What I have learned in three years…

Three years of nearly constant blogging- who knew I could be such a gasbag? It’s been a genuine pleasure 99% of the time. The worst days were when I was besieged by trolls at the very beginning of the Iraq War, and some old, good friends galloped to the rescue and passed out the smackdowns like communion wafers. (“This is my refutation of thee. Take, eat, shut up.”)

I have learned a lot, including the fascinating exposure to different media sources (when the SCLM/US media so glaringly failed) and brilliant writers like Juan Cole, Robert Fisk and Seymour Hersh, writers who I would never have encountered if it weren’t for blogging and reading blogs. Additionally, it has introduced me to people who I consider to be friends, though we have never met face to face- Shakespeare’s Sister, The Fixer, Gordon, Travis(♀), Michael and the people who I already knew, but now know even better from having spent time with them online- my twin brother, Amber, Hope, Neil Morse, eponymous and more. (I just know I am forgetting someone….) Then there are my blog heroes, who I think deserve fame and fortune and servants to butter their toast in the morning- Norbizness, TBogg, The Women of firedoglake, James Wolcott, Bob Harris, Sasha Frere-Jones and god, a dozen others…

But it’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to- the Lefty Blogosphere ain’t perfect. Don’t get me wrong- the big boys who do the heavy lifting in the LB perform an amazing public service, and if it weren’t for Atrios and Kos and Josh Marshall, my life would be measurably less happy. However, it’s no coincidence that the Righty Blogosphere dominated the discourse for a long, long time. I have seen discussions about this rage back and forth, but the bottom line is that Right Wing Bloggers link to each other, whether it’s from one Big Boy to another, or from Instyknuckahead to some guy in Peoria who had thirty hits yesterday. I have never had more traffic than I had the day I got linked to by INDC. I was able to watch it in my Sitemeter stats- first INDC, then five bloggers who read INDC, then twenty five who read those blogs, and the next thing I knew, it was 2000 hits that day. And, you will notice if you read the post, it wasn’t like it was right wing backslapping. They gave me a ton of hits because they thought what I had posted was funny, even if it did rub their boy’s face in it.

I don’t know if it’s Dittohead culture or some sort of tendency to take Marching Orders that is part of the Right Wing personality, but the bottom line is that the Right Side of the Blogosphere is different- it has been my observation that the big lefty bloggers are way more likely to link to other big lefty bloggers and ignore most of the rest of the field. This could be, I should mention, a desire to try to produce more original content and not just link for linking’s sake. There’s no reason for me to link to Eschaton unless I have something to add to the discussion. You’re probably reading Atrios well before you come here. However, each and every one of us speaking about different nuances of a topic does not a chorus of voices make. Now, is this a bad thing? I dunno. As Jesse used to say, I’m just saying.

Other quick observations-
1. trolls suck. I think trolls have dragged down several blogs, just by making them less pleasant places to go. The toll trolls take on the blogger can be a real drag, too. You have to have a pretty thick skin to endure being called an idiot over and over and over, even when you know you’re right.

2. taking weekends off just kills your hits count. On the other hand, blogging on the weekend? It’s worth it for me to have a day or two that I don’t spend pasted to the machine.

3. Men who write “Where are all the female bloggers?” posts are fucking idiots. That’s like announcing you can’t find your toes. Dude. Just look around. Sheesh.

4. Proof-reading? Add that to my list of “things to do.”

And, let me just say, after three years of blogging, I have noticed that being a (proudly) southern-progressive-redneck white guy isn’t exactly the ticket to lefty blog fame and fortune. Either that, or my writing just ain’t that interesting. The jury’s out on that one, I suppose. 😉

Well, thanks for coming back, folks. I plan to stay at it, lousy numbers be damned.

