Tag Archives: activism

A “glitterbomb” isn’t funny, ironic, or harmless. It’s a threat.

This weekend at Right Online, Michele Bachmann was “glittered” by gay rights activists. Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty got a similar treatment before, too. As a result, Bachmann canceled any further media appearances at the event (more than a few wanted to interview). Some considered this to be an overreaction. I do not. On Saturday night I went to the GOProud happy hour at the hotel bar in the event, and some of those invited were a few attendees of Netroots Nation. There I explained to one why a glitterbomb isn’t a good thing.

At its heart, a glitterbomb is a proxy for whatever object that, when flung at a person, would lead to charges of assault, or worse. It’s a projectile, one that replaces spit—assault with a bodily fluid, anyone?—or something else. It’s a replacement for pies, which also leads to charges of assault. But no matter how E.B. Lang may describe it, it isn’t as harmless or light hearted as she claims. A pie attack foreshadowed Pim Fortuyn’s assassination.

What these assailants know and won’t admit in public is that flinging objects at someone, even as innocuous as glitter, is degrading to the flingee. It’s an act of humiliation, one that’s been used to great effect using other materials (pie, water, spittle, blood, name it). When you degrade someone like that in public, it becomes a sign that the victim is fair game for even more dangerous material.

What these assailants know and won’t admit in public is the power of the third participant* in causing a cascade of activity. When glitterbombing someone gets “cool” and “hip” enough, someone, somewhere, is going to get carried away. If you think the sentiments behind glitterbombing Bachmann and others are funny and lighthearted, remember that when they think no one is looking, these are the same people who call Bachmann, Palin, others, the wost possible epithets. (I’m trying to find a link tweeted out yesterday about how someone wanted to shoot Michele Bachmann in the face for being so stupid. On their tumblr blog.) Glitterbombing is a refusal to engage your opponent in an exchange of ideas, even if the only goal is to publicly prove that their ideas are wrong, hateful and bigoted. It’s something you do because you know and accept that this person you’re glittering is someone you hate, but feel is undeserving of the time to discuss anything with them.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but I think people you disagree with deserve more than having stuff flung at them. At the GOProud happy hour, I spoke to Pam Spaulding, Ian Finkenbinder, and a few other folks from the gay left. They were total sweethearts and we had an exchange of ideas that you’d never see happen on a blog, or on Twitter. Naturally there are issues we agree and disagree on. We also share common ground. It was just another human and humane interaction. This is how it’s done; not dehumanizing them by throwing stuff at them.

(* – The “power of the third participant” can best be seen in this video from the Sasquatch festival. One person out of norm is weird, the second is dismissed as his friend, and a third participant causes the cascade.)

On individual mandates and revanchism

A common warning about Obamacare and its individual mandate is that if the government can force private citizens to purchase private insurance it can force citizens to purchase other goods and services. A common sophism is that people are required to purchase auto insurance if they wish to drive a car. Except, no one is required to own and drive a car. It’s convenient, and it allows us to traverse great distances, but no one is mandated to own and drive a car.

Warnings aside, there’s little focus on what happens once the tables turn. There is no final victory in politics. I hope the politicians who are forcing us to spend money against our will remember that. It’s bad enough they exempt themselves from the policies they impose upon everyone, but how will they fare when they return to private life? Instead of warning our fellow citizens about the other things we shall be forced to purchase, why isn’t the current political minority salivating at the idea of abusing this against them?

The answer is that we, as Americans, have an aversion to political revanchism.

Third-world governments are famous for revanchist politics; the Philippines is no stranger to this practice. Each regime is fixated on the previous. The sentiment is that there can be no unity nor healing until the misdeeds of those who have left power are punished. Hyperbole, yes, but a person can be president one year and a political exile the next.

That’s just not how we do things in the USA, but in 2006 a seemingly vindictive Democrat-controlled Congress took power. In the years leading to that electoral rout, they did well to highlight the inconsistencies and follies of the Republican party. They even strengthened their majority in 2008. No matter what George W. Bush did to yield to the political minority between 2001 and 2005, and despite yielding further ground after Pelosi took the House, the Democrats wasted no time destroying him.

Something changed after our current president’s election. Normally, transitions of power between opposing parties lead to dismantling of policies. Gingrich’s Contract With America, aimed to stop Clinton’s leftward policies in its tracks. But in 2009, Democrats took a different turn: Pelosi intimated towards revanchist trials against Bush officials, including John Yoo. This was a sign they viewed the previous government as criminal, and it’s very disturbing.

