Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fighting the end of the "American Dream"

Truth be told, I see the decline of the American Dream happening sooner than later. I'm not being cynical, just realistic. There's people who think that all they have to do is vote for Obama and it'll magically put our country back together again. They think by just doing this and "liking and sharing" some photo or article on social media, they've done their part and can go back to watch "American Idol" or some other insipid crap like that. The same naive sentiments also exist on the other side of the aisle where misguided working class folks believe the jobs will come flooding back once corporate taxes are slashed and regulations gutted.

I believe the "Glory Days" died right around the time the first airplane slammed into the World Trade Center and when subsequently, patriotism was dumbed down for mass consumption and maximum profit. I honestly believe the majority of the American public is not willing to turn off the TV, learn outside of their usual 5 minutes of daily exposure to Fox or MSNBC, open their minds and make the informed choices to fix the mess we're in. It get so frustrating to be one of those "outside the wire", one of the minority who gives a damn, especially when you live in rural America where people complain about the jobs they've lost, all while pushing their shopping carts full of junk food through WalMart.

So here's the rest of my rant...I'm sick of the people who complain about paying taxes and government spending, even though our local roads look like something from Baghdad, circa 2003. I've had it up to here with people who have no problem with borrowing billions of dollars from China to bomb a country into the Stone Age, then rebuild it, but don't want to spend a fraction of that to rebuild our own crumbling infrastructure. It is really hard to not slap upside the head the people who bitch about being "taxed enough already" when they often don't pay any net income tax and actually get back more on their return than they paid in. I'm absolutely fucking done with the pervasive atmosphere of anti-intellectualism, group-think mentalities and the arrogant notion that their ignorance is superior to science, despite all evidence to contradict their asinine claims.

You know what? There are many days where, if I had the money, I'd prefer to sip a cold beer in the cockpit of a sportfisher off the coast of South America and watch the implosion from afar. It is a daily struggle to try to help people who don't even want to learn anything new and even harder to fight those who are willing to destroy the country for another tax cut for their corporate overlords. Today's another day...once more into the fray.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Once more into the fray

As another election cycle chugs towards the finish line, I'm looking forward to taking a break. The constant grind of creating new material, along with the demands of working a real job outside of this, and dealing with the hyperpartisan bullshit from both sides has really grated on my last damn nerve.

Out of all of the election cycles I've been involved with since I stood outside a polling place with a sign on my 13th birthday in the freezing rain (for a conservative candidate), I'd say I've been the most involved in this one. As such, I've made some great contacts that have helped me triple the size of "Whiskey and the Morning After" on Facebook in about 4 months which has helped some of our work to go semi-viral.

I've also pissed off more than my share of people, on both sides of the political divide, for a number of reason including skewering conservative politicians and ideas, as well as pointing out unethical behavior on the part of some leftist page owners and self-proclaimed "journalists".

As I've said in the past, I'm not bound to all of the beliefs and stereotypes of either the Democrats or the Republicans. My personal convictions are probably more in line with some weird acid trip combination of Gary Johnson, Sun Tzu, Dennis Kucinich and Gandhi. However, despite many of my more Libertarian/Progressive views, I align with the Democrats whenever there isn't a serious 3rd party candidate on the ballot that I agree with.

What has really turned my stomach this year, more so than in years past, is the very people who claim to be "independent minded, progressive thinkers", yet blindly accept absolutely false or distorted stories spun up by the "shock jocks" of the left. In my mind, it makes them no better than the same Fox News/Drudge Report/Limbaugh devotees they claim some type of moral and intellectual superiority over. Sadly, I see this every day as people blindly "like and share" stories claiming Mitt Romney said he intends to ban porn on the internet or other false stories spun up by hack journalists out to drive traffic to their pages that make them money for every person who views the article. Even satire, which is obviously lost on some people, often shows up on my social media newsfeeds by folks who just accept a link as factual just because it reaffirms their dislike for a person or belief.

