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The Morning Grumpy – 3/7/2012

Filed under: Morning Grumpy

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Would a republican consider you to be a slut? Take the quiz and find out!

2. Yesterday, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Director of Research and Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, 21st Century Defense Initiative at The Brookings Institute testified before Congress about the U.S. Defense Budget. O’Hanlon identifies changes in force structures, weapons plans and other military programs that could be considered, along with the rough ten-year savings that could result.

As former chairman of the joint chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, has persuasively argued, federal debt and with it the possible erosion of our national economic foundations have become national security threats themselves. I begin from the premises that the right dose of defense budget cutbacks, as part of comprehensive deficit reduction, can strengthen American power and influence over time.

O’Hanlon suggest somewhere in the neighborhood of $45BN per year in defense cutbacks over ten years. It’s an adult conversation and a massive rethinking of our force structures and expenditures. Two things that Congress does not like to consider. However, it’s necessary.  U.S. defense spending as a share of the global total is about 45 percent. With a struggling economy and Republicans demanding irrational tax cuts at every turn, this spending just isn’t sustainable.

3. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if The Buffalo News envisioned journalism as a multimedia, open source, collaborative, timely process with an integrated real time feedback system? It’s called “open journalism” and it would look a little something like this:

The sooner that The Buffalo News figures out that this is the future, the better off we’ll all be. Can they adjust? Will they adjust? Or will we keep hearing excuses about Buffalo not being tech-savvy enough whilst the management doubles down on coupons and wire stories as a means to improve circulation and increase margin?

4. The (37 and counting) companies who no longer advertise on the Rush Limbaugh radio program, organized on a Pinterest board along with their statements explaining why they chose to do so.

5. Historian Michael Kazin pronounced the the Port Huron Statement, “the most ambitious, the most specific and the most eloquent manifesto in the history of the American left”. This year, that document turns 50 years old. It’s just as vital now as it was then and it might just be time for us to embrace its message yet again.

We are dismayed by the timidity of our elders and the privatism of our peers. The organizations we know, in which we are to be socialized as citizens, are unradical, in that they treat only of symptoms, not roots, or unpolitical, in that they are impelled more by outrage and static protest than measured analysis and assertive program, or simply hesitant, skirting the issues and blurring them with rhetoric, rather than admitting of problems both intellectual and political and nevertheless seeking a broad analysis of social issues.

I read this document each year and my perception of its meaning has steadily evolved. When I was younger, it served as the basis for my politics. In my twenties, it seemed silly and utopian. In my early thirties, it made me wish for a time when I was less cynical. Now, in my late thirties, it has come full circle for me and I see it as the necessary foundation for a new left.

The right wing operates with exceptional message discipline and order while the left encourages open discussion and respects different viewpoints which leads to compromise with republicans who are tilting ever rightward toward their conservative base. We need the message discipline of the right if we’re to pull the Democratic Party towards the progressive base and re-orient our politics in the actual center. The Port Huron Statement still stands as the best example of a left wing manifesto.

Fact Of The Day: A huge volume of space that includes the Milky Way and super-clusters of galaxies is flowing towards a mysterious, gigantic unseen mass named mass astronomers have dubbed “The Great Attractor,” some 250 million light years from our Solar System.

Quote Of The Day: “The very existence of flame-throwers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.” – George Carlin

Cartoon Of the Day: “Hair Raising Hare” – Bugs Bunny and Gossamer

Video Of the Day: – Doing viral online advertising the right way. (They are not an AV advertiser, just love the campaign) One day online and they get to the front page of Reddit, Slashdot and become a Twitter trending topic. Nice.

Song Of The Day: “Sinister Kid” – The Black Keys

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas:

  • You simply cannot go wrong with Gossamer. Or The Black Keys. Or The Port Huron Statement.

  • Bruce Beyer

    Thanks to Tom Hayden!

  • “Monsters lead such interesting lives…” Strange how that can apply to the whole column

  • Jesse

    Your last paragraph in point 5 is ridiculous, for a few reasons.

