So I missed the chance to do all the usual linkback updates, and instead will collect them here with some additional commentary. To begin with, Breitbart himself e-mailed to request clarification. Where I had said:
Breitbart and most other conservatives won't say this in so many words, because it sounds like McCarthyesque conspiracy theory, but it's nonetheless true: If you want to understand how the American Left operates, you need to spend time studying how the old CPUSA operated.Breitbart points to this passage in his column:
The right, for the most part, embraces basic Judeo-Christian ideals and would not promote nor defend the propaganda techniques that were perfected in godless communist and socialist regimes. The current political and media environment crafted by supposedly idealistic Mr. Obama resembles Hugo Chavez's Venezuela more than John F. Kennedy's America.
Ergo, Breitbart can't be accused of overlooking the Bolshevik roots of the Left's tactical arsenal. Meanwhile, the Only Canadian Who Makes Sense, Kathy Shaidle thought the "diamond pattern" seemed awful familiar, and e-mailed to say that this tactic has been applied against her in journalistic mode. She was interviewed by a reporter, who then went out and interviewed three people who hated her, including their derogation as "balance" in the story. "Diamond pattern," you see.
Obsessed with "pushback" on anything that could possibly reflect negatively on Obama and the Democrats, a Kossack links us and then blathers on about a bunch of irrelevant crap. Screw you, "Avenging Angel," you despicable troll. Paco calls them "left-wing blog guerrillas," but they're actually the microbial virus that festers within the pathological parasites which infest the pus that oozes from the chancroid sore on the Democratic Party rectal sphincter that is the Obama machine.Jimmie Bise Jr. at Sundries Shack links up a lot of the reaction and says, "if we don’t defend the right to be clearly understood, someone will buy it right out from under us." Among those linked by Jimmie is Professor Donald Douglas, who likes Breitbart's take on " the left's secular demonology," and Pundette, who says, "We need to use our smarts, and we need to keep faith with each other." Jimmie also links Dan Riehl, who offers his own distinctly skeptical dissent:
The Left isn't the Right's worst enemy -- the Right, more specifically, the sissies and the mostly pedestrian conservative mouthpieces waiting for their next big scoop via the RNC in our midst, are.Dan's a great guy and perhaps the best online researcher in the blogosphere. He does not suffer fools gladly and has even less respect for the Official Republican Establishment than I do. Which is saying something.
The Right-side of the blogosphere is a snoozefest just waiting for Big Brother to pat them on the head, toss 'em a quarter and tuck them in.
Jimmie's linkathon also included Clarice Feldman at American Thinker (from September) pointing to Jim Treacher's research on the Axelrod Astroturfing disinfo project. Professor William Jacobson observes:
The internet trolling phenomenon is not entirely surprising, since liberals in general view freedom of speech as meaning the freedom to agree with liberals.Moe Lane notes that leftoid trolls have long been called "Mobies" at Red State, and adds:
Speaking as a site moderator for a popular conservative website, this is not actually hyperbole. I'm not entirely in agreement with how effective the tactic is - the average practitioner is hampered by both a fundamental lack of empathy for his (it's usually his) targets, and an overestimation of his IQ by an average of about 20 points* - and I'm not sure that it's quite that formally organized.Well, Moe, I think that Axelrod has taken the organizational level up a notch in the past nine months. (Ask some of Hillary's supporters how viciously effective the Obama online effort was against their girl.) Jim at Gateway Pundit says:
Leftist trolls have been vandalizing the conservative blogosphere since conservatives started blogging but actually coordinated their attacks during the last election cycle.Now, there are some who would say that such talk is "conspiracy theory," to which claim PoliGazette correctly responds:
It doesn't have to be a conspiracy to be a real problem. The "harassment factor" in the blogosphere can be a serious problem, faced disproportionately by conservatives and moderates. Liberals and leftists freely make all sorts of outrageous claims with impunity while conservatives and moderates are forced to defend each and every post to a level of detail that can eventually become wearying.Right. TaxDayTeaParty.com had to deal with a DOS attack today. The Left does crap like this because it ties up manpower and other resources, decreasing the productive efficiency of resistance. They know exactly what they're doing. It's just like when I had to spend six months typing in a word-recognition for every post and update here, because the vile Obamanoids had flagged me as a "spam" blog. In the grand scheme of things, a relatively minor hassle, but a hassle nonetheless, requiring extra labor on my part.
Multiply such hassles many times over, and you see why the subhuman "progressive" scum devote so much time to their vandalistic terrorism, both online and offline. Michelle Malkin had to move after the vermin published her home address. A demented moonbat threatened Jeff Goldstein's family. Ann Coulter seldom ventures out unless accompanied by security. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
How The Left Built Its Troll Army
Now, granted that the Left has the will, the knowledge and the destructive immorality to do such things, how is it that they also have the time and resources for their online delinquency? Two words: John Podesta.
The former Clinton henchman, seeing the enormous resources poured out by George Soros and (mostly) wasted by MoveOn.org, recognized a huge opportunity for his organizational aptitude. He spearheaded a number of efforts, including the development of the oxymoronically named Center for American Progress, which worked to connect the wealthy enemies of liberty with the kind of experienced malefactors who could best put their misanthropic so-called "philanthropy" to the most destructive possible use.
