energy and effectiveness than hero Dubya boxed him in further, leaving him with one plank to rest his case on: Suggesting that not only did Obama fail to magically undo the destruction that Republican policies of the past thirty years had wrought on the economy, but that his policies had actually made the economy worse. I pointed out many times that Dana was against TARP, against the stimulus, against saving the auto industry, essentially advocating nothing as a means of fighting the Great Recession, and Dana readily concurred. I asked him, what if Obama had done “nothing,” and we were at 12% unemployment…? Dana said he wouldn’t give Obama the slightest quarter and would bludgeon him with the 12% number anyway, and literally admitted it was because he was a Republican, Obama was a Democrat, and thus he had to “restore fiscal sanity.” Exit integrity.

But Dana still had hopes of using this narrative to win an election. Until the debt ceiling fiasco.

The debt ceiling fiasco, where Republicans held the economy hostage, threatening to sink the whole ship if Democrats tried to combine spending cuts with tax increases to get our deficit problems under control. Obama surrendered, seeing his approval numbers shattered, the avenger of 9/11 bowed before Republican economic terrorism. In the immediate aftermath, the combination of being so close to the brink damaged our credit rating, and the threat of austerity measures dampened the stock market. How did Dana respond to this great Republican success? Yep, he blamed Obama. Integrity stood no chance of return.

Unfortunately for Dana and the Republicans, Obama’s rope-a-dope strategy snared them again. With the debt deal complete and the public soured on the issue, Obama was able to pivot to active job creation measures. It had been proven to the public and the media for anybody to see that the Republicans were utterly intransigent, and would do absolutely anything to block Obama in the hope of drawing blood for 2012. Emboldened, they weren’t about to stop and suddenly cooperate, and thus the Republicans found themselves once again advocating nothing except more passes for the rich, the 1%, to pay fewer taxes, pollute more, and ship more jobs out of the country.

Then Occupy Wall Street happened, and the dynamic of the country shifted. Everything became crystalline, and the real picture of the past thirty years of Reaganomics became clear. The system was rigged for the rich to get richer and everybody else to suck on their fumes. “Trickle down” economics didn’t work. Bush’s tax cuts broke the bank. The “job creators” were moving factories elsewhere and had the Republican Party firmly in pocket re-writing the rules to keep the money moving in one direction- up. They weren’t making jobs, they were inventing piles of money on paper, calling shit loans triple-A, and when they came up short, when reality intervened, the country took the blow and the taxpayers were handed the bill. Right now, millions of homeowners are still underwater, obligated to pay imaginary prices, facing no good options while the bankers responsible got a bailout.

In that aftermath, lodged in this reality, it’s no surprise that the Republican primary process is a circus, that any halfway-decent candidates long ago opted out, and that we get to tune in to buffoons tossing word salads around trying to pretend that somehow, Dana’s alternate world actually exists. That yes, it’s really Obama’s rescue measures that hurt us, not Republican deregulation. That lower taxes for the rich will do us some good. That we should really keep pouring billions into overseas wars that the public wants out of, and maybe start the biggest one of all with Iran. Why the fuck not nominate a pizza salesman who is proudly ignorant? Knowing things hurts the Republican dream, knowing things chases the la-la fantasies away. Why the hell not claim that Rick Perry is smart and that, you know, he couldn’t do worse than Obama!?

This is an utterly horrible time to be a Republican, and an even worse time to be a Republican blogger who doesn’t want to ban opposing voices from his blog. Dana was too dedicated to his flock, yet his flock wanted seclusion and affirmation. Free speech? Dana’s product didn’t sell.

And so he’s now resigned to offering some content to the blog of his craziest collaborator, John Hitchcock, who’s now begging their few readers for handouts because he’s too broke to afford a decent car (I drive a 2007 Honda CR-V, and I don’t exactly make a fortune, so what’s the deal, Hitchcock?).

I turned very bitter on Dana after the debt ceiling disaster, my patience finally snapped. But it was all politics. Personally, I have no trouble understanding that Dana is a genial, nice guy who would probably make a great neighbor. I’d trust him with him son, I’d hand him the keys to my home if he needed to crash. To me, stuff like that really has nothing to do with political arguments. Even most segregationists were lovely people back in the day, if you were white. But if Republicans tried understanding that principle, they’d deflate the core of what drives populist Republicanism, resentment.

I simply say to Dana, either embrace rational thought or go the way of your friends and heroes. The two have become mutually exclusive. Your blog, in that it was an attempt to reconcile the two, was doomed from the start. I believed at one point you were smarter and wiser than your friends, now I think you to be merely a slicker salesman trying to make blatantly unpopular and unsound positions sound like folksy “common sense” that defies any real common sense. Maybe there’s a brighter future for you, but in all likelihood the only chance is to sell out completely and turn those skills into cash money pimping for the Republican Party at a higher level. Revive the blog, make it exclusive, keep the interfering liberals out, and watch your garden thrive. You might even get your Joe the Plumber moment. Won’t do the country any good, but hey, that obviously stopped mattering awhile ago, didn’t it?

-hw

I need one techie and one savvy businessperson to make me a billionaire by fighting this.