I don't regret this "once more into the fray" but the indefinite break I am planning on taking from politics will be a welcome respite from the insanity. For that period of time, my other admins will share their political links and memes while I concentrate on more enjoyable subjects such as food and booze. Once the hiatus is over, I will start supporting independent candidates once again, especially in local politics, to hopefully build a better base of support for alternate choices in future elections. Also, unless something goes horribly wrong, I'll be criticizing President Obama as necessary.

With about a week to go until the election, I'm already plotting my temporary exit shortly thereafter. However, I have the feeling that if it goes the way I want, I'll have to spend a couple days rubbing it in before making my exit. Remember politics, it won't be goodbye, just until we meet again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Class Warfare, part 2

Despite being continually screwed by the GOP, rural voters keep voting for them, election after election. Every Tuesday after the first Monday in November, there's a parking lot full of pickup trucks at the local high school, all with the GOP stickers du jour plastered all over their vehicles.

There's a weathered sugar cane farmer with the soot from burning the fields still covering his 1987 Dodge like a fine powder. Deep down inside, he probably knows that two men having the right to get married doesn't affect him in any way. Sure, he thinks it is strange but he cares more about the price of a tank of gas for the tractor, a case of Schlitz or a box of shotgun shells for squirrel season.

There's a mother of four kids in an SUV clutching her third cup of coffee for the morning. She doesn't really think that raising the tax rate on the highest earners will cause any harm to her. She's more concerned with the weekly grocery bill or that the family's income has decreased while the cost of everything has climbed.

What they, and the majority of the other people lined up to vote don't understand, is that all of this is intertwined and they're being taken for a ride every November. They've been sold a shit sandwich and told it was the best cheeseburger ever. They've bought into jingoistic patriotism complete with a plastic American flag from the factory in China where their jobs went, and the people who did it are laughing all the way to their banks in the Cayman Islands. We're probably more divided as a nation now than any other time since 1865, and it's all for a few extra billion in the pockets of just a few hundred people in the entire world.

How has this happened? How are all of these people so goddamn blind? The fact of the matter is that the GOP has managed to lock down much of the rural and working class vote by pretending they "get it". Look at the campaign ads every cycle that show the politician with his dog and shotgun in the duck blind, or the recent flyer I got in the mail for Scott Angelle who is running for Public Service Commissioner here in Louisiana. It shows him with his pretty little family and it basically says "I'm just like you, right down the picture that looks like it was shot in a JCPenney's in 1996". They've done one hell of job convincing their constituents their policies will open the magical floodgates of trickle-down and bring jobs.

Progressive politicians have had this disconnect with these voters for a long time because they're stuck with the stereotype of being urban elitists and they rarely do anything to turn that around. People like President Obama will forever be seen as "city boys" because they are, and they don't try to pander.

Most of the GOP politicians haven't had to do a hard day's work in the fields, crawfish ponds or the factories but they have no problem pretending they're down to earth, working class folks who got successful through rugged individualism and hard work. They'll pander without shame. Look at Mitt Romney kissing the ass of every person he sees a potential vote with remarks about "cheesy grits" and using the word "y'all" like he's been using it all his life. Talk about elitist and out of touch.

The problem is that people want easy, quick slogans and answers pre-assembled and handed to them like a Happy Meal at McDonald's drive-thru. You can't explain the complexities of international economics in a slick 30 second political ad. You can't explain how spending a few cents more for a product from a local business rather than a big box store makes a community more prosperous in between the flashy ads for new televisions and the screaming pundits on the evening news commentary. Like a herd of sheep, they stare at the screen, blink and nod, then shuffle off to the polls once again to pull the lever for every candidate who waved the flag the hardest and added a little drawl to their delivery.

Yeah, we're pretty much fucked.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The truth about "Matthew Desmond" and "Being Liberal".

You may have seen this image circulating around liberal/progressive pages recently and wondered what this was about. Recently, dozens of content creators and owners of various social media sites have grown more and more frustrated with a increasing number of pages (Being Liberal and being the main culprits) who thrive off taking other people's original work and claiming it as their own. These page owners and artists have finally begun to stop bitching about it and trying to get the content thieves to play nice. Instead, they have started filing DMCA reports with Facebook for images that are being used without proper credit.

