Saturday, April 30, 2016

Why I Left Forward Progressives

Over three years ago when I was writing solely on this blog and had just a few hundred followers, I was approached by the editor and web manager for what is now Forward Progressives. I was asked if I would like to be a "co-founder" of a website that would be the answer to the clickbait bullshit from sites like Addicting Info and others.

As an amateur writer, I was excited about this new opportunity, especially after running into a dead end and very brief unpaid stint at Politicususa, which told me they were dumping all revenue into further building their site. At that time, my contact "Thomas Barr" and his business partners were running a number of pages like One Million Strong Against Mitt Romney in 2012, or unofficial fan pages for Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart and others which they apparently used to post links for Politicususa for kickbacks.

This opportunity seemed like the great break I was hoping for. I was honestly honored that sources I naively bought into considered me to be qualified to graduate from a lowly blog site about punk rock, politics, fraud and whiskey to what I thought was the big time in liberal journalism.

One of the factors that I believe made me a candidate for their website was my utter distaste for Addicting Info and Being Liberal - as their owners and I had repeatedly clashed over reuse of my content without proper attribution. My friend John Henry was also offered a position writing for Forward Progressives, but only if he wrote under a pseudonym so as not draw unwanted attention to our website, which he declined to do.

At first, things went fairly smoothly and I was awestruck at the amount of traffic my articles were attracting. Before long, we had amassed a respectable squad of potential writers, and things were looking great. There were articles that went viral, our pages were booming, and we reached the front page of Reddit once. When I received my paycheck after the first month of writing that was enough to buy a new laptop, I really thought that this was amazing venture I could finally believe in.

Things started changing when we appeared on the radar of political blogging. While the website had a very large reach, priority was only given to "Allen Clifton" - and some of my articles while our other writers were put on the back burner, often for days. Even when their stories were finally published by "Thomas Barr," they were given little promotion and one by one, nearly every one of those writers quit in disgust.

Eventually, almost nobody wanted to write for us, and the few people I managed to recruit didn't last long. This venture was supposed to be a collaboration of writers that were the progressive answer to the clickbait headlines that littered Facebook, but we rapidly became everything that I hated. There was almost zero collaboration or discussion among writers, and "Allen Clifton" did very little to promote others on our team, myself included. Only Arik Bjorn and his delightfully esoteric Sunday column remained, much to the ire of "Allen Clifton" who had asked me to help him force Arik (and others) out.

Within the first couple of months of Forward Progressives, I had also been informed by the website manager, "Thomas Barr" that the site had come under attack from individuals he believed to be connected to our alleged competition, Addicting Info, among others. I was asked to do what I could to take them down, which I was more than happy to do.

At his instruction, I employed a number of techniques that he suggested, including reporting their racier articles to Google AdSense for any violation we could find. A couple of years ago, Addicting Info went silent for a couple of days with no new material as their founder flew from Santa Rosa, California to Chicago to apparently meet with a buyer.

I can only conclude that we reported the Addicting Info organization so hard that they lost all of their advertising revenue sources due to the complaints, and were bought out by a guy calling himself Icarus Verum, who has the real name of Daniel Gouldman. Daniel seems to also hold partial or complete control of a number of liberal websites like If You Only News, Winning Democrats, Reverb Press, Groopspeak and others.

After almost 3 years of battling this juggernaut and letting me take most of the heat, "Thomas Barr" claimed he didn't want to fight this battle anymore. While I was the one who had been relentlessly cyberstalked and reported into 30 day Facebook bans, he told me that people from the Addicting Info cabal had supposedly gotten too close to finding out things about him and his family in Minnesota - and that it was time to shut up.

Before my relationship with Forward Progressives ended with a group chat in January, the website had descended into clickbait stories, far away from the original mission I had signed up for. Articles I had written fell on the back burner, priority was given to Allen Clifton's latest recap of Sarah Palin's pleas for attention, and nobody else wanted to work with us.

What I found strange through this entire experience is that I was almost always the focus of the attacks by the Addicting Info army of trolls, and not Thomas Barr, Allen Clifton, or the site's owner, Logan. Things like my occasional donations to people in need were made the focus of Facebook pages like The Adventures of Beefaroni Tits or Whiskey Dick & The Most Ethical Blog.