Where CAP did not actually hire the Internet goons, they trained them, and helped sponsor the Web sites that served as the incubators for their "progressive" schemes. Here, Podesta and his comrades showed themselves very clever indeed. Suppose that you are a rich liberal who has some sort of business. So you not only give money to CAP and its related ventures, but you advertise your business on liberal blogs and Web sites. The advertising fees are relatively small (Web ads have always been cheap) and are fully qualified as legitimate business expenses, so that you are in effect getting a tax break for political activism.
One thing I've repeatedly tried to point out to my Republican and conservative friends in Washington is how much could be accomplished online with small investments, if they only went about it the right way.
The Peril of Professionalism
Something I've discerned over the years is that Republicans have a business-style attitude of professionalism toward politics. The well-paid professional GOP operative disdains as a chump the grassroots volunteer. Who would do politics for free, when one can make a lucrative income at it? (Cf., Ralph Reed.)
Politics is a business to the GOP, and the Dress For Success School of Political Operations dominates the mindset of the party hierarchy. Republicans won't listen to any advice they don't pay for, and they always want to hire the clean-cut well-spoken fellow with the spotless resume and the nice suit, the guy who has all the right friends, says all the right things, and shows up on time for the meeting with his PowerPoint presentation ready to go.
What Dan Riehl says about the GOP being its own worst enemy is true in this sense. The Republican Party raised $900 million in the 2008 election cycle -- this total does not include state parties, various PACs, or individual candidate campaigns, nor all the sums contributed to conservative 501(c) outfits -- and any reasonable person must ask, "What the fuck did they do with all that money?"
Friend, I assure you, there are many political operatives living in McMansions in Virginia horse country that were paid for with the contributions of Republican donors. This is the inevitable consequence of the GOP's ethic of political professionalism, and nobody really cared so long as the Republicans were ascendant.
Let me ask you to consider something that David Frum (of all people) described recently:
I moved to Washington, D.C., in 1996. And there I began to notice something disturbing. While the congressional victory of 1994 had ceased to produce much in the way of important conservative legislation, it sure was producing a lot of wealth for individual conservatives. They were moving from the staff offices of Congress to lobbying firms and professional associations. Washington . . . began to feel like a giant Tupperware party, where people you had thought of as friends suddenly seemed always to be trying to sell you something. Acquaintances of mine began accepting all-expense-paid trips to the South Pacific from Jack Abramoff.Oh, yeah. Nothing wrong with trying to make a living, but there are lots of people who made a killing during the dozen years between 1994 and 2006, when being "conservative" ceased to be a political allegiance and became a career description. Disagree with Frum's politics as vociferously as you want (and I have), but this observation of his about the ways of the Washington GOP establishment is dead on target.
Washington is a town full of ambitious political hustlers. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, as I said; I am a capitalist, proud to boast that I Write For Money. (Which reminds me: Hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards.) But over the years when GOP coffers were fat and electoral victories were plentiful, the Republican Party and the conservative movement became accustomed to paying too much for everything.
The rationale for this habit of overpaying was apparently something like this: "Well, after all, Art is a smart guy, and he gets good results. He's a true-blue Republican. He worked for our buddy Al. Why shouldn't we pay him what he asks?"
This tendency to pay too much for everything has carried over into the online age, and in recent years the Internet Snake Oil Salesman has become a common plague. Everybody and his brother now claims to have the Magic Panacea Elixir to cure whatever ails the GOP, and yet -- in a sort of counter-market irony -- what the GOP/conservative Establishment actually pays for such services has gone up, not down, as the number of vendors has proliferated. The supply of pixels-for-cash operations has increased, but the demand is so seemingly insatiable that the price keeps rising, and it seems that none of the people writing checks ever stops to ask if they're getting what they pay for.
My friend Nathan Tabor is a Republican businessman whose TCVMedia does Web site design and online development, both for commercial and political clients. Nathan has a business model that minimizes his expenses so he can deliver a top-quality product for a rock-bottom price. And yet he has often told me with dismay that many Republican/conservative operations continue to pay premium prices for inferior services, because the guys writing the checks don't seem to care about cost efficiency.
The attitude among GOP bigwigs seems to be that "you get what you pay for," so they refuse to believe that if they give a guy a $100,000 contract for Web work, that they're not getting more than what Nathan could sell them for $30,000 -- even if TCV's work is clearly equal or better in quality (which it is).
So you see the kind of stuff that makes conservatives shake their heads and wonder if there is any hope at all. You see why every day is a struggle against cynical despair. Yet I begin to scent a change in the wind. Times are tough, money's tight, and some of the clueless check-writers are starting to get the suspicion that they're being bamboozled by PowerPoint Rangers of the GOP's Consultant Class.
"It is history that teaches us to hope."
UPDATE: Welcome Riehl World View readers! My friend Dan isn't really feelin' the love for Breitbart, and maybe not for me, either. And I don't mind, of course: Hits is hits. Love me, hate me, hit me, beat me, bite me, rape me, make me write bad checks and call me "Helen." It makes no nevermind to a two-time Malkin Award nominee. Just link me, dammit!