Again, let me stress that this is NOT about individuals who share images from pages via mobile where you are basically forced to download and then re-upload the image to your personal page. This is about plagiarism, for profit. Plain and simple.

Rather than admit to the truth, the folks behind "Being Liberal" are portraying these warnings from Facebook as being the work of "paid conservative trolls" when in fact, if you look at the image that they posted on their site, it is very clear that the warning is not for an objectionable picture. It is for an image being removed because Facebook received a report of copyright infringement, reviewed it and the evidence presented by the submitter, decided in the plaintiff's favor, removed the image and issued a warning. The time and trouble that it takes to file a copyright complaint to Facebook where you have to give them your name and contact email, links to the offending material and the original content, and then do an electronic signature is not worth it to trolls. It is easier for them to report an image as "nudity" or "spam" which takes just a few seconds before they march on to their next victim.

My first dealings with Matthew Desmond Kerry, AKA "Matthew Desmond" AKA "Matthew Hanson" was in the fall of 2010, shortly after his domain was registered. On every news page, progressive page, you name it, was his profile spamming links to This was something you could see literally hundreds of times a day. I would occasionally comment and mention how annoying it was, sometimes I would report it as spam. One day he commented back in a really nasty manner so I reported him again as a spammer and blocked him. This was all before I had a page of my own. After my page got started, he started spamming my page with links to his tabloid-esque articles so I banned him from the page as well. Around the beginning of 2012, I started getting into making my own images and that's when the content theft from our page really began. In all fairness, I've seen our work with watermarks and tags removed on a number of sites but never with the frequency as I have seen on pages run by "Matthew Desmond".

I've had a number of confused and indignant people ask me "why should it matter, so long as the message is getting out?" or tell me "we don't need to be airing our internal squabbles". So, let me go ahead and address that once and for all.

First off, I love that our original content, and that of other pages is getting out there. Every time we see a meme, a blog, a quote or whatever, get passed around on social media, we rejoice. We've seen some photos go viral and show up 10 or 20 times in one day on our personal newsfeeds. That's a good thing. What isn't a good thing is when that work is repeatedly taken by another page and passed off as their own work (often after altering the image to remove references to the original creator) or credited to one of their satellite pages which are controlled or owned by the same person doing the theft. This drives "likes" on Facebook to their pages, not the original author. "But they're not making any money off it" you might say and you would be VERY, VERY wrong.

The site "Being Liberal" and their satellite pages like "Addictinginfo", "Americans Against The Republican Party", "I Acknowledge Classwarfare Exists" and others have collectively at least 2.5 millions fans as a conservative estimate. By his own admission "Matthew Desmond" admits in this article on that he controls 50+ pages on Facebook. These pages, and many other pages that they have coerced or manipulated in some way into co-operating with them then post controversially titled "news" articles by Addictinginfo, and others, often dozens of times a day.

Why does this matter? Because by drawing in as many hundreds of thousands of fans as they can and then driving them to a non-Facebook site, they make money. Websites have advertising and the more people who see those ads, the more the website owner makes. Simple math, and that's the new model for media.

This isn't some small time blogging operation either. We're talking about 100's of thousands of visitors (sometimes millions) a day to their respective websites to where they get paid for traffic. This is a case of taking other people's work, without credit or compensation (monetarily or otherwise) and making money off it, a lot of money. This isn't about a good cause using somebody else's work, using it to promote their page and in return, promoting/acknowledging the original creator. This isn't about someone making money off writing and jealousy of someone else's success. This is about a lot of money being made perhaps not illegally, but certainly through unethical and dirty methods that the people we are supposed to be united against use daily. If you don't think plagiarism is a big deal, ask Fareed Zakaria who was suspended from CNN for lifting quotes from other people without attribution. Try doing that with a term paper or thesis in college and see what happens.