Aug 01, 2011 in Clueless Conservatives, Disappointing Dems, The Internets

Free market, here’s your chance to do something good:

It represents “a data bank of every digital act by every American” that would “let us find out where every single American visited Web sites,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who led Democratic opposition to the bill.
Lofgren said the data retention requirements are easily avoided because they only apply to “commercial” providers. Criminals would simply go to libraries or Starbucks coffeehouses and use the Web anonymously, she said, while law-abiding Americans would have their activities recorded.
To make it politically difficult to oppose, proponents of the data retention requirements dubbed the bill the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, even though the mandatory logs would be accessible to police investigating any crime and perhaps attorneys litigating civil disputes in divorce, insurance fraud, and other cases as well.
“The bill is mislabeled,” said Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the panel. “This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It’s creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.”

Not just crimes but civil lawsuits? Do you want a divorce lawyer rifling through your web surfing? Subpoenas for web chats?

Supporters of the measure characterized it as something that would aid law enforcement in investigating Internet crimes. Not enacting it “would keep our law enforcement officials in the dark ages,” said its primary sponsor, House Judiciary chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

Just think how much escapes them because we don’t have listening devices in our homes. It’s interesting how every technological advance in invading the privacy of citizens must be enacted, lest we be accused of passively letting people do bad things.

Here’s how the free market has been working: Unlimited bribery of public officials is free speech. But your actual private speech on the Internet must be regulated, recorded, and reprimanded.

-hw

If you’re happy about President Obama, thank Howard Dean.

Nov 12, 2008 in Barack Obama, The Internets

He was the pioneer of the fundraising strategy Obama perfected, and of the 50 state strategy Obama used. Give the man his due.

But Dean was resolute in forcing Democrats to compete in states they’d written off before, sending money and organizers around the country to help build up state and local parties. That helped Democrats win special elections in places like Louisiana and Mississippi this year, and helped pave the way for Obama’s far more aggressive (and better-funded) grass-roots organization in nontraditional battleground states this fall. The DNC began sharing data on voters and demographics with state and local branches, as well; though it was never as granular as what Obama’s campaign put together, it made a difference. “Having a resource within the party to do that was certainly a step in the right direction,” said Don Bivens, the chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party. “Although the Obama campaign has also advanced that to a new art form, they weren’t first. Dean was there before them.”

Even some of Dean’s critics are, if somewhat begrudgingly, giving him some credit for this year’s results. “I think it’s partial vindication,” Democratic insider Harold Ickes told the Hill last week. Dean’s Netroots supporters, meanwhile, are launching a campaign to make sure everyone knows whose idea that 50-state strategy was. “One of my goals the next few weeks is to make sure that Howard Dean gets his due props and, by extension, all of us who fought to make Dean’s vision a reality,” blogger Markos Moulitsas wrote Tuesday.

Markos gets, of course, the credit as the grand master of the netroots, turning online visions into reality. He’s the one paying attention to races in every district in the country, delivering funding surgically. Maybe you give five bucks to a race in Alabama and another district turns blue. Or maybe you’ve got a news scoop that turns into a recommended diary that gets read by millions. Anybody with an internet connection can make a difference, and Obama’s victory owes everything to that fact.

-jb

Teh Internetz: How it affected election coverage.

Oct 23, 2008 in The Internets

Arianna Huffington notes how the increasing dominance of the internet over our electoral dialogue affects the dirty damned lies of the right:

Back in the Dark Ages of 2004, when YouTube (and HuffPost, for that matter) didn’t exist, a campaign could tell a brazen lie, and the media might call them on it. But if they kept repeating the lie again and again and again, the media would eventually let it go (see the Swiftboating of John Kerry). Traditional media like moving on to the next shiny thing. But bloggers love revisiting a story. So when Palin kept repeating her bridge to nowhere lie, bloggers kept calling her on it. Andrew Sullivan, for one, has made a cottage industry of calling Palin on her lies. And eventually, the truth filtered up and cost McCain credibility with his true base: journalists.

The Internet may make it easier to disseminate character smears, but it also makes it much less likely that these smears will stick.

As a result, the McCain campaign’s insinuation-laden “Who is Barack Obama?” was rendered more comical than spooky. Who is Barack Obama? The guy we’ve been watching over and over and over during the last two years. We’ve seen him. We know him. And we can remind ourselves about him with a quick Google search and a mouse click.

Obama “has shown the same untroubled self-confidence day after day,” and “over the past two years, Obama has clearly worn well with voters.” Those are the words of David Brooks, who has gotten to know Obama just like the rest of us.

Four years ago, McCain’s Rovian race-based appeals to our darker demons might have worked. This year, they are blowing up in McCain’s face. And in the face of the entire GOP.

The truth will out! The Hannity/Limbaugh right desperately hoped they could win “if only people knew about AYERSACORNREZKOWRIGHT!” but people did know, and they deemed it insufficient. Rightwingers loved those things because they thought they could make them work in their favor as Republicans. But Republican victory isn’t really on America’s priority list right now, it’s solving problems and fixing the country. Those things had nothing to do with that. Even worse, they were flimsy charges lacking substance, having little to do with who Barack Obama really was. The right, still in their own bubble, has rightfully earned their defeat. May justice be served on Nov. 4th.

