Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Delawareliberal misses the point; or, piranha swarm but do not think

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which my friends at Delawareliberal will travel to defend an untenable position.

In lampooning their continued harping on conservative political views as providing cover for rightwing political violence, as I did yesterday with a brief post about a crafting organization in Colorado called the Handmade Militia, I was trying to make a point that most readers here got, but they somehow ... missed:

Quoth DelawareDem:

Steve, maybe I missed a post of Cassandra’s, but I don’t think she was concerned about the existence or use of the word “militia.” Rather, the intent behind dangerous right wing extremists in forming “militias” to perform another Oklahoma City Bombing as a means of protest, yeah, that is what concerns us.

And, of course, cassandra was quick to play the wronged virgin:

Thank you, DD. I stopped trying to fix the misreadings of my posts a long time ago. But there is in his post a great example of what I was pointing out — the need bolster victim-cred by any means necessary.

Folks who read my posts in good faith would know that what I care about [is] having law enforcement watch are folks like this or even these guys [original includes links to extremist groups].

Which Steve does know — he was just looking to launch another couple of thousand words in our direction.

Which is bullshit in so many ways that the mind boggles.

Not only cassandra, but the majority of Delawareliberal posters have been advancing the meme for weeks now (in slavish, wannabe imitation of liberal bloggers around the nation) not that law enforcement should be watching extremist groups, but that by advancing specific political positions more conservative than theirs, and by not "calling out" skinheads, Christian identity groups, and militia nuts on tweeter on demand, that anyone not a Democrat is using bullying language and tacitly condoning violence.


This kind of violent rhetoric is exactly the refuge of the worst of the current wingnuts and exactly why they got their outrage on over the DHS report. You can’t protect your own bullying and violent speech without having to cover for the terrorists in your midst too.


Last week’s manufactured outrage over the DHS Threat Assessments deserves abit more information — especially as the remarkable dishonesty around all of this is being used to not just work the refs but to also try to normalize the violent rhetoric that they so like bullying people with.

Note that none of this rhetoric has to do with the legitimacy of law enforcement tracking violent extremist groups [which nobody has actually ever challenged, but you wouldn't know it by reading cassandra], but is centered around the idea that people are outraged by the various skewed law enforcement reports because their political positions and criticisms of current policies are fueling extremism.

jason and nemski:

Both characterized the socially conservative ResistNet as a potentially violent extremist group that should be watched by DHS, despite the fact that absolutely nothing in their published materials or in any media coverage of them suggests any violent intent whatever. Nemski's response? At one point they said, "Keep your powder dry." That's it. To jason and nemski that phrase from a group that specifically advocates peaceful and respectful political dissent converts them into a violent extremist group.


Took a story out of Florida about the hopeless botched arrest of a wife-beating psychotic (who, known to be armed, two deputies attempted to apprehend in the parking lot of a firing range with only a Tazer, and were shot to death because they didn't think to (a) call for back-up or (b) have their own weapons drawn when the subject proved to be "uncooperative"), and turned it into a post about another lunatic Right Wing Cop Killing Nutjob, based on the fact that there is one quote in the original story (to which he did not link) about the guy having said something delusional about Obama and gun confiscation. [You know what the slug was atop the original story? Here it is: Shooting deaths: 'None of it makes sense'--A day after two deputies died in Crestview, an offense report filed against the gunman reveals he was angry Saturday about a missing tube of Clearasil.]


Posted about the rise of extremist groups as tracked by the US government and Southern Poverty Law Center, with the clear implication that we are seeing a dramatic upsurge in rightwing extremism without mentioning the fact that one major driving dynamic behind SPLC's stats is the rise of black separatist groups, which were lumped into the statistics with neo-nazis, skinheads, and militia groups.

If (God forbid!) your sole source of news was Delawareliberal, you would not know that the DHS report upon which they are all basing their fervid, unthinking attacks was:

A) Criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union

B) Criticized by the Boston Globe

C) Criticized by DHS' own internal office of civil rights

D) Criticized by veterans' groups around the country

... and apologized for by the Secretary of Homeland Security as containing inappropriate language.