Eye rolling means the same thing in any language

Fixer is back from Froglandia. Interestingly, he had the same experience I did last time I traveled in Europe-

While I’m in Europe, I try to avoid Americans at all costs. It isn’t hard. They’re usually the loudest, most obnoxious and stand out among tourists of many a stripe. I’m sure the natives look at us the same way. A hint: Just because you are yelling “DO – YOU – TAKE – CREDIT – CARDS?” over and over, louder and more slowly each time, at the store clerk, it won’t make him/her understand you any better. You just look like an idiot. Whip out your Visa and lay it down, it’s a modern country, trust me.

Next, when you’re in arguably the most romantic bistrot in the 7eme Arrondissment and you’re eating the most increible meal you’ll probably have in your miserable life, don’t be going on about how the French hate us and are a buncha assholes for not going to Iraq. There’s something called class, what the wait staff treated you with even though they understood every word you said. Trust me, they did.

Yeah, it wasn’t the natives who were rude when I was there, either.

Read the whole entry. It’s spot on.

Bob throws cold water on the froth

and with good reason, I must admit…

Bob Harris witnesses a somewhat spurious debate in the wake of the “Murtha Moment,” and brings some missing perspective to the discussion-

…opposition to the war in this country only counts for anything when it comes from people who have already been vocal supporters of an irrational war based on obvious lies resulting in inevitable mass killing. That’s why Murtha matters as well, of course. The message is repeated and ongoing. And all of this just reinforces the notion that militarism in and of itself is a good and credible thing.

What about the people who were right all along? What about the ten million people who marched in the streets of cities all over the world before this shit ever started? No credibility. Obviously.

Would Martin Luther King have a place in the discussion? No. Would Jesus, whom millions of people who support incredible levels of violence flatter themselves by pretending to worship? No. Of course not. He’s a god and all, but he’s nobody to actually listen to.

Half the country still supports torture, folks. Half. Even though it doesn’t work, and security experts are most vocally opposed.

Being a five-time Jeopardy! winner means you have a big brain, and with that comes a bit of critical thinking capacity. My favorite (if you can call it that) passage from Bob’s screed:

Each war occurs in isolation from all past events; Bush’s support for the Taliban, Rumsfeld’s handshake with Saddam, CIA support for the fundamentalists who morphed into Al-Qaeda have nothing to do with our current situation. History itself is worse than useless; not only are there no lessons to learn, but simply knowing it and pointing it out still frequently brands one as unAmerican.

Some of you may recall how I was once castigated on these very pages for citing some of these historical antecedents to the current conflict…. Nothing like being called out by a hysterical right-wing troll and told, (and I quote):

I just pray you won’t be a history teacher. The next generation needs better than this.

(I was getting my MA in History Education at the time.)

Ahem. Fuck you, dear. I was right. Teach your kids that.

Wilkerson won’t go away

Lawrence Wilkerson clearly has decided that he doesn’t care whether or not he’s on the Administration’s Christmas card list-

In an Associated Press interview, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said President Bush was “too aloof, too distant from the details” of postwar planning. Underlings exploited Bush’s detachment and made poor decisions, Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. He said Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because “otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard.”

How about calling him all three for the trifecta?

Would it be irresponsible for me to speculate that Powell is using Wilkerson to blast back at the White House without actually having to get his name in the headlines? The AP article states explicitly the opposite

Wilkerson became a surprise critic of the Iraq war-planning effort and other administration decisions this fall, and he has said his Powell did not put him up to it.

which automatically made me think “Oh, really?”

Do you think Powell has ambitions other than retirement?

You’ve heard it said a thousand times

But I must say, honestly, I hate to see a grown man cry.

On the other hand, before you get too caught up in Duke Cunningham’s (R-Nowhere, now) tearful apology on the courthouse steps, let me remind you of some of his greatest hits.