I don’t think Democrats should share their power. I wasn’t a fan of them when they kept on begging for bipartisanship in the Bush years, and you won’t hear me beg for a share of power now. But consider how the election of Sen. Scott Brown was received by the Democrats. His election was a response to the policies they were railroading, and they went with it anyway. The next step, of course, is to hold them accountable for their own policies.

Are we fixated on vengeance?

Two awesome questions were posed to me today. First, I was asked by Technosailor why I oppose a $5000 tax credit to employers who hire those who have been unemployed, and whether I oppose Democrats out of spite. I do neither. I am an ideological nut, not a partisan one, and I’m not afraid to support Conservative Democrats who unlike Bart Stupak are actually willing to Do A Conservative Thing™. Anyone remember Governor Sarah Palin? Her high approval ratings were a result of cooperation with Democrats and Republicans. With their help, she provided much progress for the state while keeping focus on better governance and not on the political enemies she defeated.

The second question was by Joe Marier (whose twitter account is private, else I’d link to it): “can good governance overcome a culture opposed to it?” A similar point was made months ago in a quick Twitter exchange with Conor Friedersdorf, at the end of which he said (I paraphrase) that the point of politics is good governance, not winning against your opponent.

Can it overcome? The better question is, should it? I believe in Paine’s dictum that the government that governs least, governs best: not just on the scale of the Federal government versus the states, but between state governments and their residents. Since I am a conservative, I believe that the culture that opposes self-professed “good” governance is the culture that recognizes excessive governance. So as a response to Conor’s assertion, the point of Conservative politics is to allow for good self-governance by keeping as few statists in office as possible.

For all my fiery talk of keeping the American Left out of power, I have no desire to see these people criminally punished. I want them out of power, because their policies tend to be hurtful, shortsighted and naive. The ideal outcomes they propose come at incredulous cost. The policies have to be stopped; their ideas, discredited. That is all I aim for.

Nothing is set in stone.

I won’t discuss the prospects of repeal tonight, but consider Moe Lane, and this short list of things we were told we couldn’t do. No government entitlement program is permanent, nor is it an unmitigated good. One day there will be those who will have to tackle the prospect of ending the Medicare program as we know it, or face exponentially growing cost at the expense of our military spending and national defense. We can keep postponing his return, but one day we will have to pay the piper.

First thoughts on Obamacare

May it never be said that my blog’s silence on the matter of the Democrat-led healthcare travesty is a sign of apathy. I have spent much time on Twitter, doing what I can from behind my screen and beyond, to help turn the tide against what we now call Obamacare. It passed on Sunday night, 219-212, and the boy-king signed it into law today. Thirty-four democrats voted against the bill, most likely with the permission of Speaker Pelosi, so they may return to their districts insulated (albeit slightly) from the ire of their constituents. Both sides are weary from battle; I am no different. After spending much time calling Representatives far and wide, engaging Liberals publicly to help expose their sophistry, and other efforts, I need to rest a little: to salve my wounds, regain my strength, and return swinging.

This will not be my only post on Obamacare. The fight continues, and my thoughts would be best served like small meals. The main point for the day: We didn’t lose because of our refusal to yield. After all, They Have The Votes™ and will do as they please. Pelosi, Reid, the boy-king, and all their subjects met with willful ignorance and cognitive dissonance all applications of game theory, all appeals to self-interest, all data presented to them.

What we call Obamacare is less Progressive than what their ideologues prefer: we didn’t (yet) get the so-called disastrous Public Option, because they still have incrementalists who desire re-election.

I worry that Pelosi’s victory could have changed the legislative landscape permanently as a result. I worry that they will be emboldened in victory. As Louise Slaughter boldly proclaimed: There is nothing now that we can’t tackle. Liberals might believe that they can push the most Progressive of agendas despite the disagreement of the people.

I am torn: to give Democrats license to abuse their majority would be to allow them to self-destruct, at the expense of damaging legislation undermining our economic and national security. They have expressed little desire to accept our ideas such as tort reform, or a phasing-out of unsustainable entitlements. They treat these as sacrosanct, and our citizenry is, with each and within each generation, quickly learning a set of values different from what made this country great in the first place.