Which would generally have been enough to convince most objective observers that there was something wrong with the way the report approached its subject matter, and not that there is anything wrong with law enforcement actually tracking demonstrably violent extremists.

Here's the unpleasant fact of the day for the bloggers at DL: Didn't you ever wonder why the Delaware Democratic Party tends not to pick up most of your memes and narratives? Why jason's self-congratulatory post about El Somnambulo's overblown series of faux-insider looks at upcoming State-wide political races is really not the buzz of the Delaware political world?

You live in a State that has essentially had one-party rule for nearly 16 years, and which is demonstably no better off in political or economic terms than any other State in the country.

For which your prescription is: more Democrats, more Statism, more of the same (but with large pay-outs to unions, UD, and select State agencies that send large proportions of their retirees to the General Assembly).

Frankly, if anybody wants to read an actual progressive voice in a Delaware blog, they'd have to go here.


downwithabsolutes said...

It is my humble estimation that Delaware Liberal has become what some of us on the left raged against for years. They've become the Malkins, the Hannitys, the Coulters, and the O'Reillys. They've achieved the power the craved for eight years and they're using it as a bully pulpit to misrepresent the words of others, as DD and cassandra did in your case, Steve. It's so obvious that the echoes are so loud over there that they're drowning out any other voices of reason.

Tyler Nixon said...

I just saw this quote from pandora (I still like you, pan!) in what was (surprisingly) a fairly-constructive post of advice to conservative R's (but also righteously noted as likely to fall on deaf ears given the hardcore fundie/neo-con element that has had so much destructive free reign in the GOP) :

"There’s a lesson here: Control your fringe - Even if that means losing votes."I can't think of better advice for that blog to heed, or perhaps their party to heed about them.

They should enjoy their sore winner triumphalism while they can because nothing lasts forever, and the cycle of turnover grows ever shorter in this hyper information era.

Hube said...

Bravo, Steve.

They're hardly worth the effort anymore, but you did so perfectly applause is required.

Anonymous said...

Funny how Mike Matthews feels this way now after his own attempt to be Delaware's Rush Limbaugh on DTR crashed and burned. Nobody misses his daily spam comments on Delaware Liberal begging and pleading for people to listen, call-in, or be on his "radio show." Of course, DTR never offered to actually pay for an ad on DL, they just let Matthews repeatedly spam the comments section.

But, as the saying goes, never let a good deed go unpunished, right Mike?

Steve, interesting how you move from your issue with several DL posters regarding the infamous DHS memo and then on to trash 'Bulo's very entertaining series.

Who cares if 'Bulos narrative is really not the buzz of the Delaware political world? A lot of people read it and liked it - your personal standard not withstanding. Mike Matthews - a person who accused VP Biden of bribery - used the 'Bulo outing in the his comment section only to try to boost his own inflated sense of self and got pwnd again in the process.

And Steve - "cassandra was quick to play the wronged virgin" - more than a bit sexist, don't you think? Or are you playing the "White Knight" coming to rescue the damsel from impure thoughts?

Finally, regardless of whether or not piranhas think, you have to admit that they are effective at what they do.


Hube said...

you have to admit that they are effective at what they do. And that is ...?

Anonymous said...

Tyler wrote:

"'There’s a lesson here: Control your fringe - Even if that means losing votes.' I can't think of better advice for that blog to heed, or perhaps their party to heed about them."

How interesting - a "Libertarian" preaching that fringe groups (thoughts? writings? speech?) should be controlled. And how does one, particularly a so-called "Libertarian," propose that the "fringe" be controlled?

Throughout history, virtually all progressive movement towards improved human rights and freedom have started from the "fringe," including the founding of this country. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised when a republican politician speaks out in favor of controlling the "fringe."


Steven H. Newton said...

You miss my point about the ES story (and I admit it could have been phrased better): I am making the meta-point that their stridency both (a) marginalizes much of what they say within DE politics and (b) jason's boisterous and ridiculous claim that the ES material made politicians "pee their pants" is self-serving, delusional hyperbole.

