You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much as I normally do. There are many reasons for this. Most of all was the climate of the country this summer, the rest was simply trying to improve the site, especially against the backdrop of how little it nets.
Soapblox is, after all, mostly a labor of love. If you like what we do here, your donations are always appreciated (see side panel) and I will put you on the donation wall if you would like (so far nobody has asked to be there) and if you would like the opposite, all transactions are with PayPal and I would never ruin my good name by violating the CAN SPAM Act of 2003. Yet, what you give will help our site grow and expand to include more writers, more frequent articles, more topics and a better visitor experience.
I have been working on adding an Entertainment section to Soapblox. It has always been my goal to make this place more of a news magazine format, with many angles covered, even sports some day (which is a no-brainier for me). I know we live in a world of concentrated fetishism on the web, though this has led to things becoming isolated and weird. For instance, sports coverage leans so conservative while entertainment just leans into tabloid sleaze. That is exactly why I intend to add entertainment coverage from a Progressive point of view. Despite all the myths of Liberal Hollywood, there really isn’t any intelligent analysis on movies and entertainment that is told from a anyone who would stand up and be counted as a Center-Left reviewer. No they fall into the corporate idea that being bland appeals to more people. Most of what is out there is junk food for the brain, filler, fallow (points if you know the movie reference I am using). Even better, I found a film-school grad who shares our rational values, and is living in the real world of college loans and severe income inequality. I will roll this out soon. Expect to meet our new writer: Justin Marcus, in the next week!
I have several articles ready to launch as well, including a big one for the 2 year anniversary of the Occupy Movement and one about wages and the fight to increase the minimum wage. I am also rolling out two new sections, the Essential Reading section, which are great articles from around the web that I found to be the cream of the crop that impact the Progressive Movement, and the “Know Thy Enemy” section, which has already launched, yet will feature a full-debunking of the conservative argument complex, which is essentially a beast of spoon fed lies that can sort of pass for truths from a think-tank in Washington. This will involve the full debunking of logical fallacies, that conservatives rely on as their lifeblood in the world of argument. This will further allow Progressives and Liberals to better combat the mysterious “facts” that conservatives mysteriously pull out of their ass in an argument. If you know thy Enemy, including empathy, only then can you truly destroy what they stand for. In the case of this radical right-wing conservatism, that is exactly what needs to happen.
Finally, I wanted to talk about the disillusion I encountered this summer. While I could blame it all on being busy, which I certainly was, the truth is that I have to be firing on all 6 cylinders to keep Soapblox active. I originally had planned to enlist help and did, though it comes and goes, and at some point, you stop asking for help.
I should say, that I am excepting stories if you would like them to be published and I think it is inline with the views of the Soapblox principles of telling the truth (correcting it if it is wrong), trying to be non-partisan (or should I say, capable of criticizing either party and rising above the fray of the day to day nonsense), and citing your sources. Opinions are always welcome, yet if you make a bold statement, you had better back it up. I hope you will make bold statements with citations because that is what we do here.
The Summer of Discontent
To explain the name, all you need to see is this list of headlines from the summer. It sucked in a way that was especially awful.
This summer was a difficult one for me politically. I had no doubt that Obama would survive his scandals, since one of them was BS (Benghazi), another was an attack on the media (which is even more unpopular than the Republicans, or was before the Shutdown) and the NSA scandals were a FUBAR mess that almost seemed like the grandiose statements of a Libertarian Ron Paul supporter who had severe fantasies about the information he was able to access, even if a good handful of the fantasies turned out to be too close for comfort for an agency, the NSA, that has never had to answer to the public.
It was that last story that troubled me the most. I care about the media’s free speech but history seemed to prove that things would be OK. The courts tend to side with the media, though often later and quietly so that the media can’t score points like Watergate (even though Nixon went down with the same strategy and same laws in place that every other President also had in place, so sorry kids, maybe when you find the next Watergate, We’ll care). Yet this time, they had Edward Snowden, the low-level contractor with a story full of holes and a computer full of documents that he handed to Guardian stalwart, and a person I once admired, Glen Greenwald. who promptly posted story after story using these documents to attack the US Government in every way and align himself with Wiki-Leaks Adrian Assange and even Putin’s Russia.
Let me state, for the record, that I detest the Patriot Act. I was opposed to it from the first moment it was proposed. I was once proud to be socially libertarian, though the Tea Party has really just turned that buzz word into a corporate take-out hut for tax cuts and deregulation, so I would not say that today. While I like Obama and support his efforts against the Radical Right, I do not elevate him beyond other politicians. So this was a pickle.
However Snowden was also a troublesome character. I had a friend in Academia put forward a theory that he was a plant by the government because he made them look stronger than they actually were and ultimately offered nothing but fear. I also found his pole-dancing girlfriend bit a little unusual. No offense to the Snowdon, but even girls I didn’t love deserved a proper goodbye, but I bet he did it to protect her. Even if she still ended up in media hell because of him? What a hero!
More still, if he loved Iceland for its protection and wanted to end up there, why didn’t he go to Iceland, instead of China and Russia? Hmmm. Many things to ponder. I also looked at the documents and they seemed a little inconclusive to the statements being made. If the NSA denied it, and could prove it, yet they didn’t and they never do. Is it because revealing all that info will reveal other secrets? Or perhaps reveal that there really are no secrets? Probably the later, though that can hurt security and morale too.