From the Pajamas Media Hostage, David Corn:

During the House debate this week over a constitutional amendment to ban the desecration of the American flag, Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham, a California Republican and the lead sponsor of this measure, repeatedly referred to 9/11. He declared that permitting flag burning “is an insult to all those who perished in the attacks of September 11, 2001.” He also said. “Ask the men and women who stood on top of the [World] Trade Center. Ask them and they will tell you: Pass this amendment.”

I keep trying to remember this quote about patriotism and scoundrels…. Bueller? Anyone?

Hubris? We got some for you.

Cunningham has exploited this record into what one commentator calls “hero inflation” and Shakespeare’s Henry V called “remembering with advantages.” He now claims to have been a military hero deserving of the Congressional Medal of Honor (which he didn’t get), even though he acknowledges that his aerial dog-fighting had little effect on the course of the war. Cunningham has created a company called “Top Gun Enterprises” that sells lithographs of himself in his pilot’s outfit and books he has written about his navy exploits. His company’s web site, claims that the 1986 film Top Gun starring Tom Cruise was actually about Randy “Duke” Cunningham.


He has persisted in such attacks on the patriotism of Kerry, notably in an interview with Rush Limbaugh on August 17, 2004. Here’s an excerpt:

“DUKE: It’s not about Vietnam. It’s about what he did in 1971, bad-mouthing all of us, calling us war criminals. It’s his votes since he’s been in the Senate, he ran on cutting defense and intel, after the first Trade Center bombing, he tried to cut intelligence $9 billion. And it’s about who is going to protect my family, my daughters, my son, my wife in the next few years, and to me, it’s not Senator Kerry. Rush, if Senator Kerry was a Republican running, I would oppose him.

RUSH: Congressman, thanks very much for the call. It really is an honor to hear from you. I know your history and I’ve been very impressed with it, and you’re one of the guys still taking a lot of shots because of who you are in Washington. You stand up to ’em and we all appreciate it, we honor your service here. Thanks very much.

DUKE: Life is good, Rush.

RUSH: It is. That’s Duke Cunningham, congressman from California, the first fighter ace in Vietnam, five MiGs shot down.”

and, by the way, he’s an asshole:

In 1998, after Cunningham had been operated on for prostate cancer, he commented to the press that “[t]he only person who would enjoy a prostate biopsy is Barney Frank.” His fellow congressman Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, who is openly gay, replied that “Cunningham seems to be more obsessed with homosexuality than most homosexuals.”

So, yeah, see ya’, asshole.

Oh, yay us…

Now it’s Anti-American to ask that the President not plan to kill journalists with whom he doesn’t agree.

The press reaction has, of course, been one of outrage, not only on the predictably anti-American Left, but also on the supposedly Atlanticist Right. Yesterday, for example, a Tory member of Parliament and the editor of the Spectator magazine, Boris Johnson, fulminated against the attorney general’s publication ban in a Daily Telegraph column headlined, “I’ll Go to Jail To Print the Truth About Bush and Al Jazeera.” “We all hope and pray,” Mr. Johnson wrote, “that the American president was engaging in nothing more than neo-con Tourette-style babble about blowing things up.”

This is what happens when what was formerly the majority rapidly diminishes into the minority. The Neo-con mouthpieces can paint people with some knowledge of history and some well-reasoned objections to an ill-advised war as Anti-american moonbats, but what happens when the Tories are calling you and your neo-con buddies a pack of Walter Mitty Warriors with an arsenal?

You better start swimming, or surely you’ll drown, methinks…

Here it comes… I think

A tory Member of Parliament, which means he’s probably a bastard the other 364 days of the year, has offered to go to jail if that’s what it takes to get the Al Jazeera memo into the public eye.

If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. .. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for…

All he lacks is for someone to present him with a copy of the memo in question.

I suspect he is not the only one willing to take the risk. We’re gonna see that memo. And we’re going to see those awful pictures from Abu Ghraib eventually.

The question is, as the White House and the Pentagon are defining victory down, will it be after we evacuate from Iraq and declare victory or while troops are still in harm’s way?