Probably fewer than 1,000 people (that's a generous estimate) even read the whole series, and it certainly doesn't seem to have generated tremendous buzz in political circles.

As for being "good at what they do," what they do is drive traffic to their blog at the point in pretty much the same fashion that Jerry Springer drives traffic to watch the faked fights between fat people with tatoos in his studio.

As for cassandra and the "wounded virgin" comment: she has made a specific point of fallaciously accusing me of distorting her posts (usually when I was quoting them in full), has failed to respond to substantive criticisms of her positions, and the best she can do is claim that she has stopped responding because folks who read me in good faith will understand her true intent? If that's not a fainting toward the couch Scarlett O'Hara moment, I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

If you don't know what a swarm of piranhas does, Hube, you can look it up.


Tyler Nixon said...

Given anonone's usual reading comprehension failure I am not going to bother addressing the pompous comment flowing therefrom.

I will say it seems evident that in anononeworld when you quote someone else it somehow becomes your own thought, into which he/she/it can add as much meaning as her/his/its delusions can conjure.

Interesting there is no anonone response to pandora's "control your fringe" comment over where it was posted on Delaware Liberal.

This should be standard tagline for it/him/her (anonone) : "WARNING : BRINGS NOTHING TO THE TABLE"

Tyler Nixon said...

On a complete side note, anyone have an idea why blogger suddenly began screwing up all html tags, such that they eliminate any paragraph or space between the tagged text and the subsequent text?

Goddamn Blogger. Steve, We need to get moving on a move to Wordpress or something else. This platform just plain sucks.

Hube said...

If you don't know what a swarm of piranhas does, Hube, you can look it up.Ah. So that's what DL does best? They should be so "proud."

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the clarification.

If cassandra and you are having a difference of opinions on whatever, have at it. But why go from there to trashing Delaware Liberal in general? The patchwork quilt of opinions that is Delaware Liberal is greater than any of its particular squares.

Some posts are exactly like Jerry Springer show; others are more serious and nuanced. So what? Your blog has a similar range of expression, albeit in a different style. What you call "self-serving, delusional hyperbole" can be pretty entertaining regardless of how you label it.

Rush Limbaugh, hate him or love him, has had an undeniably successful and influential career. There is nobody on the left with his audience and he has achieved that using a lot of "self-serving, delusional hyperbole." He is an entertainer with a message. Too often, Liberals offer only the message, and think that the entertainment part is unnecessary.

If people read DL mostly for entertainment, they'll still get the serious commentary, too. If DL was just about serious commentary, nobody would read it.


Anonymous said...

Of course you won't respond, Tyler, because you can't support such an oppressive idea. It isn't about reading comprehension; anybody can read clearly that you "can't think of better advice" than controlling "your fringe."

Your silly and oft-used tactic of ducking debate by replying "I can't respond because the dense reader doesn't understand what I was trying to say" shows that you are either unable to express your thoughts clearly or your positions are unsupportable. It is more often the later than the former.

The paragraph that you wrote (and that I quoted in full) is pretty unambiguous in its meaning.

If you "can't think of better advice" for a blog or a political party than to "control your fringe," than you need to do some more thinking. A lot more.


pandora said...

I can't believe I'm opening myself up to this, but, here goes...

I do believe political parties have to control their fringe. That said, the fringe of any party serves a vital purpose - usually by reminding the party of their base values and making enough noise to move SOME of those issues up into the mainstream.

The problem arises when the fringe takes over the party, as in - only 21% now identify themselves as Republicans.

Blogs, by nature, are the fringe. I don't harbor any secret desire to be called a journalist. I write about what interests me, and will admit that my style tends to be more emotional.

Which brings us to the DHS report. I am going to try and explain where I'm coming from with this - which actually doesn't have as much to do with the report as it does with my response to it.

Steve, I get what you're saying in regards to the big picture, and I'm fine with changing the wording of the report. What I'm not fine with is giving a pass to the few individuals who deserve everything said about them in that report. I will not allow them to feel safe because they were clever enough hide among certain parts of a mainstream ideology.