Imagine having a group of Facebook pages devoted to harassing you and your friends, or even making fun of your dog? Thomas Clay Jr who commented on that picture was one of the people that worked with Addicting Info and others to relentlessly bully or even attempt to extort individuals into cooperating with them. He is currently the owner of the website American News X, an organization that includes a former admin of my page, Steve Ahearn who was booted after continually begging for money and harassing people.

This is what I continually dealt with since confronting the owners of Addicting Info and Being Liberal back in 2012, although I have enjoyed a brief respite since ending my relationship with Forward Progressives. While "Matthew Desmond" has repeatedly told me that neither he, nor any of his associates have had anything to do with the harassment, the evidence I've seen shows that isn't true.

Anyhow, back to Forward Progressives. Despite the fact that we were supposed to be politically "objective," Allen Clifton insisted on writing one condescending article about Bernie Sanders after another. At the same time, he also created Facebook pages like "Being Progressive" which were intended as an outlet for other links that appeared to be supportive of Bernie. I was instructed, after Thomas Barr gained access to a large pro-Bernie Facebook page run by Annabel Park, to write links specifically tailored for that audience.

This is when I knew that Forward Progressives had jumped the shark. Despite being told I was joining a site that was going to be the answer to the clickbait bullshit that I hated, we had become just like the rest. Logan and the others even claimed that FP was based in San Francisco, CA despite being a registered LLC in Ohio.

When that day in January came that I began writing for my new website and the first article was published, I received a Facebook message from the others that I was being let go. In exchange, I would not talk about the operations of Forward Progressives, and I would continue to receive payments for the traffic that led to my articles, and the site overall.

Those promises were broken, and the sites I helped to build were taken away from me. I have repeatedly tried to rectify these issues, only to be ignored. So now I am releasing this story, and I have recorded all of the conversations with these individuals in case they want to state this story is false.

Let the chips fall where they may.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My Love/Hate Relationship With Louisiana

I moved to Louisiana in the fall of 2010. I arrived here on a Greyhound bus in October, with just a few coins in my pocket, and no job prospects. At that point, I was at probably the lowest point in my life, and thankfully, I had family that would make sure I didn't starve, and that I had a place to sleep.

Within a month, I had a job waiting tables at a local restaurant. It took me another 5 months to save up the money to buy a used car, and it was nearly a year before I could find a job in my field. It was an unexpected journey from having nothing, to having a steady paycheck, a woman who loved me, and the peace of mind I had been seeking for years.

Louisiana is not where I ever saw myself ending up. A couple of years prior, I had visited with an ex-girlfriend to attend my sister's wedding, and I remarked that while I liked parts of Louisiana and its culture, it was a place that I could never see myself living in.

Yet, just a couple of years later, that's where I found myself. In time, I began to adjust and find my own niche in a culture that has a distrust of outsiders and a preference for their own ways, even those ways are decades behind the rest of the country.

What I love about Louisiana, at least the southern part of the state, is how friendly people can be. They want to know who you are, who you are related to, and many will buy you a beer during that conversation. You might even be invited to a crawfish boil where you don't know anyone else, and at the end of the night, you've made a bunch of new friends - if you don't talk about political or religious issues that might offend some folks.

For the most part, most Cajuns I've met have embraced me to some degree. After 5 1/2 years, I know people of all political and religious persuasions who I can spend time with, and we get together over our love of food, sports and beer. This isn't the place I saw myself ending up in, but I've learned to make it work.

The political ignorance and individuals fighting against their own self-interests does drive me crazy - as does the racial hatred which lingers just below the surface not only in Louisiana, but across the Southern states in which I have spent all of my life.
One of these days, I may move back to Florida, or even the state where I was born, Virginia. Louisiana has so much promise if only it would turn its government around and elect officials who have the best interests of every citizen in mind, rather than the corporate interests who have run Louisiana into fiscal crisis.

I would like to see Louisiana rise out of the bigotry and ignorance of the Bible Belt and join the rest of the United States in the 21st century sometime in the near future. But if they cannot do that, I will have to regrettably move on, Cajun recipe books in tow.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Free Thought Project Is An Anti-Government Group Supporting The Bundy Militia

Oregon militia free thought project cop block bundyLast week, I revealed to readers how the organization Cop Block was defending the Bundy militia members who have taken over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. Many liberals regularly read and follow Cop Block, along with other groups like The Free Thought Project which pose as advocacy groups, but are not-so-secretly anti-government activists.