Second, the whole "we shouldn't be airing our dirty laundry and internal squabbles for all to see" bit...I get it. However, after you and many others have tried repeatedly through private channels to address the issue and after having been attacked with a slew of rightwing trolls and abuse reports after calling them out publicly on their page (and being instantly banned), it is obvious that the polite method doesn't work. I have the emails from the original owner of Being Liberal (Wojtek Wacowski, who also works for Upworthy) where he demanded either an apology or proof of the work taken from my page by his co-admin "Matthew Desmond". After I provided proof, Wojtek Wacowski got angry and rude before breaking off contact. Within a few days, my page suddenly experienced massive attack after attack from right-wing trolls, an image I made mocking the KKK was reported and removed and I got a 3 day suspension. The timing was very uncanny although it cannot be proven that they were behind it.

We shouldn't be covering up the sins of our own because it corrupts what we're supposed to be about. We can't go around saying that we have a moral high ground when members of our own ranks are engaging in the same behavior of corporate greed and bullying that we're supposed to be fighting against. They like to say they have nothing to hide but they hide their business information behind a proxy offshore domain registration where DMCA and other US copyright laws don't apply and have the business registered to a UPS store in Santa Rosa, CA.

Business listing with CA Sec of State:

Entity Name: ADDICTING INFO LLC Entity Number: 201129410004 Date Filed: 10/12/2011 Status: ACTIVE Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA Entity Address: 1007 W COLLEGE AVE #433 (UPS Store box#) Entity City, State, Zip: SANTA ROSA CA 95401 Agent for Service of Process: LEGALZOOM.COM, INC. (C2967349)

Domain registry results through

Domain ID:D160073684-LROR Domain Name:ADDICTINGINFO.ORG Created On:05-Sep-2010 20:33:25 UTC Last Updated On:07-Aug-2012 22:47:05 UTC Expiration Date:05-Sep-2014 20:33:25 UTC Sponsoring Registrar:eNom, Inc. (R39-LROR) Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED Registrant ID:2fe87cb4afe1ee62 Registrant Name:Privacy Advocate Registrant Ltd Registrant Street1:Lupins Business Centre Registrant Street2: Registrant Street3: Registrant City:Weymouth Registrant State/Province:Dorset Registrant Postal Code:DT4 7SP Registrant Country:GB Registrant Phone:+44.130582275 Registrant FAX:+44.130582275 Registrant FAX Ext.: Registrant Admin ID:2fe87cb4afe1ee62 Admin Name:Privacy Advocate Admin Ltd Admin Street1:Lupins Business Centre Admin Street2: Admin Street3: Admin City:Weymouth Admin State/Province:Dorset Admin Postal Code:DT4 7SP Admin Country:GB Admin Phone:+44.130582275 Admin FAX:+44.130582275 Admin FAX Ext.: Admin Tech ID:2fe87cb4afe1ee62 Tech Name:Privacy Advocate Tech Ltd Tech Street1:Lupins Business Centre Tech Street2: Tech Street3: Tech City:Weymouth Tech State/Province:Dorset Tech Postal Code:DT4 7SP Tech Country:GB Tech Phone:+44.130582275 Tech FAX:+44.130582275 Tech FAX Ext.: Tech Name Server:NS1.ADDICTINGINFO.ORG Name Server:NS2.ADDICTINGINFO.ORG

Now you can write this off as "protecting one's identity" but that's not what it is about. It is about protecting themselves against civil suits for infringement of intellectual property. It isn't just images they've taken, it's news articles they've lifted from other journalists and have copied nearly word for word. In every case they've been confronted, they've first tried to bully their accuser and then when threatened with legal action, have hidden behind the offshore accounts.

If this passes for "acceptable behavior" or something we should look the other way on for the better good of the progressive/liberal/moderate coalition, then I want no part of that movement. Just ask the Catholic Church how well that "not airing dirty laundry" thing worked out for them.

*EDIT* By popular request, I have compiled a list of pages that are owned or partially controlled by Matthew Desmond Kerry as well as some of his close friends and associates like Justin Rosario, Daniel Gouldmann, Tiffany Willis, Egberto Willies, Omar Rivero, Rafael Rivero, Elisabeth Parker, Sean Conners, Leah Farley, Wendy Gittleson, Stephen D Foster and others.

Known websites:

Known Facebook pages:

"Friendly" Facebook pages: (Pages that frequently use Addictinginfo links but not necessarily owned by Matthew Desmond). (not to be confused w/ the other site)