When Bloggers Attack

A long, long time ago, BC (Before Clinton was President) I was a college student. During that time a well-respected member of the faculty was removed for reasons that were, at best, suspect. In reaction to this removal, I and several other students from the department took it upon ourselves to talk to the Dean of Student Affairs, to express our dissatisfaction with the removal, and seek some plausible explanation to help stop the swirling rumors. None was forthcoming, which merely compounded the anger and dismay.

Despite our good faith efforts to peacefully and politely express our opinion, pressure was put on the faculty of the department to shut us up. This, along with statements I and other students made in the school paper made many members of the faculty angry…at us. In the midst of the emotion and drama that almost always follows issues that one feels passionate about, one faculty member asked me, “We know what you’re against, but what do you stand for?”

Well, that shut me up for a while, but it didn’t, ultimately, solve the problem. To this day, I do not really know what happened or why. From time to time I think about this event, now some 16 years later, and wonder both how we as concerned students could have acted more effectively and how the administration could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by proactively communicating to us at least some of the issues of concern so we could better understand and inform ourselves.

Once again, this question, “We know what you’re against, but what do you stand for?””, has come up to the blogging community. The question gets asked a lot by people who end up on the wrong side of bloggers, the intent often being more about “getting the hell off my lawn” than anything truly constructive. It takes on certain significance, particularly in the wake of the fairly recent criticism of the TNDP and losses that spawned that criticism. So maybe, just maybe it’s time to clarify some things.

First, there are some things you should know about me. I don’t do this because I’m paid to do it. In fact, I don’t even have advertising of any kind on my blog. Truth is, most TN bloggers don’t make a dime off their blogs. This is due to laziness on my part, and that I want to keep my “loves” separate from a “job”. I tried to “monetize” my love of performing music throughout the early 90’s and burned myself out. Making this a job is not something I’m interested in at this point.

Secondly, I truly want what is best for the people of our nation, state, counties and cities. My worldview may be further to the left than most in the state, but that doesn’t change the reality that when I write something about policy, I’m thinking about the political ramifications and the personal ramifications that will touch all the citizens of those respective jurisdictions.

Third, and most importantly, I work with the best information I have available, but sometimes that information doesn’t reach the standard that I would like. As newspapers pull back coverage and lay off reporters, and broadcast media becomes more like Extra!, focusing on the more sensational aspects of politics than the steady and staid Evening News with Walter Cronkite, getting good and accurate information about what is going on anywhere other than national politics is getting harder. This is a bad thing for Tennessee and every other state outside of the top 20 media markets.

Finally, I am not a journalist. I’ve never claimed to be. I’m a guy with enough time to bang out 3-4 posts on a good week with a lot of passion and a great deal of interest in politics. Saying this is my passion understates the reality. I read upwards of 500 posts and news articles a day. For me, this is an obsession.

Now, I can’t really speak for anyone else, because they would probably snatch my head off my neck and use it to bowl a 37, but speaking for myself, I can say with no reservations that much of my criticism of Democratic politicians and institutions is rooted in the frustration that comes from said politicians and institutions doing generally dumb or lazy things, such as; voting against long-held Democratic ideals, using Right-Wing talking points under the guise of conventional wisdom, calling our Presidential Candidate a terrorist, (as some elected Democratic officials and their surrogates chose to do earlier this year). Let it be known, that people who call themselves Democrats and do these kinds of stupid things will incur my wrath, and the wrath of others…you don’t get rewarded for stupid.

At the same time, I’m not looking for a fight with Democrats, I want to affirm Democrats and Democratic principles and discredit Republicans, which isn’t that hard because they damn near do it for me. I want to react to the “Press Release Pornography” (I’ve never seen someone exploit a press release quite like him) that Bill Hobbs engages in. But when Mr. Hobbs lets loose one of his ridiculous screeds and I hear nothing from the Democratic establishment, I wonder if anyone is listening, and that’s frustrating.

Further, when I don’t hear anything from anyone in the Democratic establishment for months on end, even though there’s a lot going on (like an election), questions of competence invariably come up, leading to a general belief that members of the establishment are coasting and all the other things that make people frustrated when they are feeling ill served by people who are supposed to be representing their views, even if that’s in the broadest sense of the word.

The key thing to take away from this is that old quote by Benjamin Franklin, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The prevention is basic communication. I don’t want to be catered to, I want to know that I’m not living in a vacuum. I want to know that elected officials and party organizations are paying attention and proactively working to defend against Republican attacks on our values, and move the ball down the field with our values.