-jb

IP addresses running out!

Sep 25, 2008 in The Internets

Upgrade to IPv6 or face excintion of yer internettz!

When the last address is used the Internet will switch to V2-IPV6 and you will be holding your joystick, wondering why you be so stupid now
Pico DeHo, Brandon, USA

U is warnd teh joy it is not infinity.

-jb

One day we will finally have the message under control.

Feb 12, 2008 in Media, The Internets

Here’s a hard one to swallow for those who dismiss Chomsky:

During the taping of a talk show produced by AT&T, the control room shut down production moments after a guest criticized AT&T’s plans to filter Web content. Fortunately that guest, Joel Johnson of the blog Boing Boing, had a friend secretly videotape the segment from the audience. Here.

[youtube hUTKipWIVTg]

…AT&T keeps telling us that Net Neutrality isn’t needed, that we should just “trust them” not to censor the Internet. But they won’t even allow someone to raise the issue on their show.

We have arrived at a unique time in the history of media, where traditional gatekeepers to information are threatened by a revolution in communications. Big Media’s reaction is the same they have taken for decades: shut down discussion, dictate policies, increase profits, and maintain control.

Corporations simply cannot stand the open nature of the internet. They don’t want anything to be driven by the people unless it’s within a carefully structured maze of advertising, payment, and contractual obligations. All inefficiencies must be eliminated and, likewise, so must randomness. An income stream should be reliable and predictable. All information put into the system must be mapped and utilized, and no information must leave until it has been properly contoured.

This will no more change on its own than a lion would take up eating grass. You protect yourself from things by understanding their nature.

-jb

The greatest link ever.

Dec 19, 2007 in The Internets

PC World’s 30 most popular articles of the year. My favorites were 15 free security programs, 15 free utilities, and 20 other essential free downloads. I found almost a dozen programs worth downloading, mostly spyware and PC maintenance stuff that compares to for-pay programs and in many cases supersedes them, especially in unison.

-jb

An open-source wireless network.

Nov 12, 2007 in Apple, Economy, The Internets

As the auctioning of the 700mhz spectrum approaches, there’s been a vigorous debate over whether or not our future wireless world will continue to be owned by a couple giants, or if it will attain the freedom and independence of the Internet.

When I first heard that the iPhone would only be available to subscribers of AT&T, I immediately dismissed it. “That won’t last long,” I said.

But while Google’s much-anticipated plan has encouraged talk of a Google Phone, the company said that for now it had no plans to build phones. Instead, it has signed up powerful partners to develop and market the phones, including handset makers like Motorola and Samsung, carriers like T-Mobile, Sprint and China Mobile and semiconductor companies like Qualcomm and Intel.

The group, the Open Handset Alliance, expects to start selling the Google-powered phones in the second half of next year.

If Apple won’t wake up and make the iPhone available to everybody, Google will. And Google will be rewarded for it. I use Sprint, and I’m staying with it for now. Sprint needs to get on board with its own future-phone to compete, and signing on with the Google phone is essential to keeping the market competitive. It’s not surrendering to an open network, it’s accepting reality. Eventually, Apple will have no choice but to either continue being a niche in the phone market, or go into the battlefield. One would assume they trust their abilities to win based on design.

-jb

Goodbye, Privacy.

Nov 11, 2007 in Corporate shenanigans, National Security, Politics, The Internets, Where's the outrage?!?!

We’ll miss you.

Millions of people in this country — particularly young people — already have surrendered anonymity to social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, and to Internet commerce. These sites reveal to the public, government and corporations what was once closely guarded information, like personal statistics and credit card numbers.

“Those two generations younger than we are have a very different idea of what is essential privacy, what they would wish to protect about their lives and affairs. And so, it’s not for us to inflict one size fits all,” said Kerr, 68. “Protecting anonymity isn’t a fight that can be won. Anyone that’s typed in their name on Google understands that.”

Thus the government can read all of your e-mail and listen to all of your phone calls whenever it wants and if you don’t shut up about it, you’re letting the terrorists win.

-jb

Justice Department comes out against Net Neutrality.

Sep 07, 2007 in Politics, The Internets

They assure us there’s nothing to worry about.

Supporters of Internet regulation have said that phone and cable companies could discriminate against certain Web site and services.

However, the agency said it will continue to monitor and enforce any anti-competitive conduct to ensure a competitive broadband marketplace.

Long story short, only a sucker could buy that line. The justice department is going to tell telecom companies they have to carry websites that don’t fit their “values”? It simply won’t happen, and anybody who thinks that corporations wouldn’t want to meddle with the web the same way they’ve meddled with every other avenue of communication is wet behind the ears. George Bush’s administration has a strong chance of coming out and ending Net Neutrality, because standard practice for them is to let corporations write the laws. It’s going to take a lot of people power to fight them, and fortunately right and left have come together to keep Net Neutrality alive. Any blogger or blogreader who doesn’t support it is a damned contemptible fool.

-jb