So, if we can agree that you're looking at the big picture and the effect this report has in relation to the past and what may come of it in the future (if we can't agree, you might as well stop reading now) then we can move onto where I'm at - which is firmly in the present.

Every time Obama walks a crowd line I hold my breath. And while I knew the dangers of electing the first black President I honestly wasn't prepared to hear words and phrases I haven't heard since I was a child in the sixties. True, I knew the "fringe" of society would go nuts, but never did I expect their voices to percolate up into major news outlets; to watch people like Beck and Rush, etc. actively court and encourage this element.

The fact that I can draw upon history (JFK, RFK, MLK) to justify my fears offers no comfort. I just can't mock it, and I also can't discuss it outside of how it applies to the "now."

To you, that may be my fatal flaw, but it's as honest as I can be. I don't claim to be objective, and my posts on this don't pretend to be.

Boy, this comment is really long, and I probably could have written this up as a post on DL, but since you wrote the post, I think it's only right that I answer you on your blog.

Now, go ahead, and destroy me and the heart swinging from my sleeve!

Steven H. Newton said...

If I have an issue with cassandra? Did you actually read the post? I cited cassandra, nemski, jason, donviti, and pandora to make the point that it has been almost all of them pursuing this strategy. And there has been no serious disagreement between them, even with regard to nuances. Worse, you can take their rhetoric, toss large chunks of it into your Google search bar, and hit the talking points of liberal blogs all over the country. No original thought there.

As for trashing DL--a charge raised by you, who feels quite comfortable trashing other political parties than your own as morally equivalent to the Nazis--the entire point of the post was that none of them gets it or, perhaps even worse, all of them do.

Steven H. Newton said...

Let's assume for the moment that Colin Powell had become the first African-American president as a GOP nominee in 2000 (possible, but I'm not going to bother working up a scenario)....

Two observations follow:

1) Most if not all of the same skinhead, neo-Nazi, and Christian identity wackjobs would still be out there dreaming of blowing away the black guy.... But (as we have seen with Clarence Thomas)....

2) He would have been subjected to virtually the same sort of demonizing speech on the far left as Obama has received from the far right. You say that political parties control their fringes; I disagree completely, and I challenge your definition of fringe.

Did the left control people who for years railed about Justice Thomas, or Condy Rice, or Colin Powell not being "real" African-Americans? Has the left taken in hand the issue of the 113 potentially violent black separatist groups reported to have sprung up within the past 5 years by SPLC? Have the Democrats disowned the violent rhetoric of the New Black Panther Party? Did Barack Obama distance himself from anti-gay activists in California during the Prop 8 battle? Has the Delaware Democratic Party distanced itself from the politicians who have perenially kept sexual orientation legislation from passing, or the Democrats who sponsor anti-gay marriage amendments?

As for fringe, let's take a look. Let's assume about 47% of the voters did not vote for Obama. Gee, if you are arguing only a 21% self-ID as GOPers, that means that the majority of people who did not vote for Obama were either Democrats or Independents. It also means that you have moved fringe from violent extremist back to social conservative, because at even 21% of registered voters, your fringe is somewhere in the range of 30-50 million people.

What's happening here is the redefinition of "minority" (in a political, not an ethnic sense) into "fringe." This is significant because minority viewpoints have to be respected and countered in the American political system, but those defined as fringe can be discounted, lampooned, or ignored with total and pious impunity.

So either you are arguing that tens of millions of your fellow Americans are not to be trusted or listened to when their beliefs deviate from yours, or you are saying, we won, get over it, no reason to keep debating policy because we can do what the hell we want and we expect you to like it.

As for that concern in the pit of your stomach for President Obama in crowds, I don't share it, but probably not for the reason you'd suspect. I look at it this way: becoming the most powerful individual on Earth has its trade-offs in risk and reward. Obama actively used his ground-breaking status to pursue the Presidency, and he has the same dedicated staff of people willing to die to keep him alive that every other president has enjoyed. Nor is he inherently any more special as a human being than (a) any other president or (b) any teenager who will be shot in Philadelphia this weekend.

Anonymous said...


