Saturday, March 15, 2008

Scrutiny Hooligans: New Blog on the Block Thinks It Knows Virginia

There's a new blog inserting itself into Virginia's political blogosphere, called Scrutiny Hooligans. Curiously, it's a blog run out of Ashville, North Carolina. I've been on and off clashing with two of this blog's authors, over at Not Larry Sabato, where they've both accused Ben of racism.

Now, anybody who knows Ben - and who in Virginia politics and the blogosphere actually doesn't know NLS? - knows he's a bomb thrower full of piss and vinegar and hyperbole. That's his charm.

We all read him, of course, not because of the controversies he stirs up but because of his brilliant analysis of election results in district by district races and because he's a genius with numbers. Right. And all 16 year old boys read Playboy for the articles.

Anyway, although I do object to the way both Gordon Smith, who came across NLS on his one and only visit to Virginia, and Hank Bostwick, who actually now lives in Roanoke, have inserted themselves into Virginia politics like gangbusters, without actually knowing or understanding the dynamics of either the blogosphere or the local political situation here.

I have no quarrel with their joining the discussion about the presidential race, of course, because that's not local and they know as much as any of us. But when they take it upon themselves to email, and encourage their North Carolina readers, to contact Leslie Byrne, Jim Webb, and Del. Lionel Spruill to urge them to denounce Ben as a racist, they are stepping into quicksand and will rapidly sink.

For one thing, no politician or candidate needs to get involved in a blogger war. We should be shielding them from that because they have to run on serious issues not on the rantings of every loose cannon blogger. Blogs, after all, are free and anybody can have one. Nobody can control bloggers. And nobody should be held responsible for what bloggers say.

But what Jim Webb and Leslie Byrne also know that these two didn't is that Ben was one of the first bloggers to run the infamous Maccaca video that exposed genuine racism. George Allen's. If it wasn't for Ben and also Lowell of Raising Kaine, that video would have been a blip on the back page of the Washington Post on a slow Saturday. Without Virginia bloggers exposing it and keeping it alive not only might Jim Webb not have been elected but the U.S. Senate might now still be under Republican control.

I think the Scrutiny Hooligan guys actually are well meaning. I've been reading their site. I was particularly impressed with their call for civility between the Obama and Hillary camps. Both the Obama supporters and the Hillary supporters in the blogosphere need to get a grip before we bring defeat upon the Democratic nominee, whoever it turns out to be (and if they had stopped to read our blogs before launching in, they'd know that I have been preaching that since the beginning), and the whole party in November. Here's what SH said:
Most surprisingly, though, is the way Senator Clinton has been vilified by those who profess to be left-leaning, progressive or liberal bloggers. Consider a site like Washington State’s The Progressive Review. PR purports to support the progressive agenda but the site is slathered with links or posts containing claims about Hillary Clinton that are so offensive it reads like an aggregator of Rove’s honorable mentions. Senator Obama’s camp has rightly accused some Clinton supporters of exacerbating the racial divisions growing within the Party, but take this guy at Politik Ditto and his post “Maggie Williams: Driving Mrs. Clinton.” It appears the images and language of racism can come from any direction. Not surprising, even MySpace is filled with the most obnoxious anti-Clinton sites boasting thousands of friends, many who spread the same baseless lies perpetrated by the right-wing sites listed above.

By now, most readers understand the charges against Senator Obama from various corners of the conserva-sphere: he’s a terrorist, no I’m sorry, a terrorist who (hearts) sex offenders, and a covert Muslim extremist.

What twists my melon is this guy at No Quarter, Larry Johnson. Good ole LJ basically plagiarizes Foxnews, Jews Against Obama, and Bill Cunningham at the same time he links to, and is linked from, many blogs claiming a liberal bent and professing allegiance to the Democratic cause. Curious.
More than curious. It's disastrous for us. Both sides do, indeed, need to get a grip. Here's some good advice from our guys at Scrutiny Hooligans worth taking.
Perhaps some progressive prognosticators should consider the implications of the images, metaphors, and analogies they use to fuel the snark their readers crave, especially those that impact the lives and self-esteem of members of our Party.

Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, the millions who have already voted and the millions yet to vote, all deserve the chance to participate in the difficult conversation that lies ahead, but they should be encouraged to join the discussion in a thoughtful, civil way. Many will say such an expectation is naive or no-fun. Perhaps.
It's all excellent advice. Now if they could maybe also tone down the rhetoric and get to know the Virginia blogosphere before firing shots from North Carolina, we could have some productive dialgogue


Gordon Smith said...

Thanks for the mention and the considered, thoughtful excerpting.

It wasn't my one and only visit to Virginia, mind you, but I am admittedly a babe in Virginia's political woods.