On Wednesday, the fire chief of Harney County where the militia takeover has occurred resigned, claiming he didn't like the government's response to the occupation. The website Free Thought Project covered the story with the headline "Oregon Fire Chief Catches FBI Agents Posing as Militia – Quits His Job in Protest" - and claims that the FBI is trying to provoke an armed showdown with the militia members.
Many activists and militia members are now suspecting that the undercover agents were planning to act as agent provocateurs and create trouble in order to frame the protesters for things that they did not do. This theory is supported by the fact these undercover agents were reportedly bothering locals and acting in a threatening manner.

However, mainstream media has reported that militia members were harassing locals, but now that version of events is being brought into question considering the fact that undercover agents were posing as militia. The looming threat of agent provocateurs may be one of the reasons why the refuge occupiers are turning away help from outside militias who have attempted to join the occupation. (Source)
What The Free Thought Project blogger John Vibes conveniently leaves out is that fire chief Chris Briles was sympathetic to the militia in the first place, and that he announced his resignation at a press conference where Ammon Bundy stood with him. This isn't an accidental oversight while blogging from hundreds or thousands of miles away from where the story is happening, it is a deliberate omission of key facts to promote an agenda supportive of the Bundys, and other anti-government groups like them.

Chris Briles is hardly an impartial government official who uncovered some shocking plot against protesters, but a Bundy sympathizer who is promoting conspiracy stories to give credence to the claim that the Bundy militia is simply a group of peaceful occupiers fighting against government tyranny and overreach.

Here's what the local TV station KATU had to say about Chris Briles:
Briels is a member of the Community Committee for Public Safety, which is a local group that's expressed interest in taking over for the Bundy protesters to work to reclaim local rancher's land rights when and if they leave. (Source)
So why would The Free Thought Project leave out these important facts about Chris Briles and the Bundy Militia? If you dig around on their website, you'll find that they promote the same gun confiscation stories that the NRA and gun fanatics regularly repeat, along with false articles about vaccines and other debunked conspiracy stories.

As I've said before, underneath their smoke screen of being police accountability advocates, they're little more than anti-government activists that use well-meaning liberals to spread their message.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Q&A Session December 2015

Here are the results of my Q&A session.

Michael Pettersen: Corned Beef or Pastrami on a Ruben?

Pastrami. I love both but pastrami is where it's at.

Maryse Bonniwell: Is there, really and honestly, a chance Bernie could win. He doesn't get the coverage the others do, he doesn't have the same machine behind him. I know many of us feel like he should, but, in the real world, the one we live in, with apathy as ramped as it is, and racism gaining ground every day with the help of you know who, does he really stand a chance?

Bernie Sanders can win, but I don't know that liberals are ready for him.

Crystal Minarik: What brought you to Louisiana?

A series of unfortunate events. A bad economy in Florida during the housing crisis and a nasty divorce. I lost everything, then eventually became more successful here in my career than I was there.

Lance Burson: What would have to happen for the American south (I live in suburban Atlanta) to become a stronghold for the Democrats?

For people to wake up and realize the GOP is not their friend.

Pam Philpot:
Do you see a relationship between party affiliation and sharing of Facebook hoaxes?

People are dumb on both sides of the aisle.

Patti Casey: Who does Peanut really love most---you or your wife?

Me. He tolerates her but loves me, except when there is food involved.

Donna Schoetker Dunn: What do you enjoy doing when you have some down time?

Fishing or playing poker.

Mack Kirk: Growing up in the south was your political ideology different at one point? Ask for myself having gone through a Libertarian phase into my mid 20s.

I was once a conservative Republican. That has obviously changed. I have some beliefs that are mildly conservative or libertarian now, but I base those on facts instead of popular ideology on the left.

Dan Whitaker: Do you actually believe that if my neighbor plants his fields with GMO corn, and because of prevailing winds his crop cross pollinates my crop, Monsanto can sue me?

No. They have been very careful on that issue.

Leonard Gerber:
What is your real name and why pick such a ludicrous alias?