Tales of a faceless kingmaker

It’s conventional wisdom that Liberals beat Conservatives in activist organization, mobilization and passion. Spurred by the election of a far-Left president and the implementation of his policies by a dictatorial Congress, Conservatives took to the streets in 2009 in protest. Even Liberals know that when Conservatives protest, it’s because they’ve awoken—or been laid off—from the workaday life. Liberal Democrats still probably can’t admit that they have awoken a sleeping giant. They portray the Tea Parties as a monochromatic, racist mess, enabled by the textbook defintion of “useful idiots” from media outlets like The Daily Beast. Despite all this libel, a number of Conservatives have moved beyond the street protests and have taken activism locally.

One of those activists is Sissy Willis, an OG political blogger. The faceless mystery woman from Massachusetts has thrown her weight into Scott Brown’s senatorial election efforts, and her ringing endorsement was picked up by Instapundit. This started a snowball effect that placed Sissy as the epicenter of an online movement to get the Republican elected into the seat vacated by the late Ted Kennedy.

That it’s called “Ted Kennedy’s seat” long after he died is testament to a political dynasty that must be put to an end. Scott Brown has Sissy to thank for bringing national attention to the special election on January 19. If not for her and the attention that it got, Brown would not be where he is in the polls, which yesterday places him at 41% vs Coakley’s 50%.

All of this started long before the NRSC decided to join in supporting Brown. They’d be dismayed to know that Sissy has outcampaigned the NRSC in a winnable effort. Her effort may not be the first one to disintermediate the national party leadership and the campaign, but it may be the most effective so far. Because of her, many more people are watching, ready to call shenanigans on any efforts to steal an election that is both candidates’ to win.

If the mystery woman of the political blogosphere can bring down a 20-year career politician and have her working to get elected instead of coasting into “Ted Kennedy’s Seat,” so can we all affect our local political landscape and prevent what seems to be inevitable. Some of us may not be faceless, but we can all be kingmakers.

This really isn’t about the Iranian elections

Certainly, a little of it is, but I have kept mum on what’s going on with Iran not because I think my opinions would be unpopular, but because I don’t have much to offer beyond a low opinion of their political system and I’d rather people focus on the supportive coverage. This is about people who have worse to offer than I do: rain on someone’s parade. The target of my ire today is someone who calls himself G Valentino, who has comments on Twitter users who have tinged their avatars green in support of Iranian democracy:

See, this is what I hate: the medium might be the message, but the medium is not the action. You turn your icons green. Great. What does that accomplish. Well, you say it shows solidarity. Great. It’s an action, however, that costs you nothing and nets even less in return. It’s wearing the ribbon: it’s announcing to the world that you care, but has no real follow up action. Sure it might raise awareness, and here’s that conversation for you: “Why is your icon green?” “To raise awareness of the threat to democracy in Iran.” “Wow! That’s so cool. And how to the green icons help?” *Silence* “Do you hope to make them think that it’s St Patrick’s Day?”

He goes on to expand beyond his gripe over the green Twitter icons to awareness campaigns in general. He talks about how he’s “tired tired TIRED of theatrically making a stand.” Sure I understand his point. I’m tired of theatrically making a stand when it comes to some socio-political issues myself, but here’s what annoys me about his commentary. He challenges his readers to “do something” about this issue, and he offers his suggestion:

[...] Well, realistically I should contact my elected officials in my country and ask if they are going to put pressure on international bodies and the Iranian government to open up their processes to inspection and verification. I should also make sure that I’ve learnt the lesson of the past 8 years and we don’t want to go into international situations guns-a-blazin‘ and upset a fragile developing condition.

Well, realistically the State Department already did what it could when it comes to this isssue. Word is out that agents of that department have asked Twitter to reschedule its server maintenance to help assist Iranian tweeters with their campaign. We here in the United States, realistically, having nothing more than our free speech, are helping spread the word about these people whose voices are slowly being taken away and silenced from the world. A green icon, site color scheme, or font styling, may be all that we can offer as free individuals in the USA (and other free countries). What more would GValentino have us do, when his suggestions have already been done? Has our country organized a campaign to send material aid to the people of Iran? No. Should we as private entities do so? I would say let’s take that up with the State Department just in case we might be aiding individuals we’d rather not, at least on a national level. Should the State Department foment an armed revolution? Almost every year there’s a report of student uprising in Iran and we sit back knowing that if we assist, we may just end up reaping the whirlwind by sowing the wind.

GValentino’s opinion really isn’t unpopular nor is it unfamiliar. Psychologically, it’s a nihilistic reaction to the feeling of helplessness in knowing that all that could be done, has been. His example of green Twitter icons to back up his argument over local action is a poor one at best. They’re the words of a naysayer, and that’s all they are.