Anon, the broadside may help to open some dialogue, and I'm glad to have discovered your blog.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Your post that I linked to was an excellent one. Please do stick around and learn about us first.

You will learn that Ben Tribett, for example, is no bigot. But he is a bomb thrower and merry prankster. No politician can reign him in. Nobody even tries.

He does some really valuable work and when he goes off on a tear most Virginians know when to take him seriously - and there are times when you should - and when to just laugh.

He does satire very well.

Hank Bostwick said...


Please know this isn't personal.

Thanks for quoting us. We appreciate the good will.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

You know, I'm starting to think you guys are just trying to drum up free advertising for your own site here in Virginia.

You're getting a lot of free publicity, insulting all of us and, coincidentally, leaving all these links to your posts in our comment sections.

At least, here, it's on a post that relates to your site. I did object when you were leaving comments that were off topic on my tainted lettuce post.

Don't take this personally either, but why don't you guys just pay and advertise like normal people?

Isophorone said...

Hmmm, you are missing an interesting detail about these guys. Let's just say that WE are paying for their advertising, to some extent!

Ezra said...

I find it curious that so many people jumped to Ben's defense when SEVERAL people accused him of making racist references and statements on his website. Just because the blogs are not overtly racist does not mean that they do not have racist undertones.

These days people are not as overtly racist as they were in the 50's. Many of Ben's posts were offensive and I find it extremely insulting that people cannot see why or how. Then on top of that, those people who call Ben out and ask him to rephrase or remodel his arguments are called racists.

I really wonder that if Ben was an Obama supporter and he repeatedly posted sexist blogs if Hillary supports would be accused of playing the "sex/gender" card? Would women who object to sexist language be accused of being sexist toward men?

As someone who has faced racism in Virginia and have had my lift threatened by racist bigots...I honestly do get upset when someone spends so much time tearing down a member of their political party by using conservative covert racist actions. I would hope that you agree that his tearing down of Obama is ridiculous and really has no place in the democratic party or politics for that matter.

I don't know if you consider yourself independent or democratic or republican...but if you are a democrat you cannot honestly believe that what he is doing is one "good journalism" or two "non-racist." I do not feel he would have made many of those comments had it been John Edwards.

I do not know Ben personally and do not care to know him personally. I just find it ridiculous that people defend his racist blogs. I'm not calling him racist...but he is participating in racist actions.

I don't care if he is attempting to be satirical. Its not funny or comical to me. It's insulting and I guarantee you Ben would never say the things he's said in front of an entire Black audience because he would know his comments have been off base. He is hiding behind his blog and getting away with it.

Personally I want to support whomever the nominee is. I find it sad that democrats have become so divided between Clinton and Obama. Our goal is defeating McCain not each other and that is something Ben does not seem to want to do.

Since it appears you have a relationship with NLS...I would suggest having a heart to heart with him and asking him is his attempt to destroy Obama worth losing in November. I'd also ask him to re-evaluate his racial comments on his blog and apologize to those he has offended. We are perfectly capable of discussing race in this society without demeaning inferences or demeaning language.

Sorry for the long post. I look forward to your response

Hank Bostwick said...

ezra for Congress.

As always,

Democrats '08

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Um, Ezra, are you running for Congress somewhere?

Your post was very well thought out.

The thing about Ben is he supports Hillary, Leslie Byrne (there is no more progressive candidate anywhere; she's lost races rather than hide her principles), and a host of other strong women candidates. And he still makes very sexist comments. He's frankly tasteless.

The reason I defend Ben is because he doesn't hide behind his blog. He is actually very well known. He was a president of his college Young Democrats, was on the Fairfax County Democratic Committee as a teenager and young adult (he's still in his 20s, I believe). He is a public figure in Fairfax County.

Most Democrats and Republicans would know him when they spot him at an event.

He is controversial, no doubt about it. But he's not a racist. Or a sexist.

Also, having a heart to heart talk with him seldom works. Personally, I just prefer to threaten him a lot. Occasionally it even works. Mostly he just laughs.

And so should you sometimes.

Ezra said...

Fair enough lol.

I think my anger really hit its crescent during this democratic primary season. I was excited when I was told about the blog and how he dismantled G. Allen and revealed him as the bigot he really is (meaning G. Allen). I really enjoyed his blog and then out of nowhere came these venomous posts. Unnecessarily venomous posts.

I understand where you are coming from and like others have learned to not take what he says at face value as he is obviously trying to stir the pot. I just wish he'd stir the republicans pot and not the democrats. And I should say that while he may not be racist...that does not mean he is incapable of making racist comments because several on his blog are just that. No one ever has to make comments like that to get their points across and him doing so really disappointed me and has thus turned me off to his blog.

Thanks for your reply ;)