    1. Claiming the right is somehow “exceptional” with their “discipline” completely ignores reality. Rush Limbaugh this week blew that up; you really think ‘they’ want birth control to be a wedge issue this year? Corporate malfeasance and CEO tone-deafness feeding populism. And so on.

    2. Claiming your side is the ‘open-minded’ one is jarringly blind to the fact that both sides believe the same thing, and demonstrate exactly the opposite. Tell us, Chris, where is the open discussion coming from the left on topics like abortion, public education, dealing with climate change (not talking denial here, talking ‘what to do about it’), the war on drugs, Obama’s war on whistleblowers, or any other left-wing dogma topic?

    3. Claiming that your best way forward is to take what you believe to be a good thing – your open-mindedness – and crushing it with “exceptional message discipline”… what the fiddlesticks?? Let’s take what we hate about the right and do it to our own side? That’s a winning formula?

    The classical liberal message is still winning. Sure, self-identification as “liberal” never grows (because statism should really be put to bed), but “conservative” is falling, and “libertarian” (self-id’ed as socially liberal, economically conservative) is growing. No one wants to be a part of some shitty party apparatus any longer. Everywhere in life OTHER than politics the number and quality of choices is ever-increasing.

    Why not focus on that instead of some misguided dream of “message discipline” whereby you throttle the freedom to disagree in order to beat some red team that’s already eating itself from the inside.

    No, if I were you guys, I’d just keep feeding the Republican discord. They’re falling apart, you should just help that along. Stop with your own “message discipline”, throw out your own dogma, and the red party would never win another national election.

  • Chris Smith

    There is a robust debate amongst the factions of the Democratic Party and its progressive base about how best to handle policy. You should read Greenwald, Alternet, AmericaBlog, FiredogLake, Kos and compare that to the Third Way Democrats, The Brookings Institute, The Coffee Party, The Center For American Progress, and the innumerable center left and centrist think tanks. There is more diversity of thought on the left than there is on the right, by a country mile.

    Those debates and discussions are great, but they make for messy public discussions, discord on policy prescriptions and a choppy legislative agenda. The majority of voters like simplistic solutions, consistent messaging and bumper sticker solutions.

    Whereas the national Republicans are issued talking points from the RNC and fucking stick to them. When a topic like birth control seizes the national agenda, a national messaging response is issued and they pretty much share the same sheet of music. For instance, when have you ever seen Democrats as loyal to a policy as the Republicans have been to the Ryan budget proposal?

    Having a plethora of ideas in the Democratic Party is a good thing. What I’m saying is that the progressive base needs to adopt a unified message (as the Republican conservative base has done) and hold others in the party to account. If we have a unified platform of ideas, a defined list of policy ideas and a governing ethos, we can pull the party leftward and away from the center right. Which is what I want.

    As to your theory that more people are growing more libertarian, you might want to look up either delusion or confirmation bias.

  • Dollar shave club seems awesome. I may have to start shaving more.

    Also, I am not a slut.

  • Jesse


    Thanks for the reply. I might suggest you check out Declaration of Independents:

    The evidence points to a more free, individualized culture, and that’s “libertarian” as an adjective, not as a political party. And it goes way beyond politics, driven by the internet.

    Your own dreams of the future of media are libertarian whether you realize it or not.

    I’m curious how you define “more diversity of thought”, because I’m not sure I see it on either side of the aisle. I can point you to differences of opinion from places like JBS vs. Heritage vs. Cato (since you would likely call Cato right wing) vs [insert any creationist group I don’t care to go google]. There’s plenty of policy disagreement on the right.

    I can recall plenty of instances on right wing talk shows that I used to listen to where plenty of Democrats all got out and used the same terms and same language to define talking points in exactly the same way you’re accusing the Republicans.

  • Buffalo Blows

    The news is still more or less provided free online, a fair amount of news papers are going the other way, also you guys pull/steal content from the BN all the time (then bitch like children about it) what the hell more do you need?

  • Claude

    What they need is to sell more hand job services or rely almost completely on free content ripped from the pages of anywhere else.
    But the original stuff is really first rate edgy reporting aka snarky BS.