So, there you have it. It’s really quite simple. There are times when we (me or the “lefty blogosphere” and members of the Democratic Party Establishment) will agree, and there are times we won’t, but that’s not a reason to not communicate. If anything it’s more of a reason TO communicate. Communication will help get us past some of the miscues and misunderstandings. Communication will ensure that the message reaches more people. Communication, not just with bloggers and activist, but with regular constituents, is how we win in 2010.

Thanks, and Happy New Year.

0 Replies to “When Bloggers Attack”

  1. You are so well-intentioned. When you played out, what was your axe? “Actively working” would have been precise. I just hate the neologism “proactive,” is all.

    P.S.: I seem to be the only one talking straight to Bill Hobbs. He lets me and even has me on his blogroll out of what can only be respect. I’d appreciate some help fighting these so-called “pro-lifers,” but I ain’t gittin’ it. Whassup widdat? Look on his Facebook for the latest example.

    1. I played Trumpet in several small regional orchestras while in college, and also had a Brass Quintet that did some things here and there. After school, I continued to play with these groups, started playing bass in some local bands, and writing music for theater, the money for which, dried up when the NEA money got cut by the Republicans in the mid-90’s. By then it had become more of a hobby by necessity.

      As for Mr. Hobbs, you’re right I haven’t gone after him. Many others throughout the state have. This will change as the Ledge comes into session.

  2. In my oh so HUMBLE opinion, you cannot let these herd animals congregate and moo up their stupid shit unchallenged. Their confidence in their parroted opinions can be shaken through shaming of their Rush Limbaugh idiocies. They typically are so far from being the sharpest tools in the shed that a good shaming can succeed in shutting their stupid asses up. And whether the General Assembly is in session is irrelevant to that process; and waiting till they can pass stupid legislation is just wrong, Steve-O. So get with it for real, party man. You write Sears Catalogs several times a week. Just listen to me for a while, OK?

  3. “We know what you’re against, but what do you stand for?”

    Don’t frustrate yourself trying to answer this question. It’s bogus. It’s a trap. It’s intended to drive you nuts while you attempt to answer it, because your answer will never satisfy the questioner. It’s kind of like the child who keeps saying, “I know you are but what am I?”

    It’s also intended to subtly frame you as a unpatriotic — or its cointextual equivalent.

    And, of course, it directs discussion away from the questioner’s own deficiencies and failings, which you have apparently discovered and called to everyone’s attention.

    Don’t let them get away with this tripe. Keep the focus on their shortcomings, not your “implied” ones.

    1. You’re absolutely right. Asking this is a “get off my lawn” moment more than a real question.

      The whole point of this post was in response to some Dem pols who are pissed at some of us for calling them out. Just like I told them personally…”Don’t do anything stupid and I won’t call you stupid”.

      I’m way past the point of looking for validation in the eyes of people who don’t give two shits about me. I make my own validation.

      Thanks for commenting, and keep up the good work, I really appreciate what you bring to the conversation.

  4. “I can say with no reservations that much of my criticism of Democratic politicians and institutions is rooted in the frustration that comes from said politicians and institutions doing generally dumb or lazy things, such as; voting against long-held Democratic ideals, using Right-Wing talking points under the guise of conventional wisdom, calling our Presidential Candidate a terrorist, (as some elected Democratic officials and their surrogates chose to do earlier this year). Let it be known, that people who call themselves Democrats and do these kinds of stupid things will incur my wrath, and the wrath of others…you don’t get rewarded for stupid.”

    Ahhh, basking in the passion of a fellow Liberal that refuses to keep silent about the shortcomings of his own choice of party.

    If you feel the need to explain yourself, I can dig it.
    Fact is, you owe NO ONE an explanation.
    You vote for these people, you have the unalienable right to demand that they act like the person you thought you were voting for.
    I’m beginning to think that there are no real Democratic politicians in TN. It seems that Steve Cohen and Chris Lugo are the only ones who care about anything or anyone beyond themselves and their social “status”.
    The rest are just Republican Lite and it’s an infuriating disgrace.

    Just a few from the jellyspine list:

    Davis, Cooper, Tanner, Gordon, Bredesen, Ford Jr….many, many others.
    What they do is not aimed at bringing about a better, more Democratic way. It’s aimed at not pissing off Republicans. The first priority is to those who do the harm, not those who want to fix it. THATS the TNDP as it is. Centrist bend-overs for Right Wing corporate power base.

    I feel ya, man. But if the “stupidity”, of which you so eloquently speak, is to ever end we have to rebuild not only the TNDP, but the vision it has (or hasn’t) as well.
    Our agenda must be laid out clearly and then, we have to elect leaders who will not compromise on it.
    Change does not come when we demand 100% then settle for 49% “in the name of bi-partisanship”.

    Keep up the great work, vib.

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