I am surprised that you repeated the idea that "political parties have to control their fringe." Even upon a moment of reflection, it is clear that such an approach is the antithesis of nurturing free expression of ideas within a political party.

Who represents the "fringe" that should be controlled in the republican party? Sarah Palin supporters? Ron Paul supporters? John McCain supporters? Mike Castle? RSmitty? Tyler Nixon?

And on the Democratic side, who represents the "fringe" that should be controlled?
Russ Feingold supporters? Robert Casey supporters? Evan Bayh supporters? Tom Carper? Ben Nelson? Jessie Jackson? Jason330?

My point here is that one person's "fringe" is another person's deeply held or even principled position. Furthermore, political parties have multiple fringes. I could argue that the republicans have controlled their liberal "fringe" quite successfully - it just isn't the same group that you consider as "fringe."

Next, how does a political party "control" their "fringe"? Kicking them out? Censoring them? Returning donations? Denying them a vote? Questioning their patriotism?

So, which "fringe" of the Democratic party do you think should be "controlled" and how do you propose doing it?

The republican party has overwhelming supported its leaders and their policies for the last 30 years. They like who they are. The only thing that could possible save them from political obscurity is the emergence of national leaders from the fringes of the party that they have tried desperately to control, so I don't see that happening any time soon.


Anonymous said...


Your right, I shouldn't have just singled out cassandra_m as you did discuss other bloggers. I did because it appeared like cassandra_m were
having an argument using each other's names.

My point, which still stands, is that "the patchwork quilt of opinions that is Delaware Liberal is greater than any of its particular squares."

I don't trash "other political parties than [my] own as morally equivalent to the Nazis." I trash only the republicans as such.

And please let me know when Delaware Liberal becomes a political party with membership and a party platform. When that happens, feel free to paint them with a broad brush. But DL is not responsible for 16 years of mediocre government in Delaware; and Delaware is demonstrably better off in political and economic terms than many other states in the country.

I don't think that everyone who writes or comments at DL agrees with everybody or anybody on all the issues any more than they do here.


Tyler Nixon said...

Yes, anonone is dense in reading comprehension. Please anyone chime in if they think that anonone characterized my statement accurately...or if they took away anything close to the breathless umbrage of anonone.

My point was that the absurd advice of "controlling your fringe" should be heeded from whence it emanated, before being suggested "across the aisle", so to speak.

I never advocated controlling "fringe groups" much less their
'speech, writings, thoughts', nor would I ever. That is anonone's typical exaggerated distortion.

Excessively-distorting (butchering, really) others' words to inflate them far beyond anything close to what they meant in order to generalize them into ideology to then squeal about it, drawing its/her/his wacky conclusions/accusations, is anonone's favorite tact and really all anonone brings to the table...which means it/he/she brings nothing.

There is no debate better to anonone than the imaginary one in its/her/his head.

Anonymous said...


I am glad to see that your advice that Delaware Liberal or the Democratic party should control their "fringe" has moved from the best advice you can think of to "absurd."

That's pretty much how I felt about it.


Tyler Nixon said...


You got your troubles. I got mine.

a most peculiar nature said...

What is the definition of "fringe"?

We attended the Tax Day Tea Party in Wilmington. Are we fringe?

My significant other carried an American flag that was upside down (signifying distress). Is he "fringe"?

A friend carried a Gadsden flag. Is he "fringe"?

Another friend wore a shirt that read, "To be born free is an accident. To live free is a right. To die free is an obligation". Is he "fringe"?

I wore a jacket patch that read, "I refuse to allow my civil servant to control my life." Am I "fringe"?

Two of us were Ron Paul supporters. Rut Row !

All of these individuals, in no particular order are an Information Services Director, Welder, a biologist for DuPont, and a GM employee. All are middle-class blue collar or professionals. And all have some of the most boring, mundane lives in the world. Mostly, we just want to be left alone. We don't belong to any group or organization.

Yet all of us would probably be classified in some way in the DHS report as being "dangerous", when we only in fact care about our country and the direction it is going.

If we are "fringe", then I am proud to be counted as one of them.

Tyler Nixon said...

Amen, sister. Testify!