I don't disclose my name to most people because of the fact that there are both liberals and conservatives who would love nothing more than to torment me and my family. The alias was given to me by a fellow Jewish coworker years ago, and I decided to start writing under this pseudonym as a joke, but now everyone knows by the name Manny Schewitz.

David Matheny: Do you suck the heads on Crawfish?

Of course. That is where all the fat is and it is delicious.

That's it for this Q&A session, I'll do it again soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yes, Virginia, There Are Liberal Bullies

Over the past few years, a number of people, especially my friend John Henry, have been singled out for harassment by a group of people who call themselves liberal page admins or liberal trolls. Other people like the owner of Americans Against The Tea Party were the targets of extortion attempts which tried to get them to turn over the access to their Facebook page.

These attacks are nothing new, and have existed from the beginning of our page, but they have ramped up their efforts to include attempting to breach the website instead of simply being a nuisance and insulting myself and friends of mine.

As one example, here is a recent screenshot of yet another Facebook page created solely to annoy John Henry, and nothing else.

Why would they do that? Because these individuals are obsessed with harassing us and anyone who stands in their way.

My friend Erin Nanasi has also been bullied by anonymous Facebook pages with names like "Pot Meet Kettle" (now offline) who have mocked her and her family - all in an attempt to force her and her blog off Facebook, even after she stopped writing for my former website, Forward Progressives.

Since that time when I first called out these "liberal" websites and others like them for being as unethical and slimy as the conservatives they blog about, I have had my personal Facebook suspended multiple times after waves of false reports, as has John Henry and other people in our circle of friends.

Why do people who call themselves liberals do such things and why would they perpetuate falsehoods, distort the truth, or be just as ugly as the right-wing Tea Party conservatives they claim to be better than? It's simple, it's all about profit, and not furthering the liberal cause.

In the liberal blogosphere, it is a cutthroat game of tentative alliances between page owners who work together to maximize page traffic to their websites - or take payments from site owners to post their links. These are people who promote themselves as champions of the liberal cause against the right-wing, but care more about the money they can make from web traffic to their articles instead of publishing factual information that would further the left's agenda - the same thing Gawker has done with scandal stories for the past 12 years.

Utilizing these sketchy SEO tactics isn't a unique thing, other liberal bloggers like Lou Colagiovanni, Omar Rivero of Occupy Democrats and Samuel Warde (they all know each other) have all resorted to proxy alliances with a group of individuals that will harass and falsely report people who will not work with them, especially anyone who is critical of their brand of hyperbolic and false "liberal news."

Around the same time we were hit with the cyberattacks on the website I formerly wrote for, we were also the subject of an article by a blogger we believe to be the leader of the group that was originally hired by the folks at Addicting Info to target my Facebook page for harassment. Thomas Clay, Jr of American News X wrote a blog which falsely accused Forward Progressives of being a Tea Party plant, and relied on falsely reported Zoominfo data to make their claim.

In fact, they even boasted about it on one of a number of pages that have been blocked from interacting with mine and Forward Progressives.

Seriously, who sits around all day and makes up Bitstrips mocking people in hopes they can drive that person to the point of quitting political blogging? As I've said before, these aren't conservatives to the best of my knowledge, these are individuals who portray themselves as valiant liberal writers leading the charge against the Tea Party and the GOP. Except they aren't. They're really little more than political grifters hoping to make some easy cash off gullible liberals who will believe anything they see on social media.

In fact, one of the writers for American News X is one Steve Ahearn, the owner of a Facebook page called Stop Telling Lies About Liberals And We'll Stop Telling The Truth About You, and a former admin of my old Whiskey and the Morning After Blog page. He was finally removed from my page after he and others mentioned continually harassed an acquaintance of mine, David Haberman, over starting a GoFundMe account to be able to afford dental surgery. This is all while Steve Ahearn constantly begged for money over a period of years, claiming that his children were hungry, his car was out of gas, or that their power was about to be shut off. This is why he continually makes pages just troll mine, because former drug addicts who believe in conspiracy nonsense are so reputable, right?

Mr. Ahearn, along with his friends who include Kevin Plamondon, Thomas Clay, Jr and Sean Conners of American News X have apparently been working together to harass anyone who will not work with them. They claim I am "jealous" of their "success" but these are people who gauge their accomplishments on the size of their pages, and the size of the ad revenue checks they receive each month.