Sometimes the Boogey-Man helps kids go to sleep, Jack-the-Ripper helps young women stay home, instead of in bars, and generic terrorist keeps your tax dollars pumping into the Military Industrial Complex.
Even still, I came down against Snowden, much to the peril of my friends, allies and even family. I saw just how personal this battle had become. Yet to me it was practical. I don’t support Democrats and Obama with glee. I have no love for any politician. They are a means to an end. Allowing Tea Baggers to make cheap shots on Obama and damage the causes of a Progressive like me is what I cared about. Especially when they mostly kept their mouths shut when I was protesting the Patriot Act and the Iraq War! Hmmm.
Yet many to the left fell for that crap, even many of my friends and family. Suddenly, “Libertarians” were allies again, because they wanted to legalize pot (supposedly) and stop the wars (supposedly), though they were always pro-life, anti-civil-rights and pro-liberty for corporations to do WHATEVER they want. Even go Monsonto and poison food and water supplies to make a profit.
It was a tough time for me. I wrote an article called “The Falcon and the Snowden” (TM). It was a 12 page expose on Snowden. I analyzed his unusual activity, the levels of access that he claimed he had even when senior CIA officials said that was impossible for a person of his low status. He was a military discharge, a CIA security guard, a guy looking for an angle in his life. I analyzed Russia and its continuing Pussy Riot fiasco with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (who threw the free speech advocates in jail). It was the longest report I wrote since my grad papers and I write… a lot!
Then my computer and hard drive crashed and I actually lost the article. Despite all the precautions, the damn thing didn’t exist. I spent weeks trying to recover it with every data recovery tool I could find. I looked into hiring a specialist but even then it sounded hopeless and expensive. It was one of those odd cases where everything failed, even the fail safe to stunning failures (like the movie Fail Safe).
I got pretty depressed after that and lost my will to write. When you write 12 pages and they disappear, it hurts in a unique way. It hurts even more when you realize it is an article that would probably not be well received anyway. So I took it as a sign and called it a day. That meant, time off from Soapblox which means an extra hour between my other 2 jobs.
Meanwhile, for a moment, it seemed like the Republicans could rebuild a movement that through compromise could tear away social liberals by simply opposing war (since so many of us hated the Iraq War) and by opposing the Patriot Act (since so many of us hated the Patriot Act). I thought, well at least the phony libertarians will be called out and they can get the Patriot Act revoked. Instead, I ended up waiting for absolutely NOTHING to happen.
Then the Syria conflict happened. Even guys like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher were jumping ship on principle. Both of whom I admire greatly.
Now I sincerely felt alone. I am actually no fan of John Kerry, our new Secretary of State, thanks to John McCain crying about Benghazi (the cons got their way). I need to confess something though. I am not a pacifist. War is rarely the answer, though when it is, you need to come to the table with fully loaded automatics, drones, heavily armed carriers and planes that can take off in Florida and bomb any target in the world. Sometimes weakness (from leadership or people), for or against, can lead to you backing into a war. Obama drew the line at the international Chemical Weapons Convention, which the US and Russia signed in the ’90s, but Syria did not. A statement they clearly backed as they gassed their own people and children.
Yet even moderates were backing away. Obama decided to take the case for a limited strike to the public, unlike Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or many of the other conflicts. So why was Obama going to the people? Perhaps he was stalling. In either case, this was NOT IRAQ.
Then suddenly it all started to make sense. Putin, head of Russia, Syria’s unofficial protectorate, offered a peace plan that would eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. Sure, it wouldn’t stop the civil war but since America wasn’t willing to even cripple Assad’s Air Force (like we did Saddam Hussain’s for gassing his own people), as they clearly stated in polls, it’s better than nothing. Liberals and the Tea Baggers gave the credit to Putin, just to spite Obama, even though the evidence suggests that this was the endgame on a long, drawn out strategy with Russia. Putin’s cronies nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Was it any surprise that he lost?
Obama didn’t get any of the credit, yet he had other things to worry about: The pointless holdover from World War 1, the debt ceiling. This is essentially an antiquated approval mechanism for signing off on bills already spent. Republicans turned it into their own Waterloo.
While the scandals went away and made no significant impact on anything, the Republicans had the Government Shutdown card to force their un-elected will on the American people. So why not? They claimed the American people were on their side, even if the polls completely suggested otherwise.
Then, quite suddenly, the realities of politics came to the fore. There was no organized effort to court the Left, it was just a disinformation campaign as always, from the Fox Populi. As rank and file idiots ridiculed anyone who disagreed with their radical idea of monarchist capitalism as socialist, communist wacko insanity.Weeks later they were attacking moderates for being radical Leftists and preparing for the big battle with Obamacare, preparing the path for shutting down the government.
As we now see polls that suggest the Republican brand is failing, the GOP leadership must be staring into the abyss, seeing the victories that might have been had they been capable of mustering up good leadership.
All that reset with Government Shutdown and today the confusing summer of discontent is just another footnote in history, like Mitt Romney. All the jockeying and political gamesmanship of the summer are now dead an buried, replaced with the trajectory of the Republicans own Autopsy once more.
Today we live in a vastly different world. Even notorious Libertarians (or so they once claimed) South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone mocked Snowden so hard, I couldn’t find a story to represent it for this article (since it wa, yet another reason that we need smart entertainment coverage. While they mocked Alec Baldwin too, they indirectly showed infamous villain of the show, Eric Cartman as a Snowden replacement, who in the end was crying about how he was a whistle-blower he should be super coo, even though he now has to hide out in Russia.