It's a sad story for liberal politics when people are so driven by profit and notoriety that they resort to the attacks that I and other have dealt with for the last 3+ years. The problem is it isn't going to stop anytime soon, as you can see by the obsessed comments from Sean Conners below, which I am screen-capping in chase he decides to delete them.

Bullies try to use back channels and they try to isolate people so that they can win. I have been the recipient of these attacks ever since I first started calling out Being Liberal and their friends back in 2012.

In case they want to continue their campaign of bullying and extortion attempts, I have many more screenshots of their antics that I will be more than happy to post as updates to this story.

I am never, ever going away. After 3+ years, I'd think you would have learned.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The 2nd Amendment Isn't A Limitless Right

As I have repeatedly stated before, I am a gun owner. I use guns, I like guns, and I support the right for law-abiding citizens to own and carry the weapons of their choice. This includes concealed carry, and even the ability to own military grade assault weapons - so long as the individual is properly licensed and trained.

Many liberals give me grief for liking guns. In case you're new here, I grew up in rural Virginia, in a very conservative environment. I was given a .22 rifle for my 7th birthday, and I own a number of weapons today - including a handgun. Owning and using guns is part of living in rural America, and I make no apologies for that.

The problem is that the NRA wants any novice to be able to buy an assault rifle, with no training or background check. While they claim that every gun owner undergoes screening, that simply is not true.

When the 2nd Amendment was ratified, America was a country where muskets and cannons were the weapons of the time. Conservatives scream about protecting gun rights, but they are the worst spokesmen for gun rights. Rather than promoting the responsible and lawful ownership of firearms, they have made it possible for anyone who wants to get their hands on a gun, and we're seeing the tragic results of that over and over again in the daily news.

Gun ownership shouldn't a liberal or conservative thing, our nation has a long history with firearms - both good and bad. Unfortunately, our country has a serious issue with gun violence, and all the lobbying by the NRA is making it worse.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Once Again, I've Been Plagiarized By Fellow "Liberals"

I've been running this blog now for a little more than 5 years. Since October of 2010 when I ended up in Louisiana due to a series of events that included the economy, my rocky relationship with Sprint, and a bitter divorce - I've managed to crawl my way back to a position I never imagined possible when riding that Greyhound bus from San Francisco to Lafayette, Louisiana.

I ended up here with a quarter left in my pocket, and relied for almost a year on my conservative Republican mother who I love dearly, despite our disagreement on issues like abortion, or the fact that Bobby Jindal sucks. Since the day I stepped off that bus, only to find all of my luggage was stolen, I've worked my way back to a life better than the one I left behind in Florida.

In this time, I developed a following for my personal thoughts here on Whiskey and the Morning After, as well as my regular contributions on Forward Progessives which I have been doing for almost three years now.

When I first started, I was surprised that people beyond my small circle of friends which includes people of all political persuasions, wanted to hear what I had to say. Five years later, we've grown Forward Progressives to over 300,000 followers, my public Facebook page to over 30,000 - and have seen people from all around the world leave comments on my latest musings about science, religion, and whiskey.

It's also both flattering and maddening when other individuals with little or no creative abilities have decided to take my original content and pass it off as their own. As an example, today I found out that far-left/libertarian website Free Thought Project basically plagiarized my story about Muslim clerics rejecting extremists. Then another site that has previously plagiarized my material copied their story, and also passed it off as their own.

As a writer, I fully understand deadlines and presenting stories that your colleagues have missed, but representing someone else's story with little or no credit is plagiarism - especially when you take their story and just change a few words.

I've dealt with this for years, and my long beef with Being Liberal and their website Addicting Info goes back to 2012 when images I had made were being used to promote their page, with no credit to me. Since I've called out Addicting Info, Occupy Democrats and other people in their circle of friends for not properly crediting sources, or just for widely exaggerating stories for additional traffic to their websites - I have periodically been subjected to mass reports against my page and harassing emails.

These aren't angry conservatives who are upset about my ruthless fact-checking of their lies, these are people who call themselves liberals or progressives who want to easily profit off the hard work and creativity of others - without giving the original creator any credit.

These organizations do not care about advancing liberal causes as much as they care about putting money in their pocket monthly from ad revenue checks - and they don't mind ripping